the Kamloops and North Thompson/Yellowhead Highway
Anglers and swimmers alike gravitate to Juniper
Beach Provincial Park. Juniper Beach is one of the few access
points to the Thompson River between Savona and Spences Bridge. One
of the newest parks in British Columbia, it was created to help protect
a desert landscape. Some of the world's best steelhead fishing is
found here. In July, you'll be able to watch sockeye salmon as they
travel upstream to spawn in the Adams River. Visitors can pretend
to join them by taking a plunge in a large, natural pool that is separated
from the river for swimming. Take Hwy 1 east from Cache
Creek for about 12 miles (19 km).
Provincial Park, a recently created park, is located on the
southwest shore of Kamloops Lake. Summer recreation draws a crowd,
but at other times you'll have this park and its wonderfully eroded
landscape to yourself. This is an angling hot spot, too. Take Hwy
1 about 22 miles (35 km) east of Cache Creek.
Lake Provincial Park offers camping in a lushly forested environment,
sheltered by towering cottonwoods. (Allergy sufferers beware in
June.) Spring wildflowers bloom in extraordinary profusion, as birds
make their northern migration through this area of the Shuswap Highlands.
Come fall, the birds are back again. Fishing and easygoing hiking
are both good reasons to camp here. Take the mostly gravel road
off Hwy 1 about 9 miles (15 km) northwest of Chase.
The drive north along Hwy 5 from Kamloops
brings you almost immediately past the turnoff to Paul Lake; from
there on it's about 60 miles (100 km) until you reach a concentration
of parks in the region of Wells Gray Provincial Park, which offers
splendid camping opportunities.
Paul Lake Provincial Park lies just north of Kamloops. The park's
vehicle/tent sites are as popular with RVers as the extensive picnic
grounds are with day trippers. The park features a car-top boat
launch, and an easy, 8-mile (13-km) round-trip hiking trail leads
to a great view of the lake and nearby Harper Mountain. Take Hwy
5 north of Kamloops; turn east off the highway and drive for about
11 miles (17 km) on paved road. The total distance from the city
is about 17 miles (24 km).
North Thompson River Provincial Park
includes a quiet campground with vehicle/tent sites on the banks
of the North Thompson River. A riverside picnic area, a playground,
and trails complement the campsites in a forested area near the
confluence of the Clearwater and North Thompson Rivers. Canoeing
and kayaking are superb, as is the hiking. Smooth depressions in
the ground are evidence of former Native Canadian habitation in
the park; check out the two archaeological sites as well. Take Hwy
5 for 73 miles (118 km) north of Kamloops.
Wells Gray Provincial Park is one of
British Columbia's largest and most spectacular parks. There are
five major lakes here, as well as two large river systems, numerous
small lakes, streams, and waterways, and a multitude of waterfalls,
rapids, and cataracts. Although boating and paddling are major attractions
for campers, the area has something for everyone. There are four
formal camping areas in the park: at Dawson Falls Campground,
located 5 miles/8 km north of the Hemp Creek entrance, Clearwater
Lake Campground , Falls Creek Campground at Clearwater
Lake, 20 miles/32 km north of the Hemp Creek entrance), and Mahood
Lake Campground at the west end of Mahood Lake, 55 miles/88
km east of Hwy 97 and 100 Mile House. There's also wilderness camping
at various sites on Azure, Clearwater, Mahood, and Murtle Lakes.
Visit Spahats Creek Provincial Park as much for the scenery
as for a good night's rest. This small park has a viewpoint from
which you can see the 400-foot-deep (122-m) canyon carved by the
creek as it cuts through the layers of lava that form the walls
of the canyon. Nearby is a waterfall that spills from Spahats Creek
into the Clearwater River. The park is popular with visitors on
their way to Wells Gray Provincial Park, and in fall is bedecked
with glorious colour. From Clearwater, take Hwy 5 north about 7
miles (11 km), and turn west on the paved road towards Wells Gray
Between Wells Gray Provincial Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park
at the north end of the Yellowhead Highway, Valemount
has a good municipal campground beside Swift Creek, with vehicle/tent
sites. It features partial hookups for RVs and is open from April
Mount Robson Provincial Park has three
camping areas: Robson Meadows Campground and Robson River
Campground both near the western boundary, and Lucerne Campground,
just west of the Alberta border. Reservations are recommended in
summer; call (800) 689-9025. Wilderness campsites are also located
along the Berg Lake Trail. The park's backcountry trails are open
throughout the year, although the vehicle-accessible campgrounds,
the day-use areas and the Visitor Centre are generally open only
when they are free of snow, usually from May to October. Take Hwy
16 east from its junction with Hwy 5 in Tete Jaune Cache into the
park, which is adjacent to the Alberta border and Jasper National
Park. Park headquarters are located on Hwy 16 at the Mount Robson
Viewpoint on the western border of the park in the Mount Robson
Visitors Centre. Park staff are on hand to provide current reports
on conditions within the park.
the Nicola Valley/Coquihalla Highway Area
The scent of sagebrush fills the air in Skihist
Provincial Park, a park with a historical flavour. Situated
high above the junction of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers, the park
encompasses a section of the old Cariboo Wagon Road, used by early
settlers and travellers here in the heart of the Thompson First
Nation. The best things about this park are the Saskatoon berries,
which you can munch on when they're in season, and the whitewater
river-rafting. Arrange a trip at nearby Lytton or Spences Bridge.
Go about 5 miles (8 km) north of Lytton
on Hwy 1.
Right on the
Thompson River, Goldpan Provincial Park
is the park of choice for anglers. The Thompson Nation has fished
here for centuries, and still do. It's great for steelhead during
the busiest time, mid-October to December. If you're river rafting,
you might overnight here, as Goldpan Provincial Park is used as
a rest stop for many commercial river-rafting companies. Swimming
is fun here, too. Take Hwy 1 for 6 miles (10 km) south of Spences
Provincial Park offers vehicle/tent campsites. Located on the
northwest side of Nicola Lake, 13.6 miles (22 km) north of Merritt,
this is a good park for the entire family. From Hwy 5, a 7.4-mile
(12-km) paved road follows the northwest side of the lake to the
park, which is open May through October. Hiking trails, including
an interpretive walk to some lava beds, provide spectacular views
of the valley and surrounding countryside. The park features a visitor
program and amphitheatre, boat launch, horseshoe pitches, and three
archaeological sites. This area of the Nicola Valley was a winter
encampment for Natives for centuries before European settlers arrived.
Pithouse depressions remain near the park's beach as evidence of
rustic campsites are located in this region, administered by Recreation
Sites and Trails BC (formerly maintained by the BC Forest Service).
They are located near lakes and rivers, blending in with the natural
surroundings. Although these sites do not offer sophisticated amenities
such as power hookups and piped water, they include basic sanitary
facilities, fire rings, picnic tables, and, where appropriate, boat-launch
ramps. Access is mostly via narrow unpaved roads, not always suitable
for large RVs. Three popular sites with two-wheel-drive access via
gravel road are those at Harmon Lake West, Harmon Lake
East, and Kane Lake can be reached from Hwy 5 or 5A.
To find them, drive about 12 miles (20 km) south of Merritt on Hwy
5A, then about 5 miles (8 km) west on the Kane Valley Forest Road.
A brochure/map indicating these sites and many others is available
from the Merritt Forest District, in Merritt.
Also accessible via the Lac Le Jeune exit from Hwy 5 is Walloper
Lake Provincial Park, 18.6 miles (30 km) southwest of Kamloops.
provincial campground in this area is Lac
Le Jeune Provincial Park, located 23 miles (37 km) southwest
of Kamloops. From Hwy
5, take the Lac Le Jeune exit. An alternate access route is an 18-mile
(29-km) paved road from Hwy 1. Open mid-May through September, this
lakeside park with vehicle/tent sites is surrounded by lodgepole
pine and pinegrass forests. Besides camping and water sports, it
provides lakeshore hiking opportunities, horseshoe pitches, and
visitor-program activities in its amphitheatre. The park also contains
two archaeological sites.
Lakes Provincial Recreation Area is 102 hectares of natural
wilderness located just south of Kamloops. The park encompasses
several small lakes and is famous for its fly-fishing. McConnell
Lake has been known to produce 1.5+ kg rainbow trout!