Paarens Beach Provincial Park is a 123-acre park located in-between Sowchea Bay Provincial Park and Fort St. James in the northern region of British Columbia, Canada. Set on the scenic south-western shores of Stuart Lake, one of the largest natural lakes in the province, this uncrowded campground offers an 800-meter stretch of beach and opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and boating.
With summer temperatures soaring up to 72⁰ F (22⁰ C), the lake is a popular spot to spend sunny days, swimming, sunbathing and hanging out at the beach. With a boat launch area on Stuart Lake, you can launch your own watercraft and enjoy water skiing and tubing on this exceptional 43-mile (70 km) lake. Canoeing and windsurfing are also popular here when conditions are favorable.
The campground is RV-friendly with campsites for big rigs and trailers with both waterfront campsites and more secluded sites set back behind the day-use area. Ideal for the whole family, the campground offers a children’s playground and picnic areas and a shelter with lake views. Nature lovers can watch out for all sorts of wildlife in the park, such as beavers, otters, moose, white-tail deer and even grizzly and black bears.
Paarens Beach Provincial Park is the ideal base from which to explore the fascinating history of nearby Fort St. James. Winter temperatures drop below freezing so the campground is closed in the off season.
Paarens Beach Provincial Park can be found under two hours from Prince George in the northern region of British Columbia, Canada. The entrance to the park is located on Sowchea Road, off Highway 27.
The main road leading to the park is paved. Inside the park, drive slowly as deer, moose and other wildlife call the park home. Once you’ve set up your RV camp, you can get around by hiking or biking the nearby trails or launching your boat and exploring Stuart Lake from the water.
Parking is available at three different areas of the day-use area. If you are staying overnight, you can also park in the campground.
Paarens Beach Provincial Park has a family-friendly campground with 36 campsites for tents, RVs and trailers up to 32 feet. Larger sites may be available so call ahead to check. There are limited campsites located along the waterfront of Stuart Lake with the majority set further back behind the day-use area. Please note that only selected campsites can be reserved in advance; the rest are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The campsites are basic but well-maintained with no hookups for RVs (no electricity, water or sewerage connection). Each campsite has a picnic table and fire pit and there are water spigots throughout the park for filling water tanks in the summer months (taps are shut off in the off season). There is no dump station, but one can be found nearby in Fort St. James, and there is no Wi-Fi and limited cell phone reception.
Facilities include a day-use area with a sandy beach, picnic areas, and a concrete boat launch area. Across the road from the beach, a grass field offers horseshoe pitches, volleyball nets and a children’s playground.
The campground at Paarens Beach Provincial Park is pet-friendly but you will need to keep them under control at all times. Generator use is restricted.
While Paarens Beach Provincial Park is popular with boating in the summer months, it’s also a great spot for canoeing and kayaking in the off season. The park is a lot quieter at this time of the year when the campground is closed and offers better bird and wildlife watching opportunities – keep your eyes peeled for deer, beavers and otters! Boaters are advised to check the weather forecast before canoeing on Stuart Lake as sudden heavy winds can turn the lake into dangerous whitecaps.
Cyclers and mountain bikers will enjoy exploring the surrounding trails. While Paarens Beach Provincial Park doesn’t have its own mountain biking trails, the nearby Fort St. James area has plenty, such as the Teardrop and Whitefish Bay circuits which can be explored in the off season even when the campground is closed. For bikers up for a challenge, the Nautley/Sowchea Pack Trail is a 28-mile (45 km) route between Fraser Lake and Stuart Lake.
Paarens Beach Provincial Park is a fantastic spot for hiking enthusiasts all year round. Hike the trail to the top of Mount Pope in Mount Pope Provincial Park located across the lake. The earlier part of this four-mile (6 km) hike is the steepest, climbing 300 meters in elevation while the rest maintains a 13 percent gradient up to a total of 791 meters of elevation. Hikers should allow approximately four to six hours for the return hike. Another good hike is the Tulle Lake trail network which offers nine miles (15 km) of interconnecting trails to three lakes. The Nautley/Sowchea Pack Trail is a 28-mile (45 km) hike that trails between Fraser Lake and Stuart Lake.
Boating is one of the most popular activities in Paarens Beach Provincial Park. A concrete boat launch can be found at the southern end of the park, so you can launch your own watercraft here to enjoy tubing and water skiing on Stuart Lake. Boaters are advised to keep an eye on the weather as sudden heavy winds are common and can create dangerous conditions on the lake. Windsurfing is also popular when conditions are favorable.
Stuart Lake is the ideal spot for swimming in the summer months. Set along a stunning 800 meter stretch of sandy beach, there is a special designated swimming area for children where the conditions are safest. You can also pack a picnic and enjoy sunbathing on the beach. Please note that as there are no lifeguards on duty at Stuart Lake in Paarens Beach Provincial Park, swimming here is at your own risk.
Forming part of the Fraser River watershed in British Columbia, the Stuart-Takla chain of lakes (Stuart Lake, Trembleur Lake and Takla Lake) are famous for their fishing opportunities. Anglers will be in their element at Paarens Beach Provincial Park as a variety of fish, from rainbow trout and lake char, to dolly varden, ling cod and kokanee can be found within Stuart Lake. Please note that you will require a British Columbia fishing licence to fish here and British Columbia fishing regulations and catch quotas apply.