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Monkman Provincial Park
About This Park
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Monkman Provincial Park, nestled in the Hart Ranges of the Central Rocky Mountains and Foothills, covers 62,867 hectares of diverse natural landscapes encompassing extensive alpine meadows, jagged mountain peaks, forested valleys, thundering waterfalls and clear alpine lakes. Monkman Park was established in 1981. An additional 22,000 hectares were added in 1999 to protect the Limestone Lakes and Upper Fontiniko Creek Valley areas. This addition protects old growth spruce forests, unique geological formations and important recreation.
The park has a diverse water system that includes the Murray and Monkman drainages. Scenic rapids, waterfalls, streams and lakes all contribute to the dramatic visual impact of the landscape. The northern section of Monkman Provincial Park features Kinuseo Falls, where the Murray River plunges 60 metres over a geological fault to the river bed below. This thunderous cascade of water is higher than Niagara Falls and provides many visitors with the highlight of their trip. Despite the rugged grandeur of the park, prime areas of it can be easily accessed--there is even a wheelchair-accessible platform affording great views of the Falls and horseshoe pits at the nearby campsite. Activities at Monkman include camping, fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing, picnicking, and backcountry camping.
Know Before You Go
- Weather conditions in Monkman Park tend to be unstable year-round. In summer, the weather is usually cool, wet and often windy, as the Rocky Mountains effectively block the westward movement of moist Pacific air. Hikers should be prepared for all weather conditions in this changeable climate.
- Always carry first-aid equipment and extra clothing and food.
- Be aware that there is a boil water advisory in effect at this park.
- Water sources in the backcountry may carry giardia or other parasites. Boil or filter all water when in the backcountry.
- The Monkman Pass Memorial Hiking Trail, past Monkman Lake, is not maintained and is for experienced hikers only with advanced navigation skills. View the backcountry campgrounds map below for more information about this trail.
No campfire wood is for sale at this park.
BC Parks’ policy does not allow cutting (dead or living trees) or the gathering of wood from the forest floor within park boundaries; to cut or gather wood in a park for a campfire is illegal.
Firewood can be brought into the park from other locations outside of park boundaries.
- Park visitors are requested to take out garbage and do not leave at the park.
- Special care must be taken in alpine and sub-alpine areas. These are among the most fragile because of the severe conditions and short growing season.
- The Monkman Pass Memorial Hiking Trail past Monkman Lake is for experienced hikers only with advanced navigation skills. At this point it becomes a route and climbs into the sub-alpine where there is no trail maintenance. Please be prepared past this point for wilderness navigation, route finding, and wilderness alpine camping (no wood fuel is available).
- National Topographic Series Maps 93I/11 and 93I/14 at a scale of 1:50,000 cover the Monkman Lake Trail. These maps are available from most map retailers in British Columbia.
- The Kinuseo Falls Road that leads into Monkman Park is rough to travel although the road has been greatly improved. Visitors can expect to encounter washboard and potholes. Please allow for slow travel.
Location and Maps
- Any maps listed are for information only; they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Monkman Provincial Park is located on the Kinuseo Falls Road, 60 kilometres south of Tumbler Ridge. Several roads provide access to this community. Turn south off highway 97 at Chetwynd onto highway 29, or turn south off of highway 97 onto highway 52 approximately 17 km west of Dawson Creek. Visitors travelling on highway 2 to or from Dawson Creek can also turn south on highway 52, near the BC/Alberta border.
Maps and Brochures
- Park Map [PDF]
- Vehicle Accessible Campground Map [PDF]
- Backcountry Campgrounds Map [PDF 2.28MB]
- Park Brochure [PDF 1.78MB]
- Lake Joan and Canary Falls Hiking Trails [PDF] – produced in partnership with local hiking society.
- Stone Corral Interpretative Hiking Trail [PDF 2.29MB] – produced in partnership with local hiking society.
- Visiting Kinuseo Falls [PDF 1.11MB] – produced in partnership with local hiking society.
- Monkman Cascades and Monkman Lake Hiking Route [PDF] – produced in partnership with local hiking society.
- Monkman Pass Memorial Trail – Driving Route [PDF] – produced in partnership with local hiking society.
Nature and Culture
- History: Monkman Provincial Park was named after Alex Monkman, an individual who expended a considerable amount of effort attempting to build a transportation route from the Peace River farming country down to the Pacific ports. In 1922, he and a group of fur trappers discovered what is now known as Monkman Pass. It was this pass that provided him with his vision for a railroad, a direct and economical route south. Failing to get government support for his venture, Monkman focused on the alternative--building a highway. The Monkman Pass Highway Association was formed in 1936, and over the next three years, many determined volunteers laboured to blaze this new trail. Limited funding, harsh conditions, and the outbreak of the Second World War eventually brought the project to a halt. A railway was later built to the northwest over the Pine Pass, and Monkman’s “highway” slowly faded into historical obscurity. Today, only a few sections are visible along the Monkman Lake Trail, a route that follows parts of the original road. The Brooks Falls in Monkman Provincial Park, was named after Carl Brooks, one of the volunteers who worked along with Alex Monkman and the Highway Association. A cairn marking overlooking the falls has been placed in his honour.
- Conservation: Lower elevations in the park are dominated by mature sub-alpine fir, white spruce and lodgepole pine. The higher elevations support growths of Englemann spruce, sub-alpine fir and white spruce. Above the treeline, only plants adapted to the conditions are to be found. Monkman Provincial Park conserves representative areas of the Central Rocky Mountains and Foothills. Lower elevations in the park are dominated by mature sub-alpine fir, white spruce and lodgepole pine. The higher elevations support growth of Engelmann spruce, sub-alpine fir and white spruce. Above treeline, the trees become dwarfed and twisted. Alpine meadows of heathers, grasses and wildflowers, such as white rhododendron, arctic lupine, glacier lily and Indian paintbrush cover large areas and are intermixed with shrubs.
Wildlife: The diverse range of habitat in Monkman Provincial Park supports grizzly and black bear, mountain goats, caribou and moose. During the warmer seasons, deer, mountain sheep, gray wolves, fishers, martens, wolverines, marmots, hares, and red squirrels are joined by numerous bird species that include owls, ptarmigan, grouse, geese and loons. Because of the fierce winter climate, most of the larger animals tend to seek a more hospitable range during the winter months.
Kinuseo Falls presents an impassable obstacle to migrating fish, so fish habitat is not the same above and below the falls. Larger fish are able to follow the Murray River drainage from lower elevations to the falls. Above the falls, only small char, trout, grayling and whitefish inhabit the Murray River and upper Monkman Creek.
Activities Available at this Park
There are opportunities to spelunk on the Stone Corral Trail. Small caves can be found in the limestone outcrops.
At the far end of the Stone Corral, beneath the steepest cliffs, lies the large entrance to Corral Cave. Although this cave is only 20 metres deep, it contains a number of fascinating features. The walls are smooth and vertical and the ceiling is high, making for an easy walk-in cave. The floor is rock-strewn, and there are a number of large perpetual drips. In spring and early summer the floor of the cave is a dramatic collection of large icicles. On the left wall, about halfway in, there is a small round hole. This is a typical phreatic tube. The initial dissolution process that widens the cracks underground occurs below the water table. Because of the very slow movement of the water and because it completely fills the crack, the result is a perfectly round tube. Later in the history of a cave when the water-table drops and air enters, if water is still passing through the crack it will selectively erode the bottom portion. The resulting V-shape is known as vadose, as opposed to the round phreatic features. At the end of the cave, if a flashlight is shone up into the top corner, there are a few tiny stalactites. Beyond these is a long descending tongue of a softer white substance, moonsmilk, an organic form of calcite. It is gooey when wet, with a texture like cottage cheese, but crumbly and powdery when dry. The origin of the name is traced to Europe, where the exact translation means “gnome’s milk”. It was used in medieval times as a wound dressing and recent research has shown the appropriateness of this remedy, as moonsmilk contains a number of substances with antibacterial properties. Overhead and along the wall there are also some beautiful calcite flowstone walls, as well as another attractive collection of small stalactites at the drip sites.
Another cave can be found along the trail as it leads away from the cliff-edge and crosses a gully. There is a tiny sinkhole with a small opening in the rock-face, this is one of the entrances of Porcupine Cave. Do not enter this opening! Instead, proceed and enter a second sinkhole just over the ridge, as the entrance to the cave from this aspect is larger. Porcupine Cave is 10 metres long, and joins the two sinkholes. It is a classic solutional feature created by the dissolving of limestone by slowly moving water. It is fairly narrow at either end but opens up into a chamber in the middle with standing room. There are fine coral fossils on the ceiling in this chamber. There is also cave popcorn, which is recognized by its knob-like shape, resulting from concentric layering of tiny calcite crystals. The floor of this cave is covered with old porcupine droppings, hence the name.
Caves are fragile environments that need to be treated with the greatest respect. Under no circumstances should you touch the walls, take anything or leave anything.
Pets on Leash
The Stone Corral area of Monkman park was discovered in 1999. A hike to the area takes you through amazing features such as small caves with stalactites, moonsmilk and other limestone formations, ponds and many kinds of moving water, interesting plants, fossils, and magnificent viewpoints. An interpretive brochure has been printed documenting all the areas special features.
Kinuseo Falls at 60 metres (197 ft.) is one of the most spectacular features of Monkman Provincial Park. The falls are slightly taller than Niagara Falls and plunge into a spectacular canyon. The falls are accessible by a short 2 minute stroll to a viewing platform.
Facilities Available at this Park
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
The southeast section of Monkman Park holds several beautiful aqua-marine lakes, which are the source of the Murray River. This area of the park is considered to be prime grizzly bear habitat and extensive human intrusion is not encouraged. Recently, the southern boundary of Monkman was extended to include areas with high conservation and recreation features, including the upper Fontoniko Creek, the Limestone Lakes area and the rolling plateau to the west. This addition protects old-growth spruce forests, unique geological features, and important recreation aspects of the park’s terrain, wildlife and ecosystems.