We all know that summer vacations have been seriously limited this year. Between the need to limit our contacts and financial constraints, a vacation away is just not in the cards for most of us. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck at home all summer! Family camping is fun and safe, and since social distancing is naturally built in, no masks needed! Here in BC, provincial parks and campgrounds have been open for a few weeks. Now’s a great time to explore the great outdoors!
Our family camping trip has been an annual tradition for 15 years now. For the past few years we’ve gone to Chehalis River, but this time we decided to visit a new location.
Typically open April/May until Labour Day weekend, Twenty Mile Bay is a provincial recreation site on the west shore of Harrison Lake about 1.5 hours northeast from Mission, BC.
The site is located about an hour’s drive up the Sts’ailes Forest Service Road. You won’t need an off-roading vehicle – we did it in my Honda CR-V and saw a mix of cars, trucks, and an RV at the site – but do expect a bumpy, dusty drive up a gravel road. Keep an eye out for potholes and amazing views like this along the way.
The campground is nestled in an old growth conifer forest on a peninsula with 52 campsites (7 double sites) located along 1.5 kilometres of rocky beaches with north and south facing views.
The north-facing sites boast an amazing view of snow-topped Mount Breakenridge but also have a steeper approach to the lake. The south-facing sites may have a slightly less impressive view of the lake and surrounding hills, but since they’re only slightly elevated from the beach they make for easy access to Harrison Lake.
Most campsites are right on the lake shore, though there are a few sites located on the inside of the ring road. If you’re in one of these sites you can still access the lake, though it’s slightly less convenient.
The best part of camping here is Harrison Lake. The water is crystal clear with a gradual drop-off making it perfect for wading and swimming, even for younger kids. We arrived during a heat wave, and with temperatures in the mid-30s, we spent most of our days in the water. On our first day the lake was quiet and smooth as glass. Even during the day it was quiet enough to hear a crow’s wing beats as it flew over the trees.
The next day we had a bit of wind and the kids enjoyed playing in the small waves rushing into shore.
This is a great location for paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking, or just floating on an inflatable raft. I’ve been told that Harrison Lake is good for fishing too. I wouldn’t know, but we did see fish leap out of the water a couple of times.
When the wind is calm, you can build a small campfire on the beach. S’mores on the beach by moonlight was definitely a highlight of this trip!
Twenty Mile Bay has an on-site camp host, a small boat launch, and outhouses (including one accessible outhouse). Each site has a picnic table and fire pit, but that’s it. There’s no electricity, sewer, or running water, so be sure to bring enough potable water to last your entire stay. Quiet hours are 11:00 pm to 7:00 am and enforced so you don’t have to worry about being stuck next to yahoos partying all night.
The camp host sells ice, firewood when campfires are allowed, and even WiFi if you just can’t step away from your phone – though I definitely recommend unplugging while you’re here. This is the perfect place to relax and reconnect with nature. Twenty Mile Bay is our new favourite campsite. We’ll be back next summer!