Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Bear Creek Provincial Park

Bear Creek, the campground's namesake
Location: 10 minutes north of Kelowna
Website:  BC Parks
Map: Google Maps and BC Parks Campground
Camping Facilities: Strictly car camping
Grade: B-
Stargazing: Forget it, too close to Kelowna
Summary: A reasonably good suburban camping experience
Thoughts: As you travel through the Okanagan wine region, whittling away your savings on wine, it's best to try to save your money where you can.  After all, accommodations are secondary to the real attraction (the vino).  After being directed to the grass-spattered parking lot that is Willow Creek Family Campground ($32 for that!?), we consulted the BC Parks website on our phone and found this little spot just north of the city.  A remarkable improvement (for the same price) over our friends at Willow Creek (sorry guys).
The dense understory provides plenty of privacy

Bear Creek has everything you need - hot showers, cheap accommodations, well-placed understory between most sites, decent fire pits and a loop layout.  There is a trail along Bear Creek that flows through the park, as well as a waterfront trail accessible at the northern side of all loops. There is even a pretty expansive trail on the west side of the road (the Dave Brewster Trail, named after it's designer).  But you must remember, this is car camping.  Decent car camping, but car camping, nonetheless.  And it's situated just outside a city of 140,000 people.  There is also a huge lawn with an irrigation system (this part of the province can be dry, so it's necessary) that keeps the grass green late into the season. This aspect might remind you of typical suburban scenes, with the RVs parked one after another along the road, backing on the greenery fed by spitting sprinklers.

Okanagan Lake from Bear Creek's waterfront trail
(aside: It might sound like I'm complaining about nothing here, but there's something offputting about a campground with an irrigation system, striving for a perfect lawn.  I imagine it's great fun for families to have a nice open space for the kids to run around it, but to me it's just a little too much backyard ambiance.  And if that's the impression it gives, then why go camping in the first place - unless these are the Vancouver condo dwellers come to see what open space feels like. There are plenty of nice public parks in cities all over BC, do we really need to sleep in one?)

Irrigation in full-effect
Okay, that rant is probably disproportionate to the actual amount of enjoyment that is lost by staying in such a setting.  Bear Creek is in fact a very nice car campground, probably some of the cheapest real estate in the Okanagan and is very well designed overall.  Thumbs up!

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