Wow, my 2023 Summer Van Life Road Trip has been amazing. If you've been following my journey, you already know that I'm a retired, solo female traveller cruising the picturesque landscapes of British Columbia in my trusty companion, Wanda—a cozy converted Sprinter van that's become my faithful home on wheels. During this portion of my road trip, I've been sharing my van life camping adventures on Vancouver Island.
As I write this post, a noticeable coolness has settled into the evenings, signalling that the end of summer is drawing near on Vancouver Island where I've been for the past few weeks. I started at the northern tip of stunning Vancouver Island and have been gradually making my way south. From the serene estuaries and herons of Port Hardy to the coastal charms of Malcolm Island, where history and natural beauty intertwine, and the unexpected delights of Telegraph Cove, each stop has added a unique flavour to my road trip adventure. Last week I shared the delights of a highway rest stop next to Oyster Bay Shoreline Park. To check out any of these amazing places, click any of the links. I've been humbled by the support and curiosity of readers and followers. I am always happy to share my experiences and insights. If you're curious about the ins and outs of my van life road trip or have questions about life on the road, be sure to check out the previous post responding to the Frequently Asked Questions I've received. Reach out in the comments or through messages with questions you would like answered in a future post.
As summer winds down, come meander with me as I head south from Oyster Bay into the North Central region of Vancouver Island towards larger towns, multiple provincial parks, and, of course, the beauty that we British Columbians boast about and hold dear to our hearts.
Vancouver Island Camping Adventures
With the memories of Oyster Bay's dawn still fresh in my mind, I pointed Wanda's trusty wheels southward, leaving behind the quiet shoreline and heading into the heart of Vancouver Island. My plan? To explore some of the fabulous parks, trails, and coastlines that are clustered in the area between Campbell River and Nanaimo. I was looking forward to visiting some familiar favourite spots as well as discovering new places.
As I cruised along the winding roads, I couldn't help but feel a sense of anticipation building within me. The mid-island region promised a unique blend of outdoor adventures, coastal beauty, and the charms of charming communities. It was time to savour the weekend, and I was heading towards a favourite campground near Black Creek: Miracle Beach Provincial Park.
Miracle Beach Provincial Park
Miracle Beach Provincial Park, located just south of Campbell River at Black Creek, is a campground that I have visited many times starting as a child camping with my family. Those camping trip memories include lots of beach time, nature walks, and family fun. I knew as I was heading towards the larger communities that finding campsites without reserving ahead was going to become more challenging. I was hoping I could get one of the few first-come-first-serve (FCFS) available at this very popular park.
British Columbia's camping reservation system can be a bit of a puzzle to newcomers and often, to those of us who live here, too! Reservations can be made (upon payment of an additional fee) 4 months in advance on the BC Parks website. Use their map view to locate campgrounds, and find out all important camper information from fees to available amenities. Some of the most popular campgrounds must be reserved in the summer season. At Miracle Beach, during the summer season, only 11 of the 200 sites are available as First Come First Serve (FCFS) sites. It is very rare for sites to be available after noon. Timing is everything, and arriving early is a must for those of us who road trip without reserving ahead.
I arrived at 11:00 a.m. (check-out time) on a Thursday and was fortunate to secure the very last FCFS campsite available. A stroke of luck, I'd say! However, the weather didn't quite play along with my plans. It was wet and drizzly for most of the weekend, which meant my exploration was somewhat curtailed and was squeezed into the brief breaks between heavy rain.
The land that makes up the core of the park was privately owned until 1950 when the BC government purchased 57 hectares of land and established the park. Additional lands were purchased and donated over the years and Miracle Beach Provincial Park is now 135 hectares (334 acres) in size.
For nature enthusiasts like myself, there are naturalist-led activities that offer a deeper understanding of the park's ecosystems and wildlife. And let's not forget the intricate network of trails that wind through Miracle Beach Provincial Park. So despite the less-than-ideal weather, there was still plenty to keep me occupied.
Review: Miracle Beach Provincial Park Campground
Location 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️
Miracle Beach is located on the east coast of Vancouver Island at Black Creek. It is about 1.5 hours north of the Nanaimo Duke Point Ferry Terminal. It is about 30 minutes south of Campbell River for any needed supply runs or indoor rainy-day activities. With forest and a large beach, visitors can experience the best scenery that this area of the Island offers. It makes a great home base while visiting the Comox Valley, Campbell River, or the nearby islands.
Amenities 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️
This campground has spectacular amenities including a vast beach, a large day-use area and trail network, an adventure playground, hot showers, a large picnic area, and group camping facilities. There are three flush washroom buildings as well as a large shower building. Water taps and pit toilets are located throughout the campground. There is also an RV sani-station.
A favourite with return visitors, Miracle Beach has a Nature House and an Amphitheatre – where nature talks, educational activities, and movie nights are hosted. Many of my current foraging skills were originally learned in this spot during my childhood. The Nature House has a store where visitors can purchase necessities and gifts.
Campsites 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️
There are 200 non-serviced, very private sites with good forest cover. The sites further from the gate were the quietest and closest to the trails but furthest from the beach. All FCFS sites are located near the gate. The summer cost during the 2023 season is $33 per night with a 10-day maximum stay.
Nearby Activities/Services 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️
Right at the park, the beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, sandcastle building, and exploring the many tide pools along the shoreline. Water-shoes are recommended; some areas are rocky with barnacles and shells. The campground also includes 2 km of trails.
Visitors can also find horseback riding, golf, fishing and many other recreational activities in the area.
The town of Campbell River is about 30 minutes away where many adventure and eco tours can be booked. Campbell River also has shopping, movies, a climbing gym, restaurants, and many other ways to keep entertained on rainy days.
A fabulous day trip nearby is the Coastal Black Estate Winery where I stayed on my first trip in Wanda, found through Harvest Hosts. It is a lovely winery with tasty wines and a beautiful tasting room. Harvest Hosts is a membership program that invites campers in self-contained rigs (the RV has grey and black tanks) to stay for free at wineries, cideries, farms, and other agri-businesses.
Noise Levels 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ My campsite was close to the highway but the trees kept any noise well-dampened. Because my location was far from the playground and the constant drizzle sent most people into town or inside their tents and rigs, human noise was minimal.
Aesthetics 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️
Miracle Beach is a beautiful park that is perfect for lingering and taking in all that nature has to offer. The trails are pretty, the beach provides constantly changing views, and the campsites feel like a private clearing in the forest.
Miracle Beach is most appealing for those wanting flush toilets, showers, a sandy beach, have families, and want a variety of naturalist-led activities and trails right at the campground
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
As I wrap up this chapter of my 2023 Summer Van Life Road Trip, I can't help but reflect on the enchanting journey I've embarked upon through Vancouver Island. From the northernmost reaches to the heart of this coastal gem, each stop has been a revelation of beauty and adventure. If you're planning your own British Columbia road trip, I wholeheartedly encourage you to include Vancouver Island on your itinerary. This island holds a world of wonders waiting to be explored, and it's a place where the natural world and human history converge in the most captivating ways.
In this post, I've had the pleasure of sharing my experience at a remarkable campground and Provincial Park—Miracle Beach Provincial Park. This large coastal park not only has spectacular views but also a great range of activities available. If you are looking for vast beaches, naturalist-led programs, trails through pristine forests or an opportunity to immerse yourself in peace and serenity, you will find that at Miracle Beach.
If you are enjoying the blog, make sure to subscribe. You'll receive notifications whenever new content is posted. You can also stay connected through my Facebook page, Facebook Group, Twitter, and Instagram, where I share more snippets, photos, tips and stories from my meanderings
Note to commenters: Your comment will be published as a guest reply unless you are logged in.