For a great family camping vacation, head to Gordon Bay Park, located on the shores of Lake Cowichan, north of Duncan on Vancouver Island. In the summer the lake is warm and the sandy beach makes for great family swimming. History buffs find plenty to interest them in the park and the surrounding area, which is home to a second-growth Douglas-fir forest. Set in one of Vancouver Island’s sunniest valleys, this area boasts the highest average annual temperature in Canada.
The lake is known for its spectacular freshwater fishing in the spring, fall and winter, when anglers can be challenged by rainbow, cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout. Waterskiing and windsurfing are also popular activities on the lake.
This small wilderness area features a number of walking and hiking trails with unparalleled views. Keen-eyed hikers can spot a variety of wildlife and birds, including juncos, Stellar’s jays, chestnut-backed chickadees, mergansers and golden eye ducks. Visit in April when the wildflowers are at their peak.
Established date: September 18, 1969
Park size: 104 hectares
A fascinating little museum with history about the area is located at Saywell Park. Teleglobe Canada presents guided tours of the Lake Cowichan Earth Satellite station. The forest industry has a number of displays and demonstration forests throughout the area.
All campsite and group site reservations must be made the BC Parks reservations system. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first come, first served.
Campsite reservations are accepted.
Group campsite reservations are accepted at this park.
There is one group campsite at this park, reservation information can be found below.
Youth group camping charges per night are $1 per person (6+), with a $50 minimum and $150 maximum. Read the youth group policy about criteria for youth groups.
Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $120.00 per group site per night, plus $5 per adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1 per child (6 to 15). Children under 6 are free.
This park offers vehicle accessible, semi private campsites, set in a second-growth Douglas fir stand. Campsite reservations are accepted and first come, first served sites may also be available.
The park is open year-round with limited services in the off-season.
A number of facilities at this park are wheelchair-accessible, including picnic tables, the main campsites and group campsite, and the shower and flush toilet buildings.
This park has a large day-use and picnic area with picnic tables, parking lot, adventure playground, amphitheatre, and flush toilets. The day-use area is a popular spot for local residents, who come to the park to swim and picnic.
Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
Drinking water system reports 2021
Campfire rings are provided at each campsite. Fire bans may be implemented during extremely hot weather conditions. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking. Firewood can be purchased from the park operator. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. 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.
Cowichan Lake provides excellent swimming and water-oriented activities. The water is warm in the summer and the sandy beach has a designated swimming area, identified by a log boom. Access to the swimming beach is via the day-use area.
There are no lifeguards on duty.
Cowichan Lake is known for its spectacular fresh-water fishing in the spring, fall and winter, when anglers can be challenged by rainbow, cutthroat, and Dolly Varden trout.
Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. 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. Check back to this page or ask the park operator for information.
Pets and domestic animals must be on a leash and under control at all times and 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 wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Bicycles must keep to roadways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
Please note that bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) are not allowed on the trails within Gordon Bay Park. E-bikes are restricted to park roads and areas where motorized use is permitted. The only exception to this policy will be for authorized and identified trail maintenance bikes conducting work on behalf of BC Parks.
Gordon Bay Park is located 35km northwest of Duncan on southern Vancouver Island. The park, situated on the shores of Cowichan Lake, is accessed via Hwy #18 off Hwy #1. Travel 26km west on Hwy #18 to Lake Cowichan, then 14km on South Shore Road. Nearby communities include: Honeymoon Bay, Cowichan Lake, Youbou, Duncan, Victoria.
This park proudly operated by:
K2 Cowichan Park Services Ltd.
The area is rich in the logging history of the Cowichan Valley, and a number of displays and demonstration forests are located near the park. The forest was one of the first on the island to be logged, probably because of the relative ease with which the felled trees could be skidded to the lake and floated to the mills. The notched stumps supported springboards that allowed old-time loggers to stand above the dense shrubbery so they could cut down the massive trees that dominated the area.
The forest floor is covered with the same kind of shrubs that made such hard work for the fallers, thimbleberry, salal, and salmonberry. You can also see vanilla leaf, foamflower, and bunchberry which grow closer to the ground. Dolly Varden, Rainbow, and Cutthroat trout live in the lake and chum, coho and Chinook salmon spawn in the lake and its tributaries. Steelhead spawn in the Cowichan River. Rare rocky mountain juniper adds to the uniqueness of the area. Adjacent to Gordon Bay Park is Honeymoon Bay Ecological Reserve, which protects a variety of rare and endangered plant species.
As you walk through the forest, look for deer, raccoons, and red squirrels. Birdwatchers often see juncos, Stellar’s jays and chestnut-backed chickadees, as well as mergansers and golden eye ducks. Black bears, Roosevelt elk, black-tail deer, beaver, raccoons, and cougars can all be spotted in the park.
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.