McDonald Creek Provincial Park
About This Park
Situated just south of Nakusp, McDonald Creek Provincial Park is one of a system of four provincial parks on the Arrow Lake reservoir. With facilities on the eastern shoreline, it is a holiday destination for swimming, boating, jet skiing, water skiing and fishing opportunities. It features several kilometres of fine sandy beach, waterfront sites and open grassy meadows. You can always find a quiet spot for yourself, try some beachcombing, or join in the fun at the main swimming area. A boat launch is available, offering good fishing opportunities for kokanee, bull and rainbow trout – a tempting invitation for anglers of all ages.
The Arrow Reservoir bisects McDonald Creek Provincial Park and protects lakeshore riparian habitat on the east side and forested upland habitat on the west side. This combination offers outdoor recreational opportunities in a unique forested/lakeside setting.
This park is located in the southern interior of B.C. on the east and west shores of the Upper Arrow Lake, 10 km south of Nakusp on Highway 6. The park facilities are only in the eastern section of the park.
Maps and Brochures
- Park Map [PDF] (January 22, 2020)
Nature and Culture
- History: This area was originally leared for homesteading. Several remnant structures from the historic homesteads can still be found. The park now supports a second-growth forest of mostly pine and larch. It was established in 1982 as a holiday destination to offer recreational opportunities for the local community and tourists along the travel corridor. The east side of the park contains McDonald Creek, its namesake. It is located in the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket, Okanagan and Shuswap first nation traditional territories.
- Conservation: McDonald Creek Provincial Park encompasses 468 ha. The Arrow reservoir bisects the park and creates two distinct portions of protected area. The East Side protects lakeshore riparian habitat and kokanee spawning habitat associated with an alluvial fan and creek, a somewhat rare feature for interior lakes. The west side with its forested upland habitat provides critical winter range for ungulates, primarily deer and elk. Conifers of pine and larch are the primary trees found in the park. Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage, please do not damage or remove them. Mushroom harvesting is not allowed.
Wildlife: This park supports a diverse population of small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks and porcupines. In late August and mid September the spawning kokanee are a point of interest to park visitors. With its critical winter habitat, elk and deer are commonly observed during the off season.
Park users should always be aware of bears and other wildlife in our park environment. Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife. Please view all wildlife from a distance.
Activities Available at this Park
There are opportunities for canoeing or kayaking in this park. Users access the lake from either the boat launch or the waterfront sites.
Bicycles must keep to roadways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
There are kokanee, bull and rainbow trout angling opportunities at this park. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence. Check the BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis for restrictions and quotas.
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times in the campground and day-use areas, and are not allowed on most beach areas or in park buildings. There is an off leash area in this park where dogs are allowed to play in the water, but they must be under control at all times. You are responsible for their behavior and must dispose of their excrement.
As the park is on the Arrow Lake reservoir, the water does fluctuate. In the spring during low water, the shoreline is muddy and not considered attractive to swimmers. However at peak season, during July and August when the water is high, the beach is sandy and is popular for sunbathing, swimming and beach combing. The combined shoreline on the east and west encompasses over 6 km and is complemented with natural sandbars and coves. The eastern shore, where all the day-use /picnic facilities are concentrated is the most popular. The western shore although equally as sandy is less used as logging roads or boats are required to accesses it. The water can be described as refreshing to cool. There is no roped-off swimming area. There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
There are excellent waterskiing and jet skiing opportunities on Arrow Lakes.
During the spawning season, you can see kokanee.
Windsurfing opportunities are available on Arrow Lakes.
Facilities Available at this Park
There is some wheelchair access in the park.
The boat launch is located at the south end of the park, accessed by turning turn left at the park entrance. This concrete plank, singlewide ramp is only useable during high water. A nearby 25 vehicle parking lot is available for overnight parking. There is no wharf but boats are beached during the day. Both car top and power boats can be seen on the lake.
While campfires are allowed and campfire rings are provided at each campsite, we encourage visitors to conserve wood and protect the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using campstoves instead. Firewood can be purchased in the park or you may bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary from park to park. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere 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 organic matter to the soil.
Cold water is available for cooking and drinking. The park has chlorinated, treated water pumped from the reservoir. Four taps are conveniently located in the park, three in the campground and one in the day-use/picnic area. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
Sites 1 to 18 have either 30 amp or 50 amp electrical service. An additional service charge of $7.00, per night, applies to these sites regardless of whether electrical service is used. Electrified campsites have fire rings.
One day-use/picnic area is located before the campground on a sandy/grassed bench. This area has 6 tables, 2 pit toilets and a water tap. During high water the beach is sandy with the tables 50 metres from the waters edge. Although this area is recognized as the main day-use/picnic site, many visitors do picnic along its entire 800 metre shoreline. This day-use/picnic area has limited facilities and contains no change house or barbeque stands. A day-use/picnic parking area is nearby.
Pit or Flush Toilets
This park has seven pit toilets; three sets are located at the start, middle and end of the campground. The two at the start of the campground are shared with the day-use/picnic area. One is at the boat launch. There are flush toilets located in the shower building.
The playground is located adjacent to the day-use beach and is accessible from the day-use parking lot. The playground is suitable for ages 5 and older. Surrounding the playground are picnic tables, a potable water stand pipe, shared fire ring and toilet facilities.
The park has a sani-station.
Sani-station Use Fee: $5.00 per discharge in coin or purchased token.
The shower building is located near the entrance to the campground by the day-use parking lot. The shower building has four showers in each of the men’s and women’s washrooms in addition to a flush toilet. There is also a fully accessible family/disabled washroom complete with a shower and toilet. There are no extra charges for showers and they are for registered guests, only.
Vehicle Accessible Camping
Upon entering the park, turn right to access the campground. The campground has a two-way, gravel road situated on the edge of the forest. This facility has been extended three times, so along the road you will find turnarounds at different intervals. There are 73 vehicle-accessible sites in the park including 3 doubles and 18 sites with electrical hookups. Four of the sites have tent pads. There are no pull through sites however the campground has an even mix of small to large sites and can accommodate large recreational vehicles. The majority of sites are lakefront and offer access to the beach but are not considered to have lake views. All sites are shady, set in a mixed forest of pine and larch. Extra vehicles that have been paid for can use the day-use for overnight parking.
The park offers services during the peak season from May to September. From June 23th, to September 3th, all of the sites in McDonald Creek Campground are reservable. During this period, non-occupied reservation sites can accommodate first-come, first-served customers for one, or perhaps more nights, depending on availability.
A park gate is located at the park entrance. The closet phone and store is in Nakusp, a 15 minute drive 12 km north on Highway 6.