Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park Landforms
The Stein Valley was heavily glaciated and is dominated by glacial landforms. All of the main valleys except the lower canyon have the characteristic U-shape of glacial eroded troughs, and many of the tributaries to the Stein River exhibit “hanging” valleys. The upper reaches of the watershed are dotted with a large number of small mountain lakes (tarns), many of which occupy cirques. The Stein River has 2 extensive canyon sections, one at the east end of the valley and one at the west end. The Park has a wide range of elevations, from about 220 metres (700 feet) above sea level at the eastern end to 2954 metres (9,750 feet) at the summit of Skihist Mtn. There are about a dozen other peaks along the boundary that are over 2,438 metres (8,000 feet). Some of the key elevations in and around the Park are:
- Main (eastern) trail head 220 metres
- Cottonwood Creek mouth 675 metres
- Stein Lake 1,025 metres
- Elton Lake 1,825 metres
- Tundra Lake 1,875 metres
- Lizzie Lake 1,325 metres
- Blowdown Pass 2,175 metres
The Stein River and its Tributaries: The main Stein River, from Stein Lake to the Fraser River, is about 60 kilometres long and drops about 800 metres over that distance. River levels are highest in June and July, and also change significantly in short periods of time due to heavy rainfalls or high temperatures in the western end of the valley. The river contains several falls, with the 2 largest being about 6 to 8 metres high. There are several other waterfalls in the Park, including Cottonwood Falls, at 15 metres in height and Elton Falls which drops 60 metres and has a cascade totalling more than 300 metres. Generally speaking, the tributaries on the south side of the river are glacially fed, while those on the north side drain large expanses of meadows.
The Park contains larger lakes (Stein, Elton and Tundra), as well as many small lakes. Tundra and Elton are headwater lakes which are only ice-free from July through October. Elton, with its glacier flowing into the west end of the lake and its spectacular cobalt blue color, is one of the gems of the Park.
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