Fraser Plateau and Basin

The Fraser Plateau is drained by the Fraser River and its tributaries and extends from just south of Stuart Lake to the Marble and Chilcotin Ranges. Several isolated shield volcanoes are in the western portions of the plateau, including the Rainbow, Ilgachuz, and Itcha Ranges. These Miocene-age structures are dome-like piles of lava. Vegetation includes forests of lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, aspen, white spruce, and Douglas-fir. Migratory waterfowl use the lakes and rivers for nesting. Grasslands are common along the Fraser River in the rain shadow of the coast ranges. The northern and northeastern portions of this ecoregion were moved to the Central British Columbia Mountain forests in the Ecoregions 2017 update.

National sites in the Fraser Plateau and Basin

Nechako River Migratory Bird Sanctuary (N54⁰1’ W124⁰1’), is 183 ha of river islands near Vanderhoof which attract large numbers of Canada geese.

Xats’ull Heritage Village (N52⁰20’ W122⁰17’) is 35 km north of Williams Lake off Route 97. Cultural tours are provided by Northern Shushwap-Xatsull First Nations guides.

Provincial and Local areas in the Fraser Plateau and Basin

Alexis Creek Trail System (N52⁰6’ W123⁰16’), BC Sites and Trails, is a 10-km network on Stum Lake Road north of Route 20.

Beaumont Provincial Park (N54⁰3’ W124⁰37’) is the 178-ha site of historic Fort Fraser, dating to 1806. On Route 16 is the Fraser Mountain Lookout Trail. The park has camping and beach sites. The park is part of the Fraser Lake Important Bird Area and Key Biodiversity Area.

Big Bar Lake Provincial Park (N51⁰19’ W121⁰49’) is 368 ha located 42 km northwest of Clinton via gravel roads through the Cariboo ranching country. A 4-km interpretive trail leads to Otter Marsh at the upper end of the lake, past eskers and kettle lakes. Forests are of old growth Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and spruce. The southern slopes of the park are in the Cascade Mountains Eastern Slopes ecoregion, which includes the Marble Range that towers over the park.

Big Bar Trail System (N51⁰10’ W121⁰32’), BC sites and trails, is adjacent to Route 97 on the Green Timber Plateau and provides views of Marble Range and Fiftyone Creek Canyon.

Big Creek Ecological Reserve (N51ᵒ50’ W122ᵒ42’) is a 257-ha grassland at the confluence of the Chilcotin River and Big Creek. The park protected ungrazed bluebunch wheatgrass and contains a lava escarpment with talus slopes. Animals include the white-throated swift, California bighorn sheep, and sharp-tailed grouse. The park is included in the Chilcotin Junction Important Bird Area for flammulated owl and long-billed curlew.

Big Creek Provincial Park is a 67,918-ha preserve encompassing much of the Big Creek watershed. It includes the flat forested Chilcotin Plateau in the north (N51ᵒ29’ W123ᵒ7’) as well as dramatic mountains and alpine lakes in the Cascade Mountains Leeward forests ecoregion in the south (51ᵒ7’ W123ᵒ10’). There are extensive wetlands and moose habitat. Access is from Route 20 at Riske Creek via a logging road.

Bluff Lake Trail (N51⁰45’ W124⁰43’), BC sites and trails, extends 1 km to rock bluffs overlooking Bluff Lake.

Bobtail Mountain Provincial Park (N53⁰41’ W123⁰22’) is 1,360 ha on the Gregg Creek Forest Service Road 55 km southwest of Prince George. A 5-km trail leads to key viewpoints on the summit. The park contains an area of serpentine soils with maidenhair fern vegetation.

Bridge Lake Provincial Park (N51⁰29’ W120⁰42’) is 405 ha on a large lake on Route 24, 50 km east of 100-Mile House. There are two tracts on the shoreline, and the park also includes all the islands in the lake.

Bull Canyon Provincial Park (N52ᵒ5’ W123ᵒ22’) is a 343-ha camping park on the Chilcotin River in a lava canyon on Route 20 west of Alexis Creek. A walking trail leads past caves with bat habitat.

Burns Lake Provincial Park (N54⁰12’ W125⁰43’) is a 65-ha aspen and cottonwood forest 4 km south of the town of Burns Lake. There are no facilities, but it is planned as a future campground serving Route 16.

Butler Peak and Lake Trail (N51⁰46’ W124⁰42’), BC site and trails, is a 11-km trail system with a trailhead north of Bluff Lake. A spur leads 2 km to Butler Peak in the Cascades Mountains Leeward forests ecoregion.

Cardiff Mountain Ecological Reserve (N51ᵒ29’ W123ᵒ46’) is a 72-ha site west of the Nemaiah Valley. The escarpment on site contains the best columnar basalt formation in British Columbia. Rare ferns grow in rocky crevasses. The site is subject to landrights of the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

Cariboo Nature Provincial Park (N51⁰53’ W121⁰40’) is 89 ha on Route 97 north of Lac La Hache Provincial Park. The park includes Woodfrog Lake and a portion of the San Jose River along with old Douglas-fir forests and a small alkaline lake.

Castle Rock Hoodoos Provincial Park (N51⁰7’ W120⁰52’), is 34 ha of white to yellow cliffs of eroded volcanic ash, viewed from Deadman Valley-Vidette Lake Road.

Chasm Ecological Preserve (N51⁰14’ W121⁰30’) is 197 ha on Route 97 about 19 km north of Clinton. It was established to protect one of the northernmost stands of ponderosa pine.

Chasm Provincial Park (N51⁰10’ W121⁰25’) is 3,067 ha about 4 km east of Route 97. The park includes a gorge along Chasm Creek and a section of the Bonaparte River. This lava canyon has brown, yellow, purple, and red rocks amid ponderosa pine vegetation. The 8-km-long, 300-m-deep chasm was carved by glacial meltwater. An esker stretches 40 km upstream.

Chilako River Ecological Reserve (N53⁰32’ W123⁰58’) is 64 ha on the Nechako Plateau 54 km south of Vanderhoof. It protects the most southerly stand of larch in British Columbia. Black spruce near the southern limit of its range also occurs.

Chilanko Marsh Wildlife Management Area (N52⁰7’ W124⁰8’) is 883 ha in the floodplain of the Chilanko River off Route 20. Habitat for waterfowl, moose, furbearers is protected.

Churn Creek Protected Area is 36,100 ha of bunchgrass grasslands on terraces, kettle lakes, hoodoos and the canyon of the Fraser River, located 60 km southeast of Williams Lake or west of Clinton. This northernmost extent of grasslands in British Columbia is managed for grassland conservation while supporting an operating ranch. Wildlife includes mule deer and bighorn sheep herds, as well as Barrow’s goldeney and other waterfowl. There are also First Nations winter village sites. The southern extent includes the Camelsfoot Range.  Localities include Churn Creek (N51ᵒ31’ W122ᵒ25’), Empire Valley (N51ᵒ25’ W122ᵒ17’), and Lone Cabin Creek (N51ᵒ18’ W122ᵒ25’).

Dead Man’s Island Provincial Park (N54⁰12’ W125⁰44’) is a one-ha island in Burns Lake. There are no facilities.

Drywilliam Lake Ecological Reserve (N54⁰4’ W124⁰42’) is 95 ha on Route 16 overlooking Fraser Lake. A Douglas-fir forest is growing in a sub-boreal spruce zone at this site.

Ellis Island Ecological Reserve (N54⁰4’W124⁰43’) is a 1-ha gull nesting colony in Fraser Lake. There are herring and ring-billed gulls, Caspian terns, and other waterfowl. This area is part of the Fraser Lake Important Bird Area and Key Biodiversity Area.

Doc English Bluff Ecological Reserve (N51ᵒ56’ W122ᵒ16’) is a 52-ha tract on the Fraser River, 24 km southwest of Williams Lake. The property contains a prominent limestone bluff with rare ferns, mosses and vascular plants like Draba and Potentilla species. There are unique caves and sinkholes, and habitat for golden eagle and white-throated swift. The park is included in the Chilcotin Junction Important Bird Area for flammulated owl and long-billed curlew.

Entiako Provincial Park and Protected Area is 126,032 ha of rolling topography with steeper hills in the Fawnie Mountains on the east side. It borders Tweedsmuir Provincial Park on the southwest. The east end is at Tutial Mountain (N53⁰19’ W125⁰8’), west end is at Tetachuck Lake (N53⁰15’ W126⁰5’), and the south end is at Entiako River (N53⁰1’ W125⁰45’). Hiking is available on the Bella Coola Trail. Forests of pine include abundant lichen. Cariboo winter in the area. Access is across from the Nechako River. A patch of grassland (N53⁰16’ W125⁰27’) is downstream from Entiak Lake, with rare species of oatgrass and small-flowered penstemon.

Fawn Creek Trail (N51⁰34’ W121⁰4’), BC Sites and Trails, is 19-km horseback and hiking route between Sheridan Lake and Horse Lake.

Finger-Tatuk Provincial Park (N53⁰32’ W124⁰14’) is 17,151 ha surrounding two lakes, Finger and Tatuk, and 5 smaller lakes. Both Finger and Tatuk Lakes feature private fishing resorts. Fishing is for wild rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. Forests are of sub-boreal spruce and Englemann spruce. Access is by Kluskus Forest Service Road west from Quesnel.

Flat Lake Provincial Park (N51⁰30’ W121⁰30’), is 4,275 ha about 20 km southwest of 100-Mile House. A series of interconnected kettle lakes beginning at Davis Lake provides a one- to three-day canoe route.

Fraser Lake (N54⁰5’ W124⁰43’) is an Important Bird Area and Key Biodiversity Area for wintering trumpeter swans and fall migrants, including American wigeon, ducks, geese, and swans. Beaumont Provincial Park and Ellis Island Ecological Reserve are part of the IBA.

Fraser River Provincial Park (N53⁰28’ W122⁰45’) is a 4,900-ha wilderness preserve on the west side of the Fraser River about 35 km south of Prince George. The park includes the Jacks Creek watershed and protects a sub-boreal spruce forest.

Francois Lake Provincial Park and Protected Area (N53⁰58’ W125⁰10’) is 7,243 ha including 25 km of shoreline on the south side of the lake, southwest of the town of Fraser Lake. The park includes hiking trails.

Green Lake Provincial Park is 347 ha in size, consisting of nine shoreline recreational sites and 22 islands. Vegetation is open rangeland with mixed aspen-lodgepole pine. The islands are in three groups in the southwest (N51⁰22’ W121⁰17’), central (N51⁰25’W121⁰14’), and eastern (N51⁰26’ W121⁰7’) portions of the lake. Shoreline facilities accessible from North Green Lake Road are Blue Springs (N51⁰23’W121⁰17’), Arrowhead and Little Arrowhead (N51⁰24’W121⁰15’), Black Bear (N51⁰25’ W121⁰14’), Emerald Bay (N51⁰27’ W121⁰10’), and Buckside Hill (N51⁰27’ W121⁰9’). There are guided horseback rides at Emerald Bay. Shoreline facilities accessible from South Green Lake Road are Boyd Bay (N51⁰21’ W121⁰17’), Sunset View (N51⁰25’ W121⁰12’), and Nolan Creek (N51⁰25’ W121⁰10’). A trail is maintained at Sunset View.

Lac La Hache Provincial Park (N51⁰52’ W121⁰38’) is a 24-ha park on Route 97, 13 km north of the town of Lac La Hache. The Wagon Road Nature Trail leads through a Douglas fir forest to a crossing of the Cariboo Wagon Road, used during the gold rush of the 1860s.

Ilgachuz Range Ecological Reserve (N52⁰48’ W125⁰24’) is 2,914 ha including the core of the isolated shield volcano. It includes Cindercone Peak, columnar basalt, and lava flows. It is mostly in the alpine zone and access is by foot.

Interlakes (Fawn Lake) Trail (N51⁰33’ W121⁰0’), BC Sites and Trails, is north of Sheridan Lake.

Itcha-Ilgachuz Provincial Park is 112,000 ha encompassing two large shield volcanoes, the Itcha and Ilgachuz Ranges (southeast point: N52⁰33’ W124⁰35’; northeast point: N52⁰50’ W124⁰37’; northwest point: N52⁰50’ W125⁰24’). The park contains volcanic landforms, alpine grassland, and wetlands, and is used by caribou as summer and calving habitat.

Junction Sheep Range Provincial Park (N51ᵒ47’ W122ᵒ25’) is a 4,774-ha park at the confluence of the Chilcotin and Fraser Rivers, established to protect a herd of California bighorn sheep. The grassland park contains cliffs, hoodoos, and river rapids, as well as habitat for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, long-billed curlew, and spotted bat. Access is from Farwell Canyon Road. The park is included in the Chilcotin Junction Important Bird Area for flammulated owl and long-billed curlew.

Kenney Dam (N53⁰35’ W124⁰57’) forms the Nechako Reservoir and was completed in 1954 to provide power for an aluminum smelter at Kitimat on the Pacific Coast. The resulting Nechako Reservoir links the Ootsa, Intata, Whitesail, Chelaslie, Tetachuck, Tahtsa, and Natalkuz rivers and lakes and diverts the water westward to the Pacific. The hydroelectric facility is at Kemano. At Skins Lake is a spillway (N53⁰46’ W126⁰0’) to the Cheslatta River. The dam and hydroelectric facilities are operated by Rio Tinto.

Kluskoil Lake Provincial Park is 15,548 ha along a lake and the West Road (Blackwater) River corridor (east end N53⁰8’ W123⁰41’; west end N53⁰12’ W124⁰8’). Access is by foot on the MacKenzie Trail.

Lower Lake Trail System (N51⁰45’ W121⁰11’), BC Sites and Trails, is between Lower Lake and Lilyleaf Lake on Archie Meadow Road.

Mackill Lake Trail (N52⁰20’ W123⁰18’), BC Sites and Trails, is a 4-km loop around a lake. The trailhead is at Palmer Lake on 1700 Road.

Meridian Road (Vanderhoof) Ecological Reserve (N53⁰39’ W124⁰1’) is 262 ha of mature Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir 40 km south of Vanderhoof.

Moose Valley Provincial Park (N51⁰39’ W121⁰39’) is 2,500 ha about 30 km west of 100-Mile House via Exeter Station Road. From a main canoe launch site on Marks Lake, a canoe route involving a chain of 12 lakes can be accessed.

Narcosli Lake Ecological Reserve (N52⁰56’ W124⁰6’) is 1,098 ha of a shallow, interior lake and wetlands 108 km west of Quesnel. Access is by float plane. The lake is a staging ground and breeding site for waterfowl.

99-Mile Trail System (N51⁰37’ W121⁰20’), BC Sites and Trails, is just west of Route 97 on Ainsworth Road. Trails for biking, snowshoeing, and a 6-km nature trail through a demonstration forest are included.

Nuntsi Provincial Park (N51ᵒ44’ W123ᵒ47’) is a 20,570-ha park established to protect moose habitat on the Taseko River. The park includes the entire watershed of Nuntsi Creek. The southern part of the park is subject to Tsilhqot’in Nation land rights.

Nazko Lake Provincial Park is 12,419 ha along the Nazko River corridor. The south end is at Plover Lake (N52⁰18’ W123⁰34’) and the north end is at Gem Falls (N52⁰34’ W123⁰29’). The park provides the opportunity for a six-lake, two- to three-day, canoe circuit. The circuit begins at Deerpelt Lake, and includes short portages to Nazko, Tanilkul, Nastachi, Tzazati, and Tchusiiltil Lakes. The park is also a white pelican feeding area.

Nechako Canyon Protected Area (N53⁰39’ W124⁰56’) is 1,246 ha about 80 km south of Vanderhoof. The 7-km-long Grand Canyon of the Nechako River is within the park. It is now mostly a dry riverbed, diverted by Kenney Dam just upstream. The flow down the Cheslatta River, which enters the park at Cheslatta Falls, includes some of the former Nechako River flow, but most is now diverted to a hydroelectric development for use by an aluminum smelter (Rio Tinto) on the Pacific Coast.

Precipice/Hotnarko Falls Trail (N52⁰28’ W125⁰29’), BC Sites and Trails, provides a short walk to an overlook of the falls on the Hotnarko River as well as basalt cliffs with drops exceeding 30 m.

Puntchesaukt Lake Provincial Park (N52⁰59’ W122⁰56’) is a 38-ha aspen forest about 40 km west of Quesnel on Nazko Road. The park offers lakeside recreation and includes a sandy beach.

Ruth Lake Provincial Park (N51⁰50’ W121⁰2’) is 30 ha on the east side of Ruth Lake, accessible by road 30 km east of 100-Mile House on Route 97. The park is noted for open forests of pine and fir with glacial erratics scattered on the lakeshore.

Sapeye-Waterlily Creek Trail (N51⁰49’ W124⁰43’), BC Sites and Trails, is a valley route with pine and aspen forest, between Sapeye Lake and Waterlily Lake, in the Mosley Creek valley.

Schoolhouse Lake Provincial Park (N51⁰53’ W121⁰0’) is a 5,106-ha rolling forested area with 30 or more lakes between Eagle and Bradley Creeks. The park is managed as a wilderness area with no road access.

Stellako River Wildlife Management Area (N54⁰2’ W124⁰58’) is 503 ha on the Nechako Plateau upstream of Route 16 at Fraser Lake. White spruce, lodgepole pine, and aspen forests surround a river used for rainbow trout, sockeye salmon, and kokanee salmon.

Tachick Lake (N53⁰57’ W124⁰12’) and Nulki Lake (N53⁰54’ W124⁰8’) are an Important Bird Area for waterfowl, geese, swan, scaup, goldeneye, mallards, and wigeon located about 25 km southwest of Vanderhoof.

Tatla Lake Trail System (N51⁰55’ W124⁰35’), BC Sites and Trails, is a 30-km system between Route 20 and Martin Lake.

Ts’il?os Provincial Park is 233,240 ha of mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows and waterfalls. The northern access from Tatla Lake (N51ᵒ37’ W124ᵒ9’) is within the Fraser Plateau and Basin ecoregion. Most of the park is in the Cascade Mountains Leeward Forests ecoregion (NA 507). Northern areas are subject to landrights of the Tsilhqot’in Nation.

Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is 989,616 ha, an immense area mostly in the Fraser Plateau and Basin. The southern part of the park is in the Cascade Mountains leeward forests ecoregion, and the western edge is in the British Columbia mainland coastal forest ecoregion. The south end of the park is at Knot Lake (N51⁰54’ W125⁰43’) and the north end is at Ootsa Lake (N53⁰49’ W126⁰25’). In the Fraser Plateau and Basin portion of the park, the Rainbow Range (N52⁰39’ W125⁰55’) is a hiking and equestrian area. The Rainbow Range is a group of shield volcanoes.  Access to the park is 400 km west of Williams Lake on Route 20. Park headquarters is at the rail portage between Eutsuk and Whitesail Lakes (N53⁰28’ W126⁰56’).

Uncha Mountains-Red Hills Provincial Park is 9,421 ha in two tracts on Francois Lake. On the north side of the lake, the Red Hills (N54⁰1’ W125⁰33’) feature a rare grassland, shrub-steppe area, and forest on south-facing slopes. On the south side are the Uncha Mountains (N53⁰58’ W125⁰33’).

Westwood Lakes Ecological Reserve (N51ᵒ59’ W122ᵒ10’) is a 27-ha tract 15 km south of Williams Lake on Dog Creek Road. The area is aspen parkland and about one third grassland at the northern extent of Douglas-fir forests. The reserve’s shallow, saline lake is also a valuable wetland for waterfowl and songbirds including the bufflehead and goldeneye.

White Pelican Provincial Park (N52⁰17’ W123⁰2’) is 2,763 ha about 60 km northwest of Williams Lake. The park surrounds Stum Lake, which has white pelican nesting colonies on four islands in the lake. The park is closed during the summer nesting season.