Elk Falls Provincial Park and Protected Area
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Public Notice: Water flow increases at Elk Falls February 19 – March 21, 2019
BC Hydro is commencing five, two-day in duration, steelhead migration and spawning flows down Elk Falls Canyon. This is to enable fish to access good habitat from the powerhouse tunnel outlet area up to the base of Elk Falls. The water releases from the John Hart dam, which will increase from 4 cubic meters per second (m3/s) to 10 m3/s, will take place February 19-21, 26-28, and March 5-7, 12-14, and 19-21. A public river safety advisory is in place from John Hart dam to Elk Falls during the migration flows — please stay away from the river at this location during the migration flows. Safety signage is in place.
High Water Levels January 4 – 30, 2019
Water Levels in the Campbell River are very high as BC Hydro continues to release water from the John Hart Dam. Park visitors are asked to stay away from riverside areas upstream of Elk Falls and beware that some sections of the Canyon View Trail may also be subject to flooding, making some sections impassable. Please use caution at all times during flood and storm events while in the park.
Playground at Elk Falls has been removed
The playground at Elk Falls (Quinsam Campground) has been removed and BC Parks is currently exploring options for replacement of the structure. It is unlikely that a new playground will be in place for 2018. Sorry for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
Road and Trail Closures
For your safety, park visitors are reminded to adhere to all road and trail closures, please watch for increased heavy traffic while driving to the park and stay on designated trails while hiking in the park.
The key changes to public access and restrictions include:
- All trails in the park remain open, but may be subject to short term closures for public safety during construction activities.
- Map: new parking and trail locations [PDF 3.45MB] within Elk Falls Provincial Park and located on BC Hydro property
Alternate route along Hwy. 19 to access to Northwest areas of Elk Falls Park, The Snowden Forest and Loveland Bay.
About This Park
A thundering waterfall and some of the finest year-round salmon fishing in Canada are just two of the reasons Elk Falls is one of the most popular provincial parks on Vancouver Island. Add to that the extensive network of forest trails, the nearby Quinsam salmon hatchery and, in the fall, the sight of spawning salmon in the Quinsam and Campbell Rivers, and it’s easy to see why this provincial park is considered one of the best campground accommodations in the “Salmon Capital of the World.”
This convenient location – just 2 kilometres from downtown Campbell River on central Vancouver Island – provides quiet riverside camping in the heart of a world-renowned fishing area. And you don’t have to go far to find fish – from November to March, the steelhead run right by the campsites on the Quinsam River. As spring progresses, lakes in the area – many of which have been stocked – ripple with rainbow, cutthroat and dolly varden trout. During late spring and through the summer, fishermen head to the tidal waters to fish for chinook or coho salmon.
After a morning of fishing, pack a picnic lunch and take a cool stroll to the Elk Falls day-use area. Just 3 km from the campground, this picnic area contains easy walking trails and the plunging 25-metre waterfall that gives this park its name. Hiking trails also lead to other areas in the park, which is home to the only significant stand of old-growth Douglas fir north of MacMillan Provincial Park.
The large campground at Elk Falls Provincial Park provides a convenient base camp for day tripping. Gold River, destinations in the Sayward Forest, Kelsey Bay, Rock Bay, and the parks of Quadra and Cortes Islands are within easy reach.
Date Established: Park – December 20, 1940; Protected Area – March 3, 2013
Size: Park – 1,055 hectares; Protected Area – 16 hectares
| Campground Dates of Operation
All dates are subject to change without notice
|Opening and Closing Campground Dates:
(campground is accessible but may not offer full services such as water, security, etc.)
|Open year-round (Winter fee from October 9 to March 28 with no services provided)|
|Campground Dates with Full Services and Fees:||April 12 to October 8|
|Campground Reservable Dates:||May 12 to September 4|
|Total Number of Vehicle Accessible Campsites:||122|
|Number of Reservable Campsites, if applicable:
(all remaining sites are first-come, first-served)
|Note: The above information is for the campground only. Park users can still walk into the park if conditions such as weather permit. Check the "Attention Visitor Notice" above for park alerts.|
All campsite reservations must be made through Discover Camping. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.
Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
Location and MapsPlease note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Maps and BrochuresAny maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Nature and Culture
- In the campground, each of the campsite posts identifies a tree, shrub or flower growing adjacent to the post or near the campsite.
- Wildlife: Wildlife in Elk Falls Park includes a variety of small mammals and birds. Great blue herons, killdeer, Glaucous-winged gulls, crows, Chestnut-backed chickadees, Golden-crowned kinglets and starlings are the most abundant resident bird species. Mammals include deer, bears and cougars, as well as shrews, squirrels, voles, raccoons, mink, river otters, muskrat and beaver. A beaver dam and pond are located west of the campground. Roosevelt elk also utilize portions of the park for winter range. Fish species include steelhead, cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout, three spine stickleback, fresh water Sculpin and chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye salmon.
- Management Planning Information
- Approved management plan for Elk Falls Provincial Park [PDF 1.02MB]
This is NOT the original management planning product. This document has been scanned from the original format of the plan. It may contain some formatting changes, however the content is consistent with the original.
Activities Available at this Park
An extensive 6 km trail system offers a variety of hiking opportunities within Elk Falls Provincial Park.
In the day-use area there is a short trail to the magnificent old growth Douglas fir forest. Another system of trails will take you to Elk, Moose and Deer Falls, found along this portion of the Campbell River. Detailed trail maps are located at the day-use areas and in the campground.
For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Pets on Leash
Facilities Available at this Park
This park has a day-use area, located 3 km west of the campground off Hwy 28. This is the closest trail head to the suspension bridge.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
- Elk Falls Day-use Area – Viewpoints and Suspension Bridge approach:
The paved parking includes stalls that are designated for people with mobility challenges, all pit toilets and most picnic tables are wheelchair accessible. The trails accessing the first set of viewpoints are designed to a 5% grade or less and have hard packed trail surfaces, park bench resting spots, and safety fencing.
Please note: The stairs, suspension bridge and the lower viewing areas are not classified as wheelchair accessible.
- Quinsam River Fishing/Viewing Platform:
A flat concrete platform just below the Quinsam River Highway Bridge provides access to a holding pool for salmon before it enters into the Campbell River. In the fall it holds pink, coho and chinook while on their way upstream. The trail is graded at more than 5% but it is smooth and can be accessed with wheelchairs, it is a short 60m. away from the parking area, and is located across from the Quinsam River Campground.
- Quinsam River Campground:
A number of campsites have wheelchair accessible picnic tables. The entire campsite has wheelchair accessible pit toilets located throughout.
Winter Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $11.00 per party / night