Seton Lake Recreation Area
An area rich in history, rich in recreational opportunities
The Seton Lake recreational area is part of BC Hydro's Bridge River hydroelectric complex.
It includes one campground and three day-use/picnic areas that offer a range of activities, including boating, canoeing, hiking and fishing, plus a viewpoint overlooking Seton Lake Reservoir.
Seton Lake Recreation Area is located in the traditional territory of St’at’imc Nation, and is on former reserve lands of the community of T’iti’q’et.
Where it is and how to get there
Use this Google map link to the Seton Lake Recreation Area, which is located 6 km west of Lillooet, approximately 320 km northeast of Vancouver (about a 4.5-hour drive). See information below on the Bridge River picnic site, Seton Dam campground and Naxwit picnic area.
Recreation & camping information
Seton Beach is a day-use area that offers access for picnicking, boating, canoeing, hiking and fishing.
The stand of acacia trees providing shade to the beach area was planted in 1942 by Lillooet residents in memory of World War II casualties. Drinking water and a pay phone are available.
This viewpoint provides a spectacular view of the emerald-green waters of Seton Lake Reservoir and the surrounding Chilcotin mountains.
Near the viewpoint you may also find evidence of kekulis, underground winter homes built by the interior Salish-speaking St'at'imc (STAH-tleum) people. A small self-guided interpretive trail is located at the viewpoint, providing information about the history of the Lillooet area and some of its modern-day features.
The Seton Lake Reservoir development, completed in 1956, consists of an 18-metre concrete dam (located across from the campground) incorporating a fish ladder and a diversion canal, which directs water from the Seton River to the Seton Powerhouse on the Fraser River.
Pink, chinook, coho and steelhead salmon are all found in the Seton River. Two Department of Fisheries and Oceans spawning channels are located near the south side of Seton River for pink salmon.
Two siphons from the concrete diversion canal provide water to these channels. During the summer and fall months, the diversion of Cayoosh Creek water into Seton Lake Reservoir helps migrating salmon find their way back upstream, past the Seton Generating Station, to spawning grounds.
Seton Dam campground will be open for the 2022 season starting May 20.
The campground offers 45 campsites, hiking trails, firewood, drinking water and pay phone. Each campsite is equipped with picnic tables and fire rings.
There are no reservations for campsites, which are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Firewood is available for a small fee (cash only). Please inquire with the recreational area warden.
In the late 1800s, Cayoosh Creek attracted hundreds of prospectors seeking their fortunes at the bottom of a gold pan. A Chinese bake oven is located in the campground area – a reminder of these gold miners.
Rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, sturgeon and kokanee are present in the reservoir. Fishing is usually best during spring and fall.
Pink, chinook, coho and steelhead salmon are all found in the Seton River. Two spawning channels are located near the south side of the river.
A small self-guided interpretive trail leads visitors to evidence of kekulis, underground winter homes built by the interior Salish-speaking St'at'imc (STAH-tleum) people.
In addition, there are trails linking the beach and campground areas and a trail along the shore of Cayoosh Creek. All are suitable for a pleasant stroll in the cooler morning or evening hours.
BC Hydro's newest picnic area is located about 3 km west of Lillooet along the Duffey Lake Road and is an easy walk from the Seton Dam Campsite. This is a day-use-only site with 14 picnic tables, washrooms, drinking water and interpretive signs detailing the history and ecology of the area.
The site was designed with RVs and tour buses in mind, so there is plenty of oversized parking and easy access for larger vehicles.
The name Naxwit (pronounced Nack-wait) is the traditional place name for the area given by the Stl'atl'imx Nation. Naxwit means "snake" and refers to the many snakes that can be found in the nearby rocky slopes. Don't worry, these are wandering garter snakes, which are not venomous and are usually quite small.
Situated on the banks of the Seton River and surrounded by steep cliffs, the setting of the area is spectacular and provides excellent opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing. Mountain goats can almost always be seen climbing or resting on the surrounding cliffs.
This is a great place to stop, stretch your legs, and admire the natural beauty of the area.
At the Bridge River powerhouses is the Bridge River picnic site, located between Seton Portage and Shalalth, which offers picnicking and a boat launch. There is no access to drinking water here.
Safety & visitor information
- Pets must be on a leash at all times. Pets are prohibited on Seton Beach from April to October.
- Open fires are not allowed in the day-use areas. Some tables are equipped with metal stands to support barbecues, but only gas barbecues – no briquets – are permitted in BC Hydro rec sites. Follow the campfire safety rules.
- Overnight camping is permitted in designated sites only. No overnight camping is available at Seton Beach, Seton Viewpoint or Naxwit picnic area.
- Trails are closed to all motor vehicles.
- The Bridge River picnic site, located at the western end of Seton Lake Reservoir, is located between Seton Portage and Shalalth. Road access is difficult and visitors should be aware of local conditions whether arriving via the Mission Mountain Road from Lillooet or the Highline Road from D'arcy.
History & hydroelectric operations
The Seton Lake Reservoir Recreation Area is located on Cayoosh Creek, near the confluence of the Seton and Fraser Rivers, in an area first inhabited by the interior Salish-speaking St'at'imc (STAH-tleum) people.
Their underground winter homes, or "kekulis", can still be seen at the Seton Lake Viewpoint. In the later 1800s, hundreds of Chinese prospectors scoured the banks of Cayoosh Creek in search of gold. The remains of a Chinese bake oven can be seen in the campground, a reminder of the gold rush days.
BC Hydro's Seton Dam, the final dam of the Bridge River Hydroelectric development, and the Seton Canal, which delivers water to the Seton Powerhouse and the Fraser River, are located immediately north of the campground and were built between 1927 and 1960.
The Seton Powerhouse has a maximum generating capacity of 42 MW and an average capacity of 330 GWh per year, roughly equal to four times the amount of electricity used by all the homes and businesses in Lillooet and Lytton, or enough to meet the energy needs of more than 300,000 homes.
Additional historic information can be found at the Lillooet Museum Travel Information Centre during May to August. The Seton Viewpoint provides a spectacular view of the emerald-green water of Seton Lake Reservoir and surrounding Lillooet Range Mountains.