Located in central British Columbia, Bowron Lake Provincial Park is a spectacular slice of wilderness located near the town of Quesnel. Encompassing 149,207 hectares, Bowron Lake Provincial Park was established in 1961 and was named for John Bowron, the first Gold Commissioner of the nearby Gold Rush town of Barkerville. Although first set aside in the early 1900s as a hunting reserve, the region was made a wildlife sanctuary in 1925. Today, the Park is a popular locale frequented by locals, visitors from across Canada, the United States and even Europe.
Renowned for its world class 116 kilometer canoeing (or kayaking) circuit, the Bowron Lake circuit takes visitors on a ten lake journey which encompasses several portages, hikes and waterways which can take anywhere from six to ten days (or even longer depending on the paddler). Each year, potential paddlers sign up for a departure date and time starting January 2nd as spaces are limited. Canoes and other equipment can be rented at outfitters nearby as well as carts which help roll watercraft across portages. Clearly marked wood piles, bear caches, outhouses, fishing (with a permit), campsites and old trapper cabins provide a relaxing and enjoyable experience for Park visitors. Small hikes can also found along the paddling route, the most popular of which is the trail which leads to Cariboo Falls at the end of Unna Lake. The absence of motorboats makes the experience ever more charming as the quiet atmosphere offers the chance for visitors to see a wide range of wildlife including bears, moose, beavers and many species of birds.
You can read more about our own experiences on the Bowron Lakes circuit when we paddled through the Park in September 2008 (link). Be sure to use the resources available on the BC Parks Bowron Lake website which includes reservation information, suggestions on what to pack, limitations and points of interest along the route. It is also advisable to purchase a full sized map of the circuit which will offer a detailed view of your journey as well as these two books: Outdoor Guide: Bowron Lakes (link) and The Bowron Lakes: A Guide to Paddling British Columbia's Wilderness Canoe Circuit (link) as they offer good advice, brief historic notes and practical information on what to pack, what to expect and how to handle trickier sections of the journey.
Bowron Lake (the last lake on the circuit) is also a popular day trip destination which allows power boating and also offers a wide range of activities including camping, hiking, swimming and fishing. Be sure to experience this natural destination in central British Columbia and enjoy the outdoors as it is intended.
Use the interactive map below to locate and explore the areas around Bowron Lake Provincial Park | British ColumbiaFrom Highway 97 at Quesnel, go east onto Barkerville Highway (#26) and follow the signage to Bowron Lake Provincial Park.
Click the brown GEMS on the map to navigate to the other activities within this region