British Columbia has some of the world’s most beautiful national and provincial parks in Canada. The larger parks often overshadow some of the equally scenic and more rustic parks because of size or popularity. Guests visiting the area of Clinton and Cache Creek who are looking for an opportunity to experience the beauty of Canada on a smaller scale should plan their trips around some of the more unknown parks.
Downing Provincial Park is a hidden gem if you enjoy primitive, waterfront camping. The park is isolated, so visiting can be spur-of-the-moment if you are in the vicinity. RV camping at Downing Provincial Park is like boondocking with picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, and water taps. Campers get the experience of camping in the wild with some of the comforts they may need close. The campground is a first-come, first served facility, so staying here during the park’s operating season is as simple as driving by.
The Downing family once owned Downing Provincial Park, and they donated the land to the province in 1970. Since then, visitors have had the opportunity to spend time among the trees, wildlife, and the water, with the protection of the park’s boundaries. The Downing Family still owns the land adjacent to the park, and their private property bumps up against the park.
Downing Provincial Park is located 250 miles (401 km) north of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Depending on the route you take, you may pass through mountain passes and curvy terrain. The park is located 87 miles (140 km) from the city of Kamloops. The closest communities to Downing Provincial Park are Cache Creek, Ashcroft, 100 Mile House, and Clinton.
In British Columbia, all drivers must keep daytime running lights or headlights on when driving during the daytime and at night. The use of handheld electronics, including cell phones or GPS devices, is prohibited. Please mount your electronics and use the speaker function.
The park’s gate is closed between the hours of 11:00 and 7:00 am. Please make sure you are in the campground when the gates close for the night.
The Downing Provincial Park Campground is a small campground that accommodates RVs, campers, motorhomes, and trailers less than 30 feet in length. This primitive campground is a first-come, first-served facility that has gravel sites with fire rings. Guests who crave nightly campfires can purchase firewood in the park or bring firewood from home. Gathering of wood is not permitted, so for colder nights, be sure you’ve obtained enough wood to stave off the chill in the air. The campground has pit toilets and water faucets for overnight guests and day use visitors. The water faucets are winterized during the offseason to prevent freezing. Downing Provincial Park doesn’t have a dump station, but there are RV dumps in the towns of Clinton and Cache Creek. If you plan to bring your dog, remember that you are staying in bear country. Your dog should be on a leash at all times. British Columbia campgrounds encourage guests to enjoy the sounds of nature. Please keep your noise to a minimum, and only run your generators between the hours of 9:00 am to 11:00 am and again from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Kelly Lake is a small lake, perfect for little boats such as kayaks and canoes. Boats larger than car top boats are not ideal for Kelly Lake because the 114-acre surface area of the water gets choppy with anything other than a wakeless boat. Launch your kayak or canoe from the beach, or from the small single wide gravel boat launch. Once you’ve pushed off shore, you will enjoy spending your time out on the water, enjoying the serenity of peace and solitude. Boaters should always keep an eye to the sky. Downing Provincial Park is in an area that has high winds, and the lake gets rough when the wind picks up.
Swimming in Downing Provincial Park is similar to the experience you might have swimming in a backyard lake or pond. The swimming beach, located near the day use area, is clean and close to the picnic shelters and restrooms. Swimmers should enter the water at their own risk. There isn’t a roped-off swimming section of the lake or lifeguards on duty. Because the wind is intense at times, the water may become choppy and rough quickly, so always swim with a friend and be mindful of the weather.
Although the park doesn’t have any designated trails or bike paths, people who visit Downing Provincial Park bring their road bikes with them for exploring. Cyclists are permitted to ride any of the designated roads, as long as they are careful of passing cars and other traffic. Before taking your bike out, be aware of the weather. Strong winds in the area may make it challenging biking. When you prepare for your trip, don’t forget your helmet. All bike riders must wear a helmet while riding in British Columbia.
Kelly Lake, a spring-fed lake, is small in size compared to some of the other lakes nearby. If you are looking for a fun day fishing from the shore, bring your fishing tackle and your bait. The lake is stocked with small rainbow trout. The average catch is two pounds, and the fishing is good during the spring, summer, and the fall. Before heading to the water, ensure you have the proper freshwater fishing license. For questions relating to fishing limits, regulations, and restrictions, visit the Fishing Regulations Synopsis on the British Columbia Freshwater Fishing website.
Visiting the park when the weather is chilly is often the best time to view wildlife. Wildlife like bears, cougars, and wolves live and thrive in British Columbia, so people who frequent outdoor areas should always take precautions to keep both the animals as well as themselves safe. Species like raccoon, marmot, coyote, heron, and loon inhabit the vicinity, so at any time, you may spot one of these creatures passing by. Before heading to the park, plan ahead and prepare to live with wildlife nearby, so you and your family will have a safe and enjoyable time during your stay.
Downing Provincial Park is a simple park that focuses on recreation for the entire family. The day use area is one of the park’s most visited attractions because it bridges the rustic nature of Kelly Lake with modern-day amenities. The day use area is located less than a half a mile from the campground. It has a picnic area with shelters, water taps, fire pits, and pit toilets. The day use area is close to the swim beach, so guests have the choice to play in the water or observe from the shoreline. If you want to make a day of spending time outside, pack a picnic lunch and your swimming gear, and play on the shores of Kelly Lake all day without having to return to camp.