Wildlife and Nature Parks
BC Wildlife Park
It’s hard to imagine, but in 1966 Kamloops needed more attractions to keep visitors staying longer and spending more when on vacation in Kamloops. The BC Wildlife Park was first opened in 1966 on 106 acres of donated land and, since then, snakes, deer, small mammals, and Birds of Prey don’t want to leave either. Head due east on the Trans Canada Highway from Kamloops and you will find the largest breeding facility for Burrowing Owls in North America. It’s hard to get much closer to nature than sleeping in the RV Park right next door, but the BC Wildlife Park does offer a variety of programs and interpretive walks to help children and families do just that.
Kenna Cartwright Nature Park
In 1996, BC’s largest municipal park was named in honour of Kenna Cartwright, a former Mayor of Kamloops. Since then, hikers and mountain-bikers have been enjoying the trek through its 40 kilometres of nature trails and pristine grasslands. There are trails for novice, intermediate and advanced hikers, but the views of Kamloops and the Thompson River from Mount Dufferin are first-rate for everyone. The Kenna Cartwright Nature Park is located not far from many hotels to the southeast of Kamloops, and it’s a wonderful place to work up an appetite before sitting down to a relaxing restaurant meal.
Wells Gray Provincial Park
Take a wilderness adventure through 540,000 hectares of the Cariboo Mountains if the skiing, snowboarding or whitewater rafting isn’t wild enough for you. Wells Gray Provincial Park was opened in 1939 and is located about 120 km north of Kamloops. Although no award-winning wine grapes grow here, areas of the park are fertile ground for several delicious berries: blueberries, huckleberries, and Saskatoon berries to name a few. Colour-blind adventurers won’t miss the sweet scents rising from the wild-flower meadows at Wells Gray: glacier lilies, arctic lupines, Indian paintbrush and other flowers bloom in hues of blue, red, purple, white, and yellow throughout the Summer months. There is no shortage of water at Wells Gray either; five lakes are great for canoeing on, and you will appreciate the shower provided by Canada’s fourth-largest waterfall after hiking 8 km of forest trail to reach it. Whether dog-sledding, hiking, canoeing, or cross-country-skiing, one is never alone in Wells Gray Provincial Park: bears, caribou, salmon, and mountain goats are some of the animals that host visitors. Wells Gray Park staff are happy to provide tips on what berries not to pick, how not to feed or disturb the wildlife and what to watch out for on hikes and other adventures.
Kamloops Rivers Trail
Since 2000, there’s been no better way for Kamloops visitors or residents to walk, bike, jog or rollerblade around the city. The Rivers Trail winds for 40 kilometres along the shores of the Thompson rivers and through Kamloops’ downtown core. It passes by 10 of Kamloops’ parks and circles McArthur Island Park’s 125 acres of flora, fauna and sport facilities that includes a nine-hole executive golf course. Sports fans, concert-goers and convention delegates can hop the trail from their hotel room to the Interior Savings Centre; risk-takers and critiques also have great access to the Lake City Casino and Kamloops Art Gallery after their restaurant meal. People aren't the only ones who enjoy Kamloops' Rivers Trail; white swans and geese often ask passers-by for a treat to eat. The City of Kamloops continues to develop the Rivers Trail and aims to build 100 kilometres of trails to connect the entire city.
McArthur Island Park
Teams who visit the Tournament Capital of Canada spend a lot of time competing for glory on Kamloops’ McArthur Island Park, named after its first owner, Arthur S. McArthur. McArthur was a successful Kamloops grocer at the turn of the 20th Century from whom the City of Kamloops purchased the island in the late 1950s. Once a barren 126-acre island, today McArthur Island Park is the hub of Kamloops’ sporting activities on a year-round basis. Soccer fields, ball diamonds, curling rinks, and tennis courts host tournaments between foes and games between friends. Picnic areas as well as Kamloops Rivers Trail bike paths and walking trails provide Kamloops residents and visitors with a great recreational outlet along the banks of the Thompson River. A 2000 square-metre concrete jungle skateboarding park allows hotdoggers to push, stand, turn, and try their other moves out. There is even a nine-hole executive golf course on McArthur Island for golfers who wish to practice their short game before playing on one of Kamloops' more challenging courses.
Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park
Horses ran and cattle grazed in the Lac du Bois grasslands early in Kamloops’ history. Today, walkers, hikers and snowshoers may take an easy or difficult stroll through fragile grassland trails and enjoy fabulous views of the Thompson River Valley. Dinner may be served over an open fire at the one Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park campsite that permits campfires. The 15,000-acre provincial park may lack the amenities of a modern Kamloops hotel, but its numerous residents don’t complain: mule deer, California bighorn sheep and other wildlife much prefer the park’s secret ponds and small lakes to an indoor pool. Cliffs and canyons protect fragile ecosystems that would otherwise be an ideal setting for a golf course. Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park is located North-West of Kamloops and its southern tip ends at the banks of the Thompson River.