Kleanza Creek, fed by the snow and rain that falls on the mighty Coast Range, tumbles over rapids and cuts through dramatic canyons on its way to the Skeena River. At end of this beautifully wild creek sits Kleanza Creek Provincial Park, which features a wonderful creek-side campground.
Just over a century ago, the gold-laden waters of the Kleanza (which means "gold" in the Gitxsan language) were rife with the activity of placer miners. Today the miners are gone, but the rocks, the waterway, the forest and the plethora of animals which inhabit them remain; bears, moose, and eagles are just a few of the emblematic creatures to be found here.
Visitors to the park can enjoy gorgeous vistas, a short but very scenic hiking trail, and the opportunity for fishing and whitewater canoeing. The park's convenient location right on BC-16 also means it's easy to access other nearby parks, such as the large and spectacularly rugged Seven Sisters Provincial Park. The large, lovely town of Terrace, BC, is also just a twenty-minute drive away.
Though the campsite at Kleanza is rustic, with few modern amenities, its quiet sylvan beauty draws visitors from far and wide. The campsite sports 34 sites, 10 of which are reservable via the BC Provincial Parks reservation website.
Though it sits in a rugged, seemingly remote location, Kleanza Creek is both easily accessible and not too far from civilization. The park sits right on BC-16, a section of what is known as the Yellowhead Highway, which itself cuts east-west across British Columbia. Several short access roads branch off of BC-16 and enter the park; Kleanza Park road offers access to the campground, and it's turn off is located just a few hundred feet north of where the Kleanza Creek crosses underneath the highway.
Though BC-16 passes through mountainous country, it sticks primarily to river valleys. There are some moderately steep, but there are no long switchbacks or hairpin turns. Travelers should find driving conditions fairly easy.
Of course, severe weather can come upon travelers quickly in the mountains, and northern BC can get snow for a good portion of the year.
If you need to resupply, the large town of Terrace, BC is just a 12 mile (19 km) drive to the southwest along BC-16. In Terrace, you'll find grocery stores, camping supplies, restaurants, banks, ATMs and a host of other services.
Kleanza Park Road terminates with a large parking area adjacent to both the campsite and the creek itself. Campsites are all back-in, though there's plenty of space between sites, and the gentle curves of the park road mean that parking shouldn't be much of a hassle.
Once you are parked, the day use area, restrooms, water spigot and trailhead are all within easy walking distance.
The forested, creek-side campground at Kleanza features 34 sites, almost all of which can accommodate RVs or trailers (if you have a large RV or trailer, you can use the park's reservation website, or call the park, to see which sites can accommodate you - some sites are suitable for rigs over 32 ft, but specific length limits aren't given). From your camper, you can listen to the creek's water rushing by as birds flit between the boughs of conifers overhead.
Individual sites have fire rings and picnic tables, and the campground has one vault toilet (the day use area has another) and one potable water spigot. Otherwise, facilities are totally primitive; there's no electric, water or sewage hookup, and the nearest dump station is in the town of Terrace. Firewood is available at the park, though no other supplies are for sale.
10 of the 34 sites are reservable, up to four months in advance, while the rest are first-come first-served. The campground opens in mid-May and remains open through mid-September, when weather begins to sour.
The rough and tumble rapids of Kleanza Creek make for excellent, if challenging, whitewater canoeing. There are no developed ramps or put-in spots within the park, but there are accessible spots along the creek nonetheless. The scenery on the river is spectacular - as you head towards the mighty Skeena river, you'll pass through dramatic canyons and past great jumbles of rocks. The canoeing at Kleanza is recommended for experienced paddlers only. However, other nearby waterways (such as the Skeena itself) present opportunities for novice or intermediate paddlers.
Though the Skeena river and many of its tributaries were indefinitely closed to Salmon fishing in 2018, there are still plenty of angling opportunities at and near Kleanza Creek. Fishing for non-salmon species, such as trout, is still allowed within the park, and the tumbling waters of the Kleanza, which carve their way through dramatic, tree-clad canyons, offer a magnificent setting for casting. Those looking to lake-fish have the option of heading up the road towards Seven Sisters Provincial Park; there, they can find a trail leading to the gorgeous Watson Lake, which is stocked with rainbow trout.
Kleanza Creek Provincial Park sports just one .6 mile (1 km) hiking trail. But what this trail lacks in length it more than makes up for in scenic beauty - the route leads to a dramatic, sheer-sided box canyon along the creek, offering marvelous views. The park advises caution while using this trail, as there are some steep drop-offs and protective barriers are not present.
If you're looking for a longer trek, you can also head to one of the several trails at Seven Sisters Provincial Park. The park is located just about a half-hour's drive north of Kleanza, and many trailheads branch directly off of BC-16. Seven Sister's itself is a montane wonderland, filled with jagged, towering peaks surrounded by thick coniferous forests.
If you'd like to sharpen your photography skills and practice capturing water in motion, Kleanza Creek is the place for you. The park's multiple rapids, churns and falls all provide magnificent photographic opportunities; play with shutter speed and aperture to get the perfect blur on the creek's rushing water, or play with lighting and saturation settings to bring out the magnificent blue-green color of the water. A rugged, rocky and densely forested country provides a scenic background.
A host of creatures large and small make a home in the forests and mountains in and around Kleanza. Berry-covered bushes and salmon-filled streams provide ample food for bears, both grizzly and black. Moose, mule deer and wolves are also denizens of the local forests, as are smaller critters such as marten, fisher and the hardy rough-skinned newt (which has a range extending all the way to Alaska).
There's also a lovely wildlife viewing area located above Kleanza Canyon; from there, you can look out over the landscape in search of soaring birds or bears rummaging through the woods.
Though the 19th century gold rushes in California and Alaska are perhaps the most famous, British Columbia experienced its own set of fevered, gold-fueled mining scrambles, reaching its heyday between the 1850s and the 1890s. Towards the end of that period, Kleanza creek drew eager prospectors to its gold-laced waters. Kleanza itself means "gold" in the language of the native Gitxsan people. Today, visitors can see the remnants of that frenetic time in the form of mining ruins, left by the Cassiar Hydraulic Mining Company.