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BC’s Coolest Ski Towns
The case for skiing north of the border, written by an American
Pitching a tent in one of British Columbia’s many provincial parks is the perfect way to get out of town.
Here are five lesser-known provincial parks where you are more likely to enjoy a quiet night (or several) in a vehicle-accessible or walk-in campsite.
Located in Powell River on the Sunshine Coast, Inland Lake Provincial Park features a scenic 13-km (8-mi) wheelchair-accessible loop trail that’s perfect for hiking and cycling. The 2,757-hectare (6812-acre) park attracts both day and overnight visitors with its canoeing, kayaking, swimming, trout fishing, and wildlife-viewing opportunities.
As a stop on the Sunshine Coast Trail, Inland Lake might even inspire you to backpack all or part of this 180-km (111-mi) path maintained by volunteers with the Powell River Parks and Wilderness Society. (Another multi-day challenge of similarly epic proportions is the Powell Forest Canoe Route, with its multiple portages.)
The campground near the south end of the lake offers 22 drive-in campsites and pit toilets. If you need a break from camp fare, a craft brewery (Townsite Brewing) and restaurants serving up Mexican, Indian, and other cuisines are just 10 km (6 mi) away in Powell River.
Does camping on the site of a historical gold-rush town appeal to you? Ogden City is now called Seymour Arm, but some of its 19th-century remains, including a graveyard, lie in Silver Beach Provincial Park.
Covering 130 hectares (321 acres) along Shuswap Lake, this park hosts 35 vehicle-accessible campsites and pit toilets. From Highway 1 near Chase, it’s a 83-km (52-mi) drive northeast on paved and gravel roads.
The Shuswap Lake location means a plethora of water activities are available. Silver Beach can serve as your base for canoeing, scuba diving, waterskiing, windsurfing, swimming, and fishing (19 species, such as rainbow trout and burbot).
Found along Highway 37 between two much larger parks—Mount Edziza and Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness—Kinaskan Lake Provincial Park in northwestern BC offers a remote but still drive-in camping experience. The 1,800-hectare (4,447-acre) park, 100 km (62 mi) south of Dease Lake, has 50 vehicle-accessible campsites and pit toilets.
For wildlife watchers, sightings of bears, coyotes, hares, martens, moose, and wolves are possible. Both canoeing and fishing for rainbow trout are recommended on Kinaskan and Natadesleen lakes.
The latter drains into the Iskut River, which flows over a staircase of Jurassic sedimentary rocks at Cascade Falls. For the adventurous backpacker, an overgrown trail leads from Kinaskan Lake to Mowdade Lake in Mount Edziza Provincial Park.
Access to Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park is by boat only, so its 18 campsites are of the walk-in variety. Conveniently, the campground is just five minutes on foot from where the passenger ferry from Nanaimo docks.
Designated a provincial park in 1961, Newcastle Island lies in the territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation and has a storied history. Middens point to at least two historic village sites in the 363-hectare (897-acre) park. Starting in the 1800s, coal mining and sandstone quarrying took place on the island before it was turned into a resort.
The Newcastle Island of today boasts 22 km (14 mi) of easy hiking trails. The park has both flush and pit toilets as well as coin-operated showers and a playground.
There are two vehicle-accessible campgrounds in Kootenay Lake Provincial Park, and one of them even has wi-fi available for a fee. Located 25 km (16 mi) north of Kaslo on Highway 31, both the Davis Creek and Lost Ledge campgrounds offer shady sites and beach access.
Covering 343 hectares (847 acres), the park consists of five sites along 100-km-long Kootenay Lake. The Purcell and Selkirk mountains rise on opposite sides of the water, which invites canoeing, kayaking, fishing, swimming, and windsurfing. (South of Kaslo, Cody Caves Provincial Park is open for guided tours.)
Davis Creek is the campground with the wi-fi. It has 32 drive-in campsites, while Lost Ledge offers 14. Pit toilets are on site for taking care of business.
For front-country campgrounds, BC Parks accepts reservations up to four months in advance of arrival. You can book via the Discover Camping website, or call 1-800-689-9025 (Canada and the U.S.) or 1-519-826-6850 (international).
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