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Porteau Cove Provincial Park Camping

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Porteau Cove Provincial Park - Eric Karjaluoto
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park - Carley sawers
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park - willie.bock
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park - rpongsaj
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Porteau Cove Provincial Park - Kyla Duhamel
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Campgrounds

Campgrounds in Porteau Cove Provincial Park

A (Sites 1-37)

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

B (Sites 38-44)

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

WalkIn (W1-W16)

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Overview

A brief introduction to Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Just a 40-minute drive from Vancouver, Porteau Cove Provincial Park boasts remarkable oceanfront camping and stargazing. It’s also a popular favourite among divers.

Camping at Porteau Cove Park

Given its proximity to ~2.5 million people in Greater Vancouver, Porteau Cove Park is very busy—especially during peak season. The park features 44 vehicle-accessible sites (5 double sites; 2 pull-through) that are somewhat closely spaced. Many of these are waterfront campsites.

16 walk-in campsites are within 5 minutes of the parking lot. Most of these are small, ocean-front sites. As such, no more than 4 people can occupy any one of these sites at a time. 2 Olympic Legacy Cabins (max. 4 people per cabin) are available for rent but are commonly sold out.

There’s also a day-use area with picnic sites and a grassy area near the shore. A mooring float at the park’s south end allows water access to the park. Porteau Cove Park remains open year-round; however, in the winter months services (and fees) are reduced.

Park amenities

The campground has electrical hookups. Cold water can be found in the campground and day-use area. An outdoor shower is available, as are flush and pit toilets. Although it may be shut off due to weather conditions, the park also has a year-round sani-station/dump.

This park doesn’t have dedicated sites for those with disabilities. That said, the light gravel found in these sites does accommodate wheelchairs.

There are 2 double-wide boat launches in the park. BC Ferries maintains an emergency pier on-site, in case of obstruction on the adjacent highway. Mostly, this provides a sightseeing opportunity for park visitors.

Firewood is available for sale on the grounds, or you can bring your own. Just be sure to keep your campfire within your designated fire ring. You can also rent a portable propane campfire from park attendants.

Activities at Porteau Cove Park

Porteau Cove Provincial Park is most renowned for its scuba diving (more on that in a moment). Other water-based activities at the park include swimming, paddling (canoeing and kayaking), windsurfing, and boating. You can also fish in the area (outside the park’s boundary), however, you must hold a licence and adhere to the park’s fishing regulations.

On dry land, you can walk the park’s short trail (~300m) and take in the view from the pier. Or, you might ride your bike on the park’s paths and trails (no e-Bikes on trails). Many stop for a picnic in the park. There are also many other outdoor sports and recreation activities to be within driving distance.

Location, geography, and history

You’ll find Porteau Cove Provincial Park on the eastern shore of Howe Sound. This park is accessed via the Sea-to-Sky Highway, a short ~44 kilometers from the city of Vancouver. Other notable communities in the region include Brackendale, Britannia Beach, Lions Bay, Squamish, and Whistler.

Situated on one of North America’s most southerly fjords, Porteau Cove Provincial Park measures 56 hectares. The park is found the land of indigenous inhabitants: the Squamish people. BC Parks is undertaking efforts to better reflect this population’s culture, history, and connection to this place.

Porteau Cove translates from French to “Water’s Gate”. The name dates back to 1908, At that time, John Deeks started to mine gravel and sand for use in Vancouver. A community of employees lived in the area, which necessitated housing, a school, and a ferry service. The park was established in the summer of 1981.

Features, wildlife, and vegetation

Porteau Cove Park is one of the easiest to access marine-oriented parks in British Columbia. Its gently-sloped beaches are made up of pebble, rock, and sand. These make for nice for ocean swimming. (On low-tide summer days, this water can get quite warm.)

Divers flock to Porteau Cove for the diversity of marine life attracted to the area’s constructed reefs. These artificial reefs are made up of tire chains, concrete piles and blocks, steel beams, and 2 sunken vessels. These waters reach depths of 6 – 18 meters (20' – 60').

Many animals and plants can be found on the shore and underwater. During your stay, you might spot harbour seals/porpoises, marine waterfowl, or river otters. Between spring and fall, orcas and whales (gray and humpback) are seen in these waters.

The park’s mixed forest cover is comprised of Sitka Spruce trees and Stunted Shore Pine trees. Coyotes, mink, and some raccoons are also found in this area.

Risks, cautions, and notes

Take care in and on the water. The Howe Sound sees changing tides and strong winds (inflow and outflow). There are no lifeguards on duty. Although Porteau Cove is close to Vancouver, it still sees bears, cougars, and wolves. Be prepared and take adequate measures to avoid risk.

Porteau Cove is a sensitive environment that’s visited by many people. This makes it essential that you leave no trace. Do not handle or collect marine life within the park’s boundary. Do not gather or burn driftwood (no beach fires). Avoid stepping off trails, in order to prevent damage to plants and soil. Read park signs and obey the rules. Use biodegradable soap. Be sure to keep your pets leashed and away from the beach—where they are not permitted.

Also: This park is noisy at times. It’s adjacent to a highway and active train tracks. Prepare for an early wake-up call—that’ll rattle your bones—when the train passes by. 😳

Tips

This part of British Columbia is breathtakingly beautiful, so, plan to spend a little extra time in the region. Drive the winding Sea-to-Sky Highway and stop at viewpoints to take in the dramatic vistas that span the ocean and towering mountains.

You might consider taking in the Britannia Mine Museum (a short 10-minute drive from the park). Also, check the park’s gatehouse for schedules and information on events and interpretive demonstrations.

FACTSHEET

Information about Porteau Cove

Location

Address

Porteau Cove Provincial Park, Highway 99, Squamish, BC V0N

Coordinates

49.5596° N, 123.2355° W

Directions

Porteau Cove Marine Park is situated on the Sea-to-Sky Highway. From Vancouver, travel north on Highway 99) for approximately 38 km. At this point you’ll see signs for Porteau Cove Campground. Turn left to leave the highway and enter the park. Once in the park take a right followed by another right, to access the campground area.

Elevation

1 m (3 ft)

Terrain

  • Beach

  • Forest

  • Mountains

Contact

Phone

(604) 986-9371

Website

Porteau Cove (BC Parks)

Email

info@seatoskyparks.com

Operator

Sea to Sky Parks

Links

Facebook

Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Twitter

BC Parks Foundation

Instagram

Photos from Porteau Cove Provincial Park

Resources

Maps

Videos

Reservations

Reservations available

Up to 4 months in advance of arrival date

Fees

  • Walk-in campsites: $20 per night

  • Walk-in campsites (winter): $18 per night

  • Standard campsites: $35 per night

  • Standard campsites (winter) $18 per night

Online booking

Porteau Cove Provincial Park Reservations at Discover Camping

Phone reservations

1-800-689-9025 (between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.); $5 surcharge applies

Sold-out?

Scan Porteau Cove Provincial Park for cancellations

Campground

Season

Open year-round

Access

  • Drive in

  • Walk in

Number of sites

60

Site types

  • Serviced campsites

  • Serviced Double campsites

  • RV campsites

  • Walk-in campsites

Check-in time

1:00 p.m.

Check-out time

11:00 a.m.

Pets

Pets are allowed but must be on a leash at all times

Campfires

Permitted in designated fire rings (fire bans may apply); no beach fires

Group camping

No

Campsites

Max. site occupants

  • Standard: 8

  • Walk-in: 4

Vehicles per site

2

Maximum vehicle length

Varies based on site (the longest pad is 60')

Pad type

Small crushed gravel

Campsite features

Picnic table, fire ring, some sites with electric hook-ups

Accessibility

Number of accessible sites

None specifically designated

Accessible campsites

None specifically designated

Accommodations

  • Flush and pit toilets

  • Pads with crushed gravel allows for wheelchair mobility

  • Paved walkway with viewing opportunities of Howe Sound

  • Disabled parking stalls

  • Some picnic tables on paved table pads

Amenities

Facilities

  • Hot showers

  • Pit and flush toilets

  • Day-use / picnic area

  • Boat launch

  • Porteau Cove Olympic Legacy Cabins

  • Amphitheatre

  • Parking (limited availability)

Hookups

  • 30 amp

  • 15 amp

Conveniences

  • Portable propane campfire rentals (can be used during fire bans)

  • Gatehouse (firewood, ice cream, snacks)

On site

  • Potable water (taps shut off in low season)

  • Firewood (may vary by season)

  • Propane buy-in and exchange 

  • Picnic tables

Support

Campground host

Waste

Sani-dump station (can close due to freezing temperatures)

Activities

Sports

  • Bicycling

  • Canoeing

  • Hiking

  • Kayaking

  • Swimming

  • Windsurfing

Nature

  • Aurora Borealis viewing

  • Interpretive programs

  • Scuba diving

  • Stargazing

Recreation

  • Beachcombing (driftwood collection is prohibited)

  • Boating (non-motorized)

  • Photography

  • Picnicking

  • Snorkeling (do not handle wildlife)

Service

Wifi

No

Carriers

  • Bell

  • Rogers

  • Telus

Nearby

Attractions

Campgrounds

To come

Members say

Pros

  • Close proximity to Vancouver

  • Ocean-front camping with amazing sunsets

  • Campsites near beach

  • Excellent hiking and mountain biking trails in area 

Cons

  • Limited privacy

  • Some small campsites

  • Close to highway

  • Loud trains pass in early morning

  • Abundant racoons in the area

Tips

  • Some park amenities are limited in the winter

  • Treat the park as a basecamp and explore the area

  • Bring earplugs for when the train passes

  • Ensure children are supervised on the ferry pier and beach

Best campsites

13, 17, 18/19, 21, 22, 23, 32, 36, 41/42

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Reviews

Camper reviews for Porteau Cove Provincial Park

40 minutes from home but a world away!

This park is very close to our home and an easy drive, especially with gas prices so high. Once we are set up it feels like we’re a world away from everything. There are great beach walks that are made very interesting at low tide. There is a lot of wild life to watch on the water and if you are very lucky, you may see a whale. Sea lions and seals are abundant at certain times of year and the birds are everywhere. If you paddle board or Kayak there is lots of ocean to explore, just watch the winds. You can also drive 30 minutes to explore Squamish and all it has to offer. The best part of the day is sunset. This park does sunsets better than most from all of the sites. Nothing better to help you forget the city that is only 40 minutes away

Josephine jolliffe
Josephine jolliffe reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on September 29th, 2023

Great park within 20 mins Downtown Vancouver

All sites are close to water.

Kaveh Afshari
Kaveh Afshari reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on September 28th, 2023

Our Favorite Spot

This spot is our favorite for many reasons, but mostly for the ocean-side camping. The kids are out on the shore every day looking for crabs and sea-side treasures. We also saw a pod of killer whales this time which is such a rare treat.

The facilities at Porteau Cove are always immaculate. There was a brief storm while we were there this past weekend which left some debris, and the next day the driveways were being cleared and everything looked lovely again shortly after.

There's nothing like the fresh salt air to clear the air and open up your creative brain! After the trip, we left reconnected and refreshed as a family.

Teri Webber
Teri Webber reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on September 28th, 2023

Ocean front paradise

my two sons, aged three and six, accompanied my husband, and I for two nights at Porteau Cove last month. We had the absolute best time with full access to the ocean for a morning dip or paddle. We had a stunning sunset view at night and absolutely loved our spot.

It’s also incredibly close to the city so our commute was less than an hour from Yaletown. Five stars for sure!

Jenette Barry
Jenette Barry reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on September 13th, 2023

Excellent leisure time!

The views are mesmerizing especially in the morning! Comfortably organized facilities with showers, great to go there with your kids.

Nataliia Yordan
Nataliia Yordan reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on September 3rd, 2023

Amazing Park

Got a last minute notification from Campnab and were able to secure a booking at Site#17. It was a great spot with direct access to Howe Sound shoreline. We had a good time camping there and would highly recommend it!

Gary Castaneda
Gary Castaneda reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on August 22nd, 2023

Disappointing

We heard rave reviews from some many about this park. The scenery of the ocean is gorgeous. The beach is very rocky and sea lions very active in April. We didn’t have one train all weekend so that was nice. The campsites are on the smaller side and very limited privacy. Very exposed on all sides. There’s hook ups which is nice. The bathrooms were clean.

Nicole Verrall
Nicole Verrall reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on June 3rd, 2023

Oceanfront campground

The absolute best Provincial campsite in the lower mainland. Open all year round. Close to Vancouver.

Richard Zimmerman
Richard Zimmerman reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on May 30th, 2023

Year round beauty

We love our family trips to porteau. A beautiful spot, Oceanside sites, a field for the kids to play. With nearby hikes and the ocean outside your trailer/tent, it’s such a close to the city gem. Hard to snag spots but with Campnab, it’s doable.

Carley sawers
Carley sawers reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on May 10th, 2023

Best campsite we ever had.

If you get one of the sites on the water, the view will blow you away . Porteau Cove would be virtually impossible to get without Campnab, as it is a relatively small campground.

William Barnes
William Barnes reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on May 2nd, 2023

The mullet of parks: Beauty in the front, noisy at the back

It’s hard to believe that a park as beautiful as Porteau Cove is so close to the city. On a good day, you can be from downtown to the park in a little over a half-hour.

The views at Porteau Cove are breathtaking. Many campsites are right on the water, allowing you to enjoy your coffee while peering out over Howe Sound and Anvil Island. If you like to stargaze, this is a nice spot for it.

Given Porteau Cove’s proximity to Vancouver—and the limited number of campsites—the campground can be hard to get into. On weekends it can get crowded, even thought we spotted many unused (but reserved) sites on the weekdays.

The campsite we stayed in at Porteau Cove was right on the water, which was wonderful. That said, the park road was right behind us. Adjacent to that is the rail line, and a construction zone. A little further back is the Sea-to-Sky Highway. As such, it got pretty noisy at times.

These two aspects of Porteau Cove leave me a bit mixed. The noise and crowds are substantial and I was happy when our stay there came to an end. On the other hand, I feel a bit guilty for saying this, as this setting is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever experienced.

Eric Karjaluoto reviewed Porteau Cove Provincial Park
on December 15th, 2022

Map

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