Tucked between the BC-1 and the Thompson River, Goldpan is a popular stopover spot for road-trippers, but its waters also draws many anglers and rafters.
At just 12 acres (5 ha), Goldpan is a small park offering few facilities other than its basic campground. Within just a short drive, however, there's plenty to do and explore. Just up the road at Spences Bridge is a popular put-in spot for rafters and kayakers looking for a white-water adventure on the Thompson River, which is framed by dramatic mountains and cliffs and features world-class rapids. Driving up BC-1, you may spot some of the region's iconic wildlife, such as California bighorn sheep, elk, or black bears. Though Goldpan does not sport any trails of its own, just to the west, Stein Valley Nlaka'Pamux Heritage Park offers over 90 miles of trails across a spectacular montane landscape. Osprey, golden eagles and, of course, anglers all take advantage of the Thompson River's healthy fish population. Steelhead, salmon and trout can all be caught on the park's shores - or you can use Goldpan as a home base from which to explore other parts of the river.
Goldpan has just 14 campsites. All are primitive, first-come first-served and suitable for small RVs and trailers.
Though it sports a remote appearance, Goldpan is easily accessible and is often quite busy during the summer travel season. The park is located right off of the Trans-Canadian Highway; it's about three hours from Vancouver and an hour and a half from Kamloops. The nearest town is Spences Bridge, just five minutes up the road - it has a few stores and restaurants. The larger town of Lytton is a thirty-minute drive to the west.
Since Goldpan is right on BC-1 (the Trans-Canadian), travelers need not be worried about treacherously steep or windy driving. The park's main access road is gravel but well-maintained. Of course, travelers should always use extra caution when driving through the mountains, as foul weather can roll in quickly.
Goldpan is a tiny park, and its small, fourteen-spot campground takes up most of its space. While spots (all of them are back-in) can accommodate small to moderate-sized trailers and RVs, large rigs are not recommended, as there is simply not enough space to maneuver.
Comprised of 14 spots perched on the river bank, the campground at Goldpan offers a quiet place to take in views of the surrounding mountains. Some spots are partially shaded by Ponderosa pines, while others are more open. All are just a stone's throw from the Thompson River, which offers great fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Facilities at this small campground are, unsurprisingly, primitive. There are no water, electric or sewage hookups available, and there's no sanitary dump station either (for that you'll have to head to Spences Bridge or Lytton). There are several vault toilets and one potable water spigot.
No reservations are taken at Gold-Pan; all sites are first-come first served. As the campground sits right on the Trans-Canadian Highway, it can fill quickly during the summer travel season. If you'd like to get a spot during that time, it's recommended that you arrive before 4:00 p.m.
The Thompson River is a popular spot for both kayaking and river rafting, and with good reason; powerful rapids, massive waves and views of sheer canyon walls together create a thrilling experience for paddlers. A convenient put-in spot is located just upriver at Spence's Bridge, a five minute drive from Goldpan. If you're not traveling with kayaks or rafts, there are also several private outfitters and river guides in the area. Additional opportunities are available on the nearby Fraser River as well.
Goldpan offers convenient and scenic angling opportunities along its quarter-mile of frontage on the Thompson. With campsites lined up right along the river, you can take three steps out of your camper and be casting. Trout and salmon can be caught during the summertime, while fall brings an abundance of steelhead. And if you hook a keeper, the trip to the frying pan won't be far!
As is always the case in British Columbia, make sure you have a proper fishing license before casting.
Fed by the snows which, for much of the year, blanket the surrounding mountains, the Thompson's fast-flowing waters can be cool even during the baking days of August. For that reason, a quick dip in the river can be quite refreshing.
Visitors going for a dip at Goldpan should avoid the months of June and July, when fast currents can make swimming dangerous. Even during the lower-water months of August and September, visitors are advised to stick to the shallows. There are no lifeguards or demarcated swimming areas.
The Thompson River, lined by mountains on either side, sometimes blue and meandering and sometimes white and raging, offers excellent opportunities for photographers (especially those looking to hone their skills capturing the movement of water). Nearby, preserves such as the wildly beautiful Stein Valley Nlaka'Pamux Heritage Park are a boon to those photographers intrepid enough to trek within their bounds. Staggering, snow-capped peaks, cerulean lakes and towering green forests await.
Wildlife photographers can aim their lenses towards bighorn sheep, bears, ospreys, eagles and more.
There are no designated hiking trails within Goldpan itself; however, visitors are free to explore the banks of the Thompson in either direction. And nearby, hiking opportunities abound. Just west of Lytton (itself a 30-minute drive down the Trans-Canadian) sits Stein Valley Nlaka'Pamux Heritage Park, a massive, wild park encompassing jagged mountain ranges, untamed rivers, thick forests and deep blue alpine lakes. There are over 93 miles (150 km) of hiking trails weave their way across the park's rugged terrain.
There are abundant wildlife viewing opportunities both at Goldpan itself, and along the stretch of BC-1 on which the park sits. The region's mammalian fauna includes mountain goats, California bighorn sheep, mountain lions, elk, coyote, deer, lynx, grizzly bears and black bears. Soaring over the river, searching for their next meal, you might see ospreys, bald eagles or golden eagles. Many species of colorful warblers and other songbirds pass through during spring and fall migrations.