If you happen to be in central B.C, Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park is a wonderful spot to camp for a couple of days, with lots of natural scenery and a refreshing experience that will definitely brighten up your week! And if you're not in the area, this park may be worth the trip.
The is one of the largest parks in the of province of British Colombia. In the past, it was part of the 981,000 hectares Tweedsmuir Provincial Park before it got separated into North and South parts; the northern part being turned into Tweedsmuir North Provincial Park and Protected Area.
The Tweedsmuir South park is roughly triangular in shape. It is in the west-central region of the province, and is approximately 480 km (299 miles) northwest of Vancouver. The nearest city is Prince George. From the North and Northwest, the Ootsa-Whitesail Lakes Reservoir lines the park while Coast Mountains surround it from the west and Southwest and Interior Plateau lies to its east.
The park has some spectacular scenery which attracts several hundreds of visitors each year. The park houses Lonesome Lake which witnessed the efforts of Ralph Edwards, who made attempts to rescue the habitat of the migrating Trumpeter Swans which can be now seen flourishing at the Lake and are a popular attraction for bird watchers and environmental activists.
But perhaps the park's most spectacular wildlife is the resident population of grizzly bears. These massive mammals are often encountered in the park, so be careful on the trails.
The southern portion of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is located on Highway 20, approximately 400 kilometres west of Williams Lake, midway between Anahim Lake and Bella Coola. The highway from Williams Lake consists of both gravel and paved sections and is well maintained; travel time is between 4 1/2 and 6 hours depending on your destination within the park and road conditions. Be warned that the Hill, as the locals call it, that leads down into the valley from the plateau above is a steep and winding road with grades up to 18%. Take it slow and park to rest your brakes on the way down.
The park can also be reached by way of the Discovery Coast passage ferry from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, or by float plane from Nimpo Lake, Anahim Lake or Bella Coola, or by hiking in the backcountry.
This park has 24 vehicle accessible campsites and 2 tenting campsites.
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park has two vehicle-access campgrounds, located on Highway 20; the Atnarko campground and the Fisheries Pool campground.
You can get parking for extra vehicles at the Atnarko site, however, easy mobility becomes an issue when all sites are full. The gates are closed during winter season.
The Atnarko campground has 15 campsites found amidst an ancient forest at the bottom of the hill on the Atnarko River.
The Fisheries Pool campground is located near an old fish hatchery which is a perfect camping location for anglers. There are no extra parking sites available.
During reservation, you'll be asked whether your RV/Trailer is less than or more than 32 feet.Although larger rigs can be accommodated, it's best to call ahead to make sure.
The park also has walk in, more primitive camping grounds.
The park is home to the tallest waterfall in Canada. This waterfall lies in the Pacific ranges of the coast mountains in British Columbia which lines the park from the west and southwest. When measured as a continuous unbroken drop, it counts as the tallest waterfall in Canada. British Columbia Parks report a measurement of 260 m (853 ft). Although there are higher waterfalls on Vancouver Island, they are cascading, unlike the straight drop of Hunlen Falls.
Hunlen Falls originates from the northern end of the Turner lake through the Hunlen Creek and eventually drops into the Atnarko River which is a tributary of the Bella Coola River.
The river gained its name in 1947 in the honor of a chief named Hana Lin who was accustomed to fishing below the fall during Autumn. Before that, in the 1930s, the Fall was sometimes called the "Mystery Fall" or the "Bella Coola Fall."
There is a hiking trail to the Hunlen falls which is paved and maintained by the park officers as well as volunteers.
You can sign up for a 3-5 days canoe trip across the Turner Lake Canoe Circuit, witnessing spectacular mountain scenery and experiencing an adrenaline packed adventure, canoeing across the water. You can start from the Nimpo lake or by hiking along the Hunlen Fall trail. You can find a nearby campsite as well as canoe rentals at Lake Turner. The chain has approximately 18 km/11 miles of lakes and about 2.5 km/1.5 miles of rivers.
Hiking in the park is an unforgettable experience due to the breath taking scenery surrounding the trails. Hikers are urged to carry bear sprays at all times with them.
There are many trails that lead to some of Tweedsmuir’s most notable features, including the Hunlen Falls and the Rainbow Ranges. The trails are well marked for ease of navigation and offer moderate levels of challenge and elevation.
Here are some trails at the park.
From the Rainbow Range Trailhead:
Rainbow Trail- Its length is 7 km/4.3 miles and takes about 2-3 hours to hike. This trail is the shortest route to the alpine.
Octopus Trail - Its length is 14 km/8.7 miles and it takes about 5-6 hours to hike. It has minimal elevation variation.
The trail leads to campsite by the lake and crosses with Tweedsmuir Trail. The trail also cuts two branches of Young Creek, adding a moderate difficulty during the creek run off in spring. which can be moderately difficult during spring runoff
There are also Capoose trail and Crystal Lake trail. You should contact the park office or tour guides for more details about the different hiking trails to decide on which journey you should embark on.
Due to the abundant water ways in the park and the diverse fish species, angling is one of the most popular activities in the park. Visitors of the park can fish in the Bella Coola and Atnarko Rivers for white fish, Pink, Coho salmon, Chinook, as well as char and trout. Fly fish can be found in the Dean River, while you can fish for Dolly Varden in the lakes inside the park.
Get your heart pounding during the months of September and October with Grizzly bear encounters! These months are the peak bear viewing season, thanks to the annual salmon run that fills the rivers with fish. If you are willing to have patience and follow the lead of your guide into the deep pine forests, your patience will be rewarded with an unforgettable and captivating experience as you spot grizzly bears out in the open. Seeing the majestic creatures before your eyes is such a mesmerizing and unique experience
During May through to October, when the river is thriving with salmon fish, grizzly bears get attracted to the abundance of fish near the rivers and lakes, therefore, visitors are to take caution during canoeing, fishing or hiking near water ways. Always carry your bear spray on you at all times, and know how to use it.
You can also head to the Belarko bear viewing platform which operates from September 1st to September 30.
If you are in the park, a popular attraction that you can head to is the Rainbow Range, previously known as the Rainbow Mountains. It is a mountain range in the province of British Columbia which is about 40 km (25 miles) to the northwest of Anahim Lake.
The range joins with the Coast Mountains Pacific Ranges in the south and with the Kitimat Ranges in the North. The Rainbow Range is approximately eight million years old, made up of gigantic peralkaline volcanic shield that lies in the Anaheim volcanic belt. Archaeologists and geology enthusiasts enjoy getting a glimpse of history at the Rainbow range.
The Rainbow mountain range has its name because of the varied colors of the volcanic shield that formed as a result of the volcanic lava that was mineralized and eroded over the years, changing colors across the decades, generating a multitude of colors like a rainbow.