There are plenty of provincial campgrounds within easy reach of the Cariboo Highway (Hwy 97). You might want to stand on the shores of the lake in Big Bar Lake Provincial Park for half an hour simply trying to memorize the view – the Cariboo encourages that kind of behaviour. Glaciers melting as recently as 10,000 to 20,000 years ago have left a hummocky landscape marked with lakes and ponds: a real treat for open-eyed adventurers. There are vehicle/tent sites in this park, which opens in May – as soon as the snow melts! Swimming, fishing, and boating are popular activities here. To get there, take Hwy 97 north of Cache Creek and Clinton, turn off about 5 miles (8 km) north of Clinton. A gravel road leads about 13 miles (21 km) to the park.
Green Lake of Green Lake Provincial Park is wide and shallow, fed by two small creeks, lake-bottom springs, and upland runoff. Since its outlet only functions in high-water periods, there’s lots of time for algae and other micro-organisms to form: hence the lake’s greenish hue and its name. This lake is excellent for both summer and winter recreation. Swimming, boating, waterskiing, paddling, and horseback riding are all popular; the undulating plateau and highlands around the lake have become a cross-country skier’s paradise; sandy beaches dot the irregular shoreline at five spots. There are vehicle/tent sites at three locations, and reservations are recommended in summer. Go 9 miles (15 km) northeast from Hwy 97 on Bonaparte Road at 70 Mile House; there’s an alternate approach from 83 Mile House.
The small but beautifully situated Bridge Lake Provincial Park is particularly popular with anglers looking for rainbow and lake trout. It will win the heart of anyone who has the good fortune to spend a night here, particularly in fall once the mosquito season has ended. A walking trail skirts the lake and provides an excellent afternoon’s exercise. There are vehicle/tent sites and walk-in campsites. There are three ways to get to the park: take Hwy 24 east at 93 Mile House for 31 miles (50 km); or take Hwy 24 for 31 miles (50 km) west from Hwy 5 at Little Fort; or take a part-paved, part-gravel road for about 34 miles (55 km) east of 70 Mile House.
Despite the popularity of local angling, there is very limited camping at Canim Beach Provincial Park at the beach on the south end of Canim Lake. Competition for these sites is intense, but should you find yourself frozen out there’s plenty of private accommodation nearby. The park is located 27 miles (43 km) northwest of Hwy 97 at 100 Mile House, on paved road via Forest Grove.
Lac la Hache (Axe Lake) describes itself as ‘the longest town in the Cariboo.’ Lac La Hache Provincial Park‘s vehicle/tent sites are set in relatively open Douglas fir and aspen woodlands beside one of the biggest lakes seen from Hwy 97. Campsites are uphill from the highway, while the picnic site and boat launch are right on the lake. This park is great for afternoon munching, swimming, and boating. Take Hwy 97 north from Lac La Hache for 8 miles (13 km).
Set in the heart of what were once goldfields, the large lake here is now used mainly by anglers. Horsefly Lake Provincial Park has vehicle/tent sites, a picnic/day-use area, and a boat launch. And, yes, the biting-insect population here is the reason for the lake’s name. Take the part-paved, part-gravel road off Hwy 97 at either McLeese Lake or 150 Mile House; the park is 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Horsefly.
Most people, when they think of Barkerville, think of the gold-rush centre that was once the largest city west of Chicago and north of San Francisco. Barkerville Provincial Park is adjacent to the restored town, a very popular destination for tourists, and camping at the park may be a good alternative to seeking private accommodations. The park has vehicle/tent sites and reservations are recommended. While visiting here, stretch your legs along one of the three hikes suitable for an afternoon ramble. The trail to Mount Agnes goes from Barkerville to Richfield, following the route of the original Cariboo Wagon Trail to Summit Rock. If Barkerville is full, you should try to get a campsite at the other nearby parks: Forest Rose, Lowhee, and Government Hill, all just north of the town. Take Hwy 26 for 55 miles (89 km) east of Quesnel.
The large, backcountry Bowron Lake Provincial Park offers a wide variety of recreational opportunities: camping, canoeing, boating, kayaking, hiking, swimming, fishing, and winter recreation. Particularly notable is its canoe circuit, the Bowron Lakes Canoe Route. Bowron lies across the boundaries of two regional landscapes. The western portion of the park is in the Quesnel Highlands (a subsection of the Interior Plateau) and the eastern portion is in the Cariboo Mountains. The Bowron and Spectacle Lakes waterway marks the boundary between these two landscapes. There are vehicle/tent sites and wilderness sites in the park.
The entire park is a wildlife sanctuary, including prime habitat for grizzly bears, so be on your best backcountry camping behaviour. Use the bear caches near the wilderness campsites. The Bowron Lakes are also a major stopover on the bird migration route, so bring your binoculars. Take Hwy 26 east of Quesnel for 68 miles (110 km); at the end of Hwy 26, continue along the gravel access road for about 11 miles (18 km).
Ten Mile Lake Provincial Park was originally a milepost for the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Abandoned railway grade can still be seen in the park, which is popular now for its recreational offerings. Among these are a fine sandy beach and a great lake for swimming, waterskiing, and boating. The park has vehicle/tent sites, and reservations are recommended. There is a boat launch so that campers can get out and explore the lake (and get away from the bugs). Take Hwy 97 north of Quesnel for almost 7 miles (11 km).
For those of you who would like to camp in a quiet, unspoiled setting, Cottonwood River Provincial Park is perfect. Comfortably close to the main highway but away from the traffic at the same time, you’ll find vehicle/tent sites here. Take Hwy 97 north of Quesnel for 17 miles (27 km); then take the 4-mile (6-km) gravel road to the park.
Campgrounds & RV Parks
Information on Provincial Park Campgrounds and Reservations, National Park Campgrounds and Reservations, Camping on Crown Land in BC Recreation Sites, Frequently Asked Questions on Parks and Campgrounds, and Provincial Park User Fees. Go to Campgrounds & RV Parks.