Camping at Syringa Provincial Park is a great option if you want to explore the area around Castlegar in BC, Canada. There are two campgrounds, the Main area and the Bighorn campground (that has some sites with electric hook ups.) Both are located on the southeast side of Lower Arrow Lake. This is a fab area for hiking, fishing, cycling, chilling on the beach or swimming. We only stayed here for a single night, but it was so lovely that I’d like to return.
Syringa Provincial Park Camping map
This map is from the (BC Provincial Park website.)
Camping in Syringa Provincial Park gives you easy access to the lovely beaches on the Lake. You may want swimming shoes as some of the beaches are rocky, rather than sandy.
Mosquitoes at Syringa Provincial Park
As you camp so close to the lake, I was worried we’d be eaten alive by mosquitoes. Mozzies were not *too* bad at Syringa Provincial Park, at least until the sun set. If you want to stay outside in the evening just make sure you bring long-sleeved mozzy proof clothes and consider getting a thermacell or at least bringing mosquito coils for your campsite!
Syringa Provincial Park Camping dates
It is possible to camp here from April 28 to October 2 in 2023. The gates are closed in the off-season so you can’t camp in the wintertime.
Booking campsites in Syringa Provincial Park
Book campsites via the BC Frontcountry Camping Reservation website. There are 31 non-reservable sites in the main campground if you are unable to snag a booking.
- Main Campground 61 sites (30 reservable)
- Bighorn Campground RV 9 sites (9 reservable)
- Bighorn Campground (non-RV) 16 sites (16 reservable)
Bighorn Campground sites
Each campsite is vehicle accessible and has a fire pit, a picnic bench and plenty of space to park and set up your tent (or RV.) There were two kinds of campsites in the Bighorn Campground – RV campsites that are in a long line, with plenty of space to maneuver/park and electrical hookups. Those spots would be awful for tent campers as there is so little privacy with everyone parked in a row. The other sites do not have electricity but they were much more pleasant, with more privacy and views of the lake.
Syringa Provincial Park Facilities
Each campground has pumps for water taps (although you need to boil water before drinking it), pit toilets and there are showers nearby (in the day use area.) There is a sani-station ($5) and firewood available ($9 per bundle) over at the main campground.
Bighorn day-use area
In addition to the campsites, there are two day use areas. One is at the Bighorn beach with plenty of parking, benches and showers. Then another is at Sturgeon Point with a boat launch. There is a children’s play-park near the main campground and a dog-friendly beach in between the two camping areas.
Lower Arrow Lake
Lower Arrow Lake is a long, skinny lake which is a wide section of the Columbia River. There used to be two lakes (Upper Arrow Lake and Lower Arrow Lake.) After the Hugh Keenleyside Dam was built near Castlegar in the 1960s, the water rose 12m. This joined the lakes together to become a giant 230km-long lake, stretching all the way to Revelstoke.
If you fancy fishing, you need to pick up a license online, or from at Scotties Marina down the road from the campground. The lake is stocked with rainbow or bull trout as well as kokanee salmon (a landlocked version of Sockeye Salmon.)
The most important rule about camping is keeping a bare campsite. Basically you need to pack away all food, cups, plates, pans, grills etc., and anything that has a scent that might attract bears. Store things in your vehicle when car camping. Never leave any of food or these items unattended for even a minute, and do not keep them inside your tent.
We didn’t see any bears in Syringa Provincial Park (the area is most famous for Bighorn Sheep) but you should always consider bears when camping in BC.
Hikes near Syringa Provincial Park
I am sure there are loads more hikes near Castlegar, but we did three great quick ones:
- Yellow Pine Trail – This takes you up to a viewpoint, starting at the campground.
- Tulip Creek Falls – A super easy trail, just 3.5km from the Bighorn Campground
- Brilliant Lookout – A gorgeous walk near Castlegar, looking down on the town.
I hope this gives you an idea about what it’s like to go camping in Syringa Provincial Park. We stayed here as part of a long (but slow, hike-filled) road trip along the Crowsnest Highway to Waterton Lakes in Alberta. I really liked the area around Castlegar and camping in this beautiful Provincial Park.
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