Get into camping 

What to do, where to go, when are you leaving?

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It's official.

You can get out the deck chairs, the camp stove and dust off the Hibachi, for camping season is here.

Whether you are a seasoned backpacker or heading out for the first time, spending time in B.C.'s outdoors can be an amazing adventure.

And while it is possible to just pack a few things and head to a park, a camping trip is likely to be a lot more fun with a little preparation.

In the days of the first campers - we call them pioneers now - a little planning went a long way. Camping wasn't a leisure activity then, it was really the only way to get from one place to another. Whistler's Myrtle Philip spent many a day travelling with her packhorses and camping along the way to get to Vancouver and back.

Today you can still camp on horseback (www.bcgra.com) in the Cariboo and Chilcotins though you no longer need to rough it. Many of the guest ranches offer luxury along with cowboy living.

It's not a bad choice if you want to be sure that you will be warm and dry at the end of the day, as there is always a nice cozy guesthouse or log cabin to retreat to.

But real camping is all about roughing it.

 

B.C.'s first park, Strathcona, on Vancouver Island, was established in 1911 by provincial act. It protected 250,000 hectares of largely wilderness mountain terrain and deep forested valleys, and is home to a variety of wildlife, a temperate rainforest, rugged hillsides and valley floors from tidewaters' edge to the alpine tundra zone thousands of feet above. Strathcona Provincial Park is one of the richest eco-systems in the world.

By 1930, 13 Provincial Parks were set aside and at least another 50 areas were reserved for the pleasure and recreation of the public.

Throughout this period most visitations to the large wilderness parks were by the more affluent segment of society. The primary travel to most parks was by rail, access within the parks by horse or foot and accommodation provided by private lodges or cabins.

The current Park Act was passed in 1965 and today 14.26 per cent - more than 13.5 million hectares - of B.C. is protected and managed by B.C. Parks.

About six in 10 residents of British Columbia use a provincial park each year.

While there are many reasons camping is growing in popularity two of the main ones are its affordability and the wilderness experience it offers those who spend most of their time in an urban setting.

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