Chasm Provincial Park – A Hidden Gem in British Columbia’s Cariboo Region
In British Columbia we are fortunate to have a wealth of spectacular destinations. Sometimes, however, on our way to somewhere else we stumble onto a gem hidden in plain sight. Chasm Provincial Park, located just north of Clinton in the Cariboo region, is one of those destinations.
While en route to Green Lake Provincial Park, we noticed a roadside sign for Chasm Provincial Park. Knowing nothing about it, but seeing that it was only a four-kilometre detour from Highway 97, we decided to investigate. The road accessing the park is paved and easily accessible while towing our tent trailer. When we arrived at the parking area we found that we had it basically all to ourselves which made it easy to park and turn around.
Chasm Provincial Park protects a spectacular canyon carved by glacial melt water. Today, the steep canyon walls display the layers of the multi-coloured lava flows that form the Fraser Plateau. The canyon is over eight kilometres long, six hundred metres wide, and three hundred meters deep. It is basically a baby Grand Canyon right here in British Columbia!
Chasm Provincial Park is a photographer’s dream. With easy access and spectacular views, you could easily stay right in the parking lot and spend a significant amount of time observing and photographing the rock formations and layering on the canyon walls across from you.
For those who want to venture a bit further afield, there is a network of informal and unsigned hiking trails. The BC Parks website notes a trail following an old road that winds from the parking area around the top of the canyon and then down the southern edge of the chasm and offers spectacular views and a nice walk through the protected ponderosa pine forest. While the viewpoint area is fenced, once you venture beyond the main parking area the fencing ends and the trail skirts the canyon edge. Caution is necessary especially when visiting with children or pets.
During our trip, we stuck to the north side of the canyon, following the trail from the parking area and outhouses alongside the canyon rim. This short and informal trail provide plenty of amazing viewpoints and given the unplanned nature of our visit to Chasm Provincial Park we felt that this gave us a good taste of the area without needing to break out our hiking shoes and backpacks. The next time I travel through the Clinton area I will certainly plan for a longer trip in Chasm Provincial Park in order to explore the south rim trails and maybe even try to make it down to the lower elevation lakes and marshes that dominate the southern end of the park.
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Whether you have fifteen minutes or several hours to explore, Chasm Provincial Park makes an excellent detour when travelling along Highway 97 near Clinton. I found the geology of the area unexpected given the much more dominant terrain of rolling grasslands, which for me made the discovery of Chasm Provincial Park all the more dramatic and a true a hidden gem in the British Columbia interior. There are no campsites here.
For those looking for nearby camping opportunities check out the camping map.
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Published: September 16th, 2021
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