News & Access

Access & BC Park Status For Skaha Bluffs

Pioneers visiting the Skaha Bluffs to create new climbing routes in the early 1980's had no secure access to the Crown Land where these bluffs were situated. Instead they relied on stealth to cross private properties in order to gain this newfound climbing area. Access into the Skaha Bluffs remained tenuous those first dozen years until 1993, when Hugh Dunlop of Braesyde Farms agreed to allow parking on his property, allowing access to the Crown Land in behind where the Skaha Bluffs were located. This arrangement held fast for 15 years until the Braesyde Farms property went up for sale. The Climbers Access Society of British Columbia (CASBC) stepped in and leased this parking lot for one year, allowing local climbers Hugh Lenny, Howie Richardson, Russ Turner and Sean Dougherty to come up with an alternate plan. Thanks to Bill Turner and The Land Conservancy, he was able to broker a deal to include The Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Mountain Equipment Coop, BC Parks, commercial climbing companies (including Skaha Rock Adventures), plus donations from hundreds of climbers and hikers in order to raise the $5.5 million required to purchase Sublot 18, a parcel of land adjacent to the Braesyde Farm property in order to secure climbers' access for the long term. Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park officially opened in March 2009 and is now one of North America's prime rock climbing destinations.

As an active supporter of Pentictons' climbing community, Skaha Rock Adventures is proud of its' achievements and has been instrumental in helping to secure climbers' access to the Skaha Bluffs since 1994. Skaha Rock Adventures has invested 3,800 volunteer hours and tens of thousands of dollars developing new teaching sites in the Skaha Bluffs plus hundreds of volunteer hours as an effective member on numerous committees, working to preserve climbers' access for the past 27 years.

Skaha Bluffs' visitor use has risen dramatically over the years. In 1994, there were an estimated 3,000 annual user visits, whereas in 2018, there were an estimated 85,000 annual user visits. Please help to maintain the pristine beauty of this Park by remembering to Pack It In - Pack It Out, staying on established trails, no camping or open fires, keeping your dog on a leash and respecting the wildlife who call this their home.

In 2016, BC Parks completed the final draft for their Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park Management Plan. This management plan draws focus to the significant role this Park has in protecting wildlife species and habitat while providing unparalleled recreational opportunities such as rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking. New for 2018, BC Parks have hired Lees & Associates to conduct a survey in order to develop a Climbing Strategy for Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park. This project is intended to give more specific direction to the management and development of recreational climbing and outdoor recreation over the next 20 years, ensuring the recreational needs are balanced with ecological conservation. You can visit BC Parks' website for more information regarding management objectives and strategies for Skaha Bluffs Provinicial Park.

Access to the Skaha Bluffs is up Smythe Road, just off of Lakeside Road that parallels Skaha Lake, 3.2 kms south from the junction of Crescent Hill Rd. and South Main Street. There are now two parking lots available with 81 parking stalls in each. Parking will be at a premium, especially on long weekends, therefore we strongly encourage climbers to carpool in order to allow others to access the area. This is a day-use only area with a locked gate at the bottom of Smythe Road (7:00 AM – Dusk).

Due to the number of vehicle break-ins during the summer of 2015 in the Skaha Bluffs parking lots, CASBC organized a local Park Watch Society for 2016-17. There was a full-time security person located in the Skaha Bluffs parking lots 7 days a week for the duration of those climbing seasons, which discouraged vehicle break-ins by 99%. The Park Watch Society will continue this service for the next 5 years, thanks to a recent funding approval by the City of Penticton for 2018-2022. Please introduce yourself to the Park Watch Society spokesperson and know that donations in order to continue this service are certainly welcome.