In this article we describe our trip from rental pick-up to return, plus everything in between. It was an amazing experience! If you’ve never been camping in BC’s parks and nature, you need to go. And if you’ve never vacationed in a recreational vehicle, you need to try that too!
As many as 90% of Fraserway RV’s rental customers in the Lower Mainland each summer are Europeans who fly in from abroad, pick up a vehicle, and then set off to experience a trip of a lifetime in beautiful British Columbia. Europeans are so smart! Locals should vacation like this in their own backyard too! We did! Now let us tell you about it. …
To skip to a video about our holiday at the bottom of this article, click Video of our Nairn Falls Camping Trip.
Our Camping Experience in a Fraserway RV
On our trip we picked up our vehicle from the Fraserway RV dealership in Delta and then headed towards the Sea to Sky Region and Whistler. We stopped in Porteau Cove before arriving at our campsite at Nairn Falls near Pemberton.
During our stay at Nairn Falls we explored the provincial park, the surrounding area and the Village of Whistler. We hiked and rode our bikes. We had campfires, saw waterfalls and visited a cultural tourist attraction.
As you’ll see in our story below, we experienced nature while spoiling ourselves in comfort. We also made memories that we won’t soon forget!
This article is sponsored by Fraserway RV which is Canada’s largest recreational vehicle dealer. They lent us a motorhome for our trip in the summer, for which we were very grateful!
Renting a Vehicle from Fraserway RV
Our camping experience began with choosing a recreational vehicle. We wanted something big enough to spoil ourselves, but not too huge since we aren’t used to larger vehicles. We went online and found we had a choice of campers on trucks, motorhomes of various sizes and van conversions.
In the end, we chose a 25-foot motorhome with its own full washroom and kitchen (including stove, oven and microwave). It also had sleeping facilities for up to 6 people.
The vehicle had a slide out, giving us an extra foot or so in the width interior when parked and extended. It also had plenty of cupboard space, and enough battery power to last us the entire trip. We also requested a bike rack and the linens and kitchen utensils add-on packages so we didn’t have to pack our own sleeping bags, dishes and pots and pans. It was perfect!
Fraserway RV has about a dozen rental locations across Canada including in Abbotsford and Delta. We picked our motorhome up at the Delta location. The dealership is on Annacis Island just before the Alex Fraser Bridge near where Delta, Richmond, Surrey and New Westminster all connect. It was only a half-hour drive from our home, and just off the highway – so nice and convenient.
We arrived at the dealership and were greeted by friendly staff. We were shown our motorhome, got directions on how to use everything and inspected the state of the vehicle before getting our instruction manual and keys. After signing all the paperwork, we were off on our grand adventure!
Driving the Motorhome
Our RV was actually far easier to drive than we expected. It took a little bit of getting used to, but within minutes we were experts!
The motorhome had wide side mirrors which helped us see pretty much everything. It also had a super helpful backup camera. The automatic engine was just like driving an extra big van. It was actually fun to drive and throughout our trip we never had a problem.
Picking up our Gear
When we picked up our motorhome we took our camping gear with us so we could transfer our belongings right into the RV.
It was surprising how little we had to pack for the trip – no need for sleeping bags, cups, plates, cooking stove, tent, tarps, foamies or other gear normally required when tenting. Basically we only needed our food, clothes and bikes. Camping in an RV is so easy!
Driving up the Sea to Sky Highway
After exploring the Porteau Cove campground, strolling on the beach and walking along the pier, we swapped drivers and continued on our journey towards Whistler. Along the way we passed other amazing places including Britannia Mine, Shannon Falls, Stawamus Chief and Alice Lake. We’ll visit these other attractions another time.
In our opinion, the drive from Vancouver’s North Shore to Squamish is one of the most spectacular in the world (at least on days with sunshine and clear skies). Along the way we enjoyed the amazing views of the mountains, Howe Sound and the Sea to Sky Region. The scenery is stunning!
Video at Porteau Cove
Below is a video about our stop at Porteau Cove where we stayed for about an hour. The video shows the day-use parking area at the park as well as the beach, campground and pier. As you’ll see, it’s a beautiful spot. We’ll want to go camping here in an RV one day too!
Arriving at Our Campsite
The next stop on our journey, and final destination for the day, was Nairn Falls Provincial Park. We had a reservation for three nights and couldn’t wait!
Nairn Falls is about 90 minutes from Porteau Cove, and half an hour past Whistler.
We arrived at our campsite at about 6 o’clock, so perfect timing for dinner. It was then that we experienced one of the absolute best things about camping in a recreational vehicle compared to a tent. In addition to being easy to pack at the start of your trip, RVs are incredibly simple to set up!
Setting Up – Then (in a Tent) vs. Now (in the RV)
In the past we have normally camped in a tent. The time it takes between arriving and completely unpacking, for us at least, is usually about an hour. It’s no doubt faster for people without young kids, or for folk who pack light. For us though, setting up is always a major ordeal (only made bearable by having a beer in hand to help us cope).
When staying in a tent, by the time you finish setting everything up and cook your dinner, you and everyone else is starving (and at least one person in your group is grumpy). And then, after you manage to eat, wash the dishes and finally get to relax, you’re exhausted!
Camping is awesome. For 99% of people who stay in tents, however, the highlight of the experience is not the unpacking. Setting up camp when staying in a recreational vehicle, on the other hand, is completely different!
We arrived at Nairn Falls at 6 pm. We backed our vehicle into the campsite, turned off the ignition, put on the parking brake, opened a bag of chips, cracked open a couple of cold drinks, and we were done! By 6:10 dinner was cooking on the stove inside the RV. By 6:45 everything was cleaned up and we were ready to explore. It was all so incredibly easy!
Our First Night in the Motorhome
We did almost nothing with respect to unpacking on the first night. We opened our suitcases and made the bed, but that was about it. The simplicity of the process felt like heaven! Instead of setting up tarps (because the forecast called for rain), we went for a walk.
Since it was still early, we headed out along the Nairn Falls Trail to the waterfalls. The trail goes through the forest for about 1.5 km (or just over a mile). Far below, but almost always in sight, is the Green River. The walk to the falls and back took about an hour.
If you are ever in the Pemberton area you should check out the waterfalls. They are impressive. They aren’t huge, or as high as the ones at Shannon Falls (which we passed on our way up and are exceptional). The waters at Nairn Falls rage through the cracks and crevices of the solid rock though, and you can get close enough to feel the mist.
Back at our campsite an hour or so later, we got some wood out of the motorhome’s side compartment and started a campfire. What a perfect start we had to our RV getaway!
Bedtime in the Motorhome
Sleeping in an RV is so much nicer than in a tent!
Nairn Falls Provincial Park is beautiful and highly recommended, but also a bit rustic. There are no showers, nor hot water or flush toilets. That didn’t bother us though as we had brought all those amenities with us.
Below are some of the things we loved about the nighttime routine in our motorhome versus staying in a tent.
- Instead of walking to the hand-pump water station and carrying a heavy jug of H2O back to our site so we could brush our teeth or wash our faces, we simply used the sink and taps in our vehicle.
- Instead of walking in near pitch darkness to the stinky outhouse, we used our own private bathroom.
- Instead of having to fumble with our flashlights every time we wanted to find something, we just hit the light switches.
- Instead of worrying about the batteries on our phones, we used our devices as much as we needed, knowing we could plug them in any time.
In addition, the beds in a newer motorhome are far nicer to sleep on than a foamy or inflatable mattress in a tent. We had great sleeps!
It was also so nice when I woke up thirsty in the middle of the night. I just grabbed a drink from the fridge. I also loved the fact that I didn’t have to get dressed, find my flashlight and trek to the outhouse in the dark (all while worrying about the bear that was reportedly spotted a few days earlier)!
In short, we had a fabulous first night and woke up refreshed and ready to go the next morning.
Day Two – Exploring Whistler
It rained during our first night (which made us once again so glad that we were staying in an RV). The forecast for the second day also wasn’t great. Consequently, instead of exploring nature with our umbrellas, we headed to Whistler and spent the day there.
After breakfast we washed the dishes, got dressed, turned off the motorhome’s water pump, took off the parking brake and drove out of our campsite.
Whistler is about 30 km from Nairn Falls. We headed straight to the main parking area and found ample space in the RV parking lot.
We planned to ride our bicycles in Whistler. We had our bikes ready to head out just as it started to rain. We consequently locked our bikes together, climbed back into our motorhome, got out some cards and played at our kitchen table. Half an hour later the rain stopped so we went back out.
The weather still looked iffy, so rather than going for a long ride we decided instead to visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. We did a bit of exploring along the way, but figured it was a good day to be indoors, which was a wise decision.
Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is in Whistler’s Upper Village not far from the base of Blackcomb and the Blackcomb gondola. It’s an interesting place that we highly recommended (especially on rainy days).
Inside the cultural centre we saw Indigenous art, wood carvings, dugout canoes, artifacts and totem poles. We also saw an informative film and learned about the history and cultures of the Squamish and Lil’wat First Nations. We were at the centre for a bit more than an hour. It was both enjoyable and educational.
We spent the rest of the day exploring Whistler Village. We rode our bikes around for a bit, watched people doing tricks at the skateboard park, and saw folk racing around on the mountain bike trails. We also explored the pedestrian-only streets in the village which is always enjoyable.
After a delicious dinner at a restaurant, we put our bicycles back on our motorhome’s bike rack and headed back to Nairn Falls.
Our Second Evening at the Campsite
It didn’t rain on our second evening, but things were still damp and it looked like the rain might return. Consequently, we didn’t have another campfire. As dusk fell, we got out the cards and played a few more games at our kitchen table.
The same as the night before, we once again appreciated our motorhome’s hot water, lights, bathroom and other amenities as we prepared for bed.
Day Three – Exploring Nairn Falls and One Mile Lake
The next morning, after another comfortable sleep, we woke to clear skies and sunshine. We had breakfast, washed the dishes in our kitchen sink, and then went exploring.
Nairn Falls Provincial Park has three great areas for walking. There is the Nairn Falls Trail which leads to the waterfalls where we had gone on our first evening. There is also Coudre Point which is just 10 minutes or so from the campsites.
On our second morning we took the Coudre Point Trail through the forest down to the riverside. It’s a nice walk and the scenery is so truly Canadian. We walked along the rocks at the edge of the river, took a few photos and enjoyed the view.
The third area to explore at Nairn Falls is the One Mile Lake Trail. It’s a two-and-a-half-kilometre trail that connects the provincial park with One Mile Lake which has a beach, boardwalks and a path that goes all the way around the lake. One Mile Lake Trail is great for hiking as well as biking. It goes up over a small hill, but is never too steep (at least not for most people).
Biking to and Around One Mile Lake
After returning from our walk to Coudre Point, we returned to our campsite, had a bite to eat, and then headed to One Mile Lake on our mountain bikes.
Biking the trail was so much fun! It was challenging enough for out-of-shape novices like us, but not overly difficult.
The trail went through the forest, up over the hill and through some beautiful scenery. About 20 or so minutes later we were at the end. We rested for a bit and then went for a walk along the boardwalks and trail around the lake. The bike ride back to our campground was equally enjoyable.
One Mile Lake is a fabulous place to explore! It has a small beach with a couple of docks, and there are paddleboard rentals available. All around the lake is a boardwalk and trail. There is a dog beach on the other side of the lake. It takes roughly 20 minutes to walk the entire route, or about 10 minutes on bikes.
Our Third Night at the Campsite
We returned to Nairn Falls exhausted but happy. We ate dinner, had another campfire and enjoyed a quiet evening.
Day Four – Returning Home
After another restful sleep we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast before packing for our return trip to Vancouver.
Getting Ready to Go
Packing up an RV at the end of your stay is so easy compared to packing up a tent and all its related gear. We didn’t have to wake up extra early to give ourselves time to roll up the sleeping bags, take down the tent and cram our belongings into the car.
On that final morning, we also didn’t have to take our cooler and cooking equipment out of our vehicle yet again to set things up for breakfast. We also didn’t have to carry water back to our site and heat it on a portable stove at the picnic table in order to wash our dishes.
Pretty much all we had to do on that final morning after breakfast was wash our dishes in the sink, put things back in the cupboards, press a button to make the motorhome’s side extension come back in, press another button to retract the automated awning, and turn off the water pump. After doing all that, plus getting dressed of course, we were ready to go!
The Drive Home
The drive from Nairn Falls back to Vancouver takes about 2.5 hours if going non-stop. It’s about 175 km, but we took our time.
There is one thing I didn’t mention about packing up in an RV that you don’t have to do when tenting. It’s great having your own personal sink, shower and toilet with a recreational vehicle. However, those amenities fill up the waste-water tanks. This means having to empty them at the end of your trip. As we discovered though, it’s super easy.
Most Lower Mainland provincial park campgrounds have a sani-station, but not Nairn Falls. Consequently, we used the one at Alice Lake just outside Squamish. It’s a provincial park about halfway between Whistler and Vancouver.
It cost $5 to use the sani-station and the process was very simple. We purchased a token, connected the pipes, inserted our token, flipped the switch and gravity did the rest. After hosing the pipes out with clean water, we were done. It wasn’t stinky and it wasn’t gross. It was a piece of cake!
Returning Our RV
The drive back to Vancouver and Fraserway RV was uneventful. We once again enjoyed the scenery of the Sea to Sky region, and we reminisced about our wonderful holiday.
Just before arriving at the dealership we stopped for gas – dreading how much it would cost. We had no idea what to expect, but were guessing somewhere between $200 and $500. In the end it cost less than $170 to fill up, which was a pleasant surprise. It would probably have cost about the same if we had taken both our van and our car (which we likely would have done had we taken our kids and been tenting).
The return process at Fraserway RV was simple. Together with one of their agents we inspected the vehicle and ensured everything was in good shape. We then transferred our gear from the motorhome into our van, completed the final paperwork, returned the keys and headed home.
Video of our RV Camping Trip
Below is a video of our holiday in the motorhome. It includes scenes of Nairn Falls Provincial Park, our campsite, our RV, and us exploring the area both on foot and mountain bike. It also includes scenes of One Mile Lake. As you can see, we had an amazing time!
In Conclusion …
What a wonderful experience we had! Everything was so easy, from picking up the motorhome, to driving it, to the packing and unpacking. We had an absolutely fabulous time!
Prior to this trip, we had only gone camping once before in a recreational vehicle in a borrowed camper twenty years ago. We’ve also gone camping with friends who have had RVs, but we’ve always stayed in our tent. After this most recent experience, however, we’ll be doing more vacationing in an RV. My wife will make sure of that!
To learn more about the rental company we got our motorhome from, see the Fraserway RV website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- 12 Reasons to go Camping in an RV
- Camping and Campgrounds Near Vancouver
- Vancouver Summer Activities
- Lower Mainland Parks and Nature
- Sea to Sky Region
- Whistler Village and the Whistler Area
- Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
- Nairn Falls Provincial Park