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Kokanee Creek Provincial Park
Attention Visitors – Important Notice!
Kokanee Creek salmon spawning August–September
BC Parks is eagerly anticipating the return of the Kokanee salmon to the spawning channel at Kokanee Creek Park. The park has an elevated boardwalk to allow visitors to view the salmon in the spawning channel. BC Parks would like to remind visitors that during the spawning period, bears are also frequent visitors to the channel to feed on the salmon. To protect both people and bears the spawning channel viewing areas have special regulations in place during the salmon run. These restrictions will come into effect when the Kokanee spawning is occurring in the channel, approximately August 15th to September 30th and will include:
- Dogs will not be permitted on the boardwalk or the trails adjacent to the spawning channel.
- Bicycles must be walked across the boardwalk and along the trails adjacent to the spawning channel.
- The portion of the spawning channel downstream of the viewing platform will be closed to the public during the period that bears are utilizing it for feeding. This closure will include the trails behind the Nature Center.
Volunteer Host Opportunity
Kokanee Creek Provincial Park offers volunteer host opportunities.
About This Park
With over a kilometre of sandy beaches and three campsites, Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has provincial significance and is the number one choice for tourists’ coming to the West Kootenays. There is always lots to do with an adventure playground, visitor centre, spawning channel, boat launch, group camp site, viewing platform, hiking trails and a marina nearby.
Want more? All within an hour’s drive you can explore historic Nelson, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Balfour Golf Club, Kaslo with the SS Moyie stern wheeler and finally Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. Discover south central B.C. but save some time for Kokanee Creek Provincial Park. If you don’t, you’re going to wish you did.
Established Date: April 5, 1955
Park Size: 260 hectares
- Kokanee Creek canyon and old-growth western cedar and grand fir.
- Kokanee Spawning Channel and viewing platform. Redfish run is mid–August to mid–September
Know Before You Go
- The beach is unsupervised. Parents must be careful with children around the Kokanee Creek canyon and canyon viewpoint.
- Winds and weather on Kootenay Lake can change quickly. Be prepared.
Electrical hook-ups at Friends Campground
Friends Campground offers 13 vehicle accessible campsites with electrical hook-ups. The charge is an extra $7/night.
- The Kokanee Nature Centre is open in July and August; contact the Park Operator for details.
All campsite and group site 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.
Group Campsite Reservations
Location and Maps
Maps and Brochures
Nature and Culture
- History: Kokanee Creek Park is located on the old “Busk” estate site. Charles W. Busk was a wealthy English gentleman who came to Nelson in the late 1800’s. He had acquired a large tract of land with lake frontage 14 miles from Nelson. From plans drawn by English architects, Busk built a large mansion that once sat on a rise a short way up Kokanee Glacier Road. As a country squire and gracious gentlemen, Mr. Busk enjoyed entertaining guests but also had many interests in surveying, mining, fruit ranching and Scouting. He lived an eloquent, lavish life style. After 1913 the romance of his new way of life had dulled and it is estimated he went through three fortunes. Sadly, within a few years he died, disillusioned by most of his ventures, withdrawn and ignored by friends whom he once had entertained so lavishly. The park as it is seen today was originally established in 1955.
- Cultural Heritage: Archaeological evidence in the park indicates seasonal campsites used by First Nations people. 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.
- Conservation: With 257 hectares, Kokanee Creek Park has extensive sandy beaches and a large delta area. Backed by a gentle rising upland, this area gives way to the forested slopes of the Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountains. Kokanee Creek bisects the landscape to form a steep canyon. The park protects the active alluvial creek fan with its marshes and extensive sandspit. Both the Englemann spruce/subalpine fir and the interior cedar/hemlock biogeoclimatic zones occur here. Prime growing conditions within the park produce a diverse mix of vegetation with magnificent specimens of fir, hemlock and pine. There are both pure and mixed stands of deciduous trees as well as many of the common understory plants including wild rose, queen’s cup and skunk cabbage. Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage, please do not damage or remove them.
Wildlife: The Kokanee Creek Delta ecology includes
many species of plants and animals. A variety of habitats support coyotes,
beaver, whitetail and mule deer and a large number 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 by seen throughout the year. The
park also has important man-made and some natural spawning channels for kokanee
salmon, which spawn in large numbers in the late summer.
Park visitors should always be aware of bears and other wildlife in our park environment. Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife. Please view all wildlife from a distance.
Activities Available at this Park
The delta provides many opportunities to canoe or kayak and enjoy the abundant birdlife in the park. The lake can be accessed by the day-use/picnic areas or the boat launch at the north-east end of Sandspit beach. Kootenay Lake can have sudden wind or weather changes. Be prepared.
Kokanee Creek Paddle Sports is on site offering canoe, kayak and paddle board Rentals off the main beach.
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, lake shoreline and through the delta. A walking bridge across Kokanee Creek can link you to roads and trails to Redfish campground. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroy plant life and soil structure.
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.
In addition, Kokanee Glacier Park is 16 km away and contains over 100 km of beginner to advanced hiking trails in spectacular alpine terrain.
The Kokanee Nature Center is open from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, serving locally roasted coffee and free WIFI. Programs run daily through July and August. Check the notices posted daily throughout the park for the activities of the day.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has a fun, hands on, Learn to Fish Program that teaches basic angling skills to youth under 16 years old. Check back to this page or ask the Park Operator for information.
Pets on Leash
Facilities Available at this Park
A wharf to assist with launching and singlewide concrete boat launch can be found at the north-east end of the Sandspit day-use/picnic area. The 20 unit day-use parking lot can accommodate vehicles or boat trailers; no overnight parking except for registered campers. A nearby marina will keep your boat overnight. Both water skiing and windsurfing are popular activities on Kootenay Lake.
Note: Low water levels preclude boat launch use in March and April.
Cold well water is available for cooking and drinking. Nine taps are randomly located in both campgrounds.
Sandspit day-use/picnic area has two water fountains.
Redfish day-use/picnic area shares a water tap with the group sites. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
Electrical service is available in 13 sites at the Friends campground. An additional service charge of $7.00, per night, applies to these sites regardless of whether electrical service is used.
Please note: There are no fire rings in sites 137-145.
Youth group camping charges per night are $1/person (6+), with a $50 minimum and $150 maximum. Read the Youth Group policy about Criteria for Youth Groups.
Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $120.00/group site/night, plus $5/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15). Children under 6 are free!
There are two day-use/picnic areas both located on Kootenay Lake.
The most popular is situated beside the north end of Sandspit campground. The beach is sandy, 1 km long and has a wonderful large sandbar at its south-eastern tip. There are several picnic tables along the shore line, 60 feet from the waters edge, evenly spaced among cotton wood and pine trees. The trees offer limited shade and the beach can become very hot during mid day. Behind the tables is a large, open grassy area suitable for recreational sports and family gatherings. Nearby and conveniently located are an adventure playground, toilet change house, horseshoe pit, two fountains with taps, pit toilet and six barbeque stands. Parking is available for 240 vehicles. If you want tables by the beach, come early as this beach is popular with local residents.
The smaller day-use/picnic area is the Redfish site. The access road is directly across from the Redfish campground entrance on the opposite side of Highway 3. A short drive will bring you to the 40 vehicle parking lot. This location is also where you will find the group picnic and/or group campsite with the shelter and grassy area. The beach with picnic tables is just a short walk from here and is approximately 300 metres long, described as a mixture of rough sand and gravel. Visitors use the pit toilets and water tap by the group sites. There is no recognized swimming area or change house.
Both these day-use/picnic areas are popular but please remember there are no fire pits. A dog beach is beside the boat launch at the northeast end of the park.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
Kokanee Creek Park has 3 campgrounds, Sandspit, Redfish and the Friends campground, that offer vehicle accessible sites. Sandspit, the largest of the 3 is located just east of the Kokanee Creek bridge on Highway 3A while Redfish is located just west of the bridge. The Friends campground is located by the Sandspit day-use/picnic area.
Sandspit Campgound is where the majority of the facilities are concentrated. After you exit Highway 3 turn right to the park gatehouse. Staff are available to check reservations and direct you to a campsite. This campground is situated in a diverse forest of both conifers (cedar, hemlock, pine) and deciduous (cottonwood, birch, aspen) trees. The mixed forest provides plenty of shade. A blend of medium to large sites can accommodate large rigs and extra vehicles. The campsites, with 18 doubles, are evenly spaced on four parallel lanes called Gopher, Osprey, Chipmunk and Porcupine. These lanes bisect the outer lane referred to as Park Lane.
Redfish Campground has intimate, mostly shaded, small vehicle accessible sites within a cedar hemlock forest. Two of the sites have tent pads but there are no pull through or doubles.
Friends Campground offers 39 sites close to the main beach, 13 sites have electrical service. Sites 137 to 145 have 30 Amp service and sites 147, 149, 151 and 153 have 30 and 50 Amp service. Please note: There are no fire rings at sites 137-145.
Services are offered in the high use season between May and September. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available. Park gates are located at both campground entrances. Pay phones are conveniently located at the Visitor Centre and the first toilet building in Sandspit campground. Kokanee Park Store/Marina and the Crescent Beach Resort are both a 2-minute drive from the park.