Okanagan Dry Forests, Part 3

Part 3 concludes the information on the Okanagan dry forests. Sites are mapped on the Okanagan dry forests map available on databasin.org. Highlights of this section include the McAbee Fossil Beds, Monashee Provincial Park, Painted Bluffs, Pillar Provincial Park, Shuswap Lake,Tunkwa Provincial Park, and the crown jewel of the park system, Wells-Gray Provincial Park.

Mabel Lake Provincial Park (N50˚28’ W118˚43’) is 193 ha on Mabel Lake, providing lakeside recreation. The park is accessed from Route 6 at Lumby, via a road that passes Shuswap Falls (N50˚18’ W118˚48’).

Mara Lake Provincial Park (N50˚43’ W119˚2’) is a 13-ha lakeside recreation area on Route 97A on the southeast side of Mara Lake.

Mara Meadows Ecological Reserve and Provincial Park (N50˚41’ W119˚7’) is a unique calcareous fen with wildflowers located to the east of Salmon Arm. It is closed to the public.

McAbee Fossil Beds Provincial Heritage Site (N50°48’ W121°8’) is north of Routes 1-97 (Trans-Canada Highway) east of Cache Creek. This is the most diverse fossil bed in British Columbia for plants and insects of the Paleogene Period, Eocene Epoch (50 million years ago). Plants include Metasequoia and Gingko, while animals include crayfish, birds, spiders, and fish.

McConnell Lake Provincial Park (N50˚31’ W120˚28’) is 102 ha, providing lakeside recreation off the Coquilla Highway (Route 5) about 35 km south of Kamloops. A lakeshore loop trail is 3.5 km in length. The park contains some old-growth Douglas-fir.

Monck Provincial Park (N50˚11’ W120˚32’) is 118 ha on the shores of Nicola Lake, providing lakeside recreation. Vegetation is ponderosa pine and bunchgrass with volcanic cliffs. There is a 5-km interpretive trail.  The park is north of Merritt off of Route 5A via Monck Park Road.

Monte Creek Provincial Park (N50°39’ W119°57’) is a 2-ha site of riparian habitat along the South Thompson River at the junction of Routes 1 and 97. It is part of the South Thompson River Important Bird Area. In addition, it is an archaeological site, with remains of kekuli pit dwellings and is a site on the Brigade Trail from the fur-trading era.

Monte Lake Provincial Park (N50°30’ W119°50’) is 8 ha on Route 97 on the shoreline of Monte Lake. The park is undeveloped and contains ponderosa pine and grassland vegetation.

Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park (N50°48’ W119°46’) is 275 ha providing lakeside recreation. It is accessible from a dirt road from Chase on Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway).

O’Keefe Historic Ranch (N50°22’ W119°17’) is owned by the City of Vernon and operated by a private foundation. The site interprets the history of ranching in British Columbia with a museum and living history exhibits. It is on Route 97 north of Vernon.

Painted Bluffs Provincial Park (N50°48’ W120°45’) is 100 ha protecting distinctive multi-colored rock formations on the north side of Kamloops Lake.  Access is by water only. The park has grassland vegetation with sagebrush and on its east side adjoins Dewdrop-Rousseau Wildlife Management Area.

Paul Lake Provincial Park and Recreation Area (N50˚45’ W120˚8’) is 728 ha on both sides of Paul Lake. The park contains Douglas-fir, pine, and aspen vegetation along with limestone cliffs. A 3-km trail to Gibraltar Rock provides views of the lake and Harper Mountain. The park is accessed via Route 5 north of Kamloops by turning on Pinantan Road and driving 20 km.

Pennask Lake Provincial Park (N50˚0’ W120˚6’) is 244 ha accessible from the Coquihalla Connector (Route 97C) via the exit for Sunset Main Forest Service Road and a primitive road with large two-foot-deep puddles. The robust trout fishery is the source of rainbow trout eggs used in the provincial fish hatchery program, providing up to 5 million eggs annually.

Pillar Provincial Park (N50°35’ W119°38’) is a 2-ha park surrounding a conglomerate stone pillar on the slopes above Pillar Lake. A 250-m trail leads from the lakeside recreation area to the pillar viewing area. The park is on Falkland-Chase Road between Routes 1 and 97.

Pritchard Provincial Park is 5 km (15 ha) of river frontage on the South Thompson River to the north (N50°42’ W119°48’) and south (N50°40’ W119°51’) of Pritchard along the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1). The sites are part of the South Thompson River Important Bird Area for wintering swan habitat.

Porcupine Meadows Provincial Park (N50⁰59’W120⁰32’) is 2,704 ha on the Silwhoinkum Plateau managed as a wilderness park. The undisturbed wetlands and old growth spruce forests are in the Heller Creek watershed and the park includes Carle Lake and Alexander Lake.

Roche Lake Provincial Park (N50°29’ W120°9’) is a 2,041-ha park with 12 lakes, the largest of which is Roche Lake. The park is known for its trout fishing, and seven lakes are stocked. The private Roche Lake Resort operates on private land surrounded by the park. Horseshoe Lake and John Frank Lake within the park are managed for waterfowl production by Ducks Unlimited, which constructs nesting islands and controls water levels. Access is on Roche Lake Road off Route 5A south of Kamloops. The park is part of the Douglas Plateau Important Bird Area.

Mount Savona Provincial Park (N50˚42’ W120˚48’) is 382 ha about 35 km west of Kamloops, accessible via the Tunkwa Lake Road off Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway). The mountain top provides views of the Thompson River Valley. Topography of the park includes cliffs, canyons, and dry ridges with grassland and Douglas-fir vegetation. Fame flower (Talinum sediforme) grows on the mountain in its northernmost occurrence.

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park (N50°54’ W119°26’) is 150 ha and consists of a campground and beach providing lakeside recreation. Copper Island (N50°55’ W119°24’) is also included in the park. The park is accessible by road from Squilax on Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway). An additional 900 ha of park areas are along the four arms of Shuswap Lake. The Main Arm and the Salmon Arm extend into the Okanagan dry forests ecoregion. On the east-west trending main arm are the St. Ives (N50˚59’ W119˚6’) and Horseshoe Bay (N50˚59’ W119˚7’) sites, both on the north shore. On the southwest-trending Salmon Arm are the Herald Provincial Park, described separately, and the Aline Hill (N50°57’ W119°2’), Tillis Beach (N50°55’ W119°5’), Hermit Bay (N50°54’ W119°5’), Paradise Point (N50°48’ W119°10’), Hungry Cove (N50°52’ W119°3’), Marble Point (N50°55’ W119°2’), and Swall  (N50°58’ W118°59’) sites. On nearby Mara Lake is the Mara Point site (N50˚48’ W118˚59’).

Silver Star Provincial Park (N50˚22’ W119˚6’) is 5,573 ha to the north of Vernon and adjacent to the Silver Star Mountain Resort.  The park consists of subalpine meadows overlooking the dry Okanagan Valley. The Sovereign Lake Nordic Center is in the park. In summer, the Nordic trails are open to hiking.

Six Mile Hill Protected Area (N50°45’ W120°43’) is 151 ha on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway (Routes 1-97) about 35 km west of Kamloops. The area contains grasslands and ponderosa pine-Douglas fir forest type, along with rock cliffs and hoodoos.

Steelhead (Sk’emquin) Provincial Park (N50°45’ W120°52’) is 38 ha of grassland and riparian habitat at the outlet of Kamloops Lake on the Thompson River. Lakeside and riverside recreation is provided. The park is a spawning area for salmon and a trumpeter swan habitat area. Access is via the Trans-Canada Highway (Routes 1-97) west of Savona.

Sunnybrae Park, Columbia Shuswap Regional District (N50°46’ W119°18’) is a small park on the north shore of the lake which features a trail to a bluff overlooking the lake.

Taweel Provincial Park (N51⁰38’ W120⁰21’) is a 4,558-ha park at the end of Lemieux Creek Valley Road about 25 km from Little Fort. There are private resorts on the east end of Taweel Lake. Overlooking the lake are The Sentinels. In the south part of the park is Moosehead Lake. Trails lead through sub-boreal spruce forests at the northern end of the Okanagan dry forests ecoregion.

North Thompson Island Provincial Park (N51⁰22’W120⁰11’) is a 79-ha area of braided channels, sandbars, and riparian cottonwood-spruce-willow-hazelnut forests about 85 km north of Kamloops. The area is accessible by water but is near Route 5.

North Thompson Oxbows Jensen Island Provincial Park (N50⁰52’ W120⁰17’) is 30 ha off of Route 5 about 24 km north of Kamloops. The park consists entirely of a riparian area used by waterfowl, otter, and beaver and is not accessible by road.

North Thompson River Provincial Park (N51⁰38’ W120⁰5’) is a 126-ha camping park on Route 5 at the junction of the Clearwater and muddy North Thompson Rivers. This is at the northern edge of the Okanagan dry forests ecoregion and features trails through Douglas-fir forests.

Tranquille Ecological Reserve (N50°45’ W120°35’) is a 235-ha area including slopes above Frederick Road west of Kamloops with ponderosa pine and bunchgrass vegetation.

Tranquille Wildlife Management Area (N50°43’ W120°30’) is a 254-ha site on Kamloops Lake just west of the Kamloops Airport, bordered by Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area on the north.  It is a waterfowl staging and resting area.

Tsintsunko Lake Provincial Park (N51⁰3’W120⁰29’) is a 333-ha walk-in park consisting of interconnected small lakes connected by primitive trails.

Tunkwa Provincial Park (N50˚37’ W120˚51’) is 5,138 ha on Tunkwa Lake Road north of Logan Lake and the junction with Route 97C. The park contains mid-elevation grasslands and glacial features such as meltwater channels, kettle terraces, and drumlins. Tunkwa and Leighton Lakes are large irrigation lakes available for trout fishing. A loop trail encircles  Leighton Lake.

Vance Creek Ecological Reserve (N50˚18’ W118˚57’) is 49 ha 6 km north of Lumby off of Route 6. The creek flows through a Douglas-fir forest and over a waterfall into a canyon. The site is used for forest ecology teaching.

Upper Violet Creek Provincial Park (N50˚43’ W119˚8’) is 124 ha in two sections along the stream which protects the watershed of Mara Meadows Ecological Reserve. It is a mixed forest of cedar-hemlock-birch-cottonwood with wetlands.

Walhachin Oxbows Provincial Park (N50°45’ W120°56’) is a 37-ha area of riparian habitat and a slough on the Thompson River. Access is by water only. The slough is a waterfowl area.

Walloper Lake Provincial Park (N50˚29’ W120˚32’) is a 55-ha day-use park serving the Coquihalla Highway (Route 5) about 37 km south of Kamloops. The irrigation storage reservoir is surrounded by lodgepole pine and spruce-fir forest.

Wap Creek Provincial Park (N50˚44’ W118˚35’) is at the upper end of Mabel Lake in the transition between the Okanagan and North-Central Rockies ecoregions.

Wells-Gray Provincial Park is 541,515 ha, one of the crown jewels of the provincial park system, with extinct volcanoes, waterfalls, large lakes, springs, glaciers, and alpine meadows. Most of the park is in the North-Central Rockies forest ecoregion. However, The park extends south into the Okanagan dry forests ecoregion at the Clearwater River near Route 5 (N51˚40’ W120˚4’).

White Lake Provincial Park (N50˚54’ W119˚14’) is 266 ha on the shoreline of White Lake, reached from Balmoral on the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1). The lake is known as a rainbow trout fishing area. The park provides habitat for the western painted turtle. Rare plants are found in calcareous clay wetlands at the upper end of the lake.

Wrinkly Face Provincial Park (N50˚2’ W119˚19’) is 43 ha east of Route 97 at Winfield. At the top of a basalt cliff are dry meadows hosting rare plants. The High Rim Trail passes through the park.

Wildcraft Forest School (N50⁰13’ W118⁰46’) produces artisan teas from the Okanagan dry forest region off of Route 6 near Lumby.