Paul Lake Provincial Park, a Picturesque Camping Spot Near Kamloops, BC
During the summer, Kamloops can feel like living inside an oven. The four years I resided there while attending university made me appreciate all the things I hadn’t even realized about growing up on the coast. Lucky for Kamloops residents, and all those searching for a completely classic BC Parks camping experience, just 30 minutes from the city is a haven of shady campsites, clear blue water, and a picture-perfect day use area.
Paul Lake Provincial Park is nestled in a forested valley just a short drive north of Kamloops. The park offers 90 campsites (47 of which are reservable) that are the very picture of what camping in a BC Park is all about. The treed sites are arranged in a well-spaced grid layout, with an outer paved road. My first experience with this style of park was on a family reunion camping trip somewhere in the Shuswap when I was a child (I seem to recall all the roads being named after types of fish?) and since then I have seen the same layout in many parks around the province, including Paul Lake Provincial Park. The campsite at Paul Lake is particularly well arranged, with frequent outhouses and water taps, lots of space between the sites, plenty of trees, and a pretty impressive adventure playground.
We chose Paul Lake for its variety of recreational opportunities. I had heard the day use area was excellent, and a quick look on the BC Parks website confirmed that the park offered both canoeing and hiking. With that in mind, we loaded up our tent trailer and canoe and headed for the interior. Thanks to some morning delays, we arrive mid-afternoon on Saturday and pulled into what I am quite sure was the last available space in the park amid mild panic that we were going to be completely out of luck. If you are planning a trip to Paul Lake, I suggest arriving in the morning for the 43 First Come First Served sites or even checking the park out on the BC Parks reservation system if you want to guarantee yourself a spot (at my last check, there were spaces available throughout the summer – including some weekends). Paul Lake is a popular campground and is definitely set up for family camping, so a little planning ahead goes a long way.
Whether you are staying overnight or not, Paul Lake is worth a visit for the recreation opportunities alone. The day use area is huge and offers a ton of lake front space in which to relax – including great spaces for large groups. There are lots of treed areas to provide relief from the sun and the roped off swimming area is perfect for getting in the water. The lake has great canoeing and kayaking opportunities, including the ability to paddle right alongside the soaring 900-metre cliff face of Gibraltar Rock.
If you want a break from the water, the park offers over 7 kilometres of hiking trails. Stroll along the lakefront on a little path leaving from just past the boat launch or summit the park by climbing right to the top of Gibraltar Rock. For those looking for a longer hike, the Gibraltar Rock trail continues on to the end of the lake and we saw a few people trail running the route while we were out canoeing.
From peaceful camping to busy day use, Paul Lake Provincial Park offers something for everyone. While the main beach area can be extremely busy on a hot summer day, it doesn’t take much to find your own little piece of the park, making it a worthwhile stop on any summer trip.
For other camping opportunities in Kamloops and elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.
Share your BC camping photos using hashtag #campinbc.
Published: July 4th, 2019
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