Nestled on the northeastern shore of Okanagan Lake, Ellison Park includes 220 hectares of forested benchlands above a rocky shoreline of scenic headlands and sheltered coves.
The park’s natural attractions, combined with the dry, sunny Okanagan climate, provide many recreational opportunities from spring through fall. Hiking trails along the scenic headlands are steep, requiring care and attention.
Campsite reservations are accepted and first come, first served sites are also available. All reservations must be made through the BC Parks reservation service. For information on making a reservation, see the frontcountry camping page.
When reservations are not available all campsites are available on a first come, first served basis. For information on when reservations are available, see dates of operation, above.
Ellison Park offers 71 vehicle-accessible campsites, eight of which are double sites. There are no pull-through sites at this park. Reservations are accepted for 61 of these sites and sites are also available on a first come, first served basis.
For information on making a reservation, see the frontcountry camping page.
There is a gate where Okanagan Landing Road meets the campground access road. There is no gatehouse, but an information shelter is located where the access road enters the campground. During the summer, the gate is closed between 11pm and 7am.
In the off-season, the gate is locked. It is roughly 300m down a steep grade to the campsites, making walk-in camping difficult in the off-season. For information on camping seasons, see dates of operation, above.
Most sites are large and well-shaded by a canopy of mature Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. The sites are well-spaced and an abundance of low shrubs creates privacy. Each site has a gravel tent pad, a fire ring, and a picnic table.
For very large RVs (over 50 feet) the entrances to the pads may be narrow and there are low-hanging branches to watch out for.
The closest store is a general store roughly ten kilometres away in Okanagan Landing or in Vernon for more services.
Ellison Park includes day-use areas with beaches, 50 picnic tables, a group picnic area, and parking nearby. The two main day-use beaches, Otter Bay and South Bay, are accessed by a steep, coarsely paved trail with benches conveniently located at the switchbacks. A third day-use area, Sandy Beach, is ideal if you are visiting with pets.
The picnic tables at Otter Bay line the crescent-shaped beach of coarse pink sand, providing excellent views of the lake. The day-use area is shaded by well-spaced Douglas fir trees. The picnic tables are on cement pads and the ground is pebbly gravel. There are two fire pits but no barbeque attachments for the tables. There is a pit toilet, a fountain tap, and a volleyball net. The bay is sheltered by rocky headlands making it a great spot for swimming. The swimming area is marked by buoys.
At South Bay, the picnic tables sit slightly above the large sandy beach and are separated from it by a low rock wall. Ponderosa pines are interspersed among the tables, creating some shade. The area offers great views of the lake and the Fintry delta. The swimming area is marked by buoys and mooring buoys stretch towards Sandy beach.
This pet-friendly beach is accessed by a trail of hard-packed dirt from between campsites 11 and 12. The beach has coarse pink sand and is the smallest of the three beaches.
Ellison Park has ten flush toilets and four pit toilets. The washrooms have no hot water and no electrical outlets. There is a shower building in the campground, which does have electrical outlets and hot water (see ‘showers’, below).
There is a shower building in the campground, which has electrical outlets and hot water. There is also an outside cold-water shower at the beach area, to aid in the prevention of swimmer’s itch.
Cold spring water is available for cooking and drinking. Six taps are located throughout the campground.
There is a children’s adventure playground in a corner of the irrigated lawn flanked by campsites 51 to 59 and 62 to 71.
Campfire rings are provided at each campsite. Firewood can be purchased in the park or you may bring your own.
You can help the environment by minimizing the use of fire, keeping your campfire small, and bringing a camping stove for cooking. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented.
To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please do not gather firewood from the area around your campsite or anywhere else 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 valuable organic matter to the soil.
Over six kilometres of easy walking trails, with some steep sections, access many of the park’s natural features and viewpoints.
Trails along the tops of the rocky headlands offer panoramic vistas of Okanagan Lake north to Spallumcheen and south to Fintry as well as Terrace Mountain and the communities of Westside Road. Please use caution while hiking these trails as they are more difficult.
For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Taking shortcuts destroys plant life and soil structure.
There are no lifeguards on duty at BC Parks.
Warm waters and gradually sloping ground provide excellent swimming at Ellison Park’s three main beaches. The swimming areas are designated with buoys to keep boats out. The park also features western Canada’s only freshwater dive park, where sunken artifacts add to the fascinating plant and animal life.
Swimmers itch may be present at times. For more information, see the staying safe page.
Canoes and kayaks are welcome at Ellison Park. There are several boat launches just 10 minutes from the park.
Houseboats can pull ashore at Sandy Beach. The standard camping fee is charged for overnight use.
Mooring buoys offshore in South Bay and Otter Bay are part of a marine park system sponsored by the Okanagan’s yacht clubs.
There are no boat launches or rentals at the park.
Various freshwater fish are available in Okanagan Lake. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
The Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC has a fun, hands-on, Learn to Fish Program that teaches basic angling skills to youth under 16 years old. Contact the park operator for more information.
Sandy Beach, a pet beach, is accessed from the trail leading out of the campground, between sites 11 and 12.
Outside this area, pets must be leashed at all times and they are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets, due to the potential for problems with bears and other wildlife.
Ellison Park offers fantastic biking opportunities for a wide range of skill levels. Cycling is allowed on roadways and designated trails. In partnership with BC Parks, the North Okanagan Cycling Society has added a network of scenic multi-use trails.
Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
Bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) are permitted on signed or designated trails within Ellison Park, provided they meet the criteria outlined on our cycling page.
There are scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities at the underwater dive park located at Otter Bay.
The small granite cliffs by South Bay offer climbing suitable for beginners. Ellison Park also has opportunities for scrambling, bouldering, and top-rope climbing in short pitches. Local recreation groups offer guided rock climbing and outdoor recreation day camps in the park.
Traveling north on Highway 97, turn left on 25th Avenue (the main intersection in downtown Vernon). The park is 16km or approximately 20 minutes from this junction. Follow the blue and white VIP signs saying Ellison Park.
Travelling south on Highway 97, turn right on 25th Avenue and follow the rest of the instructions above.
Any maps provided on this page are for information only. They may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
All campsite reservations must be made through the BC Parks reservation service.
This park is operated by Kaloya Contracting Ltd.
When sending a message to or leaving a message for the park operator, please specify that you are asking about Ellison Park.
Ellison Park’s rich cultural history is illustrated by signs of First Nation habitation in four archaeological sites.
Most of the park is dominated by stands of ponderosa pine and Douglas fir with grassy open areas typical of the Okanagan Basin landscape. A blue-listed plant species, Engelmann’s knotweed, is also found in the park.
Porcupines, deer, and Columbian ground squirrels are common along the trail above Okanagan Lake.
BC Parks honours Indigenous Peoples’ connection to the land and respects the importance of their diverse teachings, traditions, and practices within these territories. This park webpage may not adequately represent the full history of this park and the connection of Indigenous Peoples to this land. We are working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to update our websites so that they better reflect the history and cultures of these special places.