Kokanee Creek is the largest campground in this part of the West Kootenays. This 235-hectare park is situated on the north shore of the west arm of Kootenay Lake, on the site of an old homestead. Its huge sandy beach and delta area is backed by a gently rising upland, giving way to the forested slopes of the Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountains.
There is a spawning channel in Kokanee Creek Provincial Park where visitors can observe the remarkable transformation that spawning kokanee undergo in late summer. Their bodies become a deep crimson colour and their heads turn emerald green. Like other Pacific salmon, they die after completing their fascinating spawning activities, drifting downstream to the lake, their bodies enriching the area. During this time, park interpreters offer daily programs focusing on this important phenomenon. The Kokanee Creek delta area provides habitat for a variety of wildlife and plantlife. The lake contains kokanee, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden, while the creek contains cutthroat and rainbow trout. Some of the park’s other inhabitants include coyotes, beavers, deer and many bird species. The park is also noted for having one of the highest osprey concentrations in North America.
In the native Ktunaxa language ‘kokanee’ means ‘red fish’, the name given to the land-locked salmon that spawn in large numbers in Kokanee Creek in the late summer. First Nations people were the first to inhabit this area, as evidenced by a couple of archaeological sites within the park. When gold and silver deposits were found during the early 1900s, prospectors flocked to the area. The influx of people resulted in the birth of some of the surrounding towns, such as Nelson. Remnants of early European settlements still exist in the form of old homesteads and several mining ghost towns within the region.
Open all year, Kokanee Creek has facilities that include hiking and ski trails, a visitor centre with displays, educational interpretive programs are offered including guided walks, slide shows and children’s programs. Canoeing and kayaking are popular and there is a boat launch located east of the day-use area. The large 1-km sandy beach makes this one of the best places for swimming and sunbathing in the area. There are several hiking trails throughout the park. Nearby is Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, a mountain wilderness with an extensive trail system for day or longer hikes.
Fishing is permitted, and Kokanee Creek and Kootenay Lake maintain considerable populations of various fish species. Kootenay Lake supports record-sized rainbow trout. Rainbow trout are plentiful in Lockhart Creek on the east side of the south arm of Kootenay Lake.
The park offers 168 vehicle/tent campsites in two campgrounds, Sandspit and Redfish. Sandspit is the larger of the two and where the majority of the facilites are concentrated. This campground is situated in a diverse forest of both conifers and deciduous 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.
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. Two group campsites are located adjacent to the Redfish day-use parking lot. The park also provides a day-use/picnicking area with tables and children’s playground. The park is open from May to September.
Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is located in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, 12.5 miles (20 km) northeast of Nelson on Highway 3A.
Nearby Regions & Towns