One of the reasons we love Seattle is its proximity to British Columbia, Canada. We found out that some campgrounds in BC had teepee tents available for rent and we decided it’d be fun to go teepee camping. Some friends from New York flew over to Seattle to join us, Sandra and Vincent on a teepee camping trip to Horne Lake, Nanaimo (BC, Canada) in November of ’09!
WHAT’S TEEPEE? (sometimes known as Tipi and Tepee)?
According to definitions we found online, it is described as a Native American conical tent traditionally made of animal skins or birch bark. The one we stayed in at Horne Lake was probably just made of Canvas, though.
Horne Lake Caves Provincial & Regional Parks
The campground we found is located near Horne Lake. The park is the home to more than 1,000 caves so cave spelunking was definitely on our minds!
We drove from Seattle to the campground. We left Seattle at 9am and arrived at the campground at 9pm. You need to take into account the wait time at the ferry terminal, getting lost (we arrived at Nanaimo at night, so it was dark and a little hard to find!)
- ~3.0 hours: Seattle to Vancouver
- ~0.5 hours: Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay to catch a ferry to Nanaimo
- ~1.5 hours: Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo Departure Bay
- ~2 hours: Nanaimo Departure Bay to Campsite (3890 Horne Lake Caves Road, Courtenay, BC V9N 6Z8)
There’s a limited number of teepees to rent, so be sure to reserve early! There are many different “packages” that you can sign up for. There are packages that include activities etc.. they are very family friendly. As for us, we just rented the teepee for camping and signed up for different activities separately. Reservation is required to use the teepee. It was CAD45/night and sleeps 8 – 10 people. We were able to park our cars very close to our tent, so that was rather convenient. There are a LOT of activities available in the park. Check out the website here.
There are many cave spelunking activities available at the park. We chose to go on the 3-hour daytime cave adventure since we have never gone caving before and wasn’t sure if we could do the 5 hour or advanced caving tours. Turns out the 3-hour caving adventure was just perfect for beginners! The company provides the helmet, flashlight that goes on the helmet and guide. We were advised not to bring any backpacks because we will be going through tight spots and any backpacks might hinder our ability to move around. We went through 3 caves.
The most memorable part of the activity for us was when everyone in the group were told to turn off their flashlight and we were in complete darkness. It was so dark you couldn’t even see your fingers right in front of your nose! It was not scary… but calming, somehow.
Rest of our pictures are here…
Other activities that we didn’t try but would’ve if we had more time were the rock rapelling, cave rapelling, amazing race, canoe paddling, rescue training etc… Check out their list of activities on this site! Anyone been to this campsite? Any other “don’t miss” activities that you’d recommend?
- Skip regular tents. Try teepee camping!
- If you are visiting Horne Lake from outside Canada, remember, you cannot bring food across the border, so remember to allocate some time to buy food & drinks.
- The campsite is located rather far from stores so be sure to stop by grocery stores in Nanaimo to pick up food and drinks before you head to the campsite.
- There is no potable water at the campsite, so we bought dozens of bottled water for our 3 days at Horne Lake.
- Oh and don’t forget to bring toilet paper. Toilets are basically honeybucket type toilets. Just a hole and a cover!
- Don’t forget to check out all the activities they have at the campground.
- Cave Spelunking is fun. You should give it a try!