Camping in E.C. Manning Park, B.C.

With COVID-19 restrictions my travels abroad came to an abrupt halt since March 2020. The silver lining, however, was that exploring my “own backyard” here in the province of British Columbia (B.C.) was an exciting new lure since June 1st, 2020 when the provincial health authorities allowed resident-only camping in the parks. I scouted Manning Park a week before then managed to book 4 days near mid-June 2020 at the Coldspring campground when the on-line B.C. Parks Reservation System opened up (their system was overwhelmed, it took hours to get through).

Ernest Callaway (E.C.) Manning Park is named after the Chief Forester of British Columbia from 1936 to 1941. Manning was instrumental with the idea of putting land aside for the enjoyment of future generations. The park is 83,671 hectares (323 square miles) with the core area located 68 km east of Hope, or 218 km east of Vancouver on Route 3. Located in the heart of the Cascade Mountains the park’s climate and geography have combined to make this park an all season recreation area.

I purchased a used Toyota 4Runner in late May, 2020, with a view of moving beyond tent camping and pursuing the idea of camping with a travel trailer. Given the west coast climate, I figured that my days of wet tents and sleeping on the ground were over. I rented a Tab 320 CS-S from Outdoorsy and set out on my first towing experience to Manning Park.

Brief stop at the Hope Slide, the second largest recorded landslide in Canada that occurred on January 9, 1965

I set up camp in the very large Coldspring campground, one of four in the park (only two were open at that time). It’s a primitive campsite with basic amenities; pit toilets, well water hand pump, and a self check-in entrance. My campsite was close to the Similkameen River.

I spent a restful four days exploring some park trails, taking photos, and enjoying my amateur (ham) radio. It rained a lot, but I was not discouraged.

Well water access with a hand pump at Coldspring campground
Amateur (Ham) radio is great for those rainy days. I lashed my telescoping fibreglass pole to the picnic table from which my wire antenna was attached.
I had two antenna configurations for my ham radio with the Tab trailer affording excellent shelter in my “shack”. I contacted (” worked”) an aeronautical mobile ham station from his 757-200 passenger jet above the Gulf of Mexico.
Black bears are a common sight in the flat grassy area near Cayuse Flats after the spring melt. This bear has two large puncture wounds on its snout, likely from a recent fight. I photographed this bear earlier in the month when I was scouting the area.
Steller’s Jay at Lightning Lake
Columbian Ground Squirrel at Mule Deer Campground
Columbian Ground Squirrel at Lightning Lake
Columbian Ground Squirrel at Lightning Lake
Twenty Minute Lake. The feature image at the top of the page was also taken from Twenty Minute Lake.
Rein Orchid Trail

The rhododendrons at Rhododendron Flats were a beautiful sight to see, on a 10-minute loop walk through the forest.

The Canyon Nature Trail is adjacent to the Coldspring campground
Canyon Nature Trail’s foot bridge over the Similkameen River

It was an enjoyable camping trip, a highlight was seeing a black bear in the campround while I was driving from my campsite. Bears are not typically a menace, just keep your campsite clean and they shouldn’t bother you. That said, my hikes were kept short as I was not with a group nor did I have bear spray handy (I have since purchased bear spray, just in case).

On the RV front, a travel trailer is nice but the towing is a hassle and I’m not quite a big fan of backing up a trailer… yet. Once situated in the campsite it was nice being able to wander about and drive to trailheads with my SUV without a trailer in tow. That said, once in tow, it’s tough to stop along the way to the next destination. In this respect, a camper van is appealing. I’ll continue to rent for the time being 🙂

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