The historic Cariboo Wagon road runs through the park. This was originally just a trail used by fur traders from 1803 to 1810. During the Cariboo Gold Rush of the 1860’s it was rebuilt, and it linked the gold fields of the Cariboo to the gold markets of the world, via the shipyards of Vancouver. One of the stops on the park’s interpretive trail is on the actual Wagon Road. The overgrown track seems a far cry from our modern Highway 97.
One of the stopping points on the Wagon Road for weary miners was the Blue Tent Ranch. It was built by the Wright family in 1862, after they discovered that cattle and the roadhouse provided a much steadier income than gold mining. The present day park is located on part of the original ranch land. Throughout the park, you can see the stumps from the lumber used to build the original ranch house. This heritage house still stands today, and can be seen next to the highway, roughly three kilometres north of the park. Lac La Hache was established as a Class A park in 1956.
Both the Shuswap and Chilcotin First Nations used the area. Long before the lure of wealth brought the fur traders west, the Shuswap First Nation peoples established pit houses near the present day village of Lac La Hache. The Chilcotins named the lake Kumatakwa, meaning Chief or Queen of the waters.
The park is in the Interior Douglas Fir Zone, which is found in B.C.’s dry interior. There is a superb old-growth stand of Douglas fir trees surrounding the campground. A fire in the 1960’s burned several hectares, and you can still see the scars on the bases of some fir trees, their thick bark allowed these trees to survive. Sunlight reaching the forest floor allows the growth of trembling aspen and lodgepole pine, as well as pinegrass, bunchberry and beautiful pink wild roses.
Birds that thrive in this lakeside habitat include bald eagle, osprey and red-tailed hawk, as well as forest birds such as pileated woodpeckers, saw-whet owls, red crossbills, chickadees and nuthatches.
Because of the diversity in plant species, a wide variety of mammals lives in this area, from moose and black bears to humble shrews and chipmunks. There are also mule deer, pine martin, lynx, and flying squirrels.
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