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Tips & Trips For Autumn RVing in BC

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A motorhome rig crossing a trestle bridge over a river in a wooded area in autumn.When planning an RV trip, the first thought that comes to most rig owners' minds is "summer". Vacation days, warm weather and sunshine come together for prime RVing opportunities.

Which leaves the next greatest RVing season sadly overlooked: Fall.

As the shoulder season starts to set in you'll see a lot of rigs packing up and moving out, prepping for the school year and colder weather. But those who stay (or start up a new trip) in the cooler months get a host of new benefits.

Thinner crowds, lower costs, less bugs, and beautiful foliage are the big ones. Tourists clear out and kids enter school, letting you explore popular destinations at your own pace. Lots clear out, giving you the pick of the campground. Ticket prices and even restaurant bills may go down, and every local café starts to smell of apples and pumpkin spice.

We love fall here at Salish Seaside, and we want our fellow RVers to love it too. So here are our tips on how to have a great caravan adventure in BC during the autumn months.

What To Do

You can plan an entire trip around fall activities in BC if you know where to look. Not too hot or too cold, autumn is a great season for all things outdoors: Hiking, fishing, paddling, leaf viewing, cycling, jogging, sightseeing, and casual strolls. Vancouver Island in particular offers all of those activities both in the "big" cities and more rural areas, so you don't feel like you have to drive out to the middle of nowhere to get in touch with nature (but you still can if you want to). Bike tours and kayak rentals start to go on sale as their tourist income trickles away, sometimes netting you big savings.

Check in with local nature sanctuaries to learn if any major wildlife migrations are coming up. Autumn can be the perfect time for bat, whale, and birdwatching, or seeing the spectacle of a salmon spawn. Plane tours are an option for amazing views of fall foliage.

Harvest time means almost every farm is open for business with fresh produce, corn mazes, apple orchards, jams and preserves, hay rides, pumpkin patches, and even some late-season berry picking. Buy homemade pies and apple cobbler hot from the oven, or take your own ingredients home to make a hearty meal. Don't let your rig's lack of counter space intimidate you — Dutch ovens, slow cookers and crock pots can be your go-to for a hot dinner. Or take it outside and grill up a BBQ turkey to share with the whole family (and maybe some of the neighbours). Use recyclable roasting pans and paper plates and even clean-up will be a breeze.

Let's not forget Halloween! You can visit a haunted house, take a ghost tour, and decorate your rig with monsters and jack o' lanterns. Victoria is especially well-known for its Halloween celebrations, with its history as BC's "most haunted city" and large bonfires held in many municipalities. Craigdarroch Castle holds annual Halloween shows, the Zombie Walk parades downtown, Government Street is only open to pedestrians during Wicked Victoria, and the Royal BC Museum has special after-hours events.

Last of all, if that all gets too busy, you can always rent a firepit and spend a quiet evening snuggled up in a blanket watching the stars and the lights of the Inner Harbour.

Where To Go

Unlike the eastern provinces, BC doesn't have a dedicated fall colours report showing the best spots for autumn leaf viewing. Driving through the most heavily wooded areas is a good bet, but there are some local favourites as well: Try Tofino, Kaslo (on the shore of Kootenay Lake), the Comox Valley, Victoria, and Vancouver's Stanley Park (especially in October and November).

National, provincial, and regional parks are also a good choice. Okanagan Falls Provincial Park, Stocking Creek Regional Park, Thetis Lake Regional Park, and Strathcona Provincial Park (BC's oldest park) are picture perfect in the fall, with clear lakes and waterfalls. Hike up a little further to Mt. Washington, and you can go skiing with the ocean on the horizon. Grab a Parks Canada pass to visit some of them for free.

Wherever your route takes you, check the availability of your campsites ahead of time. Salish Seaside RV Haven is open year-round with a central gathering place and heated amenities, but some campgrounds further north and in the interior close early for the winter, or have limited shelter.

The mild climate of the BC coast means we have more options than most for autumn travel. Even in the Rockies, temperatures can stay above zero long into September and sometimes October. Still, many locations see unpredictable weather as the season wears on, so choose your destinations carefully and keep up to date on weather reports and Drive BC.

How To Get There

Yes, we admit it — autumn in BC means rain, which doesn't always play nice with summer-oriented rigs. Don't let that stop you! You too can be a "winter warrior" by planning ahead and taking some extra steps to keep you and your rig in top shape, letting you enjoy BC all autumn long:

  • Get a professional safety check for your rig, especially if you'll be travelling through the mountains. Double check your brakes, axle, tire pressure, wheel bearings, towing gear, heating system, and water system, and make sure that you can operate all of them safely. Freezing temperatures are unlikely in most of BC in the fall, but it doesn't hurt to know how to disconnect and drain your water lines just in case.
  • Make maintenance a habit. Do any upkeep you're capable of on a regular basis, like checking lug nuts, lubricating slides, cleaning the roof, and so on. Own a toolkit and know how to use it.
  • Insulate your windows with window wrap kits from a local hardware store. They're affordable and easy to install, and will help you save on heating.
  • Fight off condensation in your rig by running a dehumidifier, turning up the heat, cracking open cupboards and windows, redirecting cooking steam towards vents, and taking showers at campground facilities. "Sweating" walls and ceilings can lead to hazardous mould and voided warranties.
  • Have a wardrobe of layers. Lightweight jackets, long-sleeved shirts, extra blankets, vests and warm socks can all be worn on top of lighter clothes to keep warm, then come off when temperatures rise.
  • Stay dry. Know the difference between water resistant and waterproof clothing, and own a good pair of cool-weather footwear. Foldable ponchos are a good emergency measure that can fit almost anywhere to be pulled out during surprise showers.
  • Keep the sunscreen, water bottles, and bug repellent on hand, just in case. Fall doesn't always mean you're out of sunburn and bug bite territory.
  • Figure out your adventure gear: whether you'll pack your kayaks, fishing gear, and bikes, or rent them from local outfitters.
  • When travelling long distances in a single day, use a service like Get There Dry to find out what kind of weather situations you might be driving through.
  • Have some backup indoor activities ready to go at a moment's notice. Cards, board games, and even multiplayer smartphone games can provide hours of fun out of the rain.
  • Own a waterproof or water resistant lantern to make it easier to get around once the sun goes down, both inside and outside your rig.

There you have it! We hope you come to love autumn as much as we do, and that our tips help you stay dry and have fun this season.

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