Fire Restrictions in Effect for this Park
Activites and Facilities Available in this Park - Click icon to view
Activities Available at this Park
Facilities Available at this Park
Park Contact R.L.C. Enterprize Ltd.
E-mail address: office@rlcparks.ca
Phone: (250) 474-1336

Smelt Bay Provincial Park

There have been recent wolf sightings in and adjacent to this park. These wolves could become habituated and pose a risk to park visitors if provided food and not discouraged from approaching humans.
Please read the wolf safety guidelines.

Cougars have also been seen in the area. Keep your pets leashed and children closely supervised.
Please read the wildlife safety guidelines.

About This Park

Desolation Sound Provincial Park Located on the southern peninsula of Cortes Island, the park is named for the capelin fish that spawn ashore by the tens of thousands. Females lay up to 65,000 eggs on the shore in late September and early October, which hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. These small silver-green, sardine-sized fish draw a variety of other marine life to the area, including salmon, seals, sea lions, seabirds and otters. Gulls, Bald eagles, cormorants, herons and oystercatchers can also be seen here.

This scenic park features a beautiful pebble beach that extends from the park frontage at the south end of Smelt Bay around the shoreline to Sutil Point. The beach is backed by mounds which are believed to have been built by Coast Salish First Nations as a form of defense.

Smelt Bay is the only provincial campground on remote Cortes Island, offering 22 spacious campsites laid out in a wonderful setting in the woods overlooking Smelt Bay.

Park Size: 16 hectares

Campground Dates of Operation
All dates are subject to change without notice
Opening and Closing Campground Dates:
May 15 to September 30
Campground Dates with Full Services and Fees: May 15 to September 30 (no camping during the off-season)
Campground Reservable Dates: May 15 - August 31
Total Number of Vehicle Accessible Campsites: 26
Number of Reservable Campsites, if applicable: (all remaining sites are first-come, first-served) 10
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.

Reservations

All campsite reservations must be made through Discover Camping. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.

make a reservation

Campsite Reservations:
Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
Back to Top

Location and Maps

Please note: Any maps listed are for information only - they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation. Smelt Bay is located on the southwest side of Cortes Island, 15 km south of the Whaletown Ferry Terminal on Sutil Point Road. This park is accessible by boat and by car via a ferry from Campbell River on central Vancouver Island to Quadra Island (approx 15 minutes), then by another ferry from Quadra Island (Heriot Bay) to Cortes Island (Whaletown), approximately 45 minutes. Once on Cortes, follow signs to the park. Boaters can reference marine chart #3538 and #3539 for more information about this area.

Nearby communities include: Squirrel Cove, Whaletown, Cortes Island, Quadra Island, Campbell River.

Maps and Brochures

Any maps listed are for information only - they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Back to Top

Nature and Culture

  • Cultural Heritage - Smelt Bay was established in 1973 to protect existing native cultural sites and to provide camping and day-use opportunities. The mounds behind the beach are believed to have been built by First Nation peoples for defense purposes.
  • Conservation - Smelt Bay is named for the capelin fish that spawn ashore by the tens of thousands. Females lay up to 65,000 eggs on the shore in late September and early October, which hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. These small silver-green, sardine-sized fish draw a variety of other marine life to the area, including salmon, seals, sea lions, seabirds and otters. Gulls, Bald eagles, cormorants, herons and oystercatchers are also found here.
  • General Wildlife, Marine and Outdoor Ethics Information
Back to Top

Management Planning

Management Planning Information
  • The approved master plan for Smelt Bay Provincial Park [PDF 1.14MB] is available in PDF format.
    DISCLAIMER:
    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.
Back to Top

Activities Available at this Park

Canoeing

Canoeing

Canoeing and kayaking in the calm waters of Smelt Bay. Paddlers can set in from the beach or at the natural gravel boat launch at higher tides. This boat launch is located on the beach at the northwest corner of the park.
Cycling

Cycling

Bicycles must keep to roadways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
Fishing

Fishing

Saltwater fishing for salmon and rock fish can be good at this park. Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Pets on Leash

Pets on Leash

Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash and under control at all times. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Swimming

Swimming

Ocean swimming. There is no designated swimming area at this park. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
Back to Top

Facilities Available at this Park

Boat Launch

Boat Launch

A natural, gravel boat launch for small boats is available at higher tides. This boat launch is located on the beach at the northwest corner of the park.
Campfires

Campfires

While fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. Campfire rings are provided at each campsite. Firewood can be purchased from the Park Facility Operator. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary.

To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
Drinking Water

Drinking Water

A cold water tap is located in the campground. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
View the Annual Drinking Water System Reports [pdf]: Smelt Bay Campground and Smelt Bay Overflow Parking
Picnic Areas

Picnic Areas

This park has a day-use/picnic area, located adjacent to the beach. Facilities include pit toilets, a grassy picnic area, parking lot, an information shelter and a sand and pebble beach that is good for marine exploration at low tide. Nearby Mansons Landing Provincial Park offers additional day-use opportunities.
Pit or Flush Toilets

Pit or Flush Toilets

This park has pit toilets in the day-use area and campground.
Vehicle Accessible Camping

Vehicle Accessible Camping

This park offers vehicle accessible campsites overlooking Smelt Bay. The majority of the sites are double sites. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available. Overflow camping may be possible in the day-use parking lot.
Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $18.00 per party / night
BC Senior’s Rate (day after Labour Day to June 14 only): $9.00 per senior party/night. Read the User Fees Policy for information on Senior Camping Discounts.