Know Before You Go Camping in British Columbia.  Looking to find winter camping?

Kayak Launching Clearwater Lake

Experience Clearwater Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, British Columbia

Wells Gray Provincial Park offers a multitude of front country and backcountry opportunities. From waterfall viewing to hiking, to water sports, this park has it all. 

Probably the most well-known feature of Wells Gray is Helmcken Falls, a dramatic 140 metre plunge 43 kilometres from the community of Clearwater. Helmcken Falls marks the end of the paved road into Wells Gray, and serves as a turn around point for many visitors. However, for those who continue along the gravel road beyond Helmcken, a camping and paddling dream awaits at Clearwater Lake. 

Launching the Kayak at Clearwater Lake | Kim Walker

The Clearwater Lake/Falls Creek front country campgrounds offer 80 sites near Clearwater Lake and along the Clearwater River. The lake is not accessible from the campground for swimming et cetera as the campground is located at the precipice of Osprey Falls, where Clearwater Lake flows into the Clearwater River. If you are looking for a campsite to take your small children swimming at a sandy beach, this is probably not the place for you. If you are looking for a place to enjoy strolling the trails along the fenced edge of the gorge, to relax in a tree-shaded campsite, or to launch a kayak or canoe excursion into the backcountry of the Clearwater and Azure Lakes Marine area, you are in the right place. 

Kayaking on Clearwater Lake | Kim Walker

The Clearwater Lake and Azure Lake marine system includes two 22 kilometre long lakes separated by a short portaged river section. Paddlers will launch at the boat launch at the south end of Clearwater Lake, just a kilometre or so north of the Clearwater Lake/Falls creek campground. This boat launch is the end of the road for vehicles, and beyond this, the only way further into this part of Wells Gray is by foot, boat, or plane. 

Divers Bluff Campsite, Wells Gray Provincial Park | Kim Walker

After launching, paddlers will head north along north-south running Clearwater Lake. As a day trip, we paddled north along the east side of the lake to the Bar View Campground, then, thanks to calm weather, crossed the lake and headed back south towards the Divers Bluff Campground. We then continued south along the west side of the lake to the Caribou Beach Campground, before crossing back across the narrow neck of the lake to the boat launch where we completed our 15 or so kilometre paddle. 

At Rainbow Falls Campground | Kim Walker

Clearwater Lake offers 8 backcountry marine campsites with a total of 33 tent sites. The sites are nicely spaced along both the east and west shores of the lake. When paddlers reach the north end of Clearwater Lake, they can choose to turn around, or use the 500-metre portage to access the east-west running Azure Lake for another 22 kilometres of lake. The campsites on Azure Lake are a bit more few and far between, with 4 campsites and a total of 21 tent sites on the lake. Three of the camping areas are located shortly after the portage, and the final campsite is located at the far end of Azure Lake, so planning for weather, wind, and distance are all required. Azure Lake has steep slopes on both sides of the lake, which means there are several significant waterfalls to enjoy including Garnet Falls, Roostertail Falls, and the crown jewel, Rainbow Falls, located right at the end of Azure Lake. 

Boat Access Waterfall | Kim Walker

If it all sounds a bit much for you, Clearwater Lake Tours offers a full day trip along Clearwater and Azure lakes, with a lovely lunch stop at Rainbow Falls where you can hike to the falls, swim, canoe, or fish.  

From a front country campsite with a backcountry vibe, to a genuine backcountry experience, to a backcountry tour with front country amenities, there is something for everyone at Wells Gray’s Clearwater Lake. 

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

For camping in this area and throughout BC go to the Camping Map

Share your BC travel and camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc, #explorebc, #bcnice, #green

It’s always a great day to #campinbc


Why a Trip to the Cariboo, BC is not to be Missed

From an American’s perspective, a trip to British Columbia has to include visits to well-known locations including Vancouver, Whistler, and the like. Knowing we had the flexibility of exploring further thanks to our truck and travel trailer, we had a few thoughts upon planning for our Canadian adventure: What if we keep going north!? What would we find? What special campsites might we come across? What if there is some fun backcountry adventure that would lead us right into lush forests and abundant wildlife? This is what we found.

Plotting Our Route in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

Having spent the first few days of our trip in and around the Squamish and Whistler areas, we found a small campground along Hwy 99 named Cinnamon rec site to use as a proper launching point into the Cariboo region. Just a short 20km drive south of Lillooet, we used this site to stock up on supplies in town and fill up on water and fuel. Hitting the road northbound we knew we had to put in a solid 3-4 hour drive to approach Williams Lake, a charming town with small, locally owned businesses dotting the streets.

Back Road Signage | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

Pushing further north, we pulled the travel trailer past the town of Quesnel and turned eastward on Highway 26 towards another small rec site named Lightning Creek. Thankfully we were not welcomed by lightning, although we can’t say the same about the mosquitoes. They certainly were planning a welcoming party for us, but we were prepared with repellant which we quickly slathered on. Having equipped ourselves with the necessary armor to fight off the festivities of our winged enemies, we chose a site for our travel trailer and set up camp. A good night’s rest was just what we needed to prepare for an exciting day of adventure to come.

Lightning Creek Recreation Site | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

Approaching the preserved mining town of Barkley, we took the Bowron Lake Park Rd turn-off and followed the signs showing us the way to the “Back Road”. A mix of tightly packed gravel and chunkier, loose rocks in certain areas, the “Back Road” is typically impassable by 2-wheel drive vehicles save for a few weeks in the Summer. Making use of the 4-wheel drive truck we use, we went straight for a deep dive into the backcountry. The further we went, the more special the scenery became. From creek crossings to hill and mountain vistas, this was the drive we had hoped for!

Back Road near Hwy 26 in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

An early June series of storms had moved in on us causing us to ditch plans we had for a night of tent camping at Ladies Creek rec site, but the sight of the green pines standing tall and the crisp, fresh air made it an absolute joy just to be out there. Nearing the end of our journey on the “Back Road” we had one final encounter that cemented this as one of our favorite adventure travel experiences, our first bear sighting. Coming from Florida, we don’t see bears all too often and we certainly don’t expect to find them on a leisurely drive along the beachfront boulevard. But here he was, a majestic black bear happy to let us watch him feast on the vegetation.

Black Bear in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

We made sure to give him plenty of space, snapped a few photos, and went on our way knowing that he would most likely prefer to have a side of peace and quiet with his dinner. Having completed the “Back Road”, we couldn’t help but be thankful for an experience we will not soon forget. As it turns out, there is, indeed, a lot more to see and do in British Columbia than those “famous” spots. A trip to the Cariboo just might provide you with a few lifelong memories and a bucket list moment checked off the list.

Along the Back Road in the Cariboo | Photo: Roaming Remodelers

For more campgrounds in the Cariboo and other areas of British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your British Columbia travel and camping photos using #campinbc

Glacier National Park is a Spectacular BC Destination

Bear Creek Falls, Glacier National Park

Bear Creek Falls, Glacier National Park

If you type Glacier National Park into your web browser, many of the search results reference Montana’s large national park of the same name. If you dig a little deeper, you will uncover one of BC’s most spectacular and challenging destinations, which covers almost 1400km2 of BC’s Selkirk and Purcell Mountains.

Glacier National Park, in BC’s Kootenay region, is the first national park established in British Columbia and is one of the most interesting parks I have visited, as the spectacular views from the highway are juxtaposed with the challenges of accessibility.

For much of the year, Glacier National Park is blanketed in up to 10 metres (yes, metres!) of snow, making the park inaccessible to all but the most experienced backcountry travellers. While the Trans Canada Highway cuts directly through the park, Rogers Pass can be one of the most treacherous sections of highway in the province with over 130 avalanche paths affecting the highway. By the time the snow melts away in the summer months, the Grizzly Bears have emerged from their winter slumber and many of the hiking trails in the park have restricted access, requiring groups of four people over the age of 12 to hike within three metres of each other.

Backcountry travel in Glacier National Park is not for the faint of heart! Fortunately, Parks Canada has established numerous points of interest within the park that don’t require quite as much dedication and make the park a perfect place to stretch your legs, camp for a few days, and experience some of what the park has to offer.

What to Do

Glacier House, Glacier National Park

Glacier House, Glacier National Park

Highlights in Glacier National Park include:

  • Bear Creek Falls: A short but steep downhill walk brings you from the highway down to a spectacular waterfall. In the summer, enjoy the cooler temperatures the gorge offers by packing a picnic to enjoy along the creek.
  • Glacier House: A luxury destination in the mountains from the early 1900s, the Glacier House hotel was established by the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the railway was re-routed through the 9 kilometre long Connaught Tunnel in 1917, visitors to Glacier House dramatically decreased and the resort was closed and eventually dismantled. Today, you can explore the ruins of the resort near the Illecillewaet Campground.
  • Rogers Pass Discovery Centre: A National Historic Site in its own right, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is the only part of Glacier National Park that is accessible year-round. An excellent interpretive centre tells the history of the area and the nearby Rogers Pass Summit site offers spectacular views and informative outdoor displays.

    Rock Garden, Glacier National Park

    Rock Garden, Glacier National Park

  • Rock Garden: This walk only takes about 20 minutes, but take your time and explore the moss and lichen covered boulders deposited during the last ice age. The trail consists of a jaunt through the forest, numerous rock staircases, and a trail through large boulders, so bring appropriate footwear.
  • Loop Brook: Loop Brook is one of my favourite destinations in Glacier National Park. The trail starts at the Loop Brook Campground and travels just over a kilometre and a half through the forest along sections of the old railway grade. The highlights of the hike are definitely the enormous stone pillars that once carried the railway in a loop through the valley in order to reduce the grade of the railway. Excellent interpretive signage along the trail adds to the experience.
  • High-Elevation Hiking: Undeniably, one of the best ways to experience Glacier National Park is to take a hike in the high country. There are numerous trails in the park and the information desk at the Illecillewaet Campground – where many of the most popular hikes depart – has a sign-up sheet for those people wanting to join up with others to form groups of 4.

Loop Brook, Glacier National Park

Loop Brook, Glacier National Park

In the Area

While in the area, consider visiting Mount Revelstoke National Park and Yoho National Park. Take a day trip to Golden or Revelstoke to experience life in a mountain town. Both offer many opportunities for eating, drinking, and recreation. Plan for a meal at the Wolf’s Den in Golden for one of the best burgers you will ever eat. In Revelstoke, stop by the Monashee Spirits Distillery to sample locally made liqueurs.

Where to Stay

Glacier National Park offers three campgrounds: Illecillewaet, Loop Brook, and Mount Sir Donald. All campgrounds are first come first served and offer a place to stay right in the heart of the park.

Glacier National Park is a dream destination for many backcountry and mountaineering enthusiasts, but it also has much to offer the casual visitor. There is a huge variety of hiking trails, from casual walks to demanding backcountry excursions. I have been to the park several times, but I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what Glacier National Park has to offer and it is one of those destinations that keeps calling me back over and over again.

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Published: September 14th, 2017

Connect With Us