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Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park [aka Indian Arm Park]
About This Park
Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park [aka Indian Arm Park] is managed collaboratively by the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the Province of British Columbia. A management agreement was signed in 1998 between the two parties and stablished a Park Management Board that oversees any issues related to the management, conservation, recreational and cultural heritage objectives for the area.
Say Nuth Khaw Yum means “Serpent’s Land.” It is in the core of Tsleil-Waututh traditional territory that has from time out of mind been an area of significance to the Tsleil-Waututh people. For over a millenium, the Tsleil-Waututh Nation has continued to use the land, water and resources of the entire area of Indian Arm.
Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park [aka Indian Arm Park] is a conservation park that protects the shores of Indian Arm, an 18 kilometre fjord that extends north from Burrard Inlet in Vancouver. The park area was once heavily glaciated, leaving behind a spectacular landscape featuring rugged, forested mountains, several alpine lakes, and numerous creeks and waterfalls, including the 50-metre high Granite Falls. The park also includes Racoon and Twin Islands, both characterized by sparse vegetation, open cover, and exposed rocky ledges.The park offers a variety of recreation activities.
Indian Arm is ideal for motor boating, kayaking, canoeing, and scuba diving. Indian River and the lower reaches of some creeks are perfect for recreational fishing. The old-growth forested mountains provide opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing and nature appreciation, while the flat beach areas along the shorelines of Bishop Creek provide opportunities for rustic camping, picnicking and other day-use activities. Marine access camping is also available on the south side of Granite Falls. The shoals around Racoon and Twin Islands offer good scuba diving. Visitors can also enjoy limited, rustic camping on North / Big Twin Island. Please note that there is no camping on South/Little Twin Island.
There are two waterfalls within the park – Granite Falls and Silver Falls. The Indian River estuary protects important wildlife habitat. There is also a tidal lagoon between North and South Twin Islands. Black bear sightings are common along the shoreline. A large run of pink salmon (60,000 fish) make their way up the arm on odd numbered years. They can be seen jumping all along the shoreline. The fish concentrate in the Indian River estuary and then work their way up the Indian River. The Chum Salmon make their way up the arm annually in large numbers. Smaller numbers of Coho and Chinook salmon find their way back to the Indian River each year. With the concentration of salmon in the fall, large numbers of eagle can be viewed overhead, and amongst the salmon there are many seals feeding.
This park also contains a number of significant archaeological sites. All archaeological sites are protected under the Heritage Conservation Act. It is illegal to remove artifacts or to disturb such sites.
Date Established: July 13, 1995
Size: 6,689 hectares
Know Before You Go
- Camping is prohibited on South Twin Island, Raccoon Island and on the north side of Granite Falls (near the BC Parks dock).
- Campfires are prohibited at all times in Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park.
- The Pink salmon run starts in July and runs into October.
- There are no taps or handpumps in the park. In the wetter months, water is available at Bishop Creek and Granite Falls campgrounds. There is no fresh water available on either North or South Twin Islands. Water can be obtained from the creeks, but any water obtained in the park should be boiled, filtered or treated before consuming. Please be aware that in the summer months, the water source may not be available, or the water quality can also change; you will need to bring any drinking water with you.
- Please note that the area is not regularly patrolled or serviced during the winter months. Although there are no winter recreational opportunities available at Say Nuth Khaw Yum Park, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and showshoeing are available at Mount Seymour Provincial Park, Cypress Provincial Park and Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. Excellent skiing can also be found in Whistler, 1.5 hours north of Vancouver on Highway 99. In Cypress Park there are also snowmobiling and tobagganing opportunities.
- There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities at this park. Although special services are not available for the disabled in this park, most of the park is accessible by boat. Docks are available at North Granite Falls and North Twin Island. The disabled may be able to utilize these areas with assistance. North Granite is the most accessible of the sites within the park.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only; they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Maps and Brochures
Nature and Culture
- History: Twin Island was established in 1905 as one of the earliest recreational reserves in the province. Raccoon Island was established in 1951. The reserves were designated to Provincial Park status in 1981. Indian Arm was designated to Provincial Park status in July 1995 as part of the Lower Mainland Nature Legacy initiative.
- Cultural Heritage: Indian Arm is an important hunting and fishing area for the Coast Salish First Nation, including the Tsleil-waututh (Burrard), Musqueam, and Squamish bands. Their traditional use of the area is evidenced by pictographs found in the park. The historic Wigwam Inn, at the north end of the inlet, was once a luxury resort that attracted customers travelling by steamship up Indian Arm.
- Conservation: The park represents the Coastal Western Hemlock and Mountain Hemlock biogeoclimatic zones and has extensive stands of old-growth forests. Typical species include western mountain hemlock, western red cedar, Douglas fir, yellow cedar, and red alder. Groundcover on lower elevations include sword fern, deer fern, and salal.
- Wildlife: A variety of wildlife can be found in the park including black bear, blacktail deer, cougar, coyote, red fox, and a variety of smaller mammals and amphibians. Seventy-nine bird species have been identified in the park area. The Indian River supports five species of salmon, sea-run cutthroat, and small steelhead populations. The estuary is vital habitat for prawns, crab, and many species of overwintering waterfowl. Harbour seals are also frequent visitors to the area. The sandy isthmus connecting Twin Islands is home to a variety of clams and other shellfish. Tide pools along the rocky shoreline abound with sea life. Indigenour species include anemones, nudibranches, tritons, shrimp and rockfish. Crabs are particularly abundant and use the area off Twin Islands for breeding.
Activities Available at this Park
Kayaking/canoeing is available for the experienced paddler. Paddlers can travel up the arm to either the Bishop Creek or Granite Falls camping areas (travel time with the current is approximately two hours). The estuary at the head of the arm is a unique paddling experience. At high tide the first kilometre of the river can be navigated upstream in a Kayak or canoe.
A tide chart must be referenced for travels up Indian arm. Travelling up toward the head of Indian Arm on a rising tide allows the paddler to work with the current. Conversely, while heading south, leaving the Arms towards Burrard inlet, paddlers should be travelling with a dropping tide.
All four camping areas can be accessed by kayak/canoe (see the above Camping information).
All hiking times are for return trips, distances in kilometres, elevation gains in meters. It should be noted that hikes in this area tend to be very steep and require vigorous effort. Exceptions are the B.C. Hydro trails near Buntzen Lake. Remember any elevation gain must also be lost and travelling down a steep slope can be slow and arduous. As well, these hikes are at elevation and are subject to harsh weather conditions. Snow can fall in the spring and fall. Also the weather can close in very rapidly. Most of the hikes (except Diez Vistas) are ridge-top hikes and are therefore exposed to the elements.
Pets on Leash
There is cool water ocean swimming with no roped off area. There is a sandy beach at the mouth of Granite Falls; it is only dry at low tide. There is also a small sandy beach in the lagoon between N. and S. Twin islands. This beach is also dry only at low tide. All other beaches throughout the park are rocky or cobble stone.
Caution: previous Quarry work in the North Granite Falls area has left the cliffs unstable. Large debris flows occur infrequently along steep mountain creeks. There are no lifeguards on duty in provincial parks.
There are no viewing platforms but the entire area is surrounded by snow-capped peaks in the winter. At the head of Indian Arm several large peaks can be seen up the Indian River and Grant Creek Valleys. There are two hydro electricity generating stations on the east shore of the Arm which can be spectacular in full flow. Silver falls on the north shore of Indian Arm is a beautiful waterfall at the outflow of Elsay Creek. It is located just south of South Bishop Campground. No wildlife viewing opportunities.
There are also locations within the park which offer good wildlife viewing. The Indian River estuary has excellent migratory bird watching. The entire Indian Arm has excellent sea duck activity in the winter. A variety of wildlife can be found in the park including black bear, black-tailed deer, cougar, coyote, red fox, and a variety of smaller mammals and amphibians. Seventy-nine bird species have been identified in the park area. Harbour seals are also common throughout Indian Arm. During salmon runs they can often be seen fishing. Black bear sightings are common along the shoreline. A large run of pink salmon (approximately 60,000 fish) make their way up the Arm on odd numbered years. They can be seen jumping all along the shoreline. The fish concentrate in the Indian River estuary and then work their way up the Indian River. The Chum Salmon make their way up the Arm annually in large numbers. Smaller numbers of Coho and Chinook salmon find their way back to the Indian River each year. With the concentration of salmon in the fall, large numbers of eagles can be view overhead, and amongst the salmon there are many seals feeding.
Facilities Available at this Park
There is no boat launch within the Park.
The nearest boat launch is at Cates Park (North Vancouver Municipal Park) located on Dollarton Highway. This launch has four paved lanes with a moderate grade. There is parking available for vehicles/trailers. Overnight parking it available at Cates Park, within the boat launch parking. This parking area is intended for the use of boat launch patrons. An overnight parking pass is required. This pass can be obtained through the District of North Vancouver at 604 990-3800. If you need overnight parking and do need the boat launch, you must find alternate overnight parking for your vehicle. Parking is available in Deep Cove.
Boats can be left in the water or beached overnight. However, overnight moorage is not permitted at any of the docks within the park. Overnight moorage is available in Deep Cove.
Sewage cannot be disposed of within the Port of Vancouver. Indian Arm Provincial Park falls within the Port of Vancouver. All Sewage must be contained within a holding tank and removed.
A day-use area is located on the north side of Granite Falls near a small dock. This day-use area has a grassy area of approximately 80 x 30 metres. There is also a large grassy area at the South Bishop backcountry site. There are rocky beaches at both North and South Granite Falls. There is also a tidal beach at the mouth of Grant Creek below Granite Falls. It is a mixed sand and cobblestone beach. No fires are permitted. There are no picnic tables. Barbeques must be placed on the ground when in use, and are not permitted on the dock.
Racoon Island and South Twin Island are day-use areas, only.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Marine access camping is available on the south side of Bishop Creek. There is camping available on North Twin Island. There are 20 elevated wooden tent pads at the North Twin Campground. There is also marine access camping available at South Granite Falls. Gravel tent pads are available at the South Granite Campground. Grassy forest clearings are available at the South Bishop campground. There are pit toilets available at each camping area. There are no mooring facilities at South Bishop Creek. There is day moorage available for vessels under 5.5 metres in length at North Twin Island and North Granite Falls.
There are no fires permitted in Say Nuth Khaw Yum Provincial Park [aka Indian Arm Park]. Bear and raccoons are common throughout the park so please hang your food and garbage in a tree out of reach of bears or use the bear-proof containers when available. Weather up Indian Arm can change rapidly, so please be prepared for heavy rains, high winds and cool temperatures.
There are no camping fees charged at this time.