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Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia

On a recent trip through the Kootenays we spent a few nights at one of my favourite campsites in the area: Kokanee Creek Provincial Park.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is a large and popular campground 20 minutes east of Nelson. The park has four separate campgrounds, accepts reservations for 132 of its 189 vehicle-accessible sites, and has many things to see and do during your stay.

On our last stay, we camped at the Sandspit Campground, which is by far the largest campsite area. Other campground areas include the Redfish Campground, the Osprey Point Campground, and the Friends Campground, which offers 13 sites with electrical hook ups. Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has all the facilities you would expect in such a large and popular provincial park: water taps, a large adventure playground, a sani-station, both pit and flush toilets, and shower buildings at both the Sandspit and Friends campgrounds.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Campsite | Kim Walker

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has quite an interesting history. Archaeological evidence indicates that areas within the park were used as seasonal campsites by Indigenous peoples. In the late 1800s, a wealthy Englishman named Charles W. Busk moved to the Nelson area and established the “Busk Estate” – which included a large mansion where he entertained guests. By 1913 Busk was disenchanted with his new lifestyle and he died only a few years later. Today, all that remains of the original Busk Estate are some stone walls and an oval concrete swimming pool – but these are generally well hidden! One hiking trail in the park is called the Historic Busk Estate Trail and that is where you might start if you wanted to try to find the ruins.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Nature Centre | Kim Walker

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has an excellent nature centre open daily from 8am to 8pm.  There are many programs for all ages run out of the nature centre and it is highly advisable to see what programs are being offered while you are there.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Boat Launch & Wharf | Kim Walker

One of the reasons Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is so popular is that it provides access to more than a kilometre of sandy beaches. There is a boat launch and wharf and watersports including swimming, paddling, waterskiing, and windsurfing are popular.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Canyon Trail | Kim Walker

When we visited, we spent most of our time at the park exploring some of the 9.5 kilometres of hiking and walking trails. We started our hike at the nature centre and set out to explore the spawning channel. Lots of interesting interpretive signage teaches about Kokanee – landlocked Sockeye Salmon. It is interesting to read about how human impacts such as mining in nearby Kimberley and the construction of the Duncan Dam have impacted Kokanee over the years and lead to hatcheries and spawning channels being built. After leaving the spawning channel area we headed uphill along the Canyon Trail to the Canyon Lookout. This is a beautiful trail following the creek with a viewing platform at the end. From there, we took the previously mentioned Historic Busk Estate Trail (no luck finding the swimming pool for us!) all the way back down to Kootenay Lake near the edge of the park. We found the dog beach, then followed a trail along the lakeshore past the Friends Campground, past the Sandspit Campground, and then connected with the Grassland Trail where we found a beautiful and much less busy sandy beach, before completing our loop and re-emerging back at the nature centre for an ice cold drink at their coffee shop. This loop was about 5.5 kilometres long and took us approximately an hour and a half to hike.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is a West Kootenay favourite – and for good reason. With lovely campsites, great services, and lots to explore, this certainly won’t be our last trip to Kokanee Creek.

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Published: June 4th, 2024

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