Lightning Lake Camping at Manning Park

Quick Facts:
  • BC Provincial Parks website:
  • Access to water: walkable distance from Lightning Lake Campground, especially the Large Loop, only pick-a-boo views of the water from campsite
  • Flush toilet, hot shower
  • Activities: playground, water sports, hiking
  • Beach type: mix of sandy and pebbly beach
  • Outdoor Fam rating: 9 out of 10

Our friend Amy and Aaron were not deterred by our previous camping trip through an epic rain, and joined us willingly for a second round at E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Immediately upon entering Manning Park, we were hit with not just a storm, but a thunder storm! The irony of seeing lightnings when we camped at Lightning Lake was not lost to us.

Undeterred, we waited out the worst of the thunder and lightning in our car, and put up our shelter as efficiently as possible. Our tried-and-true ridge line method once again came to our rescue. We were happy that we brought a cooking tent as well.

At this point, Junior probably thinks having a constant source of fresh water to play with dripping from a tarp is a normal part of camping.

The next day, the storm passed and the sun came out. Our challenge became staying cool under the hot sun. We probably could have kept the thicker blue tarp but I wanted to try a smaller, brighter tarp to let more light and air in.

After a late morning hike on the Lighting Lake Loop, it was difficult to get the kids to take their afternoon nap in this heat. Eventually we had to move the tents into more shadow, flip the tarp to the other side, and take off the rain fly entirely.

For extra breeze, Junior and I napped on a hammock instead.

Another issue with camping at Lightning Lake in July is the mosquitoes. The adults regularly applied insect repellents but we were more judicious with applying DEET on the kids. The cooking tent was very helpful but there was no avoiding the mosquitoes on the trail and at the lake.

A little safe haven from the bugs.

We also found out there were evening ranger program at the amphitheatre, something we haven’t seen since the start of the pandemic. Junior and I partook in an evening lesson about owls at Manning Park.

Since our primary objective was paddling Lightning Lake, I wish we could have gotten a site at the large loop of Lightning Lake Campground since that’s where the access point to the lake is. The amphitheater and a nice playground were also located at the large loop.

Overall, Lighting Lake Campground at E.C. Manning Provincial Park is a great, family friendly camping destination providing easy access to the lake and some easy hiking trails. The proximity to the Lower Mainland is somewhat deceiving, as this is at a significant elevation and it can get quite cold at night even in the summer. And you do need to prepare for the mosquitoes, which are out in great numbers especially in July and August when it’s warm enough to be comfortable in a 3-season tent.

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