Big Bar Lake Park is set against a mountainous backdrop of the southern Cariboo. The park provides a range of recreational opportunities including day-use picnicking, lakeside camping, boating, canoeing, swimming, wildlife viewing, hiking, and fishing.
Established in 1969, it is a very popular destination for family camping vacations. The park features 25 new lakeside campsites in addition to a large beachside day-use area area. Visitors of Big Bar Lake Park often see wildlife on the 4km hiking trail surrounding the wetlands, and enjoy angling for rainbow trout in the lake. The area is an extremely popular fishing destination.
Area attractions include several guest ranches and the historical Gang Ranch. Visitors can also travel along the Jesmond Loop by continuing past Big Bar Lake Park, and eventually connecting with Highway 97 by way of the Jesmond and Kelly Lake Roads. This scenic drive passes by Little Big Bar Lake and the historic townsite of Jesmond. This is the site of the OK Corral, one of the oldest ranches in the area. The loop also accesses the Jesmond fire lookout by way of a narrow four-wheel drive road, from which visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including Marble Range and Edge Hills Parks.
Vehicle-accessible campsites (with the exception of group sites) can 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.
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.
First come, first served sites are available. 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 43km away.
The Upper campground (Sites 28-46) is available for long-stay camping. A minimum of four consecutive weeks must be booked. Please contact the park operator for information and to book one of these sites.
|Vehicle-accessible camping fee||$18 per party per night|
|BC seniors’ rate (day after Labour Day to June 14 only)||$9 per senior party per night|
|Long-stay camping||$88 per week|
For information on the BC seniors’ rate, see the camping fees page. Information on long-stay camping is available on the Frontcountry Camping webpage.
Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
There is a playground in the day-use area.
There is a paved, single-wide boat launch on the lake next to the lakeside campsites. Towing behind boats is not allowed and there is a speed limit of 10km per hour. The boat launch is open until Thanksgiving weekend.
Campfires are allowed and campfire rings are provided at each campsite. We encourage visitors to conserve wood and protect the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using campstoves instead. Firewood can be purchased in the park or you may bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented.
To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil.
There is a day-use and picnicking area with picnic tables, pit toilets, an adventure playground and a parking area.
There are pit toilets located throughout the campground and day-use area.
The Otter Marsh is a 3.5km self-guided interpretive trail. Please see Otter Marsh interpretive trail brochure below. For your own safety and preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Swimming is available at the beach located in the day-use area. The swimming area is roped off. There are no lifeguards on duty.
There are opportunities for canoeing or kayaking in this park.
Fishing for rainbow trout is a popular activity, as the lake is stocked on a yearly basis. It is typically best between mid May and late July. Nearby Little Big Bar lake and Beaverdam Lake are also popular for fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Pets and domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to the potential for problems with wildlife.
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 Park. E-bikes are restricted to park roads and areas where motorized use is permitted.
The park is located approximately 42km northwest of Clinton. It is easily accessible via Highway 97 by travelling 8km north of Clinton, and then via gravel road for a distance of about 34km.
For map information, please refer to topographical map number: 1:50,000 92P/15.
Any maps listed are for information only as they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
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The park’s rolling landscape was formed by debris left long ago by glaciers. Situated on the southern edge of the Fraser Plateau, it was formed from lava flows some five to ten million years ago. The glacial eskers here are remnants of the last ice age left a landscape of small lakes and ponds. Eskers are formed when melted 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 protection of this 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, fish and amphibians.
The area’s varying seasonal weather greatly influence the plant species and wildlife. Since the park is away from the moderating influence of the ocean, the temperature extremes 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. Seeds and roots lie dormant during the summer’s hot and dry spell. Common tree species include pine, spruce, and aspen. They 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 favour certain kinds of animals. Coyotes, hawks and eagles are also common and prey on field mice and voles inhabiting grassy areas. Black bear, deer, moose, lynx and cougar are some of the large mammals found in the park and surrounding area. Park visitors often see squirrels, snowshoe hares, chipmunks and marmots. Big Bar Lake also supports an active beaver population. Please enjoy the 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 as 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.