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Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park
British Columbia, Canada
July 22, 2015

Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park is a provincial park in British Columbia, Canada. Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park covers part of the Bulkley River Valley on the east side of Driftwood Creek, a tributary of the Bulkley River, 10 km northeast of the town of Smithers. The park is accessible from Driftwood Road from Provincial Highway 16. It was created in 1967 by the donation of the land by the late Gordon Harvey (1913€“1976) to protect fossil beds on the east side of Driftwood Creek. The beds were discovered around the beginning of the 20th century. The park lands are part of the asserted traditional territory of the Wet'suwet'en First Nation.

sign: Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park sign about the park

The two RV Gypsies had trouble finding this park. At first they drove right by it and went a long way on a dirt road before they turned around and figured out that they had driven past the park. The small parking lot just off the road access was full of cars with bicycles on them. Then the two RV Gypsies walked across a small wooden bridge that crossed Driftwood Creek. The bridge was not in the best of shape, because the part people walk on had dips that made Karen trip.

Karen Duquette on the bridge

Driftwood Creek as seen from the bridge

A short interpretive trail gave glimpses of Driftwood Creek and led to a cliff-face exposure of Eocene shales that were deposited in an inter-montane lake.

the trail to the fossil beds

Driftwood Creek

Driftwood Creek

After a short walk, the two RV Gypsies came to the end of the trail and a big hill that was blocked off. The hill of shales was interbedded with volcanic ash beds, the result of area volcanoes that were erupting throughout the life of the Eocene lake that produced the shales. Preserved within the shale formations were plant, animal and insect species that inhabited the area over 50 million years ago. Pieces were laid out on a railing for examination by visitors.

shale and fossil pieces

shale and fossil pieces

The BC Parks management plan for Driftwood Canyon Provincial Park lists these conservation attributes:

  • internationally-significant Eocene fossil beds: most northerly site in North America with fossilized Eocene insects; fossils also include ancestral salmon, trout and suckers, including Eosalmo driftwoodensis;

  • site of ongoing paleontological research;

  • remnant Bulkley Basin Ecosection (high priority, underrepresented ecosection) SBSdk (dry cool sub-boreal spruce subzone; underrepresented biogeoclimatic subzone).

Limited personal fossil collecting was originally permitted in Driftwood Canyon Park, and the site has been listed in several tourism and rock collection guides as a place to visit for this activity. IMPORTANTHowever, this activity is no longer allowed here.

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