Set on the shore of Nicola Lake, Monck Provincial Park is great for the entire family, offering a variety of recreational activities, including camping, picnicking, swimming, fishing, boating, water-skiing, wind-surfing, and hiking. A very popular family-oriented campground in a hot, dry setting this park has very high use during the summer season. In addition to providing recreational opportunities, Monck protects a ponderosa pine, bunchgrass ecosystem and a volcanic rock cliff landscape.
The Nicola Valley was a winter encampment for the Interior Salish First Nations people for centuries before European settlers arrived. Pithouse depressions remain near the park’s beach as evidence of their habitation. The name Nicola was given to the famous chieftain Hwistesmetxquen by the early fur traders because they were unable to pronounce his native name. When they tried it phonetically, it sounded vaguely like Nicholas or Nicola, and their mispronunciation has remained.
The vegetation of this part of the Thompson Plateau is chiefly ponderosa pine, Douglas fir and black cottonwood. Tule and cattail, both used in native mat making, grow in dense patches around the shores of Nicola Lake. The area is home to open grassy fields and rich marshland, as well as Canada’s largest working cattle ranch, the Douglas Lake Ranch.
Hiking trails, including an interpretive walk to some lava beds, provide spectacular views of the valley and the surrounding countryside.
Monck Provincial Park features three archaeological sites. Follow Monck Park Road to Second Beach, which leads to some historic rock paintings, or native pictographs.
Nicola Lake, renowned for its depth, it said to harbour 26 species of fish, some weighing up to 20 pounds (9 kg). Rainbow trout and kokanee are the most common fish. Angling is the most popular form of sportfishing in the Nicola area lakes, but ice fishing, spear fishing, and set-line methods are also used.
Monck Provincial Park (92 hectares) provides 120 vehicle accessible campsites, including 17 double sites. Campground reservations are accepted, and first-come, first-served campsites are also available. Basic facilities include picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, firewood and water, a concrete boat launch, and a sani-station is also provided. The park also has a large day-use/picnic area located on a large grassy area right on Nicola Lake, complete with picnic tables, barbeques and shelters. A few ponderosa pine trees provide some shade.
Some facilities are wheelchair accessible. There is an adventure playground and horseshoe pitch near the day-use area, and a pay telephone at the gate office near the entrance to the park.
Campground dates with full services and fees are May 1 to September 30. The main gate and one campground loop are open, with limited services, from April 15 to April 30 and from October 1 to October 31. These dates are for the campground only. Park users can still walk into the park if conditions permit.
Nicola Lake is subject to frequent sudden windstorms, posing potential danger to small boats.
Monck Provincial Park is located on the northern shore of Nicola Lake in the Nicola Valley, 14 miles (22 km) northeast of Merritt, and 12 km off Highway 5A on a good paved road.
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