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Great places to go camping in the Nicola Valley.

Some great camp sites around Merritt.

Never a lack of things to do while out camping in the Nicola Valley.

Camping in the Nicola Valley is by far one of the best pass times in the spring, summer and fall.

You can start by checking all the provincial and forestry camp sites. There is a great map to look at and see what they have available at each. You can take a look at the interactive map from Ministry of Forests. From there it would be easy to decide on which site has what you are looking for in terms of hookups, power, showers, lake , fishing hiking etc.

I have done this a couple times and it can be very convenient. I may decide to do this again one day. But right now I prefer a little more rustic way of camping in the Nicola Valley. It opens up so many more options and places that you can go.

Provincial Camp sites.

Some great provincial campsites around the Merritt area include Kentucky Alleyne. Located off of highway 5A between Merritt and Princeton. There are some great hiking trails, fishing and geocaching. There is also a great kids pond between the two lakes where children can fish in the stocked trout pond.

fishing kentucky lake

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Another great site is Monk park on the north west side of Nicola Lake. There is also great fishing here and if you have a boat you can get out into the deeper channels to fish. Rainbow, and kokanee are among the fish you can catch in Nicola Lake. You can get there by following highway 5 from Merritt towards Quilchena. Then take the Monk Park turn off just before the Nicola Lake dam.

fishing Nicola Lake

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

More rustic camping in the Nicola Valley.

There are plenty of great forestry campsites through out the Nicola Valley as well. Some of them include Tyner, Boss, Shea, Davis, Kane, Lundbom, Marquart and so many more. Each of these lakes has it’s own pro’s. There are usually quite nice set ups for camping at all of these forestry sites and each lake has good fishing, trails and an abundance of wildlife.

Lundbom is a great place to camp for those who love to take their horses along. There are corrals and some great trails and open range land. Makes for an amazing camping trip.

Rustic Camping

We usually just drive to a nice spot in the bush by a lake and camp. No power, no hookups, no water. Sometimes we are not sure if our trailer will make it in but we do. If for some reason the road it not safe to take the trailer we will take the tent.

camping Helmer Lake

Photo Credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Our trailer is always loaded with food.

We always bring our own water, propane, battery or solar lights. We even make a portable out house. And last camping trip we lined the path to the outhouse with solar lights. It was great.

camp at Rey Lake

Photo Credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Canoeing, kayaking and boating

All of these lakes would be great to take your canoe, kayak, boat, belly boat or even pontoon boat. They are all easy to access. There are so many lakes close to these lakes as well so you can travel a short distance to a new lake and a new experience.

Loons

We love going fishing to catch our dinner or just catch and release. It’s all about getting out and enjoying the day. One lake we go to has a resident loon that will come and try to steal the fish right from the side of your boat or belly boat. You have to be very careful and keep a watch or your fish will either get taken or have some pretty good marks in it from the loon’s beak. It is quite exciting and kind of scary at the same time. You can get some great photos of the loon though. 

loon wanting to steal fish

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

Eagles

I remember another lake where you had to be careful as the resident bald eagle likes to come and steal the fish right off your line. Have to keep your eyes open and reel like crazy to get the fish in before the eagle steals it. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

We are seriously so lucky to have what we have in our back yard. I remember setting up camp one summer and just going back and forth to work right from camp.

Bruce the Spruce

I have to tell you a fantastic little story about Bruce the spruce grouse. While out driving around, there is one road we always take to see what wildlife we can capture. Once particular day when we stopped at our normal corner I heard a grouse. I started to call it to see if it would come closer and what do you know. This grouse came right out strutting his stuff. He would follow me and even the truck for a little ways up the road. 

NO WAY!!!

On our way back down I didn’t see the grouse again but told my boyfriend to stop and I would try calling him again. My boyfriend said no way is it going to come back again. I got out of the truck and started to call “Bruce…come on Bruce where are you” Well, wholly crap. Here comes Bruce strutting his stuff again. We couldn’t believe our eyes. I got a few more photo’s before heading home for the day.

Week Later

Thinking there is no possible way Bruce would still be there I decided to take my daughter for a ride up the road a week later. I needed some better photo’s. The ones I took the first time were not as good as I wanted. We got to the corner and I got out. My daughter must have though me to me crazy to be calling a grouse. “Bruce, come on Bruce, where are you” My daughter was just floored as out of the bush comes Bruce the Spruce. I got some better pictures this time. Had a little visit and left for home.

When my boyfriend got home and I started to tell him that Bruce was still there. My boyfriends daughters were listening couldn’t believe that I was calling this grouse in. I let them know that we would go out again as soon as we could so they could also see.

Couple weeks after that

It wasn’t until a couple weeks later that we got to head out again. I thought for sure this time Bruce would be gone. But he was still there and came out when I called him. My step-daughters thought it was the craziest thing. I also thought it was pretty wild how this grouse would come out when I called it. He was there and kept coming out for about a month and a half. We would go up and visit for a while and get some photo’s and a couple video’s. 

I am not sure what ever happened to Bruce but he finally did disappear. It was a sad day when I went to see him and when I called he no longer came. I can only hope that he just moved on.

Gardening

I was pretty much ready to start planting a garden out there. Although we were back and forth I did plant some potato’s and lettuce. Our trailer stayed out there from April until the first snow in October. It was the best summer I have ever had. I think  this year I will bring some planters out and have a bit of a container garden. 

Property

Now we live on property and I thought by having property I wouldn’t want to go camping in the Nicola Valley anymore. So I started to get animals to sustain us on our own land. Well, I was wrong. I miss camping in the Nicola Valley. Quading, fishing  going on hikes from out in the bush some where. There is absolutely nothing like it. I love being able to see all the amazing wildlife when I am camping in the Nicola Valley.

bull moose calf

Photo credit Michelle Lea’s Photography

New places to explore

Usually we always camped at Helmer Lake. Unfortunately there was a bad flood that took out most of the camp sites as well as the road. Forestry has not fixed it for the past 3 years. So on to new and exciting places.

We decided to sell all the animals so we can do some serious exploring again. Some of the lakes that we are looking forward to checking out this year are forestry camp sites. But that’s okay. I am looking forward to picking fresh berries and catching my supper again.

Can’t wait to share with you all what I have experienced over the spring, summer and fall and which ones we love. There are so many places to check out when you go camping in the Nicola Valley. Some you may have heard about. Some maybe you haven’t. I will tell you about all of the ones I visit and what I see and experience at each.

Take Care

Please take care of our country so that others may also enjoy it for generations to come.

I would like you to make a promise. When you go into the back country please, leave it like you were never there.  Always make sure your camp fire is out before you leave. If you see someone else has left a mess behind, please make an effort to clean it up then make a note and message me at Experience Nicola Valley. I will make a point to go back and see if there is anything else I can do. Thank you all so much. 

Great places to go camping in the Nicola Valley.

WILD! Flies, Skins, and Skulls…

Creative Exhibition at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, Merritt Canada

Fishermen, Hunters, Photographers, Collectors, Artists…

Things to do in Merritt

Taxidermy, fly ties, carvings

Things to do in Merritt…A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style: taxidermy, fly ties, rods, skulls, pelts, eagle photography, moose airbrush painting. Collections of stuffed birds, birds’ nests,  shells…lots to see!

Who’s showing their nature art and collections at the Gallery?

  • Peter McVey, fly tier and fisherman extraordinaire. 
  • Willie Kiegerl, providing us with a variety of animal skulls to identify. And other wildlife. 
  • Dawn Shackelly’s eagle photography, and owls, big horn sheep, baby ducks… 
  • Jessie Rabbit with her bull calf and fireweed, her beautiful airbrush painting. 
  • Cindy Trent with collections: skulls, BC shells, sea stars, and bird’s nests 
  • Rory Hepner has provided beaver and coyote pelts, and animal skulls 
  • Artist Renee Hartwigs’ tri coloured owl and Joel Reid’s “find the bird” painting 
  • Mischelle and Bill Pierce have contributed both creatures and colourful fly ties 
  • Fran McMurchy created three small watercolour creeks for three fly ties in oak frames. Unique! 

And Murphy Shewchuck, who put down his fly rod years ago. And picked up his camera… 

A nature exhibition Nicola Valley style…

Things to do in Merritt

Nature collections and Renee Hartwig’s Owl Art

Our Nicola Valley, surrounding the town of Merritt Canada, is filled with hunters and fishermen and women. Lots of families in the area raise their children with skills to provide for their families from the land around. From berries to deer to lake trout. Children and adults alike celebrate bringing down their first deer, or catching their first salmon.

We are set in a grassland valley, filled with creeks and lakes, surrounded by rolling hills and mountain ranges. There are a lot of choices, many paths to take, and backroads to follow- to hunt, fish, gather. Lots of nature.

Our exhibition reflects this focus on nature in the area!

I have long been fascinated with the art of fly fishing and fly tying. As a child, my family just fished with rods that fit in our Rambler. We fished enough, and I enjoyed it enough, to make sure my own kids had rods and gear enough to catch Lake Trout at Monck Park, which we ate for supper on the camp fire.

But we had friends who were hooked on fly fishing, and I watched movies with fly fishing action (looks close to meditation). And I could see the charm of those long, supple rods flashing the line out over water. And the flies…

We have one of the most well-known fly tiers in our area displaying his flies, ties, and accoutrement. Peter McVey not only told stories at our WILD! Reception, but left his book so we could read more about his adventures…

We have vintage suitcases displaying flies that others have created. Works of art!

What if you wanted to get started on fly tying?

From Gear Junkie

Catching your first fish on the fly will embed new levels of appreciation for all things fly fishing.

Things to do in Merritt

Fly Tie Watercolour art by Fran McMurchy

Most fly anglers hit a point in their fishing career when they think about tying their own flies…. There’s an entirely new level of satisfaction from catching a fish on a fly you tied yourself.

The path to tying amazing flies isn’t the easiest. And the reward is 10-fold compared to that of storebought flies.

Fly tying is an angling tool that can empower you to catch more fish. Tying flies enables an angler to not only replicate their favorite bug at the fly shop but also create their own custom patterns no one else has. The only limits you face at a tying vise are imagination and creativity.

Anglers construct flies to replicate the exact bugs found in streams.

Tying also offers the avenue to get in touch with the most artistic side of fly fishing. Fully dressed Atlantic salmon flies and modern articulated streamers can be just as artistic as painting, with the hook acting as your canvas. 

Yes! That’s what I thought when, as art gallery director in our small community, we were brainstorming Art Exhibitions.

This area is filled with fishable lakes and streams. One of our oldest slogans is “A lake a day, as long as you stay!”

The Nicola Valley is a perfect place for a Fly Tie show!

Things to do in Merritt

Ruffed Grouse, birds’ nests

And, my buddy said…taxidermy too! Well, sure!

Most of us have seen taxidermied creatures, in museums, at our uncle’s house… Taxidermy is an art in itself.

What does taxidermy mean? From answers.com

Taxi is Latin for move. Dermis is Latin for Skin. Taxidermist is a mover of skin. Taxidermy is what he does. A taxis is a division of classification especially when concerning animals. Dermous means skin, Dermy is an activity concerned with skin. So — Many types of animal skin activity.

In the Nicola Valley, we have several taxidermists. They do work for locals and also do spectacular mounts for clients outside our area. I’ve seen photos…

At the Gallery we have stuffed birds: ptarmigan, ruffed grouse, blue grouse (the smart ones), a beautiful owl… And a mounted fish.

We also have amazing carvings of birds and fish that look like the real thing…

And if you want a taste of the big critters, we have photographs of mountain sheep, bald eagles, an air brush painting of a moose calf. And real antlers of moose and deer, a buffalo hoof, a coyote and beaver pelt, two bear skulls…

Lots of skulls! Of all kinds! Coyote, beaver, raccoon, fish… Hummingbird skeleton! You can barely see it!

So here we are, in the middle of an exhibition showcasing the work of many people local to our area. Collectors, painters, fly tiers, taxidermists.

Things to Do in Merritt… Come and Visit & Get Involved!

From Oct 11-Nov 3, 2018, at the Courthouse Arts Gallery.

Things to do in Merritt

WILD! Poster by Kim Leclair

Got skulls? We are looking for donated animal skulls, bones, antlers, for a painting workshop!

This should be fun…. Want to join us?

Register for Saturday, Oct 27/18. 1-3pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery in Merritt. $20. $10 if you bring your own skull…

Go to Nicola Valley Arts Council Facebook Page for more info!

And if you miss it, we’d love to collect skulls and antlers for more artwork, for another time. Call 250-378-6515 to donate.

Also fly tie expert and fisherman extraordinaire, Peter McVey, is telling stories, Friday Nov 3/18, 4-6pm at the Courthouse Arts Gallery, 1840 Nicola Avenue, Merritt, BC

Visit Nicola Valley Arts Council‘s site for more about the arts in the Nicola Valley.

Read my blog about Open Mic Nights in Merritt, held every Friday night at Kekuli cafe 7-9pm. Come on out!

Jano Howarth, promoting creativity in our community

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Michelle Bacon

Owner/Operator at Michelle Lea's Photography
I grew up on the Lower Mainland in Maple Ridge. We always had property and animals. I was always involved somehow with horses most of my life. I moved to Merritt approx 14 years ago. I absolutely love the fact that I can live, work and play in such an amazing area. Everything is literally out my back door. I have time and time again been amazed at how this community comes together in good times and bad. I now live on my own little farm halfway between Merritt and Logan Lake. I love everything outdoors. I enjoy camping, fishing, hunting, quading, canoeing, photography and am thinking of kayaking this year. I am very excited and honored that I am able to share all my passions and adventures with you all. Please follow, share and comment on my blogs. I love to hear what you think. Thank you
Michelle Bacon
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