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Bridge Lake Ice Caves, Cariboo

Bridge Lake Ice Caves in British Columbia’s Cariboo: A Cool Place to Visit on a Hot Day

On a recent trip to Bridge Lake Provincial Park (read our blog), we took a day trip to a nearby destination we had read about that seemed too good to be true on a sweltering Cariboo day – the Bridge Lake Ice Caves.

Now, if you are picturing ice caves in the traditional sense, a glistening and icy blue arch, you will be disappointed. But the Bridge Lake Ice Caves have an even more interesting heritage. A Recreation Sites and Trails BC location in partnership with numerous local organizations, the Bridge Lake Ice Caves highlight a unique geological feature of the Bridge Lake shoreline. The annual freeze/thaw process, coupled with ongoing erosion, has created a shoreline full of crevices into which the annual snowfall melts and refreezes into ice. In the bottom of these caves and crevices, the ice remains cold and persists well into the summer, if not year round.

Bridge Lake Ice Caves, Cariboo | Kim Walker

When we visited in mid August, it was plenty hot walking the trails around the rec site, but when we descended towards the ice caves the air became cooler and cooler the further we descended. Several of the crevices we looked in contained nothing more than moist rock walls and cool temperatures, but in two areas in particular we were able to find actual ice.

According to the interpretive signage and the Recreations Sites and Trails BC website, local historians and storytellers have shared that the ice caves were used by both local First Nations and early European settlers to harvest ice to preserve food and to keep cool.

Low Mobility Wolf Trail, Bridge Lake Ice Caves, Cariboo | Kim Walker

While the ice caves themselves are cool (both literally and figuratively!), the government of BC and local community organizations have done an excellent job of developing a family-friendly rec site in the heart of the Cariboo. The site has several trails named after local wildlife. On our trip we walked the Low Mobility Wolf Trail, the Beaver Trail, the Coyote Trail, and the Owl Trail. The trails are marked with totems, and represent the animal on whose trail you are travelling.

Beaver Totem, Bridge Lake Ice Caves, Cariboo | Kim Walker

The low mobility Wolf Trail is a 0.5 kilometre, hard packed, low-grade, gravel nature trail leading from the parking lot to two viewing platforms (one of which is wheelchair accessible) overlooking the ice caves and Bridge Lake. Along the trail there are several outdoor workout facilities, including a balance beam to hop over, a push up/pull up station, and a zig-zag balance walk. At the end of the Wolf Trail there is a serious flight of stairs to run up and down for those looking for more cardio. The workout stations along the Wolf Trail are called Otter, Raven, Loon, and Eagle and each is marked with a totem.

Eagle Stairs, Bridge Lake Ice Caves, Cariboo | Kim Walker

From the end of the Wolf Trail we descended the stairs to the Beaver Trail. The Beaver Trail hugs the lakeshore and is a much rougher trail than the Wolf Trail.  Next, we headed up the Coyote Trail, which was very steep and rough. This brought us to the ice caves area where we enjoyed the view and explored. To head back to the parking lot, we took the Owl Trail, which was again wide, flat, and hard packed. Along the trail there were excellent viewpoints of Bridge Lake and plenty of benches to take a break if needed.

Viewing Platforms, Bridge Lake Ice Caves, Cariboo | Kim Walker

When I first heard about the ice caves, the picture that popped into my head turned out to be completely inaccurate to what we experienced. In reality, the Bridge Lake Ice Caves recreation site provides an excellent series of walking and hiking trails. There are beautiful views over Bridge Lake and the ice caves themselves are fascinating both geologically and historically.

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

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Bridge Lake Provincial Park Nestled in the Interlakes Region of British Columbia’s Cariboo

When planning a family camping trip for family stretching from Vancouver Island to the far north of BC, we recently settled on meeting in the middle, so to speak, and packed up for a week in the Cariboo.

Bridge Lake is one of many, many lakes in the Interlakes District, a region known for fishing. In fact, Highway 24, stretching from 100 Mile House to Little Fort, is often referred to as the Fishing Highway and Bridge Lake is situated smack dab in the centre.

Bridge Lake Provincial Park is quite large, at just over 400 hectares, and protects undeveloped shoreline and numerous islands within Bridge Lake itself. A small campground is located just three kilometres from the community of Bridge Lake at the south end of the lake. The Bridge Lake Provincial Park campground has 13 vehicle accessible campsites, and 3 “walk in” campsites right along the water, perfect for those willing to walk the extra 50 feet down the wide, well maintained trail.

Campsite at Bridge Lake Provincial Park, Cariboo | Kim Walker

As we were travelling with our tent trailer, we opted for one of the vehicle accessible campsites and were pleased to find our site to have a nice mix of sun and shade and lots of privacy. There is one set of outhouses in the campground loop, and one additional outhouse near the day use boat launch and walk in tenting area. There is no water available at the campsite as the previous well has been decommissioned, so it is important to plan ahead and either bring the water you need with you or be prepared to buy small bottles at one of the nearby general stores. Cell service was spotty in the campground, but several places in the park, including the boat launch, had improved reception.

Bridge Lake Boat Launch | Kim Walker

Bridge Lake Provincial Park campground is located on a little peninsula that sticks out into Bridge Lake. The peninsula is criss-crossed by trails, and it is easy to walk for a kilometre or two just by following the obvious trail leaving near campsite number three and then exploring the various trails that branch down to the water. Stick to the main path and eventually you will circle back to the boat launch and walk in camping area.

Kayaking on Bridge Lake in the Cariboo | Kim Walker

Bridge Lake is an excellent water destination. During our trip we spent lots of time exploring the bay near the boat launch by paddleboard. A short paddle out of the bay brought us to a white buoy marking an unexpected shallow spot where stacked boulders littered the lake bottom making the water in which we were paddling sometimes less than a foot deep. The rocks were a bit slippery, but with caution you can have your very own walking on water moment!

We Named it Seagull Island | Kim Walker

For those looking for a longer paddle, there are plenty of options as well. We explored the south-east portion of the lake’s shoreline as an 8 kilometre paddle which included several blue herons, lots of daydreaming about owning one of the many waterfront recreational properties, a stream flowing into the lake, and a number of small islands including one rocky outcrop that I nicknamed Seagull Island for obvious reasons.

A Sunset Paddle on Bridge Lake | Kim Walker

In true Cariboo form, our trip was complete with both spectacular sunsets and spectacular thunderstorms.

Throughout the course of our trip, it seems that the campsite had 3 or 4 vehicle accessible spaces that remained empty each night. That being said, the camper turnover was nearly 100%, and we had different campsite neighbours every night of our trip. My impression is that many people used Bridge Lake Provincial Park as a stopping off point between two other destinations, but having spent the better part of a week there, I still feel like we have only scratched the surface of what the region offers and we will certainly be back!

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Check out the blog on the Bridge Lake Ice Caves! There is an excellent series of walking and hiking trails at the Recreation Site as well as beautiful views over Bridge Lake and the ice caves themselves are fascinating both geologically and historically.

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

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It’s always a great day to #CampInBC

Hiking in British Columbia is a Popular Activity so be Prepared

There are thousands of hiking trails in British Columbia, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast, trails that lead to panoramic mountain-top views, tranquil lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls. British Columbia has a large variety of hikes for everyone of all fitness levels.

Hiking in Harmony Islands, Sunshine Coast. Photo: Destination BC/Albert Normandin
Hiking in Harmony Islands, Sunshine Coast | Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Hiking trails are usually divided into two categories – day hikes and overnight hikes. Day hikes are trails that can be hiked from start to finish during daylight hours. There are many popular day hikes in major urban areas, such as Vancouver’s North Shore, Squamish, Whistler, Penticton and Victoria. Overnight hikes involve packing all your gear and camping overnight, anywhere from a single night to multi-day trips. The world famous West Coast Trail on the Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island is BC’s most famous multi-day trail as it takes an average hiker 7-days to complete the rugged route.

Crossing the creek between Middle and Upper Lakes in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Photo: Vancouver Trails
Crossing the creek between Middle and Upper Lakes in Joffre Lakes Provincial Park | Vancouver Trails

BC Parks manages hundreds of trails throughout the Province and many of their parks have campsites with convenient access to popular trails. Access to BC Parks hiking trails are free, however camping fees and campsite reservations are required in many areas. There are thousands of back-country hiking trails that are much less maintained but managed by Recreation Sites and Trails BC.

There are seven National Parks located in British Columbia that are managed by Parks Canada. Entry fees are required to use the hiking trails in these parks and additional camping fees and reservations apply, depending on the areas.

There are many, many more hiking trails and parks that are managed by local and municipal governments throughout British Columbia.

Trans Canada Trail in Lake Cowichan
Trans Canada Trail in Lake Cowichan

Hiking Safety

Exploring British Columbia’s natural beauty can easily be taken for granted if you do not take the proper safety precautions before heading out. Unfortunately, there are dozens of people who become lost while hiking each year in BC and some are never found. Taking the following precautions will help to ensure you have a safe hiking experience.

Here are some of the main precautions to take:

  1. Always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back. Leave as many details with this person as possible so if they don’t hear back from you at the agreed time, they know to notify the police. Knowing the details of where someone has hiked helps search authorities pinpoint areas to search.
  2. Never hike alone. The rugged and remote wilderness can easily lead to an injury with no help nearby, leaving you stranded and a long way from help.
  3. Always carry the 10-Essentials (see below).
  4. Be prepared for encounters with wild animals. Grizzly bears, black bears, and cougars are some of British Columbia’s larger animals that can pose a danger to humans.
  5. Check the weather conditions and other local information

What To Bring – The 10 Essentials

  1. Light – Pack a headlamp or flashlight with fully charged batteries in case you are on the trail after dark.
  2. Food and Water – Ensure you take the proper amount of food and water for your hike. Do not rely on clean water sources along the trail.
  3. Fire Starter – Pack waterproof matches so that you can start a fire to keep warm at night if you become stranded.
  4. Extra Clothes – Pack adequate clothing for the conditions and be wary that temperatures can change significantly at higher elevations or during nighttime.
  5. Pocketknife – A strong knife can be a useful tool for survival as it can be used for things like cutting small pieces of wood to start a fire.
  6. Shelter – Simple items like a reflective emergency blanket or garbage bag.
  7. Signaling Device – A whistle can be one of the most important devices to help attract attention so rescuers can find you.
  8. First Aid Kit – Bandages, wraps, items for blister control, and more can be important if you become injured while hiking.
  9. Navigation – A compass, map, and GPS are the most important navigational tools. DO NOT rely on your cell phone as many areas of BC do not have cell phone access due to the mountainous terrain, including areas that are a mere kilometer from major urban cities.
  10. Sun Protection – Sunscreen and a hat can help protect you against sun burns and sun stroke.

For safety information while outdoors go to Adventure Smart

Other Useful Information

Camping & RV in BC has a google map that shows where all the private campgrounds, provincial parks, national parks and recreation sites are and each listing indicates whether they are close to hiking trails.

Read blogs on the Camping & RV in BC website that highlight some of our visitor’s favourite places to hike.

For camping in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

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For more information on hiking and trails, visit:

Vancouver Trails
Recreation Sites & Trails BC
HelloBC
BC Parks
Parks Canada

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Pender Island, British Columbia: The Perfect Weekend Away

If you are looking for a new adventure, why not consider one of the Gulf Islands situated off the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia? A few summers ago we decided to pick one or two Gulf Islands each year to explore, and Pender Island proved to be an excellent choice.

Port Browning Marina, Pender Island | C. Stathers

To get to Pender Island, you take a ferry either from Tsawwassen or from Swartz Bay. When planning your trip, remember to check the routes and schedules on the BC Ferries website because they vary depending on the time of the year. If you are travelling during peak times, it is well worth making a reservation.

On our trip, we departed from Tsawwassen south of Vancouver and stopped at both Galiano and Mayne Islands before arriving at Otter Bay on North Pender Island; it took a little less than 2 hours with no transfers. If you are coming from Swartz Bay (Sidney, Vancouver Island), then the ferry is about 40 minutes.

Explore One of the Beaches on Pender Island | C. Stathers

Pender Island is actually two islands (North Pender and South Pender) joined by a small one-lane bridge, which was built in 1955. The canal was dredged in the early 1900s to allow the passage of boats including the SS Iroquois, a steamboat ferry which provided transportation between the Gulf Islands, Sidney and Nanaimo. Unfortunately in 1911 it sank outside Sidney, killing over 20 people.

Picnic at Hope Bay | C. Stathers

We spent a lot of time exploring the 34 square kilometers of the islands; we wanted to see as much as possible on our few days there. Based on 2021 census data there are just over 2,400 full-time residents on the north island and about 300 on the south. It is the second largest of the Gulf Islands that we have visited: Salt Spring (11,635), Galiano (1,396), Mayne (1,304) and finally, Saturna (465) which we still have on our list to visit. It was interesting looking up the census data as I really had a sense that the south island was much less populated with a more rural/farming feel.

There is no public transportation on the island but, as with Mayne Island, they have “car stops” set up to encourage giving those travelling-on-foot a ride. Apparently Pender Island was the first island to start the program and it has been successfully running since 2008; it now has 29 stops. The Pender Island Chamber of Commerce has a great map which highlights all the car stops on the island.

Prior Centennial Campground, Pender Island | G. Stathers

When planning a place to stay, I would recommend Prior Centennial Campground on North Pender Island with 17 sites. There are lots of trails in the park and, for those interested in Disc Golf, there is a trail from the campsite to the Golf Island Disc Park. Reservations at this park are through the Parks Canada website. Speaking of golf, and considering that my husband is an avid golfer, we had to check out the Pender Island Golf and Country Club, a nine-hole course known for its challenging shots and beautiful views. 

Port Browning Marina Pub | C. Stathers

For those arriving on Pender Island by boat, there is moorage available at Port Browning Marina Resort near Bedwell Harbour. We had lunch at the pub on their patio and enjoyed the view and excellent food.

We also had a great picnic lunch at Hope Bay. For dessert we picked up some chocolates at Pender Island Chocolates. On our next visit we plan to have a lunch or dinner at the HUB at Hope Bay.

Our getaways always seem to focus on food and hiking!

Mount Norman Observation Platform | C. Stathers

We found some fun trails on North Pender around Magic Lake and will definitely return to Mount Norman on South Pender. We picked up Mount Norman trail head on Ainslie Point Road (just off Canal Road). The first part of the trail winds its way through the lush, beautiful trees before you start the climb to the summit which is the highest point on Pender at 800 feet. From the observation platform at the top, you will have a panoramic view of the surrounding islands, including Salt Spring.

The Pender Islands Museum is housed in a 1908 “kit” house in its original waterfront setting at Roesland in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. | Pender Islands Museum

Since I am a bit of a history buff, we had to visit the Pender Island Museum at Roesland in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (2408 South Otter Bay Road). Roesland is an old homestead with the museum in the historic Roe House. For 70+ years, it was the heart of the rustic Roesland Resort, attracting families year after year.

The museum website describes the Roe house as being built in “1908, and a “kit” house ordered from a Vancouver Island lumber company. All the pre-cut lumber was delivered to Roesland by barge and put together on its log base in about a week. Total cost for the three-bedroom house: $589.62!

It was a beautiful sunny day on our visit; we enjoyed tea and goodies in the historic Roe House. The property and buildings sit on Roe Inlet which has lots of easy walking trails around the property.

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Pender is perfect for a weekend getaway and year-round holiday destination. I would suggest a visit any season; whether you choose the busy summer months or the sleepy shoulder seasons, you will not be disappointed.

Check out Four Reasons to Visit Pender Island This Fall

For places to RV and camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

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Wintering in BC’s Okanagan? Check out Things To Do from Kelowna to Penticton

Snowbirds and off-season RVers head to British Columbia’s mid-Okanagan, sometimes called the “Napa of the North”, for more than its sunny and mild winter days. There are plenty of activities and things to try, both out of doors and in.

Kelowna

The largest city in the Okanagan, Kelowna has a thing or two to boast about. It’s hip and urban yet outdoorsy, surrounded by water, mountains and agriculture, and has a fantastic food and wine scene based on local produce. Its winters are generally temperate with scenic snowshoe trails and powdery ski runs an easy drive away.

Award-winning Quails Gate Winery has been family farmed since 1956 | Tourism Kelowna/Meghan Reading

Looking for things to do in the winter? Browse some unique boutiques and shops (Bernard avenue and Pandosy Village, near the beach, are musts), sip a cider, gin or beer in a tasting room, or enjoy a farm-to-table meal. If you’re hankering for BC-caught oysters or a Friday fish fry head to Codfathers Seafood Market. It’s owned and operated by fishmongers who promote sustainable harvesting.

Wintertime in Kelowna means annual festivals and events and winter wine tours offer a variety of vineyards and trails to visit. Tourism Kelowna has a helpful webpage that lists what farms, markets and orchards are open. The snowy season is a great time to purchase jams, preserves, honey and cheese.

Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park | Tourism Kelowna/Seger Nelson & Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association

Arts and entertainment ranges from galleries and museums to events and live shows. Kelowna Museums organizes workshops and operates the Okanagan Heritage Museum, the Okanagan Military Museum and the unique Laurel Packinghouse, which is part museum part venue area.

There are a number of winter hiking spots in and around Kelowna, including Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park, Rose Valley Regional Park, Myra Bellevue Provincial Park and Bear Creek Provincial Park. Mission Creek Greenway has over 20 kilometres of trails, including an area where you can spot salmon spawning.

The downtown Kelowna Skating Rink has a fire pit for warming up | Tourism Kelowna/Matt Ferguson Photography

Just 20 minutes east of the city is the Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club which has 75 km of groomed ski trails which meander through beautifully wooded forests and hills. Dogs are allowed on the snowshoe trails (all 70 kms) and about 1/3 of the ski trails. You can ice skate at Stuart Park, a free outdoor rink with a fire pit for warming up, hike at Knox Mountain Park, just north of downtown, and walk along the waterfront boardwalk; the trail connects to the Rotary Marsh Park, a fantastic spot for birding.

Horse & Sleigh at Big White Ski Resort | Tourism Kelowna/Jeff Bassett, Sproing Creative

Ski and snowboard options include Big White Ski Resort (to the east) and SilverStar Mountain Resort (to the northeast), both around an hour’s drive from Kelowna; shuttle service is available. These winter playgrounds also offer snowmobiling, snowshoeing and fat tire biking. For a real bird’s eye view in winter book a helicopter tour with OK Heli.

After such activity relax and get pampered at a local day spa or salon. It seems fitting while in Kelowna to try a Vinotherapy massage, where the residue (pips and pulps) of wine making are rubbed into the skin.

Summerland

The town of Summerland, a leader in the agri-tourism business, is on the lower end of Okanagan Lake with Peachland to the north and Penticton to the south. Nearby vineyard slopes and hills provide outstanding viewpoints of the valleys and lake.

Trans Canada Trail overlooking Summerland | Carol Stathers

There are many parks and trails to explore. A popular winter hike, snowshoe or cross-country outing is the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail. The rail line was once used to transport silver ore to the BC coast. There’s also the 268-acre Mount Conkle Park and its ‘Bonk Loop’, and for a fantastic view of Summerland hike or snowshoe up the volcanic dome of Giant’s Head.

Indoor winter options include the rink at Summerland Arena or the Summerland Community Centre for bingo or a game of billiards or shuffleboard. Tour Summerland Art Gallery, the Summerland Museum and Archives Society and try specialty shops such as Summerland Sweets, which has manufactured fruit syrup, jam and candy since 1962. For some cool nostalgia check out Nixdorf Classic Cars, which boasts an inventory of 100 vehicles from 1936 to 1970, and even a muscle car section. If you’re craving craft beer, be sure to visit Detonate Brewing and Giant’s Head Brewing. Click here for a list of community events in Summerland.

Penticton

The hub of the South Okanagan for outdoor recreation, Penticton has over 80 wineries in the region, and over a dozen combined craft breweries, cideries and distilleries in and around downtown.

There are plenty of restaurants and ambiances to choose from, from pubs and casual spots to elegant bistros and even the rooftop patio at Slackwater Brewing, which hosts trivia nights. Be sure to check out the Penticton Ale Trail which highlight’s the town’s breweries and eateries. Many wineries remain open during the winter; contact the winery before setting out and do sample some ice wines. There are several wine tour companies you can book with should you prefer not to drive. Click here for a winter dining guide courtesy of Penticton Visitor Centre.

Rent a fat bike to explore a vineyard or cruise along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail | Travel Penticton

Try your hand at the Cascades Casino or watch a flick at the Landmark Cinemas. For an art fix visit the Penticton Art Gallery and shop or the Lloyd Gallery (representing over 40 Canadian artists) or give an improv workshop a go with the Penticton Arts Council.

Shows and lessons are held at the Leir House Cultural Centre and the local Elks Lodge has art workshops, as do some of the local wineries such as Noble Ridge Vineyard where you can make a silk scarf while enjoying a glass of wine. There’s also Pottery at Artables.

Take in a show at the Dream Café, the Cleland Community Theatre, or the South Okanagan Events Centre, where you can also watch the Junior A Penticton Vees hockey team. 

The Penticton Community Centre offers special programs and activities along with its pool and fitness area and the Penticton Curling Club has leagues from November to March. For a winter walk you can easily access the Kettle Valley Rail Trail or rent a fat bike from Freedom Bike Shop to cruise along it, or perhaps a snowshoe tour with Hoodoo Adventures is more your thing.

Brand-new to Penticton is its much-anticipated outdoor skating rink. This fully refrigerated centrally located rink can operate in temperatures up to 10°C and will offer free rentals.

Nickel Plate Nordic Centre has 56km of groomed trails and 22km of snowshoe trails | Travel Penticton

Just over 30 minutes southwest is Apex Mountain Resort for downhill skiing and snowboarding; there’s also a 1-km ice skating loop, ice rink and tubing area for the kid in you. Apex organizes evening snowshoe outings followed by dinner and wine at its Gunbarrel Saloon, which has many times been named best après-ski bar in Canada!

For epic cross-country skiing and snowshoeing head to the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, just west of Apex. Shuttle bus services are available. Golf in late winter in Penticton is possible, depending on the weather of course. Contact Penticton Golf & Country Club for more information.

For information when in the area go to:
Kelowna Visitor Centre: 238 Queensway Avenue, Kelowna
Summerland Visitor Centre: 15600 Highway BC 97, Summerland
Penticton Visitor Centre: 888 Westminster Ave W #120, Penticton

Want to read more on Winter Activities check out https://www.campingrvbc.com/category/activities/winter-activities/

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For places to camp in BC in the winter go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/winter/

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast – A Great Place for a Camping Holiday

The Sunshine Coast has long been the kind of destination that is geographically quite close to Vancouver and the Fraser Valley but feels like a true getaway.

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park
Francis Point Provincial Park | K. Walker

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is an ideal destination for family fun. At only four kilometres north of Sechelt and at the very south end of the Sechelt Inlet, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park makes an excellent base camp for a larger exploration of the Sunshine Coast. There are plenty of opportunities to get active, whether your chosen speed be relaxing and swimming at the beach, hitting the trails, or exploring the local waterways and marine parks.

If a relaxing, family-friendly getaway is what you seek, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park allows you to easily set up your campsite, wander down to the beach, and basically stay there for the rest of the week. The long sandy beach is ideal for afternoon naps and the gradual grade of a large portion of the beach makes it perfect for splashing around in the shallows. Just keep in mind that there are certain parts of the beach where the shore drops away quickly, and there are no lifeguards on duty.

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park Campground
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park Campground | K. Walker

Adjacent to the beach there is an adventure playground and grassy area perfect for keeping kids entertained. When your day in the sun, salt, and sand is complete, use the hot showers located at either the day use or the campground to tidy up.

From the campground, there are a number of walking trails leading along Angus Creek. After crossing a bridge, head out to the estuary mudflats, which can provide excellent bird watching. The trails are not lengthy and make for a nice morning or evening stroll. Please remember to keep your pets on a leash and stick to the designated trails to protect the sensitive ecosystem.

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park Sandy Beach
Porpoise Bay Provincial Park Sandy Beach | K. Walker

One thing of note at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park is that a clean air policy is in effect at this park. This means that individual campsites do not have campfire rings or allow fires. If there is no campfire ban in effect and s’mores are what you desire, find one of the three communal campfire sites in the campground and get to toasting!

Sechelt Harbour Sunshine Coast
Pender Harbour, Sunshine Coast | K. Walker

If a more active vacation is what you had in mind, exploring the local waterways and marine parks is easily done with Porpoise Bay as a base camp. Sechelt Inlet itself offers plenty of paddling opportunities including everything from relatively protected single day explorations close to the campground to multi-day trips north of Tuwanek and into Salmon or Narrows Inlets – watch out for afternoon headwinds and plan your paddles to maximize the typically calmer mornings when heading back to Tuwanek.

Kayaking from Porpoise Bay
Kayaking at Smuggler Cove Provincial Park | K. Walker

For those seeking a more exposed paddling experience, a number of marine parks dot the western side of the Sunshine Coast and make excellent day paddles. Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park is a lovely anchorage and is accessible by paddling around the peninsula from the launching point near Brooks Road. If you don’t have a boat, the marine park is also accessible by a four-kilometre long hiking trail, also leaving from Brooks Road.

Sundown at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park
Sundown at Porpoise Bay Provincial Park | K. Walker

Further up the coast, the community of Pender Harbour makes a good launching point to explore the protected waters of Pender Harbour. For those looking for a little more adventure, heading out around Moore Point and down to Francis Point Provincial Park allows you to really feel the wind in your hair! On your way back, take the time to poke around the many bays and coves inside Pender Harbour and dream about what it would be like to own one of the beautiful properties in the area.

Porpoise Bay Provincial Park on the Sunshine Coast is a beautiful destination with plenty of ways to enjoy the ocean. If land-based activities are more your speed, consider a trip to Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park (check out this blog) to take in the misty west coast vibe and marvel at a true wonder of nature.

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

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

Camping at its best: Revelstoke to Galena Bay, British Columbia

If you are looking for some great camping and hiking, check out the corridor (Highway 23) between Revelstoke and Galena Bay. Surrounded by stunning mountain views – Selkirk Mountains on the east and Monashee Mountains on the west – this area is worth the trip!

Blanket Creek Provincial Park / Photo: C. Stathers

Just south of Revelstoke, the Columbia River widens creating Upper Arrow Lake at the north and Lower Arrow Lake with its southern end near Castlegar.

In this blog, I want to share two great campsites on Upper Arrow Lake: Blanket Creek Provincial Park and Arrow Lakes Provincial Park (Shelter Bay Site) plus some great hikes.

Travelling about 25 kilometres south from Revelstoke, you will reach Blanket Creek Park. I can’t pinpoint just one reason why this park has evolved into my favourite provincial park of the past few years but from seeing how busy it is becoming, I am not alone.

Blanket Creek Campsite / Photo: C. Stathers

I love walking and hiking and find that there are lots of choices within the park and plenty more close by. Just walking around the camping area, there are a little over 100 campsites so it is a good size park for meandering up and down the roads around the campsites. The park also has lots of trails including the 1.5 kilometer Columbia River Trail that runs along the lake and around the man-made swimming lagoon. On our recent visit to the park we were also able to walk a long way along the beach which was accessible as the water levels had dropped quite significantly since the beginning of the summer.

Blanket Creek Columbia River Trail / Photo: C. Stathers

The Nature Trail at the south end of the park takes you to the original Domke homestead and farm. This historic site was developed into the park in 1982. As you explore the site, you may see the original rock-work and signs with more historic information.

For those wanting a short up-hill walk, the trail to the 12 metre high Sutherland Falls in the park provides a beautiful view. The falls are created by Blanket Creek flowing from above.

Sutherland Falls / Photo: C. Stathers

Not far from the park gates there are a number of hiking trails including the Begbie Creek and Mount MacPherson Trails, as well as Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Park near Revelstoke. This past trip we hiked to Begbie Falls and then down to the lake; it was an easy 1-kilometre trail through the dense forest and moss-covered ground.

Along with hiking there are lots of swimming spots along the lake, plus it is a great place for boating and fishing. Unique to this park is the man-made swimming lagoon, a circular lagoon surrounded by sandy beach. I read one article that stated that the water circulates every 24-48 hours.

Shelter Bay Boat Launch / Photo: C. Stathers

Just south down the road (about 25 km south of Blanket Creek) is the Shelter Bay Site which was created in 1981 and has 17 first-come-first-serve campsites. Highlights of this park include swimming along the shores of the lake and easy access for boating. The park includes a concrete boat launch with lots of parking.

Shelter Bay Campsite / Photo: C. Stathers

For those interested in exploring further south, the 20-minute ferry which crosses the lake from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay is located just south of the campsite gates. From the other side of the lake, your adventure can continue to communities like Nakusp and the hot springs at Halcyon and Nakusp.

Even though I love the hiking and lush green forests of this area, it is always fun to set off on our next adventure for more hiking and great camping.

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If this area interests you, check out our drive:
Mountains, Lakes & Rivers in the West Kootenays and Boundary Country

For other campgrounds in this area or elsewhere in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

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Vedder River Campground and Summer Fun, British Columbia

Vedder River is fun for the kids

Vedder River is fun for the kids

For the third year in a row, my family and I have been camping at the Vedder River Campground, located in Chilliwack, BC.  Just under an hour’s drive from downtown Vancouver, it is the perfect long weekend getaway, close yet not too close. Situated along the Vedder River, it offers an array of various activities for the whole family.  The campsite does get busy during the summer months, especially around the long weekends, therefore we make sure to book ahead of time.  There are a few families that we know that come to this campsite, and it is the perfect place for us to forget about our daily routines in the city and sit back and relax by the fire.

During the hot summer days, just steps away from the campsite is the river, a perfect cooling spot in the clean but fast flowing waters.  After breakfast my family and I would go down the river with the floaties and inflatable boats.  My kids love to go down the lazy river, although we always keep an eye on them as most of the river keeps a steady flow, but some parts of the river move more rapidly and vigorously.

Views from top of Elk Mountain, on a cloudy day we were above the clouds.

Views from top of Elk Mountain, on a cloudy day we were above the clouds.

After a full day by the water we would head back to the campsite and start preparing dinner.  Often times it would be something prepared on the Barbeque with lots of fresh salads and veggies on the side.  The kids play at the Vedder River playground, keeping busy making new friends and bike riding within the enclosed campsite area.  For a leisurely walk after dinner, or an easy bike-ride, we would take the bikes onto the Vedder South or North Dyke Trail that extend 7km, starting from the Vedder River Campground.  Surrounded by local mountains such as Mount Cheam and Elk Mountain, Chilliwack offers picturesque views and beautiful sceneries that include wild flowers, turquoise lakes and valley views.  Kids oftentimes like to visit the nearby farms to see horses and cattle feasting on hay, and pick blackberries along the way.

Going to a popular spot in Chilliwack for ice-cream at the Mighty Moose. The ice-cream is from the Birchwood Dairy Farms.

A popular spot in Chilliwack for ice-cream is the Mighty Moose made with ice-cream from Birchwood Dairy Farm

Local blueberry and strawberry farms offer berries for sale, and conveniently there is a stand located walking distance from the campsite.  We would get some freshly picked berries and make a refreshing summer berry milkshake with vanilla ice-cream as a treat. Before we head back to the city, we would buy a few flats of delicious sweet berries and make pies at home or freeze them for smoothies.

Whenever we go somewhere I encourage my family to explore local hidden spots and go for hikes to see lakes, views and waterfalls.  It is a way for us to connect without the internet

Stunning views at Lindeman Lake

Stunning views at Lindeman Lake

connection that we seem to depend on in our everyday lives.  And when we need a little more than just a hike, we would endeavour on longer adventures to see the Bridal Veil Falls, which are only a 15min drive from here.  I have yet to take my family to see the beautiful Lindeman Lake with turquoise blue waters which is about a 40 min drive from here.  A less than 3-hour hike that the whole family can do, and once there, have a picnic by the breathtaking waters surrounded by mountains.  Some parts of the trail are rockier, therefore being prepared with proper footwear and lots of water and snacks will make for a more comfortable experience.

During the early fall months, fishing becomes a popular activity along the river, as fishermen gather to catch Coho, chum, pink and sockeye salmon.  My daughter loves fishing along the river, and the expression on her face once she catches a fish is priceless.

With many activities to choose from, Chilliwack and surrounding areas offer many activities and attractions for the whole family to enjoy.  During the summer months it is a great place for making memories, having fun and enjoying the outdoors.

Published: August 11th, 2016

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