Sitting on the forested shore of Babine Lake, Red Bluff is a quiet, off-the-beaten-path park offering fantastic fishing, paddling, and wildlife viewing. The park is also notable for its namesake feature: a dramatic set of cliffs that rise imposingly from the glassy surface of Babine Lake. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle out on a day trip and take in a magnificent view of this impressive bluff, or they can set out on a multi-day adventure along the shores of British Columbia's longest freshwater lake.
Those who do head out onto the water will want to bring rods and reels; rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and kokanee are large and plentiful. If you'd rather stay on terra firma, there's still plenty to do. Grab a pair of binoculars and watch for some of the diverse birds which frequent the lake and its surrounds. As you look, you may well spot a black bear or a moose - both are quite common around the park. If you're looking for a relaxing walk through the woods, the gorgeous Red Bluff Trail, which meanders for 3 km (1.9 miles) underneath the boughs of towering trees and offers great views to both the east and west, should be just the ticket.
Red Bluff's beautiful Sylvan Campground offers both quietude and easy beach access. The grounds are open from mid-May through mid-September and feature 34 RV/trailer suitable sites, 27 of which can be reserved.
Red Bluff is located in north central British Columbia, about 27 miles off of BC-16. The nearest large town is Topley, and it is in Topley where visitors can turn off of BC-16 and onto Topley Landing Road, which takes visitors directly to the park. While Topley Landing Road certainly crosses some very remote country, it is paved and well maintained; the road has no sharp curves or steep sections, so even those driving large rigs need not worry.
The very small town of Granisle is located just 3 miles (5 km) to the north of the park, and it offers a few amenities, including a general store and a pharmacy.
Sites at Red Bluff's campground are all back-in, but they are capacious and well-spaced, so maneuvering into your spot shouldn't be much of a hassle. Most sites are located on a forested loop to the south of the day-use area, while a handful are located right at the beach. Regardless of where you camp, you'll be just a short walk from the beach, boat launch and Red Bluff trailhead. The park is quite small, and it's easy to get around.
Red Bluff's lakeside campground features 34 trailer/RV suitable sites (which can accommodate rigs up to 32 feet in length). Nine of these are spread along a small spur right across from the beach and day use area. These are partially-shaded to non-shaded, and while they don't offer much privacy, they do offer a great view of the beach (and easy access - take three steps and you're there). The rest of the sites are situated along a forested loop to the south of the day use area. All of these sites are also just a stone's throw from the lake, though some don't have views.
The campground is primitive, offering no water, electric or sewage hookups. There are no dumping stations either - you'll have to head to Granisle or Topley for that. The campground does have one potable water spigot and several pit toilets.
Open from mid-May through mid-September, Red Bluff's campground accepts reservations at 27 out of its 34 sites. The rest are first-come first-served.
Babine Lake is the longest freshwater lake in the province; it's long, sinuous shoreline and its numerous islands offer nearly endless opportunities for exploration. Of course, you need not go far to take in dramatic views. Paddle alongside the ruddy stone cliffs that rise precipitously from the lake (the park is not called Red Bluff for nothing). Whether you're going for a short paddle or a multi-day trek, you'll be sure to see something new.
The park has a conveniently-located, medium grade boat launch for visitors to use.
Red Bluff sports a lovely stretch of fine, sandy beach, and the cool water of Babine Lake lends itself to summer swimming. The pure, northerly waters are crystal-clear, and you may even see some salmon or trout swimming by when you go for a dip. The wind-protected beach is also a great place to sunbathe (yes, you can work on your tan even at this high latitude).
Remember, there are no life guards on duty at Red Bluff, so make sure children are supervised at all times.
The Red Bluff Trail, a mellow, 1.9-mile (3 km) loop, offers visitors the chance to stretch their legs and take in the scenery from a new vantage point. The trail meanders along the top of the park's namesake bluff, offering some sweeping views of Babine Lake. A highpoint on the western side of the trail grants a marvelous view of the imposing Babine Mountains, some ten miles to the west. A stroll along the trail is also a great way to see some of Red Bluff's wildlife.
Whether you're casting from the forested shore or heading out onto the lake by boat, Red Bluff offers fantastic angling opportunities and spectacular views to boot. Kokanee, cutthroat trout, char and rainbow trout can all be pulled from the cool, clear waters of Babine. A certain sub-population of rainbow trout within the lake feeds on the numerous salmon fry that also inhabit the waters; as a consequence, these rainbow trout are some of the largest that can be found anywhere in Canada. Local biologists advocate catch-and-release for these beautiful behemoths, as their population is threatened.
Whatever you're casting for, make sure you have a proper BC fishing license.
Boating, hiking, or even just hanging out underneath the campground's towering conifers, you're almost sure to see some of northern British Columbia's rich wildlife. Two of the most common and iconic local inhabitants are black bear and moose; you might catch the former fishing for salmon, or the latter lapping up water at the shore of Babine Lake. A host of birds, including buffleheads, northern pintails, Sora rail, goldeneyes, and common mergansers, use the waters of the lake and the surrounding wetlands as their summer breeding grounds.
Far in the distance, hills, and then snow-capped mountains break a level horizon. A sheet of glassy blue water stretches far in every direction, reflecting puffy summer clouds and the deep green trees that line the shores. A sharply-colored blue-winged teal makes an aquatic landing in the lake. Red Bluff, naturally, is a photographer's paradise. Dramatic scenery and ubiquitous wildlife allow photographers to capture stunning shots. For even more shooting opportunities, head to the ruggedly beautiful Babine Mountains Provincial Park, which sits just a short drive to the west.