TRAVEL ALERTS: Know Before You Go Camping. CAMPFIRE BAN: Province wide campfire ban effective June 30, 2021. 

Big Bar Lake Provincial Park in the Cariboo, British Columbia

The Covid pandemic may be keeping us at home right now but we all need to start making plans for summer travel in British Columbia. Consider a trip to Big Bar Provincial Park in the Cariboo region.

If you don’t mind a little jaunt off the beaten (and paved) path, Big Bar Lake Provincial Park, 42 kilometres northwest of Clinton, makes an excellent weekend escape in the South Cariboo.

Dusk was setting as we arrived at our campsite and a quick reconnaissance showed that we had a path directly from our site down to the water’s edge. In addition to these site-to-lake trails, the park also has numerous locations to access the water including a boat launch and day use area with picnic tables and an adventure playground.

Campsite at Big Bar Lake Provincial Park | Kimberly Walker

Big Bar Lake is a gorgeous canoe destination. The water sparkles and there are numerous places where the shallow, sandy bottom gives an almost tropical appearance. The lake is well known as a fishing destination, but despite our best efforts we came up empty handed on this trip. Other fishermen we talked to said the fishing had been hot a few days before, but things had slowed considerably, which made us feel slightly better about the situation!

Plenty of Places to Paddle Your Canoe | Kimberly Walker

After tucking our rods away, we decided to paddle to the end of the lake and look at all the cabins on the opposite side of the lake from the campground. The cabins range from gorgeous and modern to derelict and abandoned looking. Some rustic structures right near the end of the lake left me wondering the history of the property and wishing I knew more about the history of the region as a whole.

Otter Marsh at Big Bar Lake Provincial Park | Kimberly Walker

Before long, unsettled weather struck and we could see black clouds building at the campground end of the lake. Bad weather can come up quickly on the water, and we had barely made the decision to turn around and head home when we were stuck with gale force winds, driving rain and hail, and extremely rough water. Boating safety is paramount, and it is essential that anyone headed out on the water, no matter how calm it appears, be prepared. At an absolute minimum, this means always wearing a life jacket. Because we were canoeing with a dog, we decided to take extra precautions and pull up on shore and wait for the squall to pass. As we were hunkered down, we saw several paddle boarders wearing only bathing suits and carrying no safety equipment whatsoever struggling to make it to shore. Thankfully, the storm passed quickly and everyone was safe, but this was a sobering reminder of how quickly things can turn bad on the water.

Walk Along Otter Marsh | Kimberly Walker

Next, we decided to trade water for land and hike the 3.5 kilometre Otter Marsh Interpretive Trail that leaves from the day use area of the park. Make sure you wear mosquito protection as the mosquitos were ferocious and most of our hike actually took place at a light jog. But the views were spectacular and the interpretive signage along the trail did a great job of educating us about the area and pointing out specific features to look for including tree species, glacial activity, volcanic activity, and the diversity of grassland and forest habitats.

View of Big Bar Lake | Kimberly Walker

Since we travelled early in the camping season, we were happy to have a waterfront site in the Lakeside Campground from which we could view the lake while sipping tea and reading books. If we travelled to Big Bar Lake during the height of summer, the Upper Campground, which was completely empty while we were there, might be more appealing as it provides more shade and larger campsites, including double sites, than the higher density, waterfront area where we stayed.

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Whether you are seeking land or water adventures, it’s always a great day to #campinbc and Big Bar Lake Provincial Park is an excellent destination to explore.

For other camping options in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia go to our Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc #bcnice.

Published: March 18th, 2021

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by Kimberly Walker

Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.




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