We took our two kids and our dog on our longest camping trip yet- one full week with our tent trailer!
We started out behind schedule because our truck battery died the night before we left! Luckily my husband drove to fill up the truck the night before and asked me to go test it out when he got back because he thought the ignition was acting up and I drive it daily. It would not even turn over for me! It had not been acting up previously and we had just gotten an oil change and had everything checked over too, so we were very lucky this happened at home before we hit the road and not at a campsite or side of the road somewhere!
Being that it was July 1st-Canada Day-everything opened later than usual and my husband ended up parked outside Canadian Tire waiting for them to open at 8am.
We had everything pre-packed in the trailer so we loaded up the truck while my husband put in the new battery and we hit the road a few hours behind schedule.
The first leg of our journey was to Kettle River, which was a total of 358km and 4hr 11 minutes according to Google Maps.
When you add in bathroom, food and stretch breaks, it took us closer to 5 hours, but the drive up Highway 3 was beautiful.
It had been years since I had been up that way and my husband had never been past Oliver so it was nice to enjoy the scenic route along the way as we showed our kids a different part of Beautiful British Columbia!
We arrived mid afternoon and pulled up to the last 2 night spot as a vehicle was backing in (a vehicle that had passed us on the highway too!). All of the First Come First Serve spots were full, so we took a 1 night Reserved spot and asked the ranger what time we were allowed to move if something else opened up in the morning.
We had a great spot close to the river and even though the mosquitoes were terrible we set up a Citronella perimeter, started a fire and enjoyed our forested site for the night.
The next morning we moved to a First Come First Serve site, which was not too much work thanks to the tent trailer!
This site had far less mosquitoes, flush toilets instead of pit toilets, but was also much more open so less privacy.
The next day we decided to move on and try to camp closer to Windermere, where we were meeting our extended family for a few days.
We drove to Castlegar and drove down to a Provincial Park with great reviews but it was full. We stopped at a few others and they were full too so we decided to stop at the Visitor Center in Castlegar and pick up a map of the area.
As a child, I travelled in an RV for three weeks at a time exploring the province and am used to having to explore new areas and finding a place to stay on the fly! Long weekends add an extra challenge and my goal for this trip was to just relax and go with the flow. I kept telling our kids they might get to sleep in their first Walmart parking lot! That became the running joke of the trip.
We were going to go up through Nelson, but we missed a turn and had no cell service so we decided to wing it… when we had service again the Maps app informed us our route included a Ferry across Kootenay Lake!
I did some quick research and realized it was a Free Ferry, plus it would be faster than backtracking, so we went and got in line. For more information on the Kootenay Lake Ferry, Click Here
There are a few shops along the side of the waiting area for the ferry, and they sell everything from Tye Dyed shirts to Poutine and Ice cream.
The views from the ferry across Kootenay Lake were amazing despite not being allowed to leave our vehicles due to Covid-19.
This was my first time on this ferry and I definitely want to do it again when we are allowed to walk around on deck and really enjoy the views of all the mountains surrounding the lake! They would be stunning from the middle of the lake!
It was close to 4pm, we had been on the road for almost six hours already and the kids were done with driving. Luckily I spotted Crawford Bay RV Park on our map from the Visitor Center and gave them a call.
The woman on the other end of the phone was very friendly, but told me they were very full and asked me to hold for a moment. Once I explained that we were waiting for the ferry and just wanted to stay somewhere other than a parking lot for the night, she warmly told me they would be waiting for us when we got there!
Most RV parks don’t have grass sites but this one did! Water and electrical hookups were a nice option considering we were only paying $10 more than the provincial park we had stayed at the night before!
The next day our kids told us they really liked this spot and wanted to stay another day, so we agreed to ask if they had room for us and they said no problem! This campground had such a friendly, welcoming atmosphere it was great, plus the most gorgeous sunsets!
To read more about Crawford Bay RV Park check it out Here
The following day, it was time to move on to Windermere so we packed up and drove to the AirBNB my sister had rented.
It was a beautiful place overlooking the golf course and we set up our trailer behind the house and even did some laundry! This was day five for us and the kids were grateful for a couch and WiFi as much as I was grateful to wash our garbage bag full of stinky clothes!
Once the rest of the family arrived we had a great time for three fun-packed nights in Windermere. We rented kayaks on the lake and spent an afternoon at the beach. There were rafts you could swim (or paddle) out to that had slides on them. I paddled my daughter out and watched her slide down, then towed her back to shore over and over again! My kids got to try kayaking for the first time and both did great! I also convinced my husband to try it, let’s just say he didn’t talk to me for the rest of the afternoon after we flipped….
Day Seven was our day to drive home. We asked our kids if they wanted to do the 8.5 hour drive all at once or camp overnight and break it up into two days. They unanimously said “all at once” so we packed our snack bin full and geared up for a long day in the truck to get home.
Packing up is always easier, less stuff to fit in everywhere and the trailers water tank is empty so gas mileage is not as painful either!
We stopped a total of 4 times over 9 hours and made great time. Our kids and our dog all did great on the long drive home.
We pulled in at home around 6pm and were unloaded with trailer in the garage and laundry going 35 minutes later!
This was the longest we have ever taken our kids camping for and it was definitely an experience. We travelled 928km total and our kids said that next time they would like to go somewhere and stay for the whole week rather than packing up and moving every few days, so we will take that into consideration for our trip next summer.
As always, thank you for reading and I hope this post helps inspire you to take a new adventure with your family!