Friday, November 28, 2008

RV camping at the Champion Lakes Provincial Park in the Kootenays, British Columbia, Canada

Our RV visit to the Champion Lakes, near Fruitvale, British Columbia, Canada was on a beautiful sunny day in the Fall when it was practically deserted except for some park workers and canoe paddlers. This provincial park has much to offer and even in summer months with more visitors, I expect it would always offer a very relaxing visit.

A quiet canoe trip

The Champion Lakes is a series of three lakes, which have been stocked with rainbow trout since the 1930’s and makes for great fishing in all of them. Canoes and kayaks are welcome but not power boats.

Calm waters on largest of the Champion lakes

The development is around the third lake with a regular shoreline and deep clear water, great for family swimming and water sports and there is also a playground for the younger RV’ers visiting here. The other two lakes are a more natural state but do have boat launch access.

There are hiking trails that cover 6.5 km (4 mi) in the park and offer hours of exploring and seeing some of the wildlife and birdlife that live in the area. Spring and Fall is the busy season for migrating waterfowl to stop for a rest on the lakes.

The Champion Lakes Provincial Park is 19 km (12 mi) from Fruitvale, BC, Canada between the Columbia River and Beaver Creek in the Bonnington Range of the Selkirk Mountains. It is 10 km off Hwy 3B, north of Salmo, British Columbia.

The park is open with the amenities available June 1 to September 15 with 95 campsites. It is open to the public all year round but there is no snow removal in the wintertime.

Visit the BC parks information page to see all the activities and amenities available at
http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/champion_lk/

Yellow Water Lily

The park covers 1,426 hectares and has an unusual diversity of vegetation, which includes a forest of cedar/hemlock to alpine spruce. The water lilies were there but not in bloom. The lakes are 1000 m (1,093.6 yds) above sea level in a moist interior biogeoclimatic zone.

The Yellow Water Lily is an aquatic perennial that grows up to 5 metres (6’3”) on thick stems that support the floating leaves and flowers. They are found in shallow lakes and ponds and are widespread throughout B.C. They were once used for traditional medicinal purposes and the seeds of the Yellow Water Lilies are edible.

This beautiful area is a wonderful place to spend some time relaxing. With all that is in the area, it is a great place to make home base then make day trips to the other incredible places to visit in the Kootenays. There are several spectacular places to visit on day trips from here.

If you love RV'ing like we love it, then plan a trip over to Crawford Bay to see another part of the Kootenay's. http://we-love-rv-ing.blogspot.com/2008/09/rving-in-crawford-bay-bc.html

Monday, November 24, 2008

Visit Nelson, BC while RV'ing in the West Kootenays

While RV’ing in the West Kootenays, you must spend some time in Nelson, BC. It is one of the prettiest towns to visit. It is incredibly picturesque with surrounding mountains and a lake right downtown to enjoy. Nelson, BC, with a population of 9258, is rich with history and has over 350 Victorian style buildings. There are so many things about Nelson to enjoy that it can’t be done in just one day so allow yourself enough time to see and feel it all.


Nelson Bridge from Lakeside Park

The bridge was a welcome addition after using a cable ferry to cross over Kootenay Lake in Nelson. The bridge opened in 1957 as a toll bridge and the toll was removed Mar.31, 1963.

Nelson is an all-season kind of town, so no matter what time of year you’re visiting, there are numerous sports to participate in if you’re not here only for the ambiance of the town.

Summertime has the lake and all that a lake could offer, including clear water for divers to explore the largest concentration of wrecks in western North America.

Wintertime is great for sports, too. Whitewater Winter resort is close by for skiing and snowboarding. And if you’re more interested in other winter sports, it isn’t far to go to cross country skiing and snowmobiling trails in the area, and enjoy the magnificent winter scenery while you play.

Nelson Courthouse & the Houston Memorial

F.M. Battenbury designed the Nelson Court House, built in 1909. He was the architect famous for designing the BC Legislative Buildings and the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Also shown in this photo is the Houston Memorial (1926) named after Nelson’s first mayor. This corner also houses Nelson City Hall and the restored Hume Hotel. And spend some time in the Museum to learn about the history of the area.

One just need take a walking tour to be able to see a lot of their beautiful buildings, and they have a list for you to see, as well as a driving tour. Check out the buildings on this tour at http://kootenay-lake.ca/lakeside/Nelson/heritage/.

Wandering downtown on Baker St. allows you to visit several interesting boutiques and galleries as well as many choices for restaurants. Summertime means many patios are open for dining outside and enjoying the sights while you eat. The summer months are full of entertainment for all to enjoy, including Artwalk, Streetfest throughout the summer and the Road Kings Classic Car Show in September with hot rods from all over participating.

Nelson, BC was rated “Number One Small Town Arts Community in Canada” and proves themselves to deserve that award. Nelson hosts several arts related festival and events and many local artists receive international fame.

Trolley #23

#23 was part of the smallest electric streetcar system in the British Empire which operated from 1899 to 1949 then was replaced by diesel buses. In 1988 the Nelson Electric Tramway Society was formed and old #23 was refurbished to operate on the 1.2 km track built especially for it from Lakeside Park entrance to the city wharf area. The award winning tram is like a ride back in time as it ambles along the scenic waterfront drive during the summer months. There are several pick up places and the cost is $2.00. Enjoy the experience.
Sunset on the lake

At the end of this day we were able to enjoy this beautiful sunset from the city wharf which is only a short walk from anywhere downtown as well as from the city RV park. The RV park has limited space and may be difficult for the larger RV's travelling the roads these days. It was developed when most were using small vehicles and tents.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Duffey Lake and the Cayoosh Creek Canyon

Our drive was on a day that clouds had moved in after the sun had been shining earlier but as we left Seton Lake to drive to Duffey Lake, we saw this magnificent view of the first snowfall of the season up on the mountain tops ahead.


                                                The first snowcaps of the season

One needs to drive with care due to some rough spots on this stretch of road, especially if youre driving the RV but with the proposed road improvements coming, this route will be even better for the RV travellers as well as everyone else. It won’t change the camping facilities but will make the drive much easier. The views are so beautiful that you’ll want it to be a slow drive to get the full benefits.

First glimpse of Duffey Lake

Duffey Lake in the Cayoosh Creek Valley sits beside Hwy. 99 and is about 50 km (30 mi) from Lillooet, BC. This route was used historically for First Nations to travel into other parts of the province. Our visit this day followed the first overnite snowfall of the season on the mountain tops. Although we had no snow at our level, we had very low cloud coverage at times so that prevented us from seeing most of the mountain views, but what views we did have were great.


                                      Snowcaps a vision at the end of Duffey Lake


The sun was shining on the snow-capped mountains at the far end of the lake and made it look like a special effect on this already beautiful scene.
Duffey Lake Provincial Park is centered around Duffey Lake. It covers 2007 Hectares, (4,960 A.) and offers many opportunities to hike, climb, rockhound and just enjoy the pristine views. Duffey Lake Campground, alongside Hwy 99 has facilities limited to picnic tables, but offers the opportunity to canoe, kayak or fish for the rainbow trout stocked in the lake.


                                           Coyoosh Creek leading us back to Lillooet


As we made our way back to Lillooet at the end of the day, the view of Cayoosh Creek in the valley below us shows the beautiful fall colors. With the high mountains surrounding every turn, it was too late in the day to get the benefit of the sunshine down there but the view was reminding us of the shorter fall days and the season changes coming.

Cayoosh Creek from Seton Lake to Lillooet, B.C.

We’ve been RV’ing in the Lillooet, B.C. area for several days now and have seen some incredible scenery. Lillooet, pop. approx 2500, has all the necessary shopping facilities, restaurants and more, so it makes a great place to park the RV in one of the local RV parks, especially if you have a larger one. Lillooet, BC is the hub of Hwy’s 99,#40 and #12 so a perfect location to start your day from.

Beautiful fall colors on Cayoosh Creek

Following Hwy 99 southwest from Lillooet, the road follows alongside Cayoosh Creek and offers some beautiful fall colors to enjoy along the banks of the creek in October.

Lillooet has been our home base and we’ve taken day trips to see the rest. There is so much to enjoy in this part of the Circle Tour – Lower Mainland and one has to be here to appreciate how beautiful it really is. Summer might offer the best weather but shoulder seasons could be wonderful, too. Our timing was chosen due to work but the fall is such an exciting time to get nature’s changing colors and so I was excited about the possibilities.

Gyro Park on Cayoosh Creek

Gyro Park is beside the road with lots of room to park your RV while you enjoy listening to the babble of the creek and admire the scenery. This one does not have camping facilities but we’ve seen several campgrounds on our daytrips, many of them look more appropriate for camping with smaller vehicles or tents. Most of them are government campgrounds and so you can check with their online information for availability if you’re planning on using them. A very nice one is only 6 km (3.5 mi) out of Lillooet at the Seton Lake Reservoir Recreational area. There are 45 campsites, many under the trees to offer shade and cool in the summer months.

Seton Lake

The first time I saw Seton Lake with it’s turquoise water and majestic surroundings, it reminded me of Lake Louise, Alta., which I’d first seen many years ago and have never forgotten. No matter what season it is, it is a beautiful sight, although the color varies with the season and the light.

Seton Lake is 243.8 M.(800 ft) above sea level and is 27 km (17 mi) long. The area has 3 private campgrounds and a free 60 site campground. During the summer months, the sandy beaches offer great access to swimming, canoeing, kayaking or water-skiing. Sailboats might especially enjoy the lake with the wind that often comes up. Fishing offers rainbow trout and mountain whitefish.

The train's scenic drive along Seton Lake

Seton Lake was once a major transportation route by boat for all local people from one end to the other. This changed once the railroad was chiselled out of the banks along the lakeside. I couldn’t help but notice the serene lake as the train took the scenic trip on its way to deliver the goods it carried. It is amazing to think of the changes that took place in a relatively short span of time in our history.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bridge River Valley, Lillooet, B.C.

Baldheaded eagle at Bridge River's mouth

We left the RV in Cayoosh RV park and headed out to enjoy the scenery up the Bridge River Valley. Bridge River Road (#40) winds north along the west side of the Fraser River. Just before we crossed the Bridge River bridge, 6 km (3.5 miles), from Lillooet, we stopped on the side of the road to see the bald headed eagle as it watched for fish coming from the Bridge River into the Fraser River. He sat there for a very long time. We didn’t get to see him catch any fish, but I have no doubt that his patience would pay off.

Bridge River north of Lillooet, B.C.

The Bridge River Valley is spectacular. There were very few deciduous trees so I wasn’t seeing many fall colors other than some areas close to the river, and we were high above that river, but it was still an incredible sight as we climbed the hill. There were many years of mining but there was also the Bridge River Hydroelectric Development. It was once the largest power project in B.C. From its completion until WAC Bennett Dam on the Peace River was developed, ( http://we-love-rv-ing.blogspot.com/2008/06/wacbennett-peace-canyon-dams-and.html), the Bridge River Power Development provided the bulk of the power supply for the Lower Mainland and even down the Puget Sound.

Windy #40 road hugs mountainside

For the more adventurous RV’ers, I would suggest Hwy 40 (considered a secondary road) from Lillooet, BC into Gold Bridge, BC, 47 km (29 mi) is a great trip. I’ve only travelled partway up this road, and that was without the RV but K has had to pull the 5th wheel into Gold Bridge for work and I can only say I am glad I was not there for that trip. The part of the route that I did see was absolutely beautiful, but the roads……… there were parts that were very windy and narrow. There are wide spots to pull over and let someone go by but it reminded me of when I was a young girl (very young) when we travelled to Vancouver, BC through the Fraser Canyon during road construction and we would have to pull over on a wide spot to let oncoming traffic pass by. It is the same on Hwy 40 in some spots, you must drive with care and watch for oncoming traffic. Logging trucks use this road as well, caution is needed.

Horseshoe Canyon

Many years ago during the gold rush days, there were some hydraulic mining operations done in this area and Horseshoe Canyon is one of those, it may have been the largest operation of that time. We parked in a pullout on the southern edge to get a good view and it is quite amazing to see. This was also referred to as Horseshoe Wash in days gone by. The picture shows an RV down by the river and I wonder……..are they panning for gold?



Bridge River in the shadows of the great mountains

This drive along Hwy 40 made me think back in time. There are some homes through the valley but there are also some old homesteads that had been abandoned a long time ago. The history of this valley is very rich and there had been some thriving communities during the mining days of Bralorne and Pioneer. Those gold mines closed down in the early ‘70’s and now logging is the main industry. I didn’t get up to see that part of this incredible valley yet but I hope to do that some day. There are some great pages on the web that will tell you all about this valley’s history, and some beautiful pictures, as well. e.g. www.bcadventure.com/murphys/gold/river.htm

Monday, November 10, 2008

RV'ing in Lillooet, B.C. in Fall

For the Rv’ers who wish to see more of the beautiful British Columbia mountain scenery, they should take Hwy. 99, which leaves Hwy. 1 just north of Cache Creek and drive 73 km (40 mi) from the Hat Creek Ranch into Lillooet, B.C. It is becoming an easier drive with the new road improvements being made and the beauty of the area is so well worth the drive.

The CN bridge over the Fraser River at Lillooet, B.C.

Lillooet, B.C., Canada was originally known as Cayoosh Flat, named after the cayuses, which are Indian ponies. It was renamed in the 1860’s in honor of the Leelwat First Nations living in the area. Lillooet was founded as Mile 0. It was the start of the wagon trail leading into the Cariboo area during the goldrush days, and many areas are still called by their distance between Lillooet and their location, e.g. 100 Mile House, being one of the larger named for their distance from Mile 0.

A beautiful totem pole at the Lillooet Museum

Lillooet has a very interesting history and their museum is full of archives and stories that it is a must-see while in the area. One story that I found to be a great one was the arrival of camels in the area. During the goldrush days, one enterprising man of the area decided that he should use camels as pack animals so purchased 23 of them from San Francisco for $300 and had them shipped up to Lillooet. This turned out to be a bad idea, as their soft feet couldn’t take the terrain too well, but their foul breath and bad tempers made them too difficult to use. The herd soon diminished but they were honoured by the local townfolk many years later when the new bridge leading into Lillooet on Hwy 99 was named Bridge of 23 Camels.

The view across the Fraser River from the RV park

Cayoosh Campgound & RV park is located at the end of the Bridge of 23 Camels and where the Seton River flows into the Fraser River. It was a great place to stay for our visit there and that was during the cool October weather, but it looks like an even nicer place to visit during the summer months. It has many amenities for camping and RVing and nice pull thru’s for the larger RV's. There weren’t many RV’ers there in October but the park did remain open later in the season for the construction men who were working in the area. They’re normally open Apr. 1 to Oct. 30.

Rail shuttle service to Seton Portage awaits

Lillooet is located on CN Rail lines but regular service was discontinued a few years ago. The Rocky Mountaineer Train passes through Lillooet, and what a beautiful trip that would be. They do have a rail shuttle service operated by Tsal’alh Indian Band which links Lillooet with Tsal’alh and Seton Portage, a great alternative for taking the road, which can prove very difficult at times and possibly closed during winter snowfall.



Dusk in Lillooet, B.C., Canada

Lillooet has many things to offer those that wish to spend some time in the area. The jade is of great interest to the rockhounds. There is great fishing, rock climbing, hiking and so much more. Those interested in bird-watching will enjoy the local populations of their feathered friends. Their cultural tours are something else to check out. But if all you would want to do is enjoy the incredible scenery, there is lots of that, too.

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