Destination: Kamloops, BC
A #vanlife guide
Destination: Kamloops, BC
Kamloops is a city in British Columbia in Canada at the meeting ground of two branches of the Thompson River. We left for Kamloops a few days after returning from Nepal, after finding a spare garage for rent.
We spent about half a month there converting Pebs (mainly patching her roof), and got to know the small city a bit. Here are some of our favorite spots to visit.
On the north shore, the park has an awesome stadium with wifi, hockey, drinking fountains and bathrooms. It also features several bike paths and walking trails, and the park is large enough that when we parked at the edge no one bothered us during the day (we never spent the night there).
We'd often hit up the stadium before bedtime to watch the local hockey teams practice and wash up for the night. With a view, amenities and lots of space, we spent quite a few days chilling the park working on Pebs and cooking.
2. Buse Lake Protected Area
One of our favorite days was spent here. The road up is unpaved and muddy, and we got to try out Peb's snow chains for the first time. The entire area was deserted and completely covered in snow. Perfect area for snowshoeing or hiking in the snow.
Kamloops has plenty of parks and protected areas, but we particularly liked this one because of how quiet and peaceful it was. Nick had plenty of space and privacy to fly the drone and I spent my time writing and cooking.
3. Best place to boondock
There's a relative large parking spot behind Holiday Inn with a large semi-abandoned park in the back. The place is relatively quiet and flat, and we saw a few Sprinters there. We must've parked there half of the time we were in Kamloops (before it got too cold and before we installed our Espar) and no noe ever bothered us.
Plus, it's only a few minute's drive to Tim Horton's, Canada's fan-fav coffee place. Try the Timbits. You'll thank me :)
FYI the Walmart in town does not allow overnight parking. There are signs all over so I wouldn't try.
4. RV Parks
On the days that we needed some shore power to run on space heater, we crashed at a RV park. Note that many tend to close after October due to the cold, and it's better to call ahead to confirm. Average rates are around $30CAD a night with electrical.
Woodland Mobile Home Park
I may be biased because we got a free nights here. The park had already shut down, but there were no signs and we ended up crashing there. The site had electrical and the spots were relatively far apart. Plus the entire camp ground seemed far away from civilization even though it was in the middle of the city.
This one was open in October, and while the sites are small and cramped together, the shower was absolutely bomb! They also had coin laundry for when we really needed to wash our clothes. Electrical hookup kept us warm in the chilly Canadian fall (we're talking -12C or so with only a space heater), and it's right next door to the BC Wildlife Park that's worth a look. We crashed for about three nights here when it got really cold.
4. Useful shops
Canadian auto stores are a bit different than U.S. ones, and it took us a bit to get our bearings. The popular ones in Kamloops are:
Kind of like an Autozone, Lordco carries a bunch of auto materials, sand paper, adhesives and whatnot. These kind people lent us the adhesive applicator to fix the ceilings in our roof.
Don't be fooled by the name. Princess Auto carried most of our auto needs (we got our winter chains there). Plus it was right near a drug store, a liquor store and a grocery store, so the location can't be beat.
Home Depot (1020 Hillside Dr, Kamloops, BC V2E 2S5, Canada)
Goes without saying. Bonus is that the parking lot has some electrical plugs for engine heaters. We didn't have our electrical system set up at the time so parked there and used the plugs to power our Dremel for some light work.
True outdoors (749 Notre Dame Dr, Kamloops, BC V2C 5N8, Canada)
A nice outdoor shop and sporting shop with clothing, gear and whatnot. Kind of like a neighborhood REI. This was the only place that carried Jetboil fuel in town, and we stocked up there.
5. Other Tips
Note that liquor, wine and beer are only allowed to be sold in liquor stores. Other than Quebec and some part of rural Saskatchewan, most of Canada abides by this rule, so unfortunately you can't walk into a grocery store and expect to pick up a six pack.
YMCA (400 Battle St, Kamloops, BC V2C 2L7, Canada)
The local Y is super great for swimming and showering. The facilities are clean and very well managed, and it's right in the middle of town. They sometimes offer free trial passes, which we took advantage of. A single session is $5, and you'll need an ID to register.
Craigslist isn't big in most of Canada outside major cities. The local favorite equivalent is Kijiji. You can download the app for your mobile device or use their website. We found most of our garages for rent, used furniture and appliances (Jetboil Minimo) for some great deals using the app.
Kamloops is Canada's tournament central, in that it hosts tons of sports. The one to check out is the local hockey team, the Blazers, and experience some true Canadian passion.
6. Gateway to Jasper and Kelowna
The last awesome thing about Kamloops isn't really about Kamloops. Rather, it's location makes it perfect to take short trips south to the Kelowna area (known for its beautiful vineyards, sunny weather and amazing wines) or to trek out to Glacier National Park, Kootenay National Park and--of course--Banff and Jasper.
If you're heading west, the drive from Kamloops to Vancouver is absolutely gorgeous!