Looking for a winter playground that won’t break the family vacation piggy bank? Located east of Hope, three hours from Vancouver, is Manning Provincial Park, one of British Columbia’s most affordable and popular outdoor recreational playgrounds.
We’ve been visiting here since 1992, in both winter and summer; pre-kids and as a family. It’s become an annual vacation destination for us around the New Year, starting when we used to winter camp at Lone Duck campground, digging out a tent spot in the deep snow.
These days, we’re more likely to rent a cabin than camp in the snow, but our love for Manning Park, and its outdoor winter sport offerings has not diminished over time.
In fact, as other resort towns have grown more sophisticated (and expensive) over the years, we’ve come to really appreciate the rustic, old-fashioned charm of this special place.
The park and resort offer and maintain miles of extensive beginner and advanced cross-country ski trails, the Gibson’s Pass downhill ski area (with interior-like dry powder conditions), snowshoeing, an ice rink, a polar coaster tube park, and several tobogganing hills.
There is also the Loon Lagoon Recreation Centre, including a pool, two hot tubs, sauna and steam room. The pool area is perfect for the often-needed après-ski muscle soak, and kids play time.
Manning Park Resort, located in the provincial park on Highway 3 (the Crowsnest Highway), offers a variety of hotel lodge rooms, cabins, and chalet accommodations for visitors in both winter and summer. Peak season weekends and holidays book years in advance, but if your kids are pre-school age, try a mid-week getaway for a taste of winter fun at the resort.
BC Parks operates the public campgrounds throughout the park, including the biggest at Lightning Lake, in the summer months.
[travellingmom tip: Holiday and summer camping accommodations fill up very quickly at Manning Park. Be sure to book early to get your camping spot overlooking Lightning Lake through Discover Camping’s reservation service.]
Photo credits: S. Laroye
Have you visited Manning Park in winter time? Share your comments below.