Arrowstone Provincial Park, to the northeast of Cache Creek, was established on April 30, 1996. Taking in an area of 6,200 hectares, it was formed to protect one of the largest undisturbed watersheds in the B.C. southern interior, taking in area between the Bonaparte and Deadman River drainages.
The name is derived from the basalt found in the area, which the Secwepemc (Shuswap) First Nations people traditionally used for their arrowheads. Legend tells how one of the most important Secwepemc demi-gods, Kwil-î-elt, went with some of his friends in search of the arrow-stone, which was owned by two old women who lived near what is now Cache Creek. Suspecting that they would not be given the arrow-stone if they asked for it, Kwil-î-elt and his friends spoke with each old woman separately, telling each one that the other had been telling malicious stories about her. The women, angered, began fighting each other, and as they did so the arrow-stones fell from their clothing. The men gathered them up, and then told the women they had been deceived. On hearing this, the women asked why they had not simply told them what they wanted, and produced boxes full of unworked arrow-stone, as well as large quantities of finished arrowheads, which they presented to the men. These were scattered all over the countryside, which is why the arrow-stone is found in such abundance in the area. Archaeological research has uncovered sites in the southwestern corner of the park confirming past First Nations use.
The area now encompassed by Arrowstone Park also has ties with the historic Gang Ranch of the Chilcotin area. Once the largest ranch in North America, the Gang Ranch was owned by Thaddeus and Jerome Harper, who traveled north from California to establish herds to feed the hungry miners of the B.C. interior. Their rangeland extended well beyond the ranch itself, and included land near Cache Creek now included in the Arrowstone Park boundaries.
Stands of old-growth Douglas fir in the park provide welcome winter shelter, and food, for the migratory mule deer. The protection area also provides valuable habitat for rare species of burrowing owls, falcons, and western rattlesnakes. The dryland forest wilderness contains wide variations of landscape, from semi-arid desert covered in sagebrush and prickly pear to pine forests, streams, and lakes. The park also contains examples of the hoodoos found throughout the region. Hoodoos are striking rock formations carved out over hundreds and thousands of years as soft rock erodes, leaving a hard outer shell which remains. The tall columns typically form in dry, hot, desert areas, and are especially prevalent where volcanic rock formations exist. The “hoodoo landscape” of Arrowstone Park and the surrounding area has been compared with that of Utah or Arizona, and stands in stark contrast with the coastal rain forest only 200 miles away.
Arrowstone Park is rare in that it allows hiking in a relatively pristine backcountry environment that is easily accessible from major highways. It can be accessed via Back Valley Road off Highway One east of Cache Creek, Battle Creek Road near Juniper Beach on Highway One, or via Scottie Creek Road north of Cache Creek on Highway 97. Forestry roads skirt round the borders of the park, permitting access from various locations.