Manning Park Then and Now
E.C. Manning Park is one of B.C.’s finest and diverse outdoor destinations—it’s no wonder it draws over one million visitors annually.
Covering over 70,000 hectares, this Provincial Park represents a transition zone between coastal rainforest and the semi-arid Okanagan. There are the towering cedars of the northern Cascade Mountains, high alpine lakes and meadows, and the Skagit and Similkameen river basins.
The area is home to hundreds of bird and animal species, including endangered and protected species, and peak predators like grizzly bears and cougars.
BC Parks maintains over 300km of trails so that everyone can enjoy this unique and beautiful area.
Manning Park Resort offers lodging with all the comforts of home and then some. The Resort can accommodate over 450 people with a variety of rooming and budget options, including the Lodge, cabins and chalets and the Last Resort.
Manning Park Resort has continued to grow over the years and now offers amenities such as an indoor heated pool complex with hot tubs, sauna, steam room and exercise room.
Campers can choose between over 350 front-country campsites, three group campgrounds, and multiple back-country campsites.
Winter activities continue to be a major draw to the park. There are over 60km of groomed Nordic trails, as well as extensive off-piste Nordic and snowshoe trails to take the adventurous on multi-day trips. Downhill skiing at Manning Park is like nothing the Coastal Mountain Range has to offer. Colder temperatures and more consistent weather reward those who visit with line after line of untracked and unforgettable snow. Powered RV sites located on hill provide the provinces only ski-in, ski-out camping!
Within easy, scenic driving distance from the Greater Vancouver, Manning Park remains the most accessible and diverse outdoor destination in southwestern British Columbia.
Back country hikes or leisurely walks, tarps and tents or queen size beds—Manning Park has something for everyone.
History of Manning Park
Long before fur traders and gold seekers arrived to exploit the country’s resources, First Nations people made the Similkameen Valley their home. The present-day Skyline Trail was a well-used travel route.
When the Oregon Treaty established a new international boundary between the United States and Canada and prevented the Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders from continuing their use of the Columbia River as a transportation route, it was necessary for the traders to open up overland communications between the B.C. Interior and the coast. The company commissioned Alexander C. Anderson to find a route over the Cascade Mountains, which he did with the assistance of First Nations guides, creating a fur brigade route from east of Hope to the Tulameen River.
After gold was discovered along the Similkameen River and Rock Creek, the major influx of fortune seekers created a need to keep goods and money flowing exclusively on the Canadian side of the border. Hence, in 1860, British Columbia’s Governor Douglas commissioned the surveyor Edgar Dewdney and the Royal Engineers to build a pack trail that would be entirely on Canadian territory.
After one year, the Dewdney Trail was completed from Fort Hope to Rock Creek and became an invaluable transportation route for the next 20 years. Packloads of provisions moved inland and the interior’s riches in fur and gold were moved out. Today’s Hope-Princeton Highway (Highway #3) closely follows the general direction of the Dewdney Trail.
By the 1890s the gold rush was over and the next wave of traffic came into the area, namely homesteaders and trappers—men and families who wanted to live off the land. Paul Johnson was the first white man to trap extensively in the Manning Park area and over the next three decades the trapping rights to this area were passed on to others.
The present day rights belong to the Hilton family, modern day pioneers of Manning Park. Joseph Hilton, one of the Park’s first Park Rangers, held trapping rights for the longest time and eventually passed them on to one of his grandsons who still maintains them to this day.
The next phase of this history begins with the establishment of Manning Park. In order to save the alpine meadows from overgrazing by domestic sheep, the Three Brothers Mountain Reserve was created in 1931. Five years later the area was partially included in a new game reserve. Finally in 1941, the reserve was declared a Provincial Park and named Ernest C. Manning Park in memory of the then Provincial Chief Forester who had been killed in a plane crash. Manning was a dedicated conservationist who spent his life working for the preservation of the Canadian natural heritage. Because of his foresight in recognizing the recreational value of forested areas, all parklands came under the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. This northern Cascade Park contains more than 71,300 hectares (176,000 acres).
Robert H. Boyd was the first Park Ranger and he and the dedicated rangers who followed him initiated the many projects that helped to form the park as it is today.
When the Hope-Princeton highway opened in 1949, it not only provided a major transportation link between the coast and interior, it also made Manning Park accessible to people everywhere. Thus the dreams of Manning, Boyd, Hilton and many others were realized: the creation of an alpine wilderness for all to see and enjoy.