Rough Road to Rhododendron Lake

Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) just starting to come into bloom at Rhododendron Lake on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

It was years ago, back when I was in the Recreation Administration program at then Malaspina University-College (now Vancouver Island University), that I took a field trip out to Rhododendron Lake, just south of Parksville, British Columbia. The lake is unique in that it is one of two places on Vancouver Island where Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) is known to grow. Much more common to the south in Washington State, it is a botanical treat to see this rhododendron in bloom here on the Island.

This year I decided to revisit the lake and having two young toddlers who desperately needed a nap (or was it that I desperately needed some quiet?) I figured that an hour long drive south to Parksville was an added bonus since they’re both excellent car sleepers.

Rhododendron Lake is relatively easy to get to if you have a vehicle like a truck with good clearance. It is slightly more challenging but doable, with strategic driving, in a Toyota Corolla. I’ll post detailed directions and description of the road conditions later this week in a longer post on Island Nature. If you can’t wait until then, check out Nanaimo Rhododendron Society web site which has information about how to get to the lake.

Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)
The beautiful pink flower of Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) are beginning to bloom at Rhododendron Lake south of Parksville, British Columbia.

There were a few Pacific Rhododendrons in bloom at the lake this week but the real show will start in a week or two. It’s definitely worth the rough drive out to Rhododendron Lake to see one of Vancouver Island’s unique plant communities.