Camping – Syringa Provincial Park – Kootenays

Camping – Syringa Provincial Park – Kootenays

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.)

Bare Campsites

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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18 thoughts on “Camping – Syringa Provincial Park – Kootenays

    1. We were there in early August (but the snow melted reeeally late last summer, so the lake water levels were still quite high…)

  1. I would LOVE to go camping in Canada, but I would be really worried about the bears. Good to know there aren’t many in this area. The hikes look amazing. And I didn’t know that there was mosquito proof clothes either (mozzy – love it!) – I need to get some of those for the hubby. Saving this post for later!

    1. You’re in the States right? The mosquito-proof closing we bought was from “Marks” (the brand was windriver) but I think you can buy it from most fishing shops too.

      Bears tend to avoid campgrounds most of the time, so honestly if you ever do camp in Canada you will worry, but it’s very unlikely you’ll actually see a bear. If you are noisy they just stay away.

    1. Thanks! I should have mentioned the numbers! I think the best sites at Bighorn were 86, 80, 78,76 and 75… but they were all nice 😉

  2. Camping and hiking are two of the best things in the world! Having a place like this with some amenities (even if they are not perfect), is even better! All thou every time I read about bears, I freeze! Great to know that likeliness to meet them there is lower than in other parts. Still I don’t know if I would know what to do if I came across one of them 😅

    1. Honestly, I have never seen a bear in a campsite when car camping (although I think I heard one last summer…) as there are so many people around. BUT we are always careful to keep our campsites clear so we don’t encourage them to turn up.

      I was really worried about it when we first moved to Canada, but people are quite careful so it tends not to become an issue.

    1. The mozzies really were not too bad! (we actually got more bites the following night when we stayed in a hotel!)

  3. Beautiful post and so detailed! Thank you for sharing. I may never get to visit, but I love your attention to detail and the great trail descriptions

    1. Oooh is that not the same in Aus? We have always been able to buy firewood in Canadian campgrounds (as long as there is no fire ban…)

  4. I love the spot with the picnic bench next to the lake! I can see why so many people choose to camp in this area, it’s very pretty.

    1. Yeah, it was that lovely level of being popular, but not feeling too full.

      And yeees we ended up taking our dinner down to eat by the lake. It was so pretty…

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