The once flourishing gold and silver mining boomtown of Rock Creek is located in Boundary Country, in the southern Okanagan region. Remains of this early mining history are abundant, and just waiting to be explored on a day trip or circle tour through the region’s tranquil hidden valleys.
A series of major and minor gold rushes began at Rock Creek in 1859 and throughout the area over the next 10 years, and saw the sudden influx of more than 5,000 miners. Governor James Douglas quickly ordered the rapid construction of the now-famous Dewdney Trail, going from the coast to the gold field just north of the border. Rock Creek became the supply centre for the Boundary Country. When bigger strikes occurred in the Okanagan and the Cariboo, the miners left, but an important trade route remained.
Later, as copper, silver, lead, and zinc ores were being mined in large amounts, the Kettle Valley Railway, a branch line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was built so that ore and smelter traffic would remain in Canada instead of being shipped to the US, as had been the case. Now one of Canada’s most historic and scenic railway routes, the Kettle Valley Railway ran past Rock Creek, operating between 1916 and 1973, when the track between the towns of Midway and Penticton was removed in 1980, providing an excellent hiking and biking trail.
After the initial mining boom, the residents of Rock Creek began to develop an economy in agriculture, forestry and ranching, which remain the mainstays of the local economy today. Some of the finest blue ribbon livestock in British Columbia is now raised in Rock Creek and the surrounding area.
The small town of Rock Creek and the Kettle Valley communities of Westbridge and Beaverdell are the gateways to hiking trails, wilderness recreation sites and some of the best fishing lakes in the Boundary Region.
Rock Creek remains an unincorporated community, with services that include a gas station, convenience store, accommodation, pub, restaurant, fruitstand and gift shop.
Location: Rock Creek is located on the Crowsnest Highway 3, between Osoyoos and Greenwood in Boundary Country, just north of the Canada/United States border.
Test your gold panning skills! Visitors can rent a pan and shovel at Canyon Creek Ranch and follow the historic Dewdney Trail into the canyon to pan for gold in Rock Creek, which flows through the ranch carrying gold from nearby Mt. Baldy. There is still gold in them thar creeks!
The major event in Rock Creek is the annual Rock Creek & Boundary Fair, held in mid September, the biggest little fair in BC, which attracts up to 12,000 visitors.
The Kettle River provides endless recreation in summer, including fishing, swimming, and canoeing.
Nature Trails: The hills and valleys in Boundary Country teem with wildlife. White-tail deer, mule deer, black bears, coyotes, porcupines, bald eagles, hawks, owls, and other wildlife abound.
Mountain Biking: The Kettle Valley Railroad runs through Rock Creek, providing a perfect biking, hiking and walking venue.
Horseriding trails are located throughout the area on miles and miles of logging roads and skidding trails, ideal for trail riders on their own horse or with a steed from a local stable.
Fishing: Conkle Lake is a bit of a trek to reach, but once there you’ll find good car-top-boat fishing for rainbow trout in an idyllic setting. It’s so quiet here that you’d think it was a library.
Golf: Golfers can tee off at the 9-hole Kettle Valley Golf Course, a beautiful course located opposite the Kettle Valley RV Park, 5 miles (8 km) east of Rock Creek on Highway 3. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
The Rail Trail 200 Dog Sled Race is contested in mid January over approximately 200 miles of exciting and challenging trails running through some of BC’s most beautiful backcountry. The race starts and ends in Grand Forks, following the old Kettle Valley rail bed. The trail leaves the rail bed to continue through spectacular scenery along the valley bottom before climbing the slope to Big White Ski Resort for a mandatory layover. From there the trail returns through the Kettle Valley, across the adjacent slopes and rivers to Grand Forks.
Mount Baldy is a great place to picnic or hike in the summer, and provides great downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter. The exciting year-round destination is reached by a 45-minute drive north of Highway 3, west of Rock Creek. Skiing & Winter Activities in the South Okanagan.
Johnstone Creek Provincial Park , located just west of Rock Creek on Highway 3, has vehicle/tent sites situated in a scenic, peaceful area forested with Douglas fir, pine, and aspen. There is a picturesque waterfall on Johnstone Creek near its confluence with Rock Creek. Visitors can fish as well as hike.
Conkle Lake Provincial Park, northwest of Rock Creek, can be reached by three different routes, all over rough, narrow, winding roads not suitable for motor homes, low-clearance vehicles, or towed trailers. This secluded park is a perfect place for a quiet vacation, and a favourite with sunbathers, swimmers, and anglers. The park is reached by travelling about 10 miles (16 km) west of Hwy 33 at Westbridge, or 16 miles (26 km) north from Hwy 3 between Bridesville and Rock Creek.
Kettle River Recreation Area, located 4 miles (6.5 km) north of Rock Creek on Hwy 33, is named for the river that runs through it. It also contains the abandoned right-of-way of the Kettle Valley Railway, which makes an excellent hiking trail. Open May through September, this recreation area features vehicle/tent sites and a picnic/day-use area. Remains of gold and silver mines that once brought thousands of people to this now peaceful area can be seen on the river’s eastern bank.
Boundary Creek Provincial Park is located northeast of Midway, about 2 miles (3 km) west of Greenwood on Highway 3. This tranquil park offers 18 vehicle/tent sites beneath the cottonwoods and the chance for patient anglers to catch rainbow and brook trout. Nearby are the remains of the old BC Copper Company smelter, which employed about 400 men from 1901 to 1918.
East of Rock Creek is Midway, a small and peaceful village situated on the broad Kettle River Valley, with many historical sites, numerous recreational centres, good camping facilities, and countless fascinating attractions.
West of Rock Creek is Osoyoos. Enjoying Canada’s driest climate, Osoyoos is the only desert in Canada, with the lowest rainfall, the highest temperatures, and the warmest lakes. Osoyoos is located in the middle of the Southern Okanagan wine country, whose fine wines match any wines from anywhere, from France to California.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.