Swan Lake Provincial Park, located in the hamlet of Tomslake, is a small and scenic park that sits beside two bodies of water, the Tupper River and Swan Lake. The park rests close to the British Columbia and Alberta Province lines in extreme east-central British Columbia. RVers who are looking for a place to stay on their way to or from the Alaska Highway should consider Swan Lake Provincial Park as a safe and comfortable stop along their journey. Swan Lake Provincial Park is 21 miles (35 km) south of the town of Dawson Creek, BC, the official starting point of the Alaska Highway.
The Swan Lake Campground is a dry-camping facility surrounded by impressive scenery and an abundance of wildlife. The campground, which is part of the Canadian wilderness, is known for its animal sightings. Black bears frequent the area, and it isn’t uncommon for campers to see moose or deer passing through the campground as well. Staying in the wilderness is exciting and scenic, but because of the location, campers should come prepared to camp near bears and understand the rules and precautions of staying near wildlife.
Swan Lake Provincial Park is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as fishing, paddling, and hiking, so RV campers staying here have the best of both worlds: recreation and a beautiful campsite.
Swan Lake Provincial Park is located 3.4 miles (5.5 km) south of Tomslake, British Columbia. It is 272 miles (438 km) northeast of Prince George, and 21 miles (35 km) south of Dawson Creek, British Columbia. Drivers coming from Edmonton, Alberta have a 331 miles (533 km) drive northwest of the city. Many of the routes require drivers to cross mountain passes, so RVers should be aware of switchbacks and steeply-graded descents.
The campground is in the same loop as the park operator’s office. The entrance is the first driveway coming from Tomslake. British Columbia’s provincial parks do not assess daily parking fees, but there may be fees for dump stations, boat launches, and other areas of interest within the park that are additional costs on top of the overnight camping fee. Guests arriving early or late to the park should be aware that the entrance gate is locked nightly from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am. All of the park’s gates are closed during the off-season.
The Swan Lake Campground is a pet-friendly, lakefront campground with many sites that overlook the water. The sites, constructed on gravel surfaces, vary in size with many of the spaces accommodating RVs and trailers between 18 feet and 32 feet in length. The campground doesn’t provide electrical hookups, but every site has a fire pit and a picnic table. All campers staying overnight have access to pit toilets, water taps, a playground, a horseshoe pit, and a ball court. Swan Lake Provincial Park doesn’t have a dump station, so campers should prepare to locate a dump station at one of the nearby facilities. 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.
If you plan your camping trips with the intent to find places to canoe or kayak, then you will already know that Swan Lake is a beautiful lake with plenty of surface area to explore in your kayak or canoe. There aren’t rental opportunities in the park, so it’s best to bring your boat with you as well as bring your personal flotation device and other water-safety equipment. Because the lake also permits motorboats, paddlers should be aware of the faster moving boats at all times. Launch your kayak or canoe from the boat launch area, located near the day-use portion of the park.
The day-use area, as well as the facilities located inside of the campground, help to create a comfortable environment for park guests who like to spend their time outside. The day-use area is located near a parking lot, playing fields, restrooms, a reservable picnic shelter, a first-come, first-served picnic area, drinking water, and a swimming beach. The campground has horseshoe pits, a volleyball pit, and a playground. There is a footpath that leads from the campground to the day-use area, so it is easy to move from one area of the park to another. For information about shelter reservations, visit the same website where you reserve your camping space.
The hiking trails at Swan Lake Provincial Park are generally short and rated as easy hikes for most people. One path leads from the camping area to the day-use area, and another trail runs from the campground to the park’s operator’s facility. There is also another small trail that leads from the campground near the shores of Swan Lake. If you prefer waterfront hiking, take off your boots, and stroll along the beach area by the picnic shelter and the swimming beach. Hikers who want more difficult hikes will have to look outside of the park’s boundaries to find the challenging hikes they desire.
The fishing at Swan Lake Provincial Park is best for people who prefer freshwater lake fishing. There is a boat ramp and as well as plenty of trailer parking near the day-use area. If you are staying in the campground, it’s only possible to walk across the Tupper River using the bridge. All vehicles have to take the longer route back through the campground to get to the fishing location. The lake’s most common fish species are walleye, northern pike, yellow perch and burbot. Anglers may fish year-round if the conditions permit. Before heading to the water, ensure you have the proper British Columbia freshwater fishing license.
If you are a seasoned or novice birdwatcher, the landscape surrounding the lake and the river is a perfect place to sit and look for birds. Bring your binoculars, your camera, and your bird guide and search for the birds most commonly spotted at Swan Lake. Birds like sandpipers, loons, warblers, swallows, red-necked grebes, western grebe, trumpeter swans, and American widgeon are just some of the bird species that frequent the area. Before you head out on your search, ask a member of the park staff where to find the park’s the best bird-watching location for the time of year you are visiting.
If you like to wander the park and weave in and out of the park’s populated areas to spend time alone, then you will enjoy riding your bike on the park’s paved roads. Although the park doesn’t have designated mountain bike trails, there are plenty of roads where you can ride your bike. All bikes must share the roadway with motorized vehicles, so it’s best to ride during the morning and evening when there is less traffic. Before you plan on bringing your bike, make sure you have a helmet. All cyclists must wear a helmet in British Columbia. Some of the prettiest times of the year to ride are during the shoulder seasons when the trees are transitioning from one season to another.