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Marble Canyon Provincial Park
About This Park
A small, quiet campground, set between two small lakes Turquoise and Crown. This park is popular with fishermen and birders. Nestled in the rugged Pavilion Mountain Range. The limestone canyon in which Marble Canyon Provincial Park is located is a rather rare geological formation in British Columbia. That’s what makes picnicking here such an unusual experience.
You can sense there’s something different; the white, chalk-faced slopes are certainly not composed of granite, as are the nearby Coast Mountains. And the weathered peaks, surmounted by the remarkable Chimney Rock, have the appearance of a crumbling castle wall. This canyon was once part of a Pacific island chain, another section of which lies in the northwest corner of the province. A waterfall on the far side of suitably named Turquoise Lake reminds you of the power of the elements to eventually wear all things down.
Visit historic Hat Creek Ranch and the town of Lillooet, both nearby. Explore the area, rich in the history of the Interior Salish people and the pioneers who followed the gold rush and homesteaded this area.
Park Size: 355 hectares
Date Established: March 23, 1956
Know Before You Go
- The extremely hot, dry climate can result in overexposure to the sun. Everyone in your party should wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15, and a hat with a brim.
- Roadways can be very busy. Whether you are walking, cycling, roller-blading, skateboarding or driving, please be careful. Always yield to the slowest mode of travel; e.g., cyclists yield to walkers. Obey all traffic regulations and rules of the road.
- Traffic Safety: the speed limit within the park is 20 km/hour or less.
- The nearest public telephone is at Butterfly Springs, 4 km east on Highway 99.
- Quiet hours are 10 pm to 7 am. Music, generators, etc. must be shut off completely between these hours.
- Hibachis and campstoves can burn the picnic tables. Please do not use them on the tables.
- Valuables: when left unattended or at night, should be stored out of sight and locked up at all times. Please report all thefts to the park staff as soon as possible.
- Motorcycles and bicycles are permitted on park roads only. Motorcycles must be properly licenced and must be operated by a licenced driver only. Helmets must be worn. Unlicenced ATVs or dirt bikes are not permitted.
- Parking is prohibited on the side of the road. Please park on the gravelled portion of your campsite or in designated parking spaces. Vehicles parked in day-use areas after 11 pm may be ticketed or towed.
- Pets must be on leash (no longer than 2 metres) at all times while in the park. They are not allowed on beaches or in day-use areas. Owners must clean up after their pets.
- Consumption of alcohol is prohibited, except in your campsite.
Location and Maps
Nature and Culture
- History: Established in 1956 with the addition of Pavilion Lake on April 18, 2001.
- Cultural Heritage: The Pavilion Indian Band holds special heritage and spiritual connection to Pavilion Lake and the surrounding land.
- Conservation: From the campground, view spectacular limestone cliffs 1 km high, part of the Pavilion Range. The park boundary now includes all of Pavilion Lake and the lake bottom to protect the unique and sensitive freshwater stromatolite features. Because the stromatolites are fragile scuba diving in Pavilion Lake requires specialised training.
Pavilion Lake is only one of a few places in the world where freshwater stromatolite features can be found. Similar stromatolites to 1-2 cm have been found at nearby Kelly Lake, but there are no known freshwater stromatolites anywhere else that approach the large size of those found at Pavilion Lake. There are large stromotalites found in hypersaline conditions in Hamelin Pool, which is part of the Shark Bay world heritage site in Australia. Click here for more information about Pavilion Lake Research Project [PDF 6.81MB].
The coral-like structures are formed from fossilized remains of micro-organisms (microbiolites) that are considered to be similar to some of the oldest known lifeforms on Earth. Microbiolites are believed to have formed a critical stage in the evolution of life on earth. There is also scientific speculation that search for life on other planets such as Mars would focus on finding fossilized remains of similar organisms.
- Wildlife: Trout are found in Crown, Turquoise, and Pavilion Lakes.
Black bears are frequently seen in the area.
- Management Planning Information
- Approved management plan for Marble Canyon Provincial Park [PDF]
- Approved management direction statement for Pavilion Lake [PDF]
- BC Parks is in the process of developing a new management plan for this park.
Activities Available at this Park
Marble Canyon Provincial Park has one of the best and most easily accessed icefalls in the region. Lower Mainland rock climbers have opened dozens of routes over the past decade in this area, which has come to be known as the “Cinderella of BC rock,” because of its still relatively undiscovered beauty.
A maze of canyons run off on both sides of the main canyon, through which the highway makes it way as it passes beside the brilliantly hued Turquoise, Crown, and Pavilion Lakes. Chimney Rock, known as Coyote Rock by members of the Fountain Band First Nation, dominates the crenellated skyline. A good description of routes such as the Headwall and the Great Gully are found in “Central B.C. Rock” by Lyle Knight, a comprehensive climbing guide to routes in the Lillooet region north through the Central Interior and east through the Okanogan and West Kootenays.
Pets on Leash
There are scuba diving opportunities [PDF 4.56MB].
BC Parks has installed seasonal mooring buoys in the centre of each of the three recognized recreational scuba diving areas. Please only dive in these identified Natural Environment Zones.
Facilities Available at this Park
Campfires are permitted and firepits are provided. Firewood can be purchased from the Park Facility Operator in some parks or you can bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. You may pre-pay for firewood with your campsite self registration. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented and some parks may use communal fire rings. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
Please ensure that all barbeques or campstoves are used on the ground and not set on picnic tables.