Big Bar Lake Provincial Park comprises approximately 330 hectares of rolling landscape situated on the shore of a large lake, and scattered with small lakes and ponds. The park is couched in typical Cariboo ranching country on the southern edge of the Fraser Plateau. This extensive plateau stretches north beyond Lac La Hache, and was formed from lava flows some five to ten million years ago. The park was established in 1969, and is a very popular destination for family camping vacations. The park features 25 new lakeside campsites in addition to a large day-use area offering beachside picnic areas and a Big Toy for children. The construction project was funded by FRBC through the Campgrounds BC Initiative, and was completed in the summer of 1999.
The park’s setting is typical of the southern Cariboo. Set against a mountainousbackdrop, the lake is surrounded by lodgepole pine and spruce. Visitors ofBig Bar Lake Park often see wildlife on the 4 km hiking trail surrounding thescenic wetlands, and enjoy angling for rainbow trout in the 3-mile long lake.The area is an extremely popular fishing destination, and is also widely usedby other recreationists. Area attractions include several guest ranches, thetowering Marble Range south of the park, and Gang Ranch country. Visitors canalso travel along the Jesmond Loop, by continuing past Big Bar Lake ProvincialPark, and eventually connecting with Highway 97 by way of the Jesmond and KellyLake Roads. This scenic drive passes by Little Big Bar Lake and the historictownsite of Jesmond, where the OK Corral - one of the oldest ranches in thearea - is situated. The loop also accesses the Jesmond fire lookout by wayof a narrow four-wheel drive road, from which visitors can enjoy panoramicviews of the surrounding landscape, including Marble Range and Edge Hills ProvincialParks. Big Bar Lake Park and the surrounding country provide a beautiful settingfor a summer holiday.
Big Bar Lake Park is easily accessible, and provides a range of recreationalopportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the major recreational opportunitiesavailable in the park include day-use picnicking, lakeside camping, boating,canoeing and kayaking, swimming, wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing.Abundant rainbow trout typically reward the angler; fishing is active nearlyall season, but is typically the best between mid May and late July. Nearbyguest ranches offer horseback excursions into the open range that lies northof the lake.
Park Size: 332 hectares.
Big Bar Lake Park is a popular recreation destination and incorporates areas of valuable fish and wildlife habitat. Please note the following:
Campground Hours of Operation
All dates are subject to change without notice
|Opening and Closing Campground Dates: |
(campground is accessible but may not offer full services such as water,security, etc.)
|May 14 - September 30 |
(gate is closed during the off-season; access to boat launch is open untilSeptember 30)
|Campground Dates with Full Services and Fees:||May 14 - September 30|
|Campground Reservable Dates:||June 13 – September 14|
|Total Number of Vehicle Accessible Campsites:||46|
|Number of Reservable Campsites: |
(all remaining sites are first-come, first-served)
|Note: The above information isfor the campground only. Park users can still walk into the parkif conditions such as weather permit. Check the "Attention VisitorNotice" above for park alerts.|
Reserveable, vehicle accessible campsites (with the exception of group sites) must be reserved through the Camping reservation system.
First-come, first-served sites are also available.
There are two vehicle accessible campgrounds in this park – Lakeside Campground and the Upper Campground. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
The Lakeside Campground consists of 27 sites that overlook the lake. There are 10 high density sites that can accommodate large rigs. There is also 1 pull through site at this campground and parking for extra vehicles is available in the park but not on the sites.
The campsites in the Upper Campground consists of 19 sites that are larger and more double sites are available. The sites are nestled amongst the trees and there is parking available for extra vehicles on site. This campground is used for overflow camping.
If staff are not around when you arrive at the campground, choose your site and pay later. Staff will be at the campground at least once a day during the camping season. There is no pay phone in the park and the closest store is located in Clinton, approximately 43 km away.
This park offers vehicle-accessible campsites on a first-come, first-served basis – campsite reservations are not accepted.
Upper campground (Sites 28-46): Full Season. A minimum of 4 consecutive weeks must be booked. Please contact the Park Operator for information and to book one of these sites.
Information on other parks participating in this program, or a link to the Long Stay Policy document, is available on the Frontcountry Camping Policies and Fees webpage.
Bicycles must keep to roadways, and bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia. If exploring by mountain bike, the Jesmond Fire lookout provides great views of the Fraser River and the Mountains and rangelands of the Chilcotin.
Please note that bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) are not allowed on the trails within Big Bar Lake Provincial Park. E-bikes are restricted to park roads and areas where motorized use is permitted. The only exception to this policy will be for authorized and identified trail maintenance bikes conducting work on behalf of BC Parks.
The park is located approximately 42 km northwest of Clinton. It is easily accessible via Highway 97 to approximately 8 km north of Clinton, and then via gravel road for a distance of about 34 km. For map information, please refer to topographical map number: 1:50,000 92P/15.
Any maps listed are for information only - they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
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The park’s characteristically rolling landscape was formed by debris left long ago by glaciers. The glacial eskers here are remnants of the last ice age; the melting of glaciers about ten thousand years ago left a hummocky landscape partially filled with small lakes and ponds. Eskers are formed when melt-water rivers transport gravel and silt underneath glaciers. Tunnels near the base of retreating glaciers fill with transported sediments that remain as sandy or gravelly ridges as the glacier melts away.
The area has been witness to much of the region’s history. The first people to occupy the plateau were the Salish First Nations; they lived by hunting, fishing, and gathering edible plants. For most of the year the group was nomadic, spending the warmer months scouring the countryside for food. Winter villages, however, were semi-permanent. The Salish nomadic way of life did not survive the influx of settlers. For the last 100 years, the area has been used for cattle ranching.
Big Bar Lake Park includes representative ecosystems in both forest and lakeshore environments. The unique terrain imprints a snapshot of history on the landscape, telling the story of the area’s history of glaciation. The protection of such a landscape for its historical attributes and aesthetic appeal is important. Equally important is the conservation of the area’s wildlife habitat and plant and animal species. The scattered lakes, ponds, and wetlands support a host of wildlife species including large and small mammals, birds, and amphibians. Additionally, lakes in the area support healthy populations of rainbow trout.
The area’s dry, warm summers and winters with moderate snowfall greatly influence the plant species and wildlife species present. Since the park is away from the moderating influence of the ocean, the temperature extremes that must be tolerated by plant and animal life are greater than at the coast. Both the grass and tree species found in the area are uniquely adapted to this climate. Grasses grow quickly in spring and use the moisture from snowmelt and rain, while seeds and roots lie dormant during the summer’s hot and dry spell. Similarly, tree species are characteristically deep-rooted in order to access water. Common tree species include pine, spruce, and aspen – all of which are well adapted to dry areas and re-establish quickly following fire.
Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage, please don’t damage or remove them.
The combination of grasses and trees with little undergrowth favours certain kinds of animals. In particular, deer are drawn to grazing areas closely interspersed with shelter in the trees. Coyotes, hawks and eagles are also common and prey on field mice and voles inhabiting grassland areas. Squirrels are plentiful, feeding on abundant pine and spruce cones. Black bear, moose, lynx and cougar are some of the large mammals found in the park and surrounding area. Park visitors also often see snowshoe hares, chipmunks and marmots. Big Bar Lake also supports an active beaver population. Please enjoy the beavers and other wildlife through quiet observation without disturbance.
Ducks Unlimited built a water control structure at the end of the marsh in 1988 to help encourage waterfowl nesting. There is excellent birdwatching here. Fishing for rainbow trout is a popular activity – the lake is stocked on a yearly basis.
BC Parks honours Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land and respects the importance of their diverse teachings, traditions, and practices within these territories. This park webpage may not adequately represent the full history of this park and the connection of Indigenous Peoples to this land. We are working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to update our websites so that they better reflect the history and cultures of these special places.