Kokanee Creek Provincial Park
Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is situated in the Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountain Range and borders the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, 19 kms from Nelson on Hwy 3A. With 257 hectares, the park has over a kilometer of sandy beaches and a large delta area. It protects the active alluvial creek fan with its marshes and extensive sand spit. Kokanee Creek bisects the landscape to form a steep canyon that can be viewed from an observation platform. The area received park status in 1955 thanks to the forward thinking of local land planners who saw value in the many attributes on both sides of Kokanee Creek. The establishment of the campgrounds, the visitor center and other amenities quickly followed under the watchful eye of local interest groups.
Kokanee (the Sinixt name for the redfish that swim upstream to spawn) has been a West Kootenay landmark popular with tourists and locals alike ever since. When staying at the park there is always something to do with a network of walking and hiking trails in and around the park, two adventure playgrounds, the Kokanee Visitor Centre, Kokanee spawning channel, boat launch and of course some required beach time. And that is just within the park boundary!
The Kokanee Creek Nature Centre
The Kokanee Creek Nature Centre located beside the Kokanee Spawning channel was built in the mid-1970s to encourage an appreciation of nature and to educate campers and residents on the unique ecosystems plus the importance of good environmental stewardship in the preservation of the park. Supported by RAP Park Contracting, the West Kootenay Eco Society, http://ecosociety.ca, the Friends of West Kootenay Parks, The Columbia Basin Trust, B.C. Parks, Regional District, Nelson & District Credit Union and a variety of donors, the Nature Center is open from May 15 to Sept. 27, 2019. The Redfish Coffee Bar and Gift Shop, located in the Nature Centre, serves up specialty coffees, fresh baking, ice cream and treats. The Gift shop offers custom t-shirts, nature guides and more with all proceeds going to support the educational programs. Wifi is available. For info on the daily program offerings please go to http://kokaneevisitorscentre.org.
Joanne Siderius is the Naturalist/Interpreter at Kokanee Creek .
The operating dates for 2019 Camping season will be as follows:
Friends Campground – April 26 – Oct.7, 2019 (earlier weather permitting) ~ Sandspit Campground – April 26 – Sept. 29, 2019 ~ Redfish Campground – June 1st – Sept. 16, 2019 ~
Group Site 1 – April 26 – Oct. 7, 2019 – Did you know the Group sites can be booked up to 1 year in advance? Book today for your group function.
Group Site 2 is undergoing some exciting changes – check back for an update that we will post when construction starts!
Local Places to Explore:
The Kootenays are renowned for their distinct mountain culture, vibrant communities, heritage, spirited arts scene, festivals, farmers markets, annual special events and the passion of the people that live here. The following links will be helpful in planning your adventure, there is so much to see and do that our list is just a start.
Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism For a full listing of just about everything the southwest Kootenay area has to offer including upcoming events. Click through for the full tour.
Kokanee Creek Paddle Sports: Right off the Friends Day Use Beach at Kokanee Creek, renting double and single Kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards. All equipment comes with the required PDF (life jackets) and leashes for the SUP’s, great rates. For more info please call 250.551.0100
Kokanee Mountain Zip Line Enjoy the freedom of flight just 2 kms up the Kokanee Glacier Rd from Kokanee Creek Park. No wings required. From high up in the forest canopy, experience a bird’s eye view of the stunning natural environment as you soar above Kokanee Creek canyon on six awe-inspiring ziplines. It’s the only outdoor adventure that’ll leave you breathless without breaking a sweat. 2.5- 3 hour tours down 6 Ziplines – way too much fun.
Nelson Paddle Board and Kayak Rentals – Paddle right from the Prestige Lakeside Resort Marina. Stand up Paddleboarding & Kayaking call 1.877.808.7238 or 250.505.2689
Nelson Whitewater Rafting Co. Offering scenic Float Tours, Facchina Rapids, Shenango Canyon Whitewater. Too much fun! 1.877.808.7238 or 250.505.2689
Gerick Cycle & Ski Nelson – 702 Baker Street, Nelson 250.354.4622 They sell & rent bikes and skis, and provide the best service in town. Suppliers of the local Mountain Bike Trail Guide
Ainsworth Hot Springs The pools provide the perfect place to relax and enjoy some of West Kootenays majestic scenery. Gallons of hot mineral water flows through the pools which changes the water naturally about 6 times a day. The Hot Springs feature a unique horseshoe cave, main lounging pool and for the brave of heart, a stream-fed cold plunge. 1.800.668.1171 / 220.127.116.1112
Kokanee Park Grocery & Marina Right next door to the park the marina sells marine parts & service, a good selection of groceries including an organic section, liquor agency, moorage, gas, propane, camping supplies and more. Motor boats, pontoon boats, tin motor boats, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and canoe rentals are available. 1.250.825.9235 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Balfour Superette – 7824 Hwy 3A, Balfour We have a full Grocery Store, a licensed Liquor Agency, a Lotto Agent, Hardware, water bottle filling station, Rug Doctor Cleaners, a fax, a copier and much more!! Hope to see you soon
Nelson Visitor Center Allow lots of time to enjoy the vibrant City of Nelson. Wednesday is market day and everynight is alive with entertainment. For an update on all the is going on check out the Visitor Information Center located at 225 Hall St in Nelson. Toll-free 877-663-5706 Phone 250-352-3433.
Nelson & District Community Complex This facility houses a full gym/weight room, ice arena, lap pool, leisure pool, hot tub, sauna and steam room. Please be advised that the pools will be undergoing renovations over the summer months. 305 Hall Street, Nelson 250-354-4FUN (4386)
Touchstones Nelson A Community Celebration: Touchstones Nelson displays the culture and history of Nelson and District in its museum, archives and art gallery. A must see.
Code Caves Cody Caves Provincial Park was re-established in June of 2013. Since then Cody Cave Tours Owner / Operator Lee Hollis and his professional guiding team have been escorting hundreds of individuals and families through a fascinating journey of this fragile underworld. For children age 5 and up to adults who enjoy a physical adventure, there is a tour just for you. All bookings are confirmed by phone only. 1.250.359.CAVE (2283)
Natural & Cultural Values
Archaeological evidence in the park indicates seasonal campsites used by First Nations people known to be ‘of the Lakes people’, the Sinixt, with overlapping use by the Kutenai and the Ktunaxa. As Archaeologists piece pre-colonized history together, it is acknowledged that the First Nations people moved about their territories and had a healthy trade with other neighboring bands. The harvesting of huckleberries along Kokanee Creek and the abundant supply of Kokanee Salmon once found in the river carried them through the winter months. Many arrowheads have been found in the park. Remains of European settlement include evidence of old homesteads and an early estate. Nearby are mining ghost towns and village museums displaying the Kootenay area history.
Kokanee Creek Spawning Channel
The Kokanee Creek Spawning Channel is a facility build and operated for fish losses resulting from the destruction of spawning habitat in Kokanee Creek. From mid August to mid September at one time up to 20,000 Kokanee fish returned to spawn in Kokanee Creek. The channel is .33 kms long and 3 m wide, was built in 1985 to accommodate up to 7,000 spawning fish and produces between 0.25 – 1.20 million fry with a mean egg-to-fry survival rate of 30%. An extensive interpretation program hosted at the Kokanee Visitor Centre late August includes films, slide shows, and channel walks. There are also very informative, self guiding interpretive panels along the board walk and path that follows the channel to it’s opening on Kootenay Lake.
The Redfish Festival is an annual event that takes place at the end of August each summer. Join us for live music, food vendors, kids’ activities, and – most importantly – guided walks along the Kokanee Salmon spawning channel.
The Kokanee Creek delta ecology also includes many species of animals. A variety of habitats support coyotes, beaver, white-tailed and mule deer and an estimated 160 variety of birds ranging from the tiny Rufous Hummingbird to the Great Blue Heron. Many of the birds are migratory but Kingfishers, Woodpeckers and Dippers can be seen throughout the year. The area is also thought to provide habitat for up to 46 butterfly species as well! There is an important man-made and natural spawning channel for Kokanee Salmon that have been landlocked since the last glacial age.
To avoid potential problems with bears, lock your food in your vehicle at night. Be sure to use the garbage containers provided and maintain a clean campsite.
Park users should always be aware of wildlife in our natural park environment and never feed or approach bears or other wild animals, please view from a safe distance. The best way to avoid incidents with wildlife is always look ahead on the trails for wildlife… make noise; talk to your friends, or sing your favorite song, make your presence known. If wildlife is sighted, take a detour and leave the area immediately.
Before venturing into the park please take a few minutes to review the Wild life Guidelines laid out by BC Parks http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/wild_gen.html
View wildlife safely by following a simple code of Conservation Ethics:
Please be considerate of wildlife and use binoculars to view from a distance rather than approaching them to closely.
Be considerate of habitat, plants are important for wildlife. Please do not damage, pick, or trample and stay on the designated trails.
Control pets by keeping dogs on a leash and under voice control at all times in order to protect wildlife and preserve their habitat.
Diverse Plant Community
Prime growing conditions produce a diverse mix of vegetation with magnificent specimens of Black Cottonwood trees, Douglas Fir, Paper Birch, Western Larch, Ponderosa Pines and mature Western Red Cedar. There are both pure and mixed stands of deciduous trees. The early English settlers to the area introduced Maple, Beach and Oak trees that added to the Larch, Cottonwood and Birch and provide a beautiful array of fall colors.
Boating of every description is enjoyed on Kootenay Lake; waterskiing, wake boarding, tubing and general cruising are all enjoyed with access from the boat launch in the Park.
Kokanee Park Grocery & Marina is next door to the park should you need marine parts & service, boat supplies, camping supplies or fuel.
The delta provides an opportunity to canoe, kayak or paddle boarding. The water is easily accessed at boat launch, Sandspit Beach and the Redfish Beach. Boat rentals available nearby at the Kokanee Creek Paddle sports & the Kokanee Marina.
Watching the weather closely on Kootenay Lake is important as it can change rapidly. For the less experienced shoreline paddling is recommended.
Windsurfing, Kite Boarding and Sail Boats
The wind tends to come up in the afternoon allowing for good windsurfing and kite boarding. Sailing is popular on the lake as well.
Kootenay Lake is famous for its year round fishing. Renowned for large rainbow trout as well as big lake trout and Kokanee salmon when in season, fishing licenses are mandatory
Check the BC Fishing Regulation Synopsis for quotas and restrictions. http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/fish/regulations/
Visit http://www.kootenayangler.com/kootenay_fishing_hotspots.html for the low down on the hot spots from the locals
With over 1 kilometer of beach, the sandy shoreline provides excellent opportunities for swimming, sun bathing, wading and just relaxing.
There is a swimming area on the main sand spit that is not roped off but has buoys marking the boundary.
There are NO LIFEGUARDS on duty at any time.
The outflow of Kokanee Creek has formed an alluvial fan that provides excellent foraging for birds. Ospreys, Bald Eagles and Blue Herron as well as Owls, Kingfisher and American dippers all can be easily spotted along the delta. Local naturalists have listed up to 160 bird species sited in the park including common, uncommon and even rare birds that have been spotted over the summer months.
Check out http://kootenay-lake.ca for some of the most incredible photos of the birds and other wildlife in the area.
The road biking is endless in this area of the Kootenays along the shoulders of Hwy 3A in either direction.
There is network of mountain bike trails on the high side of the park that are maintained by the Nelson Cycle Club under a stewardship agreement http://www.nelsoncyclingclub.org The north shore of Kootenay Lake’s West Arm covers a large variety of terrain with impressive slab lines everywhere that range from fun to insane. This is also home to one of the most epic downhills around in Burn and Beyond-Upper Hitman-Hitman. Nelson Mountain Bike Guide is available for purchase at Gerrick’s Cycle & Sacred Ride Bike shop in Nelson. Also check at the Gatehouse.
When cycling in the wilderness it is important always be aware of your surroundings. Obviously, cyclists travel faster than hikers so there is a better chance of surprising wildlife. The best way of preventing this is to alert wildlife of your presence by making noise and that will likely cause them to move on.
Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
For more information on the local trails, http://www.friendsoftrails.org
There are 9.5 km of easy hiking and walking trails within the park. The majority of these trails are located around the campground, Visitor Centre, spawning channel, lakeshore line and through the delta. A walking bridge across Kokanee Creek can link you to roads and trails to Redfish campground.
The most popular are three connected trails located on the west side of Highway 3, opposite the Sandspit campground entrance. Canyon Trail follows the east side of Kokanee Creek, passes through mature cedar/ hemlock trees and leads you to a set of stairs and terraced viewing platform overlooking a canyon. Due to the narrowness of the canyon, the views of the spring runoff are spectacular. The connecting Pine and Woodland trails take you through a forest of yellow pine and birch. The trails combine to make a circle route. All the trails are considered easy to moderate. Depending which route you choose, hiking times range from 30 to 60 min.
For a map of the trails please checkin with either the BC Park Host or at the Gatehouse.
Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park
Kokanee Glacier Rd. is accessed across from Kokanee Creek Park. The Cedar Grove Old Growth Trail – Trailhead is 11.5 kms up that road. (Please be advised that the road is not accessible to low clearance vehicles.) This 2.3 km trail is rated as easy and one should allow 1.5 – 2 hours. The huge trees and interesting features make this a nice leisurely hike on a hot day.
Gibson Lake Trailhead Loop – Gibson Lake is 16 kms up the Kokanee Glacier Rd. The 2.5 km loop around the lake is rated easy and should take about 1 hour. Named in the Top 10 Family Hikes in the Province by BC Parks, this loop provides great views and can be enjoyed by hikers of all ages.
Kokanee Lake – The trailhead is at the Gibson Lake parking lot and is rated as easy, 5 to 6 hours in duration and is 15 kms in length. Described as a one power bar hike, this trail will take you into a beautiful sub alpine lake and is suitable for the whole family.
The Keyhole – accessed from the Gibson Lake trailhead, the Keyhole is a very popular hike with the locals and visitors alike. Rated as challenging, you must allow 6 – 7 hours, 11 km return to the Gibson Lake parking lot. A scramble up the rocky terrain will be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Kokanee Glacier. A good pair of hiking boots is a must for this hike.
Please be advised that dogs are not permitted anywhere in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.
Check with our Camp Hosts or Guest Services staff for information on the other well traveled trails in the area.
For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Short cutting trails destroy plant life and soil structure.
Granite Point Golf Club – 5200- 6200 Yards, Par 72, Slope 12 1. 250.352.5913 With splendid views of the Kokanee Glacier, Kootenay Lake and the mountain city of Nelson, the Granite Pointe Golf Club is yet another gem in BC’s scenic Kootenays.
Balfour Golf Course – 5100 – 6500 Yards, Par 72, Slope 132 18.104.22.16855 Discover Kootenays Best-Kept Secret. Get away from it all and enjoy great golf in an unparalleled setting along the peaceful shores of Kootenay Lake at Balfour Golf Course.
Kokanee Springs Golf Resort 5700 – 6600 Yards, Par 72, Slope 130 1-800-979-7999 Kokanee Springs Resort is one of Canada’s finest championship courses. In this magnificent mountain setting on Kootenay Lake, every hole is framed by spectacular panoramic views of Kokanee Glacier and surrounding area.