A Favourite Camping Spot
Island time has its charms.
Ruckle Provincial Park is one of the most beautiful parks in the southern Gulf Islands, with 7 kilometres of shoreline, rocky headlands and tiny coves and bays. Pitch your tent in the grassy meadow overlooking Swanson Channel then watch pleasure boats, ferries and local marine life pass you by. In the stormier off-season, choose a site set back a little into the trees (see pic below).
Saltspring is reachable by BC ferries from Vancouver (Tsawassen), Victoria (Swartz Bay) & mid-Vancouver Island (Crofton). From Vesuvius in the NW (ferry terminal from Crofton) to Ruckles is under 25 kms, but there are some sharp hills to make the ride memorable. In summer, check out the weekend market at the main town of Ganges on the way.
Winter camp set back from the seaside at Ruckles. It can get windy and nasty on occasion, so less exposed is better in winter. We're still just a hop away from the ocean.
Ruckle is (I believe) the most popular campground on Vancouver Island for cycle tourists. Once spring rolls along you can usually meet other cyclists there every weekend. Campsites are mostly walk in, ideal for cycle tenters (not an RV in sight!). They don't do reservations, and on holiday weekends, things can fill up, so try to get there early. There are great hiking trails around the park and along the seaside. Offseason camping is also a treat, though they turn the water off, so load up on your way in.
Along one of the excellent trails at Ruckle. This trail we were on was 16kms, enough to even tucker out 2 teenagers
On the map below you can see there are multiple ferries & routes to get to Ruckle (red star) at the SE corner of Saltspring. I like the ride from Vesuvius in the north (see purple track), so usually take the ferry at Crofton across to Vesuvius. The ride (~25kms) takes one through the town of Ganges where you can stop in a coffee shop or buy stuff. Coming from Swartz Bay terminal near Victoria you can take the ferry right to Fulford Harbour, quite close to Ruckle. I've included one other campground on Saltspring (Mowhinna, just south of Ganges, an RV field with facilities) just in case you can't get in to Ruckle on a holiday weekend (though you might also try asking other cycle tourists at Ruckle if they'd mind another tent at their site).
As you can see, there are also roads and ferry connections on nearby islands (and some popular campgrounds), but nowhere as extensive as Saltspring. Here's a fav ride with more riding info on getting to Ruckle Park. And here's another fav ride in the south Gulf Islands, this one to neighbouring Galiano & Mayne Islands.
The grand seaside at Ruckle Park. Most of the campgrounds are walk-in, perfect for cycle tenters.
See the smaller BC ferry passing by (likely headed to Pender or Mayne Island). At Ruckle, one can sit along the seaside and watch the marine world (animal & human) pass by. In the evening, the BC ferries are lit up like passing carnivals.