With the long weekend approaching, and kids out of school for the summer, it’s time to go camping and when it comes to camping, more campers choose Golden Ears over any other provincial park in B.C., but with 155 parks to choose from, there’s a lot more to explore, announced Environment Minister Terry Lake.

“I have many fond memories of family camping at B.C.’s provincial parks,” said Lake. “There’s nothing better than setting up camp in one of B.C.’s spectacular parks to help you reconnect as a family.”

It will come as no surprise that the Lower Mainland, Okanagan and Vancouver Island provincial parks are the busiest as they are in the most populated areas of the province. In 2010-11, provincial parks in these three regions attracted 1,345,934 campers – approximately 57 per cent of all campers in BC Parks.

Also, results show that campers clearly favour Golden Ears:
1. Golden Ears in the Lower Mainland – 96,563
2. Rathtrevor Beach on Vancouver Island – 78,739
3. Cultus Lake near Chilliwack – 74,164
4. Shuswap Lake Park in the Thompson-Shuswap – 70,371

Spectacular parks are just another day at the “office” for B.C.’s park rangers who have the enviable task of patrolling provincial parks. Park rangers reveal their favourite family-friendly camping spots in these staff picks:

* Rod Dalziel recommends Tyhee Lake Provincial Park: “With a 1 1/2 year old in my life, the convenience of this campground is very attractive. It offers all the facilities you need including flush toilets and showers, a beautiful beach area for swimming, picnic shelter and playground.”

* Katie Lemire recommends Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park in the hills near Chase: “It’s a small rustic campground with only 29 sites but that is part of the charm. All the sites are on the water’s edge with fantastic views – swimming and fishing are favourite pastimes.”

* Andrew Letts recommends Purden Lake Provincial Park, east of Prince George: “A variety of short hiking trails take you throughout the campground, to the end of the lake and through the day use area. Children can play at the playground, build sandcastles at the beach or ride their bikes, and everyone who loves the sport of geo-caching, take note – Purden Lake is home to several.”

* Andy Macdonald recommends Rathtrevor Provincial Park near Parksville: “As a father with two very energetic young boys Rathtrevor Beach is an ideal location for family camping. Time can be spent beachcombing, building sandcastles, swimming, wading, skim boarding and dozens of other activities to keep them busy all day.”

These are just a few examples of provincial parks available to campers. With many more to choose from, there are parks in all regions of the province near rivers, lakes, and the ocean with varying degrees of amenities and locales.