Whether you're looking for some lakeside relaxation or a week-long wilderness paddle trip, gorgeous Bowron Lake can deliver. The provincial park is most famous for its world-class canoe circuit; the Bowron Lake circuit crosses a half-dozen crystal-clear lakes and provides intrepid adventurers with unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains. Wilderness campsites and maintained portage trails help make traveling a bit easier - though this route is nevertheless recommended to only seasoned paddlers. (It's also important to note that you'll need a permit if you want to complete the circuit - check out the park's website for more information).
If you'd rather take in the beauty of the forests and mountains from the comfort of your camper, that's fine too. Bowron sports a small but lovely campground which offers easy access to Bowron lake and a couple of nature trails. Anglers can cast for several species of trout, as well as Kokanee salmon. Naturalists and photographers alike will want to keep their eyes peeled for some of the park's ubiquitous wildlife; bears, moose, caribou, eagles, ospreys and more are frequently spotted here.
Twenty five sites, most of which can accommodate small to medium-sized RV or trailer setups, comprise the rustic but beautiful sylvan campsite at Bowron. A few sites are reservable through the BC Parks website, though most are first-come first served.
Borwon Lake is remote and is not directly reachable via any paved roads. The nearest major road is BC-97, and it is off of 97 that most travelers will turn in order to reach the park. If you're traveling from Prince George, to the north and west of the park, you'll head south along 97 until hitting Naver Creek Road. Turning east onto Naver Creek, a series of rural roads eventually leads to Bowron Lake Park Road, which terminates at the campground. If you're approaching from Quesnel, you'll take BC-26 eastward until reaching Bowron Lake Road.
Whichever route you take, you'll have to drive over unpaved and sometimes windy roads (they are frequently graded and relatively flat, however, so they should not pose too much of a driving challenge).
Barkerville, sitting about 18 miles (29 km) from the park, is the nearest town. A historic mining town, it is today far smaller than it was in the 19th century, and amenities there are limited. Don't let the relatively short distance to the park fool you, either; though just 18 miles from the Borwon Campground, the drive takes about two hours.
The campground setup at Borwon is straightforward; spots can be found along two small adjoining loops. All spots are back-in, though there's plenty of space between sites, so maneuvering should not be difficult (so long as you're below the length threshold: 32 ft for RVs and 18 ft for trailers).
Once you are parked, nature trails, Bowron Lake and the eastbound portage trail are all within walking distance.
Bowron's rustic campsite is very much in line with the park's overall character; camping here, you'll be able to soak up the serene but rugged beauty of the lakes, forests and mountains. There are 25 sites in total, and most are suitable for small to moderate-sized trailers or RVs. Sites are set within coniferous woodlands and so are well shaded; they are also all just a short walk away from the shore of Bowron Lake.
All sites are primitive; there's no electric, water or sewage hookups. There's no dump station either - for that, you'll have to head to Barkerville. There are a couple of pit toilets, and there are several potable water spigots.
Most sites at Borwon are first-come first-served. However, reservations are accepted, up to four months in advance, for nine of the larger sites. The campground's season is from mid-May through the end of September.
By far the biggest draw at Bowron Lake is the Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit; this spectacular 76 mile (116 km) route, comprised of several lakes, rivers, and short portages, takes intrepid paddlers across some of the wildest, most scenic country in the Canadian Rockies. Canoers and kayakers taking the circuit will journey up long, crystal-clear lakes, paddle through humming wetlands and hike underneath the moss-clad boughs of towering conifers. The Quesnel Highlands and Cariboo Mountains provide a stunning backdrop along the way.
Paddlers need a special permit to complete the full circuit. There are also other, shorter options for those who can't commit to a 6-10 day paddle. For specific regulations, check out the Provincial Parks' website.
Paddling is undoubtedly Bowron's most popular activity, but there are also several great hiking trails available to canoers and non-canoers alike. A few short walking trails leave directly from the campground; these let hikers take in the lush evergreen forests and provide great views of beautiful Bowron Lake. Portages, and a couple scenic viewpoint spurs off of portage routes, make up the remaining trail mileage, meaning only paddlers will be able to access those trails.
Though summers in the Canadian Rockies rarely bring scorching temperatures, sunny days in July and August can get surprisingly hot - highs can reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 Celsius) or more on cloudless days. If you've spent several hard hours paddling in such weather, you may very well get the urge to take a dip in some cool mountain water. Luckily, swimming is permitted at Bowron, and there are in fact some lovely sandy beaches along several of the circuit's lakes.
Placid lakes sparkling like jewels. Endless acres blanketed in deep green conifers. Sweeping vistas of jagged, snow-capped peaks. Bowron Lake is a photographer's paradise. Amateurs and professionals alike will find no shortage of spectacular subjects. Wake up early (very early, if you visit during early summer) to catch the colorful sunrise over the lake, and perhaps you'll have the chance to snag a photo of a moose or bear lapping up water along the shore.
A plethora of creatures large and small call this wilderness home. Bears, both black and grizzly, are commonly seen (their ubiquity is good reason to lock up your food!). Caribou, mountain goats, deer, moose, porcupine, beaver, otter are among the hardy mammalian residents that can also be seen. The park also hosts a great diversity of birds, including numerous waterfowl species, several birds of prey (including bald eagles and osprey), jays, magpies, dippers, chickadees and more.
Whether you're paddling the full circuit or just relaxing around the campground, if you're an angler, you'll no doubt want to take advantage of the excellent fishing opportunities at Bowron. The marvelous, mountainous setting is, alone, enough to make casting worthwhile...but the abundance of sport fish doesn't hurt either. Commonly caught species include bull trout, kokanee, lake trout and rainbow trout. If you do end up angling, make sure you have a proper British Columbia license (a couple stores near the lake sell them).