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Haida Gwaii park makes list of national hidden gem campsites

Scouters cite lush rainforests, rich Haida culture and wildlife as the park’s appeal
Ovens, NS cave at campsite (Scouts Canada photo).

Scouts Canada members have announced Gwaii Haanas National Park as one of Canada’s best ‘hidden gem’ campsites in the country.

The co-ed youth organization polled their 46,704 members, asking them various questions to narrow down this year’s most epic parks and best ‘hidden gems,’ which they described as places most people haven’t heard of.

Gwaii Haanas on Haida Gwaii’s southern islands was named a hidden gem for its lush rainforest islands, rich Haida culture, learning opportunities and wildlife sightings.

A popular B.C. destination on Vancouver Island cracked top three on the list of most epic campsites in the country.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, favoured by just less than 35 per cent of respondents, was ranked as the second most epic spot in the country. It was only beaten out by Alberta’s Jasper National Park which received just shy of 40 per cent of the vote.

Following in third was Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario, at 32.9 per cent.

“With camping emerging as an adventurous and affordable option for many Canadians, we wanted to make sure that every Canadian knows where the most epic campsites in the country are and which criteria they should consider when searching for a spot,” said Mike Eybel, a volunteer scouter of seven years.

Other campsites listed as hidden gems included Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park in Alberta, because it straddles the Milk River and is nestled in hoodoos (incredible rock structures), and Spruce Woods Provincial Park, in Manitoba, for its sand dunes to explore where the Assiniboine River once flowed.

The scouting community had various responses when asked about what makes a campsite screensaver worthy. The views marked number one, at 85 per cent, with proximity to water in second, at 64 per cent. Other reasons included activity options such as hiking, swimming, biking, wildlife sightings, quietness and accessible washrooms.

For solo camping trips, the views and proximity to water still ranked at the top as factors that make a site best for a solo vacation.

When asked where Canadians have camped and where they would go back, campgrounds ranked as follows:

• Algonquin Provincial Park, ON - 42.9 per cent

• Jasper National Park, Alta. - 32.6 per cent

• Pinery Provincial Park, ON - 23.6 per cent

• Fundy National Park, NB - 22.0 per cent

• Cavendish Campground, P.E.I - 20.4 per cent

Ontario had the highest number of visited campsites with both Algonquin and Pinery Provincial Parks. Nearly half of the respondents have camped at Algonquin Provincial Park.

Fifty-nine per cent of Scouters said “a drive-in site” is their favourite way to camp. Meanwhile, 24 per cent of daring members prefer to access their campsites by paddling in and 17 per cent of adventurous respondents prefer to hike into camp.

The top six Scouts reserves were voted as:

• Blue Springs Scout Reserve, Mississauga, ON - 18.3 per cent

• Camp Samac, Oshawa, ON - 16.7 per cent

• Camp Barnard, Sooke, B.C. - 14.4 per cent

• Camp McLean, Vancouver, B.C. - 10.9 per cent

• Camp Opemikon, Ottawa, ON - 10.9 per cent

• Camp Attawandaron, London, ON - 8.23 per cent

With files from Kaitlyn Bailey

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Yukon River campsite (Scouts Canada photo).
Jasper, Alta. campsite (Scouts Canada photo).
SG̱ang Gwaay Llanagaay at Gwaii Haanas National Park. (Photo: Gwaii Haanas National Park Facebook page)
Wildlife at Gwaii Haanas National Park. (Photo: Gwaii Haanas National Park Facebook page)