A Cheat Sheet for BC Provincial Rest Areas

One of the best ways to see BC is by hitting the road. (Who doesn’t love yelling “Road Trip!”?)

BC Rest Areas

I remember moving from Smithers to Merritt, packing up all my belongings and hitting the Highway 16, turning right down Highway 97 until I drove into the Thompson-Nicola area. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous in mid-August, with some great stops along the way, but the breaks that really made the trip worthwhile were the rest areas. Whether you’re travelling for work or for a bit of sight-seeing, it’s really important to stop now and then for a little refresh – to eat, to take a bathroom break, to empty your garbage, to stretch those legs, etc.

BC has about 170 rest areas for you to check out and we’ve put together a handy BC Provincial Rest Area map for you to see where they all are. Click on the icons and you’ll find out more about the rest area. Added bonus for commercial vehicles: this map shows which accommodate large vehicles over 20 metres in length, and whether there are deceleration and acceleration lanes to enter and exit the area.

You will also see them on the DriveBC map, if you activate the Rest Area icon on the legend.

Are these all the rest areas in our province? No. We hope to get there, but these are the ones maintained by us and the highway maintenance contractors. There are some provided by communities or in national parks (federal) or run by private businesses that we have not included but we hope to eventually make this more comprehensive.

Check out our Using Provincial Rest Areas Map page for more information.

So whether you’re a professional driver, weekend warrior, commuter, sight see-er, or for any other reason you’re taking advantage of those provincial rest areas, you have your own unique perspective and we’d like to hear what you have to say. Drive safely.

Blue icons on the BC Rest Area Map indicate those that accommodate large vehicles.

60 comments on “A Cheat Sheet for BC Provincial Rest Areas”

Leave a Reply to Audry Cancel reply

  1. The rest area at the Hope Slide has 3 EV Chargers. It needs to be open in the winter:range falls 20%, minimum. A lower range EV needs to do an extra charge on the way up HWY 3 as it is mostly uphill also as well as the cold. Might not be able to make it from Hope to Manning Park.
    I’ve heard people say low range EVs are too limited where really there just needs to be more charging stations, closer distances. Actually, there needs to be more also. I’ve had to wait more than 40 minutes to get to charge. Then add up the time to charge. Then the number of times.
    You need to appreciate nature, want to stretch your legs and reduce stroke risk. You require patience to wait as you have no choice but to.
    Everyone could have an EV and not worry about getting somewhere if there were more chargers shorter distances apart. It is just that simple.
    So please, keep it open for EVs.
    Thanks.

    Reply
  2. we may need to pull over late at night with no place to stay overnight. Will we be forced to move if stay is longer than 4 hrs?

    Reply
    • Hi Mike – thanks for your question. While our highways and rest area facilities are patrolled on a regular basis – the likelihood of being moved along exactly after four hours is slight. This is the same reason we encourage drivers not to overstay the four hour limit – the safety and security of those in the facilities cannot be assured. Make sense? BC Parks facilities are open around the clock for travellers looking to pull in off the highway and have security on site. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/

      Reply
  3. Highway signs for rest areas should indicate whether a rest area is suitable for larger vehicles. This information is available on the interactive map, but this is not suitable for reference while driving – that would be illegal.

    I’ve noticed that this has been suggested before, but so far no action has been taken to correct this oversight and potential safety issue.

    Reply
    • Hi Ross,
      I’ll share with our sign department as a suggestion. We take all comments under consideration. When you say “larger vehicles”, are you referring to commercial vehicles or other vehicles? (IE campers)

      Reply
      • I am referring to larger RVs. I was caught in the Goat River rest area towing a 5th wheel and it took a lot of juggling to get turned around so I could exit. Luckily it was not busy at the time, or I would have been unable to manoeuvre.

        On a related note, I’ve noticed there are long stretches of highway where rest areas for large Rvs are not available. Highway 3 east of Princeton, for example. Even a heavily travelled route like the Trans Canada has limited availability east of Kamloops.

        Reply
  4. We just completed 8,000 miles through Banff, Jasper, Tok, Dawson, Chicken , Fairbanks, Denali, Anchorage , Whitehourse, Skagway, Homer and Seward with a truck camper and towing a Jeep. Lovely Canadian Country side, but not once we’re we able to find a rest area that allowed overnight camping in Canada. While Provincial parks a nice, clean and by lakes and usually only $12can. But, We just want to pull over and go to sleep without unhitching and spending 30-45 minutes finding getting envelopes to pay or waiting for a ranger to come and collect. The laws need to change. There are beautiful places to park, fish or enjoy the quiet. No such problem in Alaska or the lower 48. Please address this. I would have no problem paying a fee and getting a dated windshield sticker or another solution. Love Canada, my family is in BC.

    Reply
    • Hi Steve and thank you for your comment 🙂

      Commercialization of our rest areas is a conversation that does come up occasionally, however; at this time , and likely for the foreseeable future, overnight camping will not be available in our rest areas. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which lead to safety concerns regarding those camping overnight. To make changes to improve lighting, security and other facilities is not something we can achieve with our current budget allowance. We encourage you to use any BC Rest Area to catch zzzz’s while you are travelling, but we try to discourage motorists from using rest areas for more than four hours at a time. Hope that this helps clarify. We appreciate your comments and hope that the rest of your trip through BC was excellent.

      Reply
    • I totally agree this needs to be addressed.si if you want to camp American style stay in America .happy 4th

      Reply
  5. Hi I left a clothing item at Bradner rest area TCH north of Abbotsford on May 2. who can I contact to see if its been turned in or picked up by maintenance?

    Reply
    • Hello Lee,

      Please contact our contractor for the area, Emil Anderson Maintenance, with the details provided here at: 1-800-667-5122

      Good luck finding your item!

      Reply
    • Hi Georgia,

      Please contact the Maintenance Contractor for the Coquihalla Highway, to see if they may have found your bag.

      VSA Highway Maintenance Ltd — 1-888-315-0025.

      Reply
    • Hi Georgia,

      Please contact VSA Highway Maintenance Ltd at 1-888-315-0025, to see they may have the bag you left behind at the Coquihalla summit restroom.

      Reply
  6. To Whom it may concern;
    We were traveling to Merritt today Good Friday there is a public washroom at the top of Hamilton Hill south of Merritt. Truck break check stop hwy. 97C

    We stopped there for a much needed bathroom break, I opened the door to the washroom and slammed it shut.

    The filth was unbelievable, feces all over the toilet everywhere, not fresh it was old and the washroom was in a terrible state.

    This is not the first time it has been like this. The one on highway 5 A is bad also.
    Highway trucks go up and down all the roads many times a day, why can’t they stop use a power washer and clean these public washrooms.

    No one should have to clean this kind of mess by hand but if they were cleaned properly and often then the public could at least us them.
    I feel sorry for the truckers having to pull in there and try to use this washroom, after all these people live on our roads and deserve better.

    These rest area washrooms are worse in the Winter, Spring and Fall.
    I hope something is done about this issue and soon. Thank you.

    Gayle Comeau

    Reply
    • Hi Gayle,

      We are sorry to hear about your experience, and have reported it to VSA Maintenance (1-888-315-0025), the contractor responsible for cleaning the Hamilton Hill rest area and those on Highway 5A.

      Reply
      • The state of the rest area washrooms is abysmal! I have stopped at many of them and except for the ones close to the larger centres,and there are not many,they are pig styes.foul,coated with excrement and odorous beyond even holding ones breath.

        Reply
        • Hi Trent,

          Thanks for your comments about BC rest areas.

          Please contact our maintenance contractors who are responsible for maintaining rest areas, when you encounter conditions that are unsatisfactory.

          Reply
  7. We live in California and have traveled through BC several times. We love your country and tour BC highway rest area system.

    We will be traveling through BC enroute to Alaska in the spring of 2017. We will be utilizing rest areas, as well as RV parks for nightly stays. We have a large RV trailer that doesn’t fit well into smaller Provincial Parks, so we have to use rest areas to ‘rest’ some nights.

    California rest area rules are a ‘8 hours max’ stay. Are BC rest areas still only 4 hours, and is that 4 hours enforced away from major city areas?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. You are free to use any BC Rest Area to catch zzzz’s while you are travelling, but we try to discourage motorists from using rest areas for more than four hours at a time. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which lead to safety concerns regarding those camping overnight. BC Parks have many campsites available to travellers day or night and we encourage you to camp overnight there.

      We have done some digging and have found that not all rest areas have “no camping” signs posted. Often they are posted when it’s found that longer-term camping is becoming a problem at a particular rest area. Overall, in terms of overnight stays, rest areas were originally envisioned for motorists who are too tired to continue driving and need to pull over and rest for a few hours, but we don’t believe that those who are homeless are turned away.

      Hope this helps. Happy travels!

      Reply
  8. the rest areas in canada and the governments policy are an absolute disgrace which they should be thoroughly ashamed of!
    not only the life
    permitting only 4 hours of sleep endangers the life of drivers, and passengers including children as well as other drivers and passengers on the road.

    i just drove from florida to bc.
    and the difference between usa rest stops and government policy with canadian is unbelievable.

    the americans provide a rest stop approx every 100 kilomentres on all the interstates i travelled. the rest stops had large buildings with exceptionally clean washroom facilities and food and drinks available in the many vending machines.

    there were absolutely no hassles from anyone for sleeping overnight in more than 6 months travelling.

    apparently the us authorities don’t want their sleepy travellers found dead on the road.

    canadian rest stops – canada’s shame!

    Reply
    • Hi Barley,

      Thanks for connecting with us and sharing your concern. We are in the process of revisiting our rest area program and have solicited feedback from frequent users and are considering options for addressing the feedback we have received. We hope that this helps.

      Reply
  9. They need new toilet at:

    Oyster Bay
    Roberts Lake
    Nanoose
    Cobblehill
    Malahat Summit

    Because people hate porta potties rest area

    Here a list need new outhouse because they too small and no door

    Big tree
    Keta Lake
    Eve River
    Eagles Nest
    Misty Lake

    Reply
    • Hi Harry,

      Thanks for connecting with us here and sharing your feedback. We connected with the manager of the Provincial Rest Area Revitalization program about your concerns and they shared a table with us outlining past, present and future planned work at the sites you mentioned:

      The table below summarizes the rest area work that was carried out last fiscal (2015/16), this fiscal, plus planned work for next fiscal (2017/18). While we are aware of the work to be done at the rest areas mentioned above there are approximately 180 rest areas across the province needing a variety of repairs and it is going to take time for us to address all of the outstanding issues and short comings; but we’re working hard to get there.

      Rest Area Description of work
      Oyster Bay This site saw minor site improvements in 2015/16. Work including the re-gravelling of pathways, the relocation of picnic tables, and the limbing of trees.
      Roberts Lake This site saw minor site improvements in 2015/16. Improvements included the relocation of the handicap bathrooms, repairs to bathroom roofs, and repairs to the site’s fence.
      Nanoose This site received improvements in 2015/16. This work included the removal of 3 porta potties and the construction of 3 permanent concrete outhouse buildings. Furthermore the tourist information board was replaced, plus other small site aesthetic improvements.
      Cobblehill No plans this or next summer
      Malahat Summit No plans this or next summer
      Big Tree This summer the rest area was closed. This action was chosen because the site had limited potential to expand, plus safety concerns with vehicle egress/ingress. One of the more pressing safety issues relates to the poor visibility that drivers have when they are attempting to re-enter the highway.
      Keta Lake Pit toilets replaced in 2015/16
      Eve River No plans this or next summer
      Eagles Nest No plans this or next summer
      Misty Lake No plans this or next summer

      Hope that this helps!

      Reply
    • Excellent new H’Cap accessible toilets at Oyster Bay installed this summer. I went past one day & it was still the old port-a-potties; then just a couple of days later the new toilets were in place & the old ones gone!

      Reply
    • Hi Ross,

      Grey water dumping stations are not standard for any provincial rest area. They may exist for other non-provincial (private) rest areas, but those are not included in our list. Hope that this helps.

      Reply
  10. What is the time limit for rest stop use in B.C.? For example, am I allowed to park my self contained van and sleep for 8 hrs?

    Reply
    • Hi there,

      You are free to use any BC Rest Area to catch zzzz’s while you are travelling, but we try to discourage motorists from using rest areas for more than four hours at a time. Rest areas can be dark, secluded and remote which lead to safety concerns regarding those camping overnight. BC Parks have many campsites available to travellers day or night and we encourage you to camp overnight there. Hope this helps.

      Reply
    • Hi Richard,

      Thanks for connecting with us here. Which device do you use? Unfortunately, there is currently no easy way to transfer the data from our site to your GPS. GPS devices use a special data file – specially named and formatted. Each device has its own format and there in no real global standard as yet, (although some companies are trying to).

      Reply
      • GPX is the closest thing to a global GPS file – and there are easy ways to translate a GPX file into something one of the “picky” GPSrs would read. It would be better to do something for most people instead of doing nothing because you can’t do everything…

        Reply
    • Hey Richard,

      I put together a GPS POI file of all of the rest stops in bc. It is garmin poi format (works in my Nissan Rogue’s GPS). pretty slimmed down version, just the location, rest stop name, south/northbound and type of toilet.

      Let me know if you want me to email you a copy.

      Reply
    • Hi Werner,

      Thanks for connecting with us and thanks for the great idea! While provincial rest areas do not have services such as shops and showers, there are many municipal and community driven rest areas across the province that do. Hope that this helps!

      Reply
      • Thanks very much. Good to know. I guess the emphasis is on “rest”. But as you say, the other amenities can indeed be found in most communities along the way and usually not to far from rest areas.

        Travelers would be well advised to exercise caution and common sense in the dark hours. These areas(the ones I’ve seen so far), though lit and open 24hrs, are unstaffed and it’s unpredictable as to how frequently they are patrolled by RCMP. Some nights it’s not exactly a “family friendly” atmosphere, and it’s not uncommon for shady characters and practices to occur.
        To my recollection I can’t remember if any of these areas have public telephones. If not, it might be a good idea in terms of safety and emergency to have them installed.

        Thanks again.

        Reply
  11. We just returned from a trailer trip from Alberta. We came back Highway 16 to Prince George and then south on 97 and through the Fraser Canyon to Maple Ridge. Somehow there must be some signage to indicate if the rest areas will accommodate large RVs and semi trailer trucks (perhaps a sign that indicates no vehicles over 25 ft., as seen in some states). We had a near disaster at the Goat River rest area as I followed my travel companions in (also towing a 25 ft trailer) when we realized there was no room to turn around. This necessitated both of us backing out onto Highway 16 (rest area is located at the bottom of a hill (both ways) and a turn. This was extremely scary (and highly dangerous) for both of us. Only a few miles down the road west was another rest area with lots of rooms for trucks and trailers.

    Reply
    • Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your feedback. We are currently looking at ways we can expand the information available online and on the road about what rest area facilities are available to travellers. Stay tuned.

      Reply
    • Rest areas are located just off provincial highways and all offer toilets (and most have picnic tables). They do not have playgrounds. You might want to look up the BC Parks along your route, as some parks offer playgrounds, and/or walking or swimming opportunities, and most are not far from the highway. Click on the “tree” icon on the map for details. Playgrounds are indicated with a symbol of children on a teeter-totter (aka see-saw).

      Reply
  12. I am a truck driver, and it would be very helpful to know well in advance of a rest area whether or not the rest area is accessible to trucks. I’ve noticed that some highways have an axle limit, and some specify no trucks, and this is helpful.

    Reply