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Following the Gold Rush Trail through British Columbia’s Cariboo & Beyond

Follow the trail of the first prospectors who flocked to British Columbia in the mid-1800s in search of gold and riches. Travel through rugged mountains, steep canyons and past raging rivers of the Fraser Canyon and into the dry plateaus and rolling hills of the Thompson Okanagan and Cariboo regions. Continue north to Prince George, called the Northern Capital of BC, then east and south towards the stunning BC Rockies returning to Hope in Fraser Country.

Horses are a Frequent Sight in Lillooet | Trish C.

A Sampling of Things To See and Do Along the Way

The Fraser Canyon offers up plenty to see. Yale Historic Site was an original Gold Rush boomtown where the steamers stopped as the waters of the Fraser River were too rough beyond this point for boats to navigate. It is known as the official start of the Gold Rush Trail although mile zero is actually in Lillooet.

Hell’s Gate Airtram offers a ride over the thundering waters where 200 million gallons of water cascade through the narrow passage of the gorge every minute.

Historic Hat Creek Ranch near Cache Creek | Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

Entering the drier climate of the Cariboo you will find Historic Hat Creek Ranch. Dating back to 1861 you can relive the history through interpreters dressed in period clothing, take a stagecoach ride and pan for gold.

Continuing on to Clinton, check out this Wild West town! Antique shops, many with original storefronts, are full of treasures and an 1892 museum are reasons to take a break here. Then on to Williams Lake home to cowboys and the popular annual Williams Lake Stampede (July 1st). Do some gold panning in Quesnel, home to the world’s largest gold pan and check out Mandy the haunted doll at the Quesnel & District Museum.

Bowron Actors, Barkerville

A side trip to Barkerville is well worth the one-hour drive each way. This thriving historic town is a tribute to the gold rush era that made BC’s gold industry famous. 125 plus heritage buildings, displays, a theatre, events, activities and more showcase the life of Barkerville’s colourful past. Designated a Historic Site of Canada and a Provincial Heritage Property it is the largest living-history museum in western North America.

Known as the capital of Northern BC, the city of Prince George is a bustling community where arts and culture, events and outdoor adventure awaits. Visit the Exploration Place Museum & Science Centre with dinosaurs, fossils, hands-on experiences for kids and adults alike. The Central British Columbia Railway and Forestry Museum features original buildings and rolling stock and is home to one of the largest vintage rail collections in BC.

Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo: Destination BC/Megan McLellan
Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park | Photo: Destination BC/Megan McLellan

Situated at the foot of Canoe Mountain in the Robson Valley is the village of Valemount and the closest community to Mount Robson Provincial Park and Jasper National Park. Explore some of the many hiking trails for stunning views of snow-capped mountains, spectacular waterfalls and create lasting memories.

Along the way stop at Blue River and experience a boat ride down the river through Grizzly Mountain Valley and the world’s only inland temperate rainforest where you may be lucky enough to see bears, moose, osprey, eagles and other BC wildlife.

Outdoor adventurers will want to stop at Wells Gray Provincial Park to see and experience some of nature at its very best. A wide array of paths offer trails for different hiking levels plus stunning waterfalls provide many viewing opportunities, including Helmcken Falls, the fourth highest falls in Canada. Bring your kayaks and bikes and get ready to experience this amazing park.

Mountain Biking in Kenna Cartwright Park
Mountain Biking in Kenna Cartwright Park, Kamloops | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

Kamloops is one of the major cities in the Okanagan with great restaurants, shopping, entertainment, arts and culture, sports and outdoor activities. Stop in at a winery or a local brewery. Visit BC Wildlife Park and experience wildlife up close.

Amazing white and yellow cliff formations are located in Castle Rock Hoodoos Provincial Park in Deadman Valley. Hiking is not permitted as the landscape is very fragile but stunning scenery provides an opportunity to take home some great photographic memories.

Spences Bridge lies at the confluence of the Thompson and Nicola Rivers and is a prime location for excellent fishing. River rafting, swimming, canoeing, kayaking or fishing are all close by.

This circle route has much to offer. Spend a few days, a week or more, exploring some or all of the communities and attractions along this route.

For a ‘guided’ tour read our suggested trip along the Gold Rush Trail.

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

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Vancouver Island, British Columbia Off-Season Adventures

‘Canada’s Mediterranean’, is how I like to refer to Central Vancouver Island. It offers more year-round outdoor recreational opportunities in mind-blowing scenery, than I’ll ever have time to enjoy in one lifetime. But I’m trying– and the best part is that so many activities are absolutely free!

Stocking Creek Falls, Ladysmith | Photo: Scott Littlejohn, Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Resort, Nanaimo

To get you started let me give you just a couple of very different ‘cool season’ activities on different parts of the Island, along with two fantastic year-round RV parks located close to each mini adventure.

Life’s too short not to visit the best places, right? So let’s start this Island winter season sampler with…

…a Waterfall!

Stocking Creek Regional Park

Nothing screams “Vancouver Island” like a waterfall– we’ve got the tallest one in Canada here, but the one I’ll show you today is near the popular year-round Country Maples RV Resort.  Stocking Creek Falls is just south of the neat little town of Ladysmith—and you HAVE to see their downtown Christmas light up if you’re here during the festive season!!

Ladysmith Festival of Lights

The Stocking Creek Regional Park is the start of a tranquil 2km loop trail in a lush rainforest alongside the clear babbling creek that leads to the stunning viewing platform above the picture-perfect waterfall.

And if you’re nimble and sure of foot (although it’s not recommended for safety reasons), it is possible to get behind the waterfall and look out through the water curtain—it’s so loud back there!!!

Check out the video of the recent winter hike I took there with our RV Snowbirds. Love this park!

Groomed Trail Snowshoeing at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort

And my second ‘quiet season’ Island adventure, is to head up Island to the Comox Valley, and get your rig set up in another great RV park near the ocean – Seal Bay RV Park in Courtenay.

After setting up camp, it’s a short drive inland and up to Mt. Washington Alpine Resort, which borders world famous Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest park, and home to Canada’s tallest waterfall with a drop of 440 meters!

Mt. Washington with Ocean Views | Photo: Scott Littlejohn, Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Resort, Nanaimo

It’s also one of the few places anywhere that you can ski AND have a view of the ocean!

One of the things they brag about in the Comox Valley is that you can golf in the morning and ski in the afternoon!

Although there are exceptions to all rules, on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, the expectation is that white stuff stays on the mountains, while at sea level, anything that comes down from the sky is rain. I love snow, but I don’t want home delivery– except Christmas Eve.

These days, I head to Mt. Washington to relax. I leave the downhill skiing aside, and instead, pack a lunch and head to the beautiful Raven Lodge just below the ski hill overlooking the valley and Paradise Meadows (and it is!). There you can rent some snowshoes and get out for a couple hours exploring the groomed trails in this stunning location.

Snowshoeing, Mt. Washington, Scott Littlejohn, Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Resort, Nanaimo

Of course, the crisp mountain air and ‘shoeing works up an appetite, so the perfect ending is to drop off the snowshoes and sit under the massive wood beams of the lodge, and park beside the fireplace in a big comfy chair and enjoy lunch. They make fabulous, well priced lunches, or you bring your own, and just purchase a glass of wine or a hot chocolate while telling stories or dozing by the fire and enjoying the view over the valley.

Check out the video – you want to do this – and if you haven’t tried the modern snowshoes, it’s as easy as walking!

45 minutes later, you’re back down in Courtenay, and just outside of town, the tranquility of Seal Bay RV Park welcomes you home. It even has a stocked fishing pond onsite!

Seal Bay RV Park Fishing Pond

Visit Vancouver Island this Winter and Stay Awhile!

As I said, winter and summer sports are possible on the same day in Canada’s Mediterranean! While the rest of Canada deals with real winter, if you have an RV, you can still stay in Canada where your dollar goes farther, enjoy the lower off-season monthly RV park rates at award winning parks, and have an active lifestyle with endless adventures.

Happy Retirees at Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Resort, Nanaimo

Special Places Google Map Makes it Easy

Visit my ‘Vancouver Island Special Places’ Google Map, and use your favourite digital device to find other amazing places to see and things to do on Vancouver Island. The map currently has over 60 different placemarks of ‘must see places’ and is growing.

The placemarks on the map for each location are colour-coded to indicate the activity level or fitness level needed to explore. Green ones are easy, Yellow a bit more challenging, then Blue, then Red. Clicking on a placemark will open a window of information about the spot, with a short write-up, and links to photos and videos showing you why each place is a jewel.

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This winter, don’t hibernate—activate!

If this area interests you, check out our drive:
From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island: Vancouver to Tofino

For other places to camp in the winter, plus more winter blogs and how-to information go to Winter Camping in British Columbia.

Share your BC travel and winter camping photos using hashtag #CampinBC

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Travel the Stunning Stewart-Cassiar/Highway 37 in Northern BC

The Stewart-Cassiar Highway is 724 km of stunning scenery in British Columbia’s north. My husband and I took our time exploring this amazing area from the Yukon border in the north, to Kitwanga in the south and over to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska.

Boya Lake, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern British Columbia
Paddling on Boya Lake, Northern British Columbia | Photo: B. Rees

Our favourite provincial park on the entire trip was Boya Lake, 87 km from the Yukon border. It’s far away from traffic noise, WIFI, and when it’s full it’s still quiet. Boya Lake itself is clear aquamarine with a white glacial silt bottom and 24 of the 44 sites are snugged up to its shore. Even so we didn’t expect to find a lakefront site so I could hardly contain my excitement before jumping out with the dogs and yelling, “Honey, I’m home.” A loon added its mournful call. Aah, four days of being lost in nature.

Boya Lake, Northern BC sunset
Sunset at Boya Lake, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

A stay at Boya wouldn’t be complete without canoeing. No motors are allowed on the lake but canoes are available. With the first dip of the paddle, all my cares disappeared. For me, this is a spiritual place. My days began with tea in a china teacup, watching the squirrels and listening to the loons. They ended with the Master painter sweeping peach and mauve sunsets over the lake. If you want a true getaway, this is the place to go and the only thing wrong with Boya Lake …the stay is never long enough.

pieces of jade at Jade City
Pieces of Jade at Jade City | Photo: B. Rees

Jade City is a fascinating place to stop. They offer travellers free overnight camping, WIFI, and coffee. The family that runs it has been mining jade since the 70s and it’s part of the reality show, “Jade Fever.” Watch them cutting jade outside for sale. I bought a small slab for an RV cutting board. The store has a dizzying selection of jade, rocks and gems.

The main hub for travellers fueling up and getting supplies is Dease Lake. It’s also the jumping-off point for paddlers on the Dease River or adventurers going to Telegraph Creek.

Tatogga Lake Resort, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern BC
Tatogga Lake Resort, Stewart-Cassiar Hwy, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

We were welcomed by a stuffed moose in the dining room of the Tatogga Lake Resort, an interesting log building that resembles a museum inside. There’s a one-ton jade boulder by the fuel pumps although they aren’t always open. It’s mainly a seaplane base for tours into the mountains.

South of Tatogga is Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park with 50 sites in a well-looked-after park beside the lake.

We followed the glacial blue waters of the Nigunsaw River before crossing the Bell Irving River bridge to stop at Bell 2 Lodge. Though they principally cater to heliskiers in the winter, during the summer travellers can stay in chalets, the lodge or at the campground. It has 10 full-service sites plus 3 dry camps. There is a restaurant and fuel.

Fall at Meziadin Lake
Fall at Meziadin Lake, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

A gorgeous green lake welcomed us to Meziadin Lake Provincial Park where we camped overnight. They have 66 sites, some with power but no sani-dump and we were lucky to get a spot.

Waterfalls veil near Stewart
Waterfall Veils on Road to Stewart | Photo: B. Rees

No trip would be complete without taking the road from the Meziadian junction to Stewart and Hyder, Alaska. It’s a photographer’s dream. Prepare to be wowed as glaciers drape the towering mountains, and waterfalls plunge from the tops. We pulled in where a waterfall broke up into a myriad of veils. Bear Glacier flows blue from the mountain to a lake beside the road.

Stewart stores and cars
Stewart, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Stewart is nestled at the foot of glacier-topped Stewart Mountain, on Portland Canal. We stayed in full-service Bear River RV Park.  There is a beautiful boardwalk over the estuary. Heritage buildings and funky storefronts make up the main street. Stay a few days and take a trip to Hyder, Alaska.

Bear at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, Northern BC
Bear at Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Crossing an unguarded border we drove into Hyder that looks like the old west. Remember, just because you crossed into the USA without being questioned, you still deal with the border guards coming back into Canada. Get Hyderized at the old Glacier Inn. Visit Fish Creek Wildlife Observation Site for safe bear watching from the boardwalk. We went along 25 km of rough gravel road, sometimes one-lane, up the mountains to see Salmon Glacier. What a breathtaking sight but it cost us a tire. A tire guy drives around Stewart in his truck fixing tires!

Salmon Glacier, Northern BC
Salmon Glacier, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

After we left Meziadin we stopped at Gitanyow – the Land of the Totems. At one time they had more original totems than anywhere else. Kitwanga village was our home for the night. We visited Gitwangak Battle Hill Historic Site where from the top of the hill tribes fought rivals.

Summing up the Stewart-Cassiar trip my advice would be to prepare for driving through the wilderness, allow plenty of time to explore and learn the history.

Fuel stops from Kitwanga are at the junction of Highways 16 and 37: Gitanyow 19 km; Meziadin Junction 149 km; Stewart 220 km; Bell 2 249 km, Tatogga Lake(not always open) 392 km; Iskut 406 km; Dease Lake 499 km, Junction 37 at Yukon border 724 km.

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Other information to help you plan your camping trip include:
Wilderness Adventure Along the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Kitwanga Junction
Exploring Northern British Columbia – A Circle Tour Adventure: Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Discover British Columbia’s Travel the Great Northern Circle Tour

For camping accommodations in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

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

Plan to Visit Marble Canyon Provincial Park in British Columbia’s Cariboo Region

The dry interior of the province is one of our favourite camping destinations. Marble Canyon Provincial Park, located along Highway 99 between Cache Creek and Lillooet, fits the bill for everything we like.

The campsite offers 30 high density, first-come-first-serve sites and on a sunny weekend afternoon, it is pretty much guaranteed that the campground will be over capacity between the campers and the day-trippers. As the afternoon wears on, some of the day users will depart, and there is a chance that late arrivals may find a campsite in one of the parking-lot style sites. For those lucky enough to snag one of the premium lakefront sites, the busyness of the park melts away.

Relaxing at the Campsite in Marble Canyon Provincial Park | Kim Walker

The campsite at Marble Canyon Provincial Park is bookended by Crown and Turquoise Lakes. When the water is high, the two lakes merge and visitors can kayak or paddle board between both lakes. A full circumnavigation of the two lakes is about two kilometres. For those looking for a longer paddle, just up the road is Pavilion Lake (watch for the next blog published soon), a gorgeous lake home to extremely rare freshwater microbialites studied by NASA!

Kayaking Crown Lake Marble Canyon Provincial Park | Kim Walker

One of our favourite things to do when visiting Marble Canyon Provincial Park is to hike to the waterfall on the opposite side of the lake. From the campsite, walk or drive to the north end of Crown Lake. From here, follow the trail along the non-highway side of the lake for about three quarters of a kilometre. The trail skirts along the lakeshore in places and climbs the hillside in others. Before long, visitors will arrive at a beautiful waterfall. In the winter, this waterfall freezes and is hilariously referred to as Icy BC (and a variety of other thematic route names including Body Shop and No Deductible) by ice climbers.

Waterfall Hike Marble Canyon Provincial Park | Kim Walker

Marble Canyon Provincial Park protects a dramatic landscape of steep limestone cliffs and lovely lakes. It is extremely busy during the summer with campers and day-trippers alike, but it makes an excellent shoulder season destination as well. The first time we ever visited Marble Canyon Provincial Park was the last weekend of September – warm sunny days but certainly below freezing overnight. Our trip was instigated by a desire to climb a few of the many rock-climbing routes in the area. While it has been almost a decade since that climbing trip, Marble Canyon Provincial Park is a place we keep going back to – and keep finding new things to explore when we are there.

Waterfall at Marble Canyon Provincial Park | Kim Walker

If you are looking for widely spaced campsites and a moderate climate, Marble Canyon Provincial Park is probably not the place for you. The campground is undeniably squishy, but for us it works, as when the small beach is busiest, during the heat of the day, we prefer to be on or in the water. During early mornings, late afternoons, and evenings, Marble Canyon Provincial Park can be a peaceful and beautiful destination for a weekend getaway.

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

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It’s always a great day to #campinbc

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. 

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

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It’s always a great day to #campinbc


Plan a Trip to Smithers in Northern British Columbia – Where There’s Plenty to See & Do

We got a chuckle out of Smithereens calling Smithers the “center of the universe” on their tourism board west of town. Standing at the viewpoint we saw Hudson Bay Glacier and Twin Falls in the distance and decided to drive there. Twin Falls is approximately 4 km from the Visitor’s Centre. To get there, turn left off the highway onto Lake Kathlyn Road and follow it to reach Glacier Gulch Road. The last section is gravel and the parking area not big but well worth the trip. We hiked 15 minutes up the mountain to the Twin Falls viewpoint for a spectacular scene. The more adventurous hikers can carry on another 3,000 ft. to Kathlyn Glacier.

Hiking at Twin Falls, Smithers, Northern British Columbia | Destination BC, Andrew Strain

There are many hikes or easy trails in the Smithers area and are listed in the trail guide. The 13 km Perimeter Trail meanders past Riverside Municipal Campground situated beside the Bulkley River famous for steelhead fishing. We enjoyed staying there with easy access to the trail, going down by the river to watch the fishermen, or watching the full moon spread its glow over the water.

Bulkley River, Smithers
Bulkley River, Smithers | Photo: B. Rees

Take the Telkwa High Road Tour for a real treat. The road is suitable for RVs. The map from the Visitor’s Centre (1411 Court St. behind the Bulkley Valley Museum) gives highlights to visit. It’s an easy half-day of pleasurable exploration. Start the tour by driving west to Witset, home of the Witsuwet’en First Nations/ People of the lower hills. A full-service Witset Campground and Museum overlooks the thundering Witset Falls, formerly called Morricetown. Go down to the falls and watch fishermen with long poles dip-net salmon. The fishermen are tied to the rocks so they can’t fall but it’s nerve-racking and exciting to watch.  There are lots of cheers when they bring in a big salmon.

Dipnetting at Witset Falls
Dipnetting at Witset Falls | Photo: B. Rees

From there take the secondary Telkwa High Road as it turns east. It winds its way through farmland and rolling hills. Stop at Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park for a picnic by the creek and a walk into the canyon to see fossils. Frankly, they were so tiny we could hardly see them but it was fun hunting. It is illegal to take them away.

When the road comes out again on the #16 Yellowhead Hwy we stopped for ice cream in Telkwa. It’s a tiny village with a peaceful walk along the Bulkley River. Their claim to fame is the Demolition Derby and beef barbeque held Labour Day weekend in September. Tyhee Lake Provincial Park is up the hill.

The Nipples Range, Northern BC
The Nipples Range, Northern BC | Photo: B. Rees

Our friends took us up Kitseguacia Lake Road into the mountains, not recommended for motorhomes. As The Nipples range rises high and pointed in the distance the road climbs to about 3,000 ft and gradually deteriorates while the scenery gets more spectacular. The first stop is at “The Boot”, like Mother Hubbard’s boot but it’s a house built by retired teacher Toby Walsh. He used fire hoses for the laces and created Sasquatch toes for his steps.

The Boot house near Smithers
The Boot house near Smithers | Photo: B. Rees

Talzen Lake Recreation Site was serene and the wilderness campsites empty. At Rocky Ridge Resort a bear sat on the road in front of us in his version of a stand-off and giving me the perfect photo op. Eventually, he wandered off. It was a real treat to have a local show us around some of the out-of-the-way places tourists wouldn’t normally see. We don’t tow a vehicle so it’s the only way we find these hidden gems.

Black Bear
A Black Bear is a Common Sight in BC’s Backcountry | Photo: B. Rees

Smithers is an Alpine-themed town halfway between Prince George and Prince Rupert. We had fun wandering the six-block main street where 7 ft. tall Alpine Al plays a giant alphorn carved out of a 1,000 year-old cedar. The Sausage Factory (1107 Main St.) has been providing the best sausages and deli goods since 1974. We went back twice for more goodies. Around the corner, we found decadent cream puffs at Paul’s Bakery. At Smithers Brewery (3832-3rd St.) we bought a flight of 3 beers and 1 cider and sat in the sun enjoying them. I found a pretty blouse for $5 at a thrift store, my kind of shopping. Bovill Square has a bandstand for summer concerts. These stops are but a fraction of what you can find along Main Street.

Smithers Sign
Centre of the Universe! | Photo: B. Rees

Our favourite place to shop anywhere we travel in Canada is the local farmer’s market. Bulkley Valley Farmer’s Market behind the Museum/art gallery is abundant in fresh food and crafts. We set up a table to sell our books and jewelry while stocking up on groceries. It is such an enjoyable atmosphere surrounded by friendly people and delicious food.  It opens every Saturday morning, early May to late September.

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For other campgrounds in the area check out the Camping Map under Smithers and other communities.

Smithers offers a wide range of recreation, photo ops, and things to do. Check out Tourism Smithers. Houston, Babine Lake and Granisle are nearby for added pleasures. Give yourself plenty of time to explore.

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

Discover 8 Camping Experiences in British Columbia This Summer

Once again this summer you’re likely looking to escape the city and get outdoors. For those of us who are lucky enough to live in BC, we have an incredible backyard to explore. From remote wilderness experiences, family-friendly campgrounds to luxury glamping, BC offers an array of camping options. Here’s a short list of camping options slightly off the beaten path to pitch your tent, park your RV, or claim your cabin. 

Spout Lake
Spout Lake | Photo: Ten-ee-ah Lodge

Untamed Wilderness

One of BC’s best kept secrets are the numerous lakes and untamed wilderness near BC’s ‘Fishing Highway’ 24. While fishing is a popular activity, you can also spend time wildlife viewing, swimming, or paddling. Ten-ee-ah Lodge is nestled on the shore of Spout Lake, a 2 hour drive north of Cache Creek and offers stunning scenery and your choice of luxe cabins or waterfront, tree-lined campsites. 

Canim Lake
Canim Lake | Photo: South Point Resort

A Fishing & Paddling Haven

Head southeast and you’ll find family-friendly South Point Resort on Canim Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Cariboo at 23 km long. Go swimming or fishing just steps from your lakeside campsite or cabin. Explore the shoreline and rent a pontoon boat, stand up paddle boards, or kayaks for a day.

Canim Falls from Mahood Falls Trail
Canim Falls from Mahood Falls Trail | Photo: Chemo RV Sales & Service

If you haven’t had your fishing fix yet, head east along Canim Lake Road to Mahood Lake Campground, another family-friendly camping spot in Wells Gray Provincial Park. Hike to three spectacular waterfalls or spend the afternoon paddling or swimming nearby.

Fraser River View
Fraser River View | Photo: Fraser Cove Campground & Guest Cabin

Rugged Fraser River Canyon

The scenery from this Lillooet campground is unrivalled. Fraser Cove Campground & Guest Cabin is tucked on the shores of the mighty Fraser River and offers a unique opportunity for riverfront camping. Go fishing or rent an e-bike to explore the trails. Take in the views as you walk or bike over the nearby historic suspension bridge or visit Fort Berens Estate Winery just down the road. Bring your tent, RV or plan to stay in the charming cabin overlooking the Fraser River.

Old Mining Site
Old Mining Site | Photo: Gold Panner Campground

BC’s Mining History

If you’re interested in BC’s mining history, visit Gold Panner Campground located 50 minutes east of Vernon in the forested foothills of the Monashee Mountains. Founded on a Chinese heritage mining operation, pan for gold, explore the hiking trails, and immerse yourself in history. Campers with tents and RV’s are welcome, and modern chalets and rustic cabins are also available.

Campsites | Photo: City of Trail RV Park

Further south through the Monashee Mountains, go hiking and mountain biking in the historic mining town of Trail, BC. Take in the views of the river from the Columbia River Skywalk suspension bridge or go swimming at Gyro Park. Bring your tent or RV and plan to camp at the City of Trail RV Park where tree lined sites provide shade and privacy and kids can play at the playground.

Atriveda Cabin
Atriveda Cabin | Photo: SunLund By-The-Sea Resort & RV Park

Seaside Adventures & Riverside Cottages

For seaside adventures, head north up the Sunshine Coast past Powell River to Lund, the northernmost town on Highway 101. This small marine village is the jumping off point for boaters headed to Desolation Sound or nearby islands. Bring your RV or reserve a cabin at SunLund By-The-Sea Resort & RV Park surrounded by trees and steps from the ocean. Walk tree-lined footpaths to restaurants, groceries, and Lund Harbour where you can rent kayaks, charter fishing boats, or go sightseeing. 

Snow Creek Recreation Site, Sprout Lake

Mountain Lake & Rainforest

Tucked deep in the rainforest and mountains on Vancouver Island, Snow Creek Recreation Site Campground is a 3.5 hour drive from Victoria, west of Port Alberni. The campground has 27 campsites and is on the shores of Sprout Lake. There is a small boat launch and it offers excellent fishing and a tranquil setting for camping. Access is via a forest service road and 4×4 vehicles are recommended. Please pack out what you pack in and be respectful of wildlife. Reserve your campsite ahead of time to guarantee your spot.

Wherever you decide to camp, be safe and have fun. For more camping trip ideas and locations visit

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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.

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc #BCNice and #ExploreBC

Three Ways to Welcome Spring in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley

Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Tulips of the Valley, Chilliwack BC

Spring has sprung after a long winter in the Fraser Valley – at my house, it snowed for the first time on October 1 and I am sure that I saw flakes falling from the sky on April 1. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, but I am ready to welcome the next season with open arms. Here are three ways to welcome spring here in the Fraser Valley.

Tiptoe Through the Tulips at Harrison Tulip Festival

To me, nothing says spring like tulips. When those flowers start poking their way through the soil, I know that it is time to put away my winter boots and break out my flats. At Harrison Tulip Festival (formerly Chilliwack Tulip Festival) the only boots you will be needing are rubber – especially if you visit the 109-acre farm with over 10-million tulips after it has been raining.

During the month of April (and maybe some of May) you can make a day of it by walking the tulip paths, checking out the new (2024) 2-1/2 acre show garden, snacking on delicious Dutch treats (Stroop Waffles, anyone?) and plenty more.

Flood Falls Hope BC

Flood Falls Hope BC

The tulip festival also features fields of daffodils and hyacinths. When it comes to springtime flowers, the more the merrier, I say!

Take a Waterfall Walk at Flood Falls, Hope BC

Flood Falls, a long-time Hope secret, has been gaining Instagram-attention lately thanks to its gorgeous setting and relatively simple access. The walk is short, perfect for an easy afternoon stroll with the family. The views are breathtaking as the waterfall tumbles down the sheer cliff and into a pool at the bottom of the falls.

Spring is arguably the best time to visit the falls thanks to the sheer volume of water. In spring, the falls can be raging. In the heat of summer, the pool at the bottom dries up completely and the falls are barely a trickle.

Kilby Historic Site

Kilby Historic Site

Before you go, grab a coffee from the Blue Moose and a fresh-baked snack from The Rolling Pin Bakery, then head for the falls. Just make sure to pack out what you pack in to ensure the falls remain gorgeous and litter free.

Visit the Farm Animals at Kilby Historic Site, Harrison Mills BC

Adorable baby animals and a 1920s farm and store? Sign me up! Kilby Historic Site  in Harrison Mills is a step back in time and the preserved Waterloo Farm on which the historic site sits is the perfect place to spend a sunny spring afternoon.

Wander through the orchard and visit the animals (my personal favourites being the bunnies), climb the stairs to see the rooms of the 1908 Manchester House Hotel, and sample a piece of delicious Cabin Fever Junction Pie Company pie in the Kilby Café.

Eagles at Kilby Provincial Park

Eagles at Kilby Provincial Park

Once you have thoroughly investigated the heritage site, take a stroll down to the confluence of the Harrison and Fraser Rivers and walk the beach at Kilby Provincial Park. In the autumn, Kilby and the Harrison River is home to the Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival as thousands of eagles come to roost in the trees near Kilby Provincial Park.

Spring is a wonderful season in the Fraser Valley. From budding plants to baby animals, there is something for everyone to enjoy. What activities are on your springtime to-do list?

If this area interests you, check out our drives:
Coast Mountain Circle Route (Vancouver Round Trip via Lytton, Lillooet & Whistler)
Side Trips from Vancouver Offer Plenty To Do in the Winter

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For camping opportunities in this area click on Camping Map and search under the specific communities.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using #campinbc

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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