Lac du Bois is one of the largest publicly owned grasslands in British Columbia, encompassing 15,000 hectares of protected wilderness. Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park contains all three types of bunch-grass communities found east of the Rocky Mountains. Nowhere else in North America are these three grasslands found in such close proximity.
Cool dry forests, hidden ponds, several small lakes and two Ecological Reserves are found within the boundaries of the park. The spectacular cliffs of Tranquille Canyon separate the rolling hills in the east from the Tranquille River valley in the west. A variety of wildlife frequents this park, including California bighorn sheep, white tail and mule deer, moose, waterfowl, rattlesnakes, sharp-tail grouse, owls and black bears.
Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area contains several historic artifacts. Pictographs and archaeological sites confirm that the area was traditionally used by First Nations people for hunting and food gathering. There is also evidence of early mining activity near Kamloops Lake, Bachelor Hill and lower Tranquille Canyon. Remnants of old homesteads still remain scattered throughout the park.
Cattle are part of the history and culture of the park. Horses of the Hudson’s Bay Company roamed the area in the 1860s, and cows grazed in large numbers as the beef industry expanded in the early decades of the twentieth century. Sheep in large flocks were over-wintered in the 1940s before being taken to summer pastures west of the Fraser River. These activities all took their toll on the fragile grasslands. A fenced pasture rotation system was put in place in 1977 that controls how cattle use the grasslands. This has lead to a marked improvement in the condition of the grasslands.
There are no facilities provided at this park. Roads are narrow and there is very little parking. Dirt bikes and ATVs are strictly prohibited within the park, as this is a protected wilderness area. Wilderness camping is permitted on Watching Creek off Red Lake Road, but campers are expected to practice “no trace” camping. There are provincial Recreation Sites just north of the park at Isobel Lake and Pass Lake.
There is a designated trail that follows the edge of Dewdrop Range in the western section of the park. Expansive views of Kamloops Lake, the Thompson Valley and distant mountains are the reward for the exertion of the hike. There is a parking area at the beginning of the trail. The Grasslands Community Trail runs from Westsyde to McQueen Lake. There are a few signs along the way but a good map of the area is strongly recommended. There is one pit toilet part way along this trail.
Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park is located northwest of Kamloops, British Columbia, near the confluence of the North Thompson and Thompson Rivers. There are several access points into the park, but the main access into the eastern section is via the Lac du Bois Road, and access into the western section is via the Tranquille-Criss Creek Forest Service Road (also known as Red Lake Road).
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