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Plan a Camping Trip to British Columbia’s Similkameen Valley

BC Parks reservations can be tricky to come by for a summer weekend, so when we snagged a last minute reservation for Stemwinder Provincial Park in BC’s Similkameen Valley we were excited to get out and try a new campsite.

Previously we have camped at nearby Bromley Rock Provincial Park (see our blog) so we had an idea of what the area would be like. The campsite at Stemwinder consists of 28 vehicle accessible campsites sandwiched between Highway 3 and the Similkameen River. The campground is generally laid out on two levels, the top level is right beside the highway and the sites are fairly open. The lower level, beside the river, is more treed. Our site was located right on the corner where you drive from the upper bench to the lower bench, so while it was surrounded on three sides by the campground road it still managed to be decently private since we really only had one neighbour.

Stemwinder Provincial Park | Kim Walker

The campsite at Stemwinder has pit toilets and one hand pump (on the lower level) for water. There are two short trails leading from near campsites 12 and 13 to access the river. Caution is advised, though, as Poison Ivy lurks just off the established trail! When we visited it was still quite early in the season and the Similkameen River was high. Later in the season the water would be lower and exploring the shoreline would be an option, although BC Parks cautions that the river runs fast and excellent swimming skills are required for anyone venturing into the water at this location. For a more relaxing swimming destination, head to Bromley Rock.

Riverside in Stemwinder Provincial Park | Kim Walker

Stemwinder Provincial Park makes an excellent location to use as a base to explore the surrounding area. On our trip, we spent our first day visiting nearby Keremeos. Keremeos offers a huge selection of orchards and vineyards. Pick up a winery and cidery passport at your first stop of the day, and then visit a total of either three or five locations in order to be entered to win a Similkameen Wine Lovers Package. On our visit we focused on the Similkameen cideries and had a great time visiting each location and sampling their offerings.

Our Campsite | Kim Walker

There are plenty of opportunities to travel back in time in Keremeos. The Red Bridge, originally built in 1907 as a railway bridge, is one of the only covered bridges left on the west coast. Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens is a provincial heritage site home to a functional water wheel from 1877. The site offers workshops, a restaurant, heritage gardens, an RV campground, and lots more.

Keremeos Grist Mill, Picture BC
Keremeos Grist Mill | Picture BC

Before heading back to our campsite, we made sure to pop in at some of the many fruit stands in Keremeos.  Fresh fruit and samosas were on the menu for us and both were delightful!

Hammocking in Stemwinder Provincial Park | Kim Walker

Stemwinder Provincial Park is a great weekend or stopover destination when travelling through the Similkameen region. There is a lot to experience, whether you prefer sampling from vineyards and orchards, exploring a heritage site, or getting out for a hike such as the one at nearby French Mine (see blog).

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Published: March 30, 2023
Last Updated: April 13, 2023

Kimberly Walker 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.