Elk Falls Provincial Park and Protected Area
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Winter conditions exist throughout the park in parking areas, on trails, viewing areas, stairs and bridge structures. This may result in very slippery and uneven walking conditions in some areas of the park. Please use caution along all riverside areas and adhere to all danger and cautionary signage.
Plant Advisory: Cow Parsnip and Giant Hogweed
Cow Parsnip is a native plant and is part of healthy and diverse ecosystems in BC Parks. It is also a culturally important plant for many local First Nations. Cow Parsnip can sometimes be confused with the very toxic and invasive plant Giant Hogweed. BC Parks would like you to advise visitors that Cow Parsnip can also cause people’s skin to react to sunlight if they come in contact with it, although much less severely than for Giant Hogweed. Cow Parsnip can be located throughout the park and along trails and campsite edges. BC Parks encourages visitors to take necessary steps to avoid coming in contact with the plant and to stay on designated trails and sites.
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
Location and Maps
Maps and Brochures
Any maps listed are for information only; they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
- Park Map [PDF] (January 21, 2020)
- Parking and trail locations in Elk Falls Park and on BC Hydro property [PDF 2.5MB] (January 15, 2020)
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
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.
This park has a day-use area, located 3 km west of the campground off Highway 28. This is the closest trail head to the suspension bridge.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
Winter Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $11.00 per party / night