Visitors - Important Notice!
Horse Riders - Please use only weed-free pelleted
feed for horses or purchase hay from the Empire Ranch headquarters,
since import of weeds is a major concern in the Protected
Churn Creek Protected Area includes some of British Columbia's
rarest ecosystems - low, middle and high elevation bunchgrass
grasslands. This unique and fragile landscape provides habitat
for a diversity of rare flora and fauna. These grasslands
can be viewed and accessed on existing cow trails and old
the trails are unmarked and unmaintained. The Protected Area
abuts the west bank of the Fraser River, just south of Gang
Churn Creek Protected Area was established in 1995 following
recommendations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin Land Use Plan. It
is one of five large protected areas across BC that has been
established primarily for the conservation of grassland ecosystems.
The Protected Area also reflects the historic importance of
the Churn Creek area to First Nations, ranching, hunting,
mining, and recreation. This area supports an operating ranch,
where carefully managed cattle grazing continues. In 1998,
the provincial government purchased the historic Empire Valley
Ranch located within the Protected Area, and added the land
to the Churn Creek Protected Area.
Creek Protected Area offers opportunities for hiking,
horseback riding, wildlife viewing, mountain biking and
nature appreciation. Here is more information on horseback
riding and ethics at Churn Creek. Low impact, dispersed,
non-motorized outdoor recreation that does not detract
from the values of the area is permitted, but recreation
will be managed to protect the natural ecological integrity
of the area. ATVs and motorcycles are prohibited, and
trucks and cars must stay on existing roads only. Driving
on the grasslands is strictly prohibited.
is permitted at Churn Creek during the allotted season.
Please consult and obey the British Columbia Hunting
Creek Protected Area supports an operating ranch; watch
for cattle and leave gates as you find them, either open
off the hayfields in the Empire Valley Ranch area, even
when travelling on foot. Driving over the hayfields is
an offence. Do not trespass on private in-holdings within
the Protected Area.
communities provide excellent feed and cover for wildlife.
However, non-native weed species can invade grasslands,
particularly following a disturbance, and can severely
degrade habitat values. Weeds such as cheatgrass can rapidly
dominate large areas. Cheatgrass gets a "head start"
by growing through the winter when bunchgrasses are dormant.
Once established, its roots capture available water when
bunchgrasses most need it in spring. Other noxious weeds
to be aware of at Churn Creek are burdock, hounds
tongue, leafy spurge and blueweed. Knapweed is also beginning
to appear in the Churn Creek area.
help prevent the spread of weeds, check that your vehicle,
bicycle, horse, and pets are clean of vegetation fragments
before you leave home. Many weeds stick to pant legs and
other clothing. Check clothing before entering the Protected
Area to prevent the spread of weeds. Use only processed
feed (pelleted) for horses, or purchase directly from
the Empire Valley Ranch Headquarters.
- Approved Management Plan
- The Churn Creek Management Plan has been prepared by BC
Parks with the direct involvement of local First Nations
and a local Advisory Group to guide management of the Protected
Area. The area is managed for its nationally significant
grassland conservation values, while the Empire Valley Ranch
continues to operate at historic levels. Recreation includes
access for hunting, horseback riding, and hiking, including
a trail system to various scenic areas and a staging area
for horseback riders.
Creek Protected Area is situated approximately 60 km southeast
of Williams Lake on the western bank of the Fraser River,
south of the Gang Ranch. From Williams Lake, it is approximately
a 2 hour drive. Churn Creek is a remote area with difficult
access, involving several hours' driving on rough clay and
gravel roads, which become dangerously slick when wet.
The easiest route from the Williams Lake area is to drive
up Highway 20 approximately 3 km and turn left onto Dog Creek
Road. Continue on this road until you reach Dog Creek Valley,
then follow signs for Gang Ranch, which will take you across
the Fraser River Bridge. At the next intersection, take the
left turn onto Empire Valley Road.
south, drive north on Highway 97 from Clinton; follow signs
to Big Bar Lake Park. Turn right at the next T-intersection
after the park. This leads you through Canoe Creek village
and on to the Fraser River Bridge. Go left, as above.
topographic maps of the area include: 920/8, 920/10, 920/9,
Any maps listed are for
information only - they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be
used for navigation.
Nature & Culture:
ticks are a particular concern in grasslands between March
Creek is a remote area with difficult access. The drive
is long, so ensure that you bring sufficient fuel.
on open roads in the Churn Creek Protected Area at your
own risk. They can become very slippery after any amount
of rain, and washouts may occur. Avoid driving when roads
are wet unless you are equipped with a four-wheel drive,
shovel, and chains. Check road map for closures. Obey existing
is very little water at Churn Creek. Bring your own; don't
rely on purifying surface water.
Safety Information (park
safety, hazards, wildlife safety information, health risks)
parks that accept reservations,
all vehicle accessible campsites (with the exception of
group sites) must be reserved through Discover
are not accepted at this park, all campsites are on a first-come,
first-served basis. For parks that accept reservations or
information on the reservation service, click
Parks: Fees, park listings, what
you should know before you go and other useful links.
protected area offers vehicle accessible campsites
on a first-come, first-served basis - campsite reservations
are not accepted. The
park and camping areas are open year round. The
best location for camping is the calving barn area
on Empire Valley Road. The only development (other
than corrals and the barn) is a pit toilet - there
are no defined sites, picnic tables or fire rings.
Do not camp in the Empire Valley Ranch Headquarters
area, this is a working ranch. Vehicle access camping
is also permitted on safe pullouts on open roads,
except along the Empire Valley Road. Please use
areas that have been used previously by others so
your impact is minimized. Do not drive over the
grasslands to access camping. The closest store
is in Dog Creek, which is approximately a 45 minute
backcountry or walk-in camping is allowed, but no
facilities are provided.
are no group campsites.
is a day-use parking area with some area information
and a pit toilet at the entrance to the Empire Valley
Ranch Headquarters. It is far less developed than a
typical picnic area.
are no wheelchair facilities available.
is very little water at Churn Creek. Bring your own;
don't rely on purifying surface water.
park only has pit toilets, no flush toilets. Pit toilets
are located at the calving barn and near the Empire Valley
are no shower facilities at this Protected Area..
are no sani-station/dump facilities.
are permitted however, no firewood is provided. If you
must have a fire in this dry, warm ecosystem, be sure
to extinguish the fire fully. To preserve vegetation
and ground cover, please don't gather firewood from
the area around your campsite Dead wood is an important
habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds
organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood
and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Be prepared
to bring a portable stove for cooking.
||There are no electrical hook-ups in this park.
are no regularly scheduled interpretive programs at
is permitted on existing cow trails and old roads. Trails
are unmarked and unmaintained. For
your own safety and preservation of the park, obey posted
signs and stay on the trail. Shortcutting destroys plant
life and soil structure, particularly in the grasslands
where the soil is only protected by the thin and delicate
park does not have a playground.
is not available at this Protected Area.
are no canoeing, kayaking or boating opportunities.
boat launch is available.
some streams and creeks support fish (mainly suckers),
Churn Creek cannot be considered a fishing destination.
The kettle lakes in the area do not support sport fish.
fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an
terrain is suited to exploration by mountain bike, but
you must stay on existing roads and trails. Do not be
tempted to venture over grassland areas, as you can
cause long-term damage to the lichen crust. Moreover,
your tires can develop leaks from the spines of the
tiny prickly pear cactus plants. Bicycle
helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
riding is very popular at Churn Creek. Horses must stay
on trails and roads. The calving barn area with corrals
and ample parking is suggested as a staging area for
Horse Riders - Please use only weed-free
pelleted feed for horses or purchase hay from the
Empire Ranch headquarters, since import of weeds
is a major concern in the Protected Area. Here
is more information on horseback
riding and ethics at Churn Creek.
you must bring your dog to Churn Creek it must be under
control at all times. It is illegal to allow your dog
to harass livestock or wildlife. You are responsible
for its behaviour and must dispose of its excrement.
wildlife viewing opportunities.
are opportunities to cross country ski and snowshoe in the park, however,
there are no set trails for these activities. There is a defined snowmobile
access route through the park. Refer to the above Churn Creek park map
that shows the snowmobile route marked.
SCUBA diving or snorkelling opportunities.
protected area is open to hunting and horses can be brought in for
hunting. Please refer to the Hunting and Trapping
Regulations for more information.
climbing or rock climbing opportunities.
spelunking or caving opportunities.
There are no lodges, cabins or yurts available to the public. There are
some buildings approved by park use permit, for the permittee
to use for their ranching operation. For public use, there is a "Calving
where people can use as a staging area for their horses, as well as
hunters and hikers.