We are spending the summer workamping at Paradise Valley Campground, Squamish, BC, Canada. We needed to be in the Vancouver area for the summer to reconnect with family and friends. Unfortunately, everything in Vancouver is expensive, and it was going to cost us about $8,000 just in camping fees. Then an opportunity came up to workamp at the Paradise Valley Campground near Squamish, about 50 miles out of Vancouver on the spectacular 99, the Sea to Sky Highway. We had not planned to work full time over the summer (except on the blogs) but we would save so much money that we seized the opportunity.
So, how did that work out for us? Check out our new video below, which shows how it went, and also, how beautiful the area was. Paradise Valley Campground is a definite must-do for anyone who wants to experience tent or RV camping in the pristine wilderness of British Columbia. As you can see in the video, we did a lot of work that was pretty new and unusual for us!
A Hard Working Summer, Workamping at Paradise Valley Campground!
I spent most of the summer working on grounds, while Maggie spend most of the summer working in the office/shop. She usually joined me on grounds on Sundays, cleaning sites after the campers departed. The standards of this camp site are sky high, and it was part of our job to ensure that no camper ever saw so much as a scrap of garbage on their site or in their fire pit. We even raked the gravel to make it look as if no one had ever camped there before!
For people who have never worked anywhere but behind a desk before, it was quite a shock to our bodies. For most of the summer, we have been quite exhausted. I would say that we have now adjusted.
Family and Friends Visiting at the Paradise Valley Campground
Of course, the reason we wanted to spend the summer in Vancouver was so that we would get a chance to reconnect with family and friends (although we found the work so exhausting that we did not do as much of this as we wanted). Below is the route we took to get back to Vancouver from Santispac Beach, Baja California, Mexico. You can see blog posts and videos about our adventures in an RV caravan in Mexico here.
We were happy to have Mom and Roy come out to Paradise Valley Campground for a visit. This is the deck at the campground.
Our Esteemed Team Mates while Workamping at Paradise Valley Campground
Also, we really enjoyed our team mates. They supported us as we learned a new job, and they pretty much supported us all summer. Our team was like a group of redwood trees – we stayed upright by holding each other up! For example, our RV was at the dealership most of the summer, while we lived in a loaner (thank you to PVC management). When it was finally time to take a day off work and go and fetch our Denali, team mates Rob and Chantal volunteered to take loving care of our dogs.
And then when we got the RV to Paradise Valley, it was nearly impossible to back it in, as our site was hemmed in by trees. However, our whole team rallied to help us get parked!
The Joy of Camping in the Wilderness of British Columbia, at Paradise Valley Campground
We loved the park and the beauty of nature all around us.
Why Not Make This a Destination Park?
Squamish is an under-rated area. Paradise Valley Campground mainly caters to Vancouver families coming up for the weekend, and European tourists who spend a night or two on their adventurous RV journeys across Canada. In our opinion, it would also be a great base for adventurous people to spend a month or more, enjoying the many challenges available in the area: hiking, rafting, kayaking on the rivers or lakes, kite-surfing on Howe Sound, bouldering, and climbing the spectacular Stawamus Chief mountain.
The Sea to Sky Gondola
Apart from all that, as featured in the video, there is the truly awesome Sea to Sky Gondola – now sadly closed after all the gondolas mysteriously fell to the earth on 10 August 2019. It was probably vandalism, but the case is still being investigated. No one was hurt. This gondola took us to 2,700 feet, where we found a myriad of great hikes, and a spectacular viewing platform looking down on Howe Sound, Squamish River, the city of Squamish and the magnificent Chief. You can even hike up the Chief and then take the gondola down, if you are extremely fit!
Other Attractions Near Squamish
Other spectacular natural sights in the area include Shannon Falls, which rewards you with a beautiful view after just a short hike. The area also includes free picnicking areas, and a gift shop.
Alice Lake and Other Lakes
Then there’s Alice Lake, which offers a bike skills park and adventure park for the young ones, plus small boat rental and launching, and great picnic areas. Unfortunately, it is not dog friendly. There are many other lakes to enjoy in the area, including Brohm Lake.
Bike Riding in Squamish
There are multiple bike trails in and around Squamish for getting around. There are also multiple opportunities for mountain biking. We were impressed by how careful local drivers were around cyclists.
Recommended Restaurants in Squamish
For relaxation, there are many restaurants in Squamish, even restaurants that cater to those who are gluten intolerant. We especially recommend Pepe’s Chophouse in this regard. They take gluten intolerance very seriously, and have never once made me sick (which is quite an achievement). And despite the name, it’s not a Mexican restaurant, and it’s not a chophouse! On the contrary, it’s a pretty classy place, with all kinds of cuisine, and the best butter chicken I have ever tasted.
Another dining option is the Watershed Grill, which is a fun pub right on the Squamish River. The food is not as good as Pepe’s, but the riverside patio is great (see video). People also speak well of the Chinese restaurant, the Fortune Kitchen.
The Nest Restaurant offers relaxed dining and quite delicious gluten-free pizza – well worth a visit or a takeout.
We wanted very much to try the Thai restaurant, the Spice Root Kitchen, but every time we went there, it was closed – sometimes with a hand-written note on the door apologizing for an unexpected closure due to staff shortages. It would have been nice if they mentioned that on their answering machine. Really, inexcusable in our opinion. Squamish is not a sleepy village any more, it is a world-class tourist attraction. Get with it, or close up shop! And yes, I am upset because I never got to have any Thai food all summer, so take me with a pinch of garlic salt.
Squamish Visitors’ Center
Squamish Visitors’ Center is well above average in every way, and well worth a visit. Apart from the usual information, they also offer free wifi, a great cafe and coffee shop, and a very good gift shop. Plus, stuffed bears! Don’t get confused – it is called Squamish Adventure Center, but is actually an information center. It’s right next to the 99.
Be Careful when Stealth Camping
Be advised – friends parked their camper van in the car park of the Adventure Center one night, and were moved on by the police in the early hours of the morning. Very rude, considering that they were two of our soon-to-be team mates, and had arrived in Squamish with the intention of working hard all summer.
I understand that Squamish has a lot of freedom campers in the summer. It appears that many people try to stealth camp while they enjoy activities such as bouldering. As a result, the police are cracking down. But really, why not be welcoming instead? All of these campers will end up spending money – why not make them welcome?
Camping Options in and Around Squamish
To be safe, if you plan to camp in Squamish, make a reservation in advance at one of the local campgrounds. The top choice by far is the beautiful place we worked, Paradise Valley Campground. Other options include Alice Lake Provincial Park, which is very pleasant and just a few miles north of Squamish. There is also a municipal park right in Squamish. This campground is very central, but very basic. You cannot make reservations, and it only has port-a-toilets, a dish washing station, and potable water. Much better is Klahanie Campground, just off the highway a little south of Squamish. Garibaldi Lake Campground offers only tent camping (and you have to hike from the car park). There is also Squamish Valley Campground, but we looked at it and it reminded me of a Stephen King novel. It has a reputation for being party central. Not recommended.
There are really endless attractions in this area – if you possibly can, come and camp here sometime!
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