could spend months exploring the Okanagan Valley region. There are
more than 60 provincial parks, and dozens and dozens of recreation
sites. If you want the basic campground, with pit toilets, campsites,
and firewood, the provincial parks will satisfy. They are popular,
however, and souls looking for more undisturbed places will not
want to miss wilderness camping in some of the remote areas, such
as Okanagan Mountain
Provincial Park. Here's your briefing on the parks that are
a good destination for day trips, easy camping, and picnics, from
south to north along Hwy 97.
About two minutes south of Osoyoos
on Osoyoos Lake, considered the warmest lake in Canada, is Haynes
Point Provincial Park. Part of the attraction here is the park's rainbow trout and
bass fishing (there's a boat ramp) and its wildlife. A little more
than 12 acres (4.8 ha) of the park are covered by a marsh and sandy
spit lined with cottonwoods, making it great place for observing
some of nature's fascinating creatures and their habits. Swimmers
will like it too, and the lake-frontage campsites are the ones to
Park, 4 miles (6 km) north of Oliver
on Hwy 97, is a cool riverside respite from the Okanagan sun. A
trail provides access to the Okanagan River and some good spots
for camping, fishing, and canoeing, but take binoculars; the area's
thickets are a well-known habitat for birds such as the black-headed
grosbeak, American redstart, northern oriole, and many others. Some
unique flora and fauna are present in the nearby ecological reserve.
There are campsites in two separate campgrounds on the west
side of the lake in Okanagan
Lake Provincial Park, 15 miles (24 km) north of Penticton.
This is a scenic, well-developed site, with sandy beaches along
the lake backed by uplands of ponderosa pine and sagebrush. The
park is open year-round and is suitable for day use and picnics,
but campers should be prepared for crowds during the peak season.
Across the lake (accessible by boat) is over 24,700 acres (10,000
hectares) of wilderness in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. Take
Hwy 97 15 miles (24 km) north of Penticton.
If you're looking for a short break from the central Okanagan's
summer heat, Bear
Creek Provincial Park may be the place to visit for easy camping and picnics. Here, 15
minutes from downtown Kelowna,
is everything from soft beaches to a wild, rocky canyon. On the
lakeshore are beautiful, sandy beaches and a parkland campground
with showers and a horseshoe pit. In the open hillside behind the
campsites are 14 miles (23 km) of trail to explore. Wildlife abounds
here. Take Hwy 97 6 miles (9 km) west of Kelowna. The park's on
the west side of Okanagan Lake.
Park is a getaway with a historical
flavour. Located on the west side of Okanagan Lake, its site was
the transportation hub of the valley; Hudson's Bay Company fur brigade
traders passed through here. Easy walking through the park will
bring you to the waterfalls and the deep pools of Shorts Creek.
The surrounding hillsides have a canopy of ponderosa pine and Douglas
fir. In addition to the campsites, there is a large picnic and day-use
area. Take Westside Road off Hwy 97 (south of Kelowna) and drive
north for 21 miles (34 km) north of Kelowna on Westside Road.
The rocky, forested headlands and sheltered, sandy bays of small
Park await you on the east side of Okanagan Lake,
just a few miles south of Vernon. Walking trails provide access
to the headlands that separate two beautiful bays, offering boulder-climbing
excitement and wildflower photo opportunities. The bays are good
fishing spots, attracting carp, burbot, kokanee, and trout. (A car-top
boat launch is located just north of the park, and a full boat-launch
facility is about 5 miles (8 km) north of the park.) Take Hwy 97
for 10 miles (16 km) south from Vernon; there is paved access from
Located northeast of Vernon at the southeast end of Mabel Lake,
Mabel Lake Provincial
Park is situated in a valley formed
by the glaciers of the last ice age. The park's sandy shoreline
is backed by a forest of hemlock, red cedar, and birch, in sharp
contrast to the drier ponderosa pine and Douglas fir forests of
the Thompson Plateau to the west. Summer camping here is ideal for
those who prefer a cooler locale than the Okanagan Valley. You might
spot a deer or black bear; you'll definitely see a variety of waterfowl
and other birdlife. The lake offers good rainbow-trout fishing.
From Vernon, take Hwy 6 east to Lumby, then go northeast. It's 50
miles (76 km) to the park; the last 22 miles (35 km) are gravel.
Yet another popular, scenic spot in the north Okanagan is Echo
Lake Provincial Park east of Lumby, with its large group campground,
boat rentals, cabins, and campsites at Echo Lake Resort, within
Camping in the The Shuswap
Provincial Park is wildly
popular. Everything you need for summer fun is right here: camping,
picnicking, fishing, boating, paddling, swimming, hiking, windsurfing,
sailing, houseboating, water-skiing, nature study, photography,
visitor programs, and bicycling. With 7 miles (12 km) of paved trails,
Shuswap Lake may also be the cycling capital of the BC Parks system.
The park is open in the fall during the Adams River salmon run.
(Don't confuse this park with Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park).
Take Hwy 1 about 56 miles (90 km) east of Kamloops, turn off towards
Scotch Creek, then go about 12 miles (20 km) farther.
Shuswap Lake Provincial
Marine Park is one of the most popular boating and canoeing
locations in the Southern Interior. Shuswap Marine park is comprised
of sites located around the perimeter of Shuswap Lake (on Main
Arm, Seymour Arm, Anstey Arm, Salmon Arm, and Mara Lake). All locations
are popular for fishing and water sports, and some offer hiking
and nature study. Some sites are road accessible, but most are water-access
only. Facilities at the sites vary from nothing to wilderness
tenting sites with a pit toilet. An undeveloped camping area is
found near the mouth of Celesta Creek at Albas, five rustic sites
are provided at Encounter Point, and five wilderness campsites are
located in an attractive forested setting at Two Mile Creek. There
are rustic campsites at Anstey Beach, five at Anstey View,
seven wilderness campsites at Four Mile Creek, and wilderness
campsites at Marble Point.
Beach Provincial Park is located at the end of a long, gravel road at the head of Seymour
Arm on Shuswap Lake. Its size and distance from Hwy 1 keep many
visitors at bay. Check it out for yourself; it's worth it. This
part of the lake is as blessed with sandy beaches. Houseboaters
come here to get away from it all. The park's forest setting is
lovely - Douglas fir interwoven with aspen. Paddle around the mouth
of the Seymour River to watch the salmon spawn from mid-August to
mid-September. Also nearby are the remains of a gold-rush town.
Go almost 11 miles (17 km) on Hwy 1 from Chase northeast to Scotch
Creek, then take the 40-mile (65-km) logging road to the park.
Provincial Park is also
situated along the shore of Shuswap
Lake, on Salmon Arm. The park is very popular and fills up quickly
during July and August. For these months, reservations should be
made well in advance. If you can't make a reservation, put your
name on the waiting list for the small number of first-come, first-served
sites that are available each day at noon. Campsites are located
both at lakeside and a short distance uphill in the cool forest.
Swimming, fishing, and bird-watching are the order of the day here.
For picnickers looking for a break from Hwy 1, it's worth the short
drive to reach the park, situated on the grounds of an old homestead;
there's a feeling about the place as if you've come to visit your
grandparents. Take Hwy 1 east of Tappen for about 7 miles (12 km).
Creek Provincial Park lies just east
of Sicamous on Highway 1. Despite its roadside location, the park
offers quiet, shady camping and is a pleasant
stopover camp or even base camp when exploring the Shuswap. The
icy temperature of Yard Creek precludes swimming on even the hottest
days. Conversely, for much of the year, moist conditions prevail
here in the eastern reaches of the Interior wetbelt. Take Hwy 1
almost 10 miles (15 km) west of Sicamous.
Camping in Similkameen Country
If you're looking for a getaway less than three hours' drive from
Vancouver, Manning Provincial Park in Similkameen
Country is it. There are six additional provincial parks that
offer camping to travellers in the region south of the Okanagan
Park has rain forests on its west side, grassland slopes on
its east side, and between the two extremes lies a land of wild
rivers, crystal lakes, towering peaks, and alpine meadows. The park
is brimming with recreational opportunities year round. Hiking trails
are its chief draw, but the park also offers horseback riding, swimming,
canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, and, in winter, cross-country
and downhill skiing. There are four camping areas: Hampton Campground, Mule Deer Campground, Coldspring Campground and
Lightning Lake Campground. The latter
is especially popular during the summer months. Wilderness camping
is permitted in designated areas, but open fires are not encouraged.
Manning Provincial Park straddles Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton.
The park's western entrance is 16 miles (26 km) east of Hope, its
eastern entrance 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Princeton.
Rock Provincial Park, 13 miles (21 km) east of Princeton
on Hwy 3, is a popular swimming hole with vehicle/tent sites
in a pleasantly forested site along the Similkameen River. Hiking
in the area (just outside the park) affords good views of the Similkameen
Valley. Canoeing is also popular here, providing a downstream route
to Stemwinder Provincial Park.
Park has vehicle/tent sites and is located at Hedley on Hwy
3, about 22 miles (35 km) east of Princeton. Stemwinder and Bromley
Rock parks are open year round.
Park, 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Princeton off Hwy 3, offers
three campgrounds in its core area: Quiniscoe Lane, Pyramid, and Lake of the Woods
. Fires are allowed only at Quiniscoe Lake, and private
vehicles aren't permitted in the core area of Cathedral, so you
must hike in or arrange transportation with Cathedral Lakes Lodge.
Camping in Boundary Country
Provincial Park, located on Highway 3 near Rock
Creek in Boundary Country,
about 30 miles (45 km) east of Osoyoos, offers vehicle/tent sites situated in a scenic,
peaceful area forested with Douglas fir, pine, and aspen. There
is a picturesque waterfall on Johnstone Creek near its confluence
with Rock Creek. Visitors can fish and hike.
Lake Provincial Park is located
about northwest of Rock Creek. Conkle Lake can be reached by three
different routes, however, all three are over rough, narrow, winding
roads not suitable for motor homes, low-clearance vehicles, or towed
trailers. This secluded park is a perfect place for a quiet vacation.
It features vehicle/tent sites set in a forest of western larch,
lodgepole pine, alder, and willow, and is a favourite with sunbathers,
swimmers, and anglers. It is reached by travelling about 10 miles
(16 km) west of Hwy 33 at Westbridge; 16 miles (26 km) from Hwy
3, about 4 miles (6 km) east of Bridesville; or almost 22 miles
(35 km) east from Hwy 97 at Okanagan Falls.
You can camp
beneath the cottonwoods at Boundary
Creek Provincial Park, about 2 miles (3 km) west of Greenwood
on Hwy 3, just north of the US border. This tranquil park offers
vehicle/tent sites and the chance for patient anglers to catch
rainbow and brook trout. Nearby are the remains of the old BC Copper
Company smelter, which employed about 400 men from 1901 to 1918.
Lake (also known as Marshall Lake) is located east of Greenwood
on Hwy 3. Summer campers and fishers will find vehicle/tent sites
at this lovely spot, and mountain bikers and hikers will enjoy the
numerous old logging roads and abandoned railways that run throughout
the area. Providence Lake cross-country ski trails begin here; pick
up a trail map from the Forest Service's Boundary District Office,
136 Sagamore Avenue, in Grand Forks.
the Kettle Valley
The Kettle River
Provincial Recreation Area is named for the river that runs
through it, and contains the abandoned right-of-way of the Kettle
Valley Railway, which makes an excellent hiking trail. This recreation area features vehicle/tent
sites, a picnic/day-use area, water, pit toilets, sani-station,
firewood, trails, and an amphitheatre and visitor program. Remains
of gold and silver mines that once brought thousands of people to
this now peaceful area can be seen on the river's eastern bank.
In winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favourite pastimes.
There is a camping
fee in summer. Follow Hwy 33 for 3 miles (5 km) north of Rock Creek.
Arlington Lakes Provincial Recreation Area, 6 miles (17 km)
north of Beaverdell on Hwy 33, features small campsites on both
sides of the southernmost lake. (There are three small lakes strung
out in a row.) The area is good for biking and fishing, and a car-top
boat launch is available, but visitors should be aware that the
sites are heavily used, and although access is good for 2 miles
(3 km) from Hwy 33, the road to the northwest site is narrow and
not suitable for trailers or motor homes.