When the first weekend in August approaches, I’m always filled with excitement as I plan my getaway. The three-day break provided by BC Day is a chance to explore my adopted province. In previous years, I’ve taken a road trip to Lytton for white water rafting and gone camping at Nairn Falls. In keeping with Tourism BC’s “Super Natural” slogan, my favourite ways to appreciate the province involve being outdoors. This year was no exception: a Modo road trip with a friend to camp at Manning Park.
Unfortunately, this has been the worst summer in six decades for wildfires in British Columbia. With hundreds of fires and no rain on the horizon, it’s a scary and sad situation that has destroyed countless homes, forced towns to be evacuated and consumed thousands of hectares of forest. It’s also blanketed the Coastal Mountains and other areas in BC and the US with a haze, affecting things to the point that air quality ratings and warnings have become part of daily weather reports. But since the haze was everywhere anyway, including Vancouver, we opted to carry on with our camping trip.
On the Friday before BC Day, I picked up my Modo Jeep Renegade, threw in my camping stuff and headed East to pick up my friend Claire before hitting Highway 1. Despite the long weekend traffic and the haze, we felt a wave of relief wash over us as we escaped the stresses of the city. In keeping with the relaxation goals of the weekend, we pulled off the highway at Bridal Falls to stretch our legs and take a break from driving. The falls are just a short walk from the parking lot, and provided a refreshing mist on our faces to counteract the heat. If you’re driving east from Vancouver, Bridal Falls is a great place to take a quick break.
Manning Park Camping
Before we knew it, we were at Manning Park, our home for the weekend. The agenda consisted mostly of chilling out, exploring in our Modo, a few light hikes, and taking some much needed time off the grid from cell service by reading, lounging at camp, floating in the lake and generally catching up.
On this trip, we camped at Lightning Lake, one of several campgrounds in Manning Park. (For reservations, check out Discover Camping.) Lightning Lake is very new-camper friendly, with showers, flush toilets and nightly activities at the amphitheater during peak season. It offers quick access to the lake for swimming and canoeing (Rental canoes, kayaks and SUPs are available if you haven’t brought your own.) It’s also close to Manning Park Lodge, with its restaurant and a store with basic groceries, camping supplies and alcohol in case you’ve forgotten something. The trade-off is that the sites at Lightning Lake aren’t as spaced out and private as at the other campgrounds with fewer facilities. On this trip, we had some neighbours who were a bit boisterous and inconsiderate. So next time, we might book a campsite on the outer edge of Lighting Lakes campground or “rough it” at one of the other campgrounds for more privacy and quiet.
Every BC Day long weekend, Manning hosts a lantern building workshop on the Saturday with kits available for $20 each or two for $30 with materials to build. That evening at Spruce Bay Beach, we launched our lanterns into the water and watched them drift away until volunteers rescued them. There was a large turnout for such a unique event, but we were each able to find moments of peace as we watched our lanterns get wafted away on the gentle currents, shimmering in our memories like the August weekend.
It was a great way to spend BC Day!
Getting to Manning:
A car is essential to get there whether you drive you own, use car sharing, or rent. Car sharing works best for me as I don’t need a car in my daily life. Modo is my favourite, as it is a co-op and offers a wide range of cars together with the most affordable rates. I normally book the car closest to me, but when I want a special car, whether it’s a 4 x 4, snow tires, pickup truck or sports car, I have options. The Jeep Renegade proved to be the perfect car for exploring Manning’s backroads. For more information on how to join, check out Modo’s website It’s a great choice for Vancouver, Victoria, Sidney and Nanaimo residents.