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Spring Activities & Camping Abound in British Columbia’s Okanagan

In the mountains there is still plenty of white stuff, but in the valleys, once the snow melts, the trees start to bloom and the leaves turn green.

Wineries in the Okanagan | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

There are a variety of activities available in early spring, especially because the temperate climate of the Okanagan is so warm early in the season. Consider indulging in some of the following if you’re looking to get camping this spring:

If you’re a fan of wines and brews, consider taking one of the area’s many wine tours. In Kelowna, you can take the Lakeshore Wine Route, starting at Sperling Vineyards to CedarCreek Estate Winery. Home of the award-winning restaurant, Home Block, CedarCreek is a popular way to enjoy the valley and the views of Okanagan Lake. As your day winds down, you can head back to Apple Valley Orchard and RV Park for a good night’s rest. The next day, you’ll be geared up to head down to Penticton to explore one of the province’s mighty Ale Trail destinations. In fact, Penticton was recently named Canada’s Craft Beer Capital!

You’re wise to spend several days using Kelowna as your home base, especially in spring. The flowers are out and the birds are singing, so it’s a great time to visit. Plan to spend a day visiting the Kettle Valley Railway in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, where you can enjoy biking, hiking and walking across the 18 trestles that still exist from the decommissioned railway line.

Myra Canyon | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

Of course, spring skiing is still an option if you’re so inclined, with Big White Resort, located just 60 kilometres east of Kelowna, a short day trip away. Another great accommodation in the Kelowna area is Holiday Park RV & Condo Resort.

It’s a great time of year to visit the South Okanagan, as the fruit trees are in bloom in early April. Their heady scent permeates the air. In Penticton, you can enjoy time at a variety of different campgrounds and resorts, including Oxbow RV Resort, South Beach Gardens Campground or Barefoot Beach Resort. While in Penticton, you can enjoy all kinds of different activities and events. In fact, Visit Penticton has a great events calendar you can enjoy year round. Some favourite activities around the Penticton area include a day trip on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland (and don’t forget to swing by Summerland Sweets while you’re in town, or to indulge the adults’ sweet tooth, consider a visit to Bottleneck Drive. You’ll have a chance to enjoy breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries, all in close proximity to each other).

Okanagan Blossoms | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

TIP: For places to camp in British Columbia, go to the Camping Map!

As you wind your way south, golf, swimming, boating and hiking are top activities to enjoy. Outside the busy summer season, there are many places to see and things to do that are just waiting to enjoy. Book a spot at Gallagher Lake, where you’ll enjoy amazing views among the ponderosa pines any time of year. If you plan on staying in sleepy Oliver, consider booking at Lakeside Resort, a full-service year-round resort that’s budget friendly. It’s also near Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course, if you’re looking to practice your swing. Also in Oliver is Fairview Mountain golf course, which is known to be open (weather permitting, of course) 11 months of the year! While you’re in town, swing by the Oliver Visitor’s Centre, as there are events going on all year round in Canada’s Wine Capital.

Kettle Valley Steam Train | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

Closer to the border is Osoyoos, known as Canada’s Warmest Welcome, where – if you’re not careful – you could drift across the American border, which bisects Osoyoos Lake. In town, you have a variety of options for accommodations, including Brookvale Holiday Resort.

Stationed in Osoyoos also allows you to head east into Boundary Country or west to the Similkameen on day trips. Each are wonderful (consider visiting the Rock Creek Fall Fair, and don’t forget Keremeos is known as Canada’s Fruit Stand Capital) and are close enough to stay in Osoyoos, the only true desert in Canada, while exploring all the Okanagan has to offer.

For campgrounds in the Okanagan and elsewhere in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

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Experience Terrace Treasures in British Columbia’s North

Let’s visit a place where you can enjoy the wilderness, hiking, cultural diversity, fishing, and great campgrounds plus convenient shopping. Welcome to Terrace, “A place to belong,” a city of about 12,000 on Highway 16/The Yellowhead. It sits at the junction of the Skeena and Kitsumkalum Rivers. Below the local bridges fly fisherman try their luck on the river hoping to beat the record for the largest spring salmon. Keep your eyes peeled for the creamy-coloured Kermode or Spirit bear, the symbol of Terrace.

Nisga'a lava bed, near Terrace
Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed | Photo: B. Rees

One of the most outstanding places we visited was the Nisga’a Memorial Lava Bed Park, the first provincial park jointly managed by First Nations and BC Parks. Situated 100 km north of Terrace we found ourselves in an alien landscape of ancient lava. In 1750 a volcano erupted, killing thousands of Nisga’a and forcing survivors to relocate their villages. It’s an eerie feeling walking over the remnants of such a cataclysmic event. Take a guided tour to the volcanic crater or walk into Vetter Falls. Nisga’a Visitor’s Centre in a stunning glass longhouse-like building houses the Ancestors Collection with treasures returned to the people.

A suspension bridge over the Nass River at Gitwinksihlw was too much for my fear of heights but a hike to the river to see a traditional fish wheel in the river was intriguing. If it’s hot springs you’re wanting go to Aiyansh Hot Springs.

Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, near Terrace
Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site | Photo: B. Rees

Kitselas Canyon National Historic Site, 20.8  km east of Terrace on the Skeena River is home to the Gitselasu/Kitselas people. They have lived in the area for over 5,000 years. At the head of the trail are longhouses. Farther on is the Clan Totem Pole Garden with the remains of totems from the 1800s. The viewpoint overlooks the raging rapids.

Trapline Mountain Alpine View
Trapline Mountain Alpine View | Photo: B. Rees

Friends took us up Trapline Mountain for a picnic at the top. What a panoramic view in the alpine at 1,448 meters, and above the tree line. Ask a local to take you around some of these out-of-the-way places.  It will enhance your experience of the area. There are many trails for all levels of hiking or strolling.

On the east side of Terrace is Thornhill Meat Market (2891 Clark St) with fresh meat, great bacon, groceries and deli selection. From May to October, the Skeena Valley Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays from 9-1. What a deliciously diverse selection of food along with beautiful local crafts. Come for the food and stay for the entertainment. We found the biggest craft store in the north at Creative Zone/Crafts and Hobbies for All Ages (4818 Hwy 16 West). It has everything from beads to hides to paints to cloth. Terrace Inn Liquor store (3005 Kalum Rd) has discounted prices so we stocked up. Prevost RV Dealer, on the west end of town, goes the extra mile for RV repairs. When our furnace quit and they couldn’t get a new one for 2 weeks they put in a second-hand unit to keep us going until Prince George and never charged for it. That’s service! There are the usual box stores but also plenty of local businesses.

No trip would be complete without an ice cream cone so we went to Chill Soda Shop located at 4805 Highway 16 in an old Foreman’s Residence beside the railway tracks. I have never seen such a big selection of candy but the best part was their ice cream.

Terrace Salmon Carving at Terrace Visitor Centre
Terrace Salmon Carving at Terrace Visitor Centre | Photo: B. Rees

The tourism office on the eastern edge of town is a one-stop for RVers. The ample size lot accommodates bigger rigs and has a full-service dump station. Friendly tourism staff welcomed our furry friends out of the heat.

Terrace is big enough to have all the amenities but small enough to be easy to navigate. For a side trip take the scenic drive along the Skeena River to Prince Rupert for fish ‘n chips. Take a day trip to visit the Haisla village of Kitimat just north of the town of Kitimat.

The Terrace-Kitimat-Prince Rupert area is a wealth of wonderful things to see and experience.

Places to Camp in the Terrace Area

Nass Campground, open May-October has 16 sites. 

Lakelse Lake Picnic Area
Lakelse Lake Picnic Area | Photo: B. Rees

There are 2 provincial parks with campgrounds. Lakesle Lake Provincial Park is 20 km south of Terrace. Furlong Bay Campground sits beside Lakesle Lake.  It has 156 sites, some with power, a shower room and a dump station. In the summer it books up quickly. We got lucky. Fifty sites have power. Wood, dump-station and hydro are extra. Furlong Bay on the lake feels like a tropical rain forest with huge plants. Devil’s Club, a medicine plant Indigenous people taught us how to use, towered over my husband. The leaves were big enough to wrap him up in them if they weren’t so prickly.

Giant Devils Club Medicinal Plant at Furlong Bay Campground, Lakelse Lake
Giant Devils Club Medicinal Plant at Furlong Bay Campground, Lakelse Lake | Photo: B. Rees

Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, 15 km east of Terrace is beside the Skeena River and Kleanza Creek. There are 34 vehicle-accessible campsites suitable for RVs. For the adventurous, there is a trail to Kleanza Canyon.

Ferry Island Tree Carving
Ferry Island Tree Carving | Photo: B. Rees

There are 6 private campgrounds. We visited Ferry Island Campground and Park managed by the city and situated beside the Skeena River. 103 spacious sites sit among the trees. Meandering along the 2.8 km loop through the forest we looked for cottonwood tree carvings done by local Rick Goyelle. It was like a treasure hunt finding some of the 55 expressive faces carved into the bark.

Wild Duck Motel and RV Park on the west end of town are clean and friendly. We were surprised to meet up with a pair of older women from Powell River who were touring the north in their camper. One of them has mobility issues so showering at campgrounds can be a problem. They stayed at the Wild Duck because there is a shower room fully equipped for people with disabilities.

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For campgrounds in this area and elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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

Visit Bromley Rock Provincial Park in BC’s Okanagan Similkameen

The long, hot summer days in BC’s interior call for white sand, cool water, and plenty of places to recline in the shade. Bromley Rock Provincial Park, located 20 kilometres east of Princeton on the shores of the Similkameen River, offers the perfect destination for a day trip, or if you are lucky, a weekend getaway.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park is a small and extremely popular campsite in the south Okanagan. Offering just 17 sites, Bromley Rock can be tricky to get into, but for an earlier summer trip there we were fortunate to get a last-minute Discover Camping reservation. This allowed us to extend our annual day use visit and spend a few days relaxing under the shade of Douglas Firs along the banks of the Similkameen River.

Floating on the Similkameen River at Bromley Rock
Floating on the Similkameen River at Bromley Rock

Bromley Rock is well known as a popular entrance spot for floating the Similkameen River. Every afternoon, our peaceful riverside retreat became a liquid highway as people of all ages paddled and floated by in/on all manner of watercraft. From traditional black inner tubes to gigantic party unicorns and from inflatable row boats (complete with oars) to enormous rubber ducks (complete with giant inflatable sunglasses), there is no doubt that in the afternoon, the Similkameen is where the party is.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park Beach
Bromley Rock Provincial Park Beach | Photo: K. Walker

If floating is not your cup of tea, the day use area west of the campground that serves as the float launch point makes a pretty great destination all on its own. With a huge white sand beach, a deep and relatively calm pool for swimming, and a cliff perfect for jumping, it quickly became obvious that this is one of the most popular destinations in the area on a sunny afternoon. The day use site has 30 parking spots, but when we were there cars were parked all along the access road. If picnicking is more your speed, Bromley Rock’s day use area offers 19 shaded picnic tables overlooking the river and near the parking lot, making it an excellent place to stop for lunch on a quieter day.

Bromley Rock Provincial Park on the Similkameen River
Bromley Rock Provincial Park on the Similkameen River | Photo: K. Walker

In general, we prefer a laid-back and less populated travelling experience, so we found afternoons at the main beach a bit on the overwhelming side. This was quickly resolved when we realized that we could easily walk down to the main beach each morning and evening when there was scarcely another soul around. In the afternoons, we took our lawn chairs down one of the many paths leading from the campground to the riverside. Here, we were able to soak up the sounds of the river in relative isolation, as nearly the entire campsite appeared to head for the beach each day at 11 and not return until late afternoon.

Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen
Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen | Photo: K. Walker

Whether you are seeking a beach party or a relaxing day at the river, Bromley Rock Provincial Park has something for everyone. With a mix of exposed and shaded campsites, a large day use area, and the extremely appealing riverfront location, Bromley Rock Provincial Park is certainly worth adding to your summer bucket list.

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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.

Big Bar Lake Provincial Park in the Cariboo, British Columbia

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.

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

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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