A Week at Bear Creek Provincial Park, West Kelowna

Cathy and I both thought that spending a week at Bear Creek Provincial Park might be a bit too long, but it turned out that it was nowhere near long enough. We did very little touring and didn’t even make it to any wineries (!). We drove to Summerland to ride the Kettle Valley Steam Railway, but despite the Web site stating that it was open on Mondays in May and June, it’s not open for the first 3 weeks of May. But it was an excellent week of family time, including a particularly good afternoon with my 93-year-old Dad.

Each of the 122 campsites in the Bear Creek campground is large, and most have a good degree of privacy. Ours, #116 in the furthest-south of the park’s 3 loops, backed onto a grassy area about 100×200 feet in size. I picked it partially because it was the furthest from the kids’ play area in the park.

Campsite in Bear Creek Provincial Park in West Kelowna, BC
The campground is rather spendy at $35 per night with no hookups, but the level of maintenance in the park is very high, there’s no charge for showers, and the location for our needs was perfect, only 20 minutes from my Dad.

Washroom in Bear Creek Provincial Park in West Kelowna, BC
There are wild roses everywhere in our part of the park, and the smell was wonderful.

Wild rose in Bear Creek Provincial Park in West Kelowna, BC
A bridge crosses Bear Creek to reach our campsite, and the creek was always part of our dog walking routes. The flow is quite heavy as it’s still Spring runoff.

Bear Creek, in Bear Creek Provincial Park in West Kelowna, BC
The park is quite small at only 178 hectares (440 acres), but 5 km (3.1 mi) of trails offer wonderful energetic hiking around Bear Creek’s dramatic canyon. A wildfire burned the trees on the southern part of the trail network in 2011.

Walking dogs in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
During the week, we walked most of the trail network, from the high, hot, great-view sections to the cool forest section along the creek. Poor Tucker, perhaps still nervous from the bear attack at Tumbler Ridge, was certain that a rock in the creek was dangerous. Unable to convince him to come down to check it out, I finally picked him up and took him down to it 🙂

Foot bridge across Bear Creek in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
There are map-signs at several points in the network, and it would be all but impossible to get lost for more than a few minutes.

Map sign along a hiking trail in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
The views into the canyon, and particularly of the main waterfall, are very impressive. There are 5 viewpoints with very secure fences to allow safe viewing.

Waterfall in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
Downtown Kelowna is very close – the campground is only 7 km (4.4 m) off the main highway running through West Kelowna and across Okanagan Lake to Kelowna.

Kelowna from the hiking trails in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
The kids had a ball on these trails – there were just enough other people, many of them with dogs, to be great socialization for them without it ever feeling “busy”.

Walking dogs on a hiking trail in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
At the southern edge of the campground, active log booming is still going on to feed the Tolko sawmill across Okanagan Lake at the edge of downtown Kelowna. This is the view of the booms from one of the trails.

Logs booms adjacent to Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
A couple more views from the canyon from viewpoints along the southern rim.

Bear Creek canyon, Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC

Bear Creek canyon, Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
I only saw these flowers in one tiny patch along the canyon rim.

Flowers in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
As much time as we spent on the trails, I could have spent a lot more – they really are wonderful, as we all needed the exercise.

Murray with his dogs in Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
The lakeshore on both sides of the park is getting more expensive homes all the time – homes running into the tens of millions of dollars now.

Homes along Okanagan Lake
I arrived at Bear Creek on May 12th, and Cathy flew in from Whitehorse on Saturday the 14th. That weekend, the campground was completely full, and many of the sites had large groups in them. We rather expected that it would get noisy, but it never did. Being an hour or less from the homes of more than 100,000 people, this is one of the busier campgrounds in the province.

Full campground at Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
While the dogs worked off some energy with Cathy and I, Molly was loving her sunny window on the world 🙂

Molly the cat in the RV window
Once the weekend was over, the beach was quiet again – we never did go there when more than 2 people were on it.

The beach at Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
The day use area is lovely.

Day use area at Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
Looking across the lake at some of the huge homes – some of the funiculars alone must have cost a small fortune.

Huge homes along Okanagan Lake, BC
There aren’t a huge number of Canada geese, but they sure make a mess of the lawns. It makes a dog mess look pretty small in comparison – I expect that some kids come back to their RV rather messy! And both Bella and Tucker got a bit sick from eating it – yuuuum!

Canada geese at Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
As each campsite was vacated, each was raked – I’ve never seen that done in a provincial park before.

Raking a campsite at Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
Final preparations were being made for the summer season, including painting all the lines in the larghe day use parking lots, and road markings.

Day use parking lot at Bear Creek Provincial Park, BC
Once the weekend crowd left, my sister and her husband who live about 20 miles away moved their new trailer in to a site behind us for a couple of nights, with their 2 dogs. That turned out to be a wonderful way to get the family together.

It’s always fun watching Tucker and Bella playing, especially when he lays on top of her to do it 🙂

Dogs playing in an RV
For me, the best part of the week was bringing Dad out for an afternoon, with dinner and wine. I really wanted him to see what The Good Life looks like for 2 of his kids and their spouses, and it was perfect.

We had played on going to a leash-free dog beach in West Kelowna a few times, but it turned out that we only got there once.

leash-free dog beach in West Kelowna
The kids had a blast, with several dogs to play with, although every dog wanted the squeaky balls that we brought for Bella and Tucker.

leash-free dog beach in West Kelowna

On our last night, we met a friend from Whitehorse who’s in the midst of a lengthy process of moving to West Kelowna. A wine-paired dinner at The Cove, followed by a visit at his beautiful home, was a great way to end our Kelowna week. On Mazy 19th, we’d move to Osoyoos, in the South Okanagan, for a couple of days.


A Week at Bear Creek Provincial Park, West Kelowna — 9 Comments

  1. Thank you for showing/sharing your journey and fantastic photographs.

    Nigel (from overcrowded Britain)

  2. I love it when I have to look up a word (funicular) when reading your blog…good fun. Thought you’d be either bored here a bit or maxxed out on day trips, but it sounded as though you could easily have spent 2 weeks or more.

    (what posting noted the bear attack?)

  3. Hey Murray,

    Great to see you and Cathy in Summerland. Fyi that picture of the flower you found along the canyon is called ‘bitterroot’ and is of significance to the local first nations here as they explain on their website: The bitterroot, a beautiful yet peculiar plant that only comes out above ground once a year, can only be found in certain parts of the Okanagan. The harvesting window of the bitterroot lasts only two weeks, after which the bitterroot cannot be used and retreats to the underground world of roots