With over a kilometre of sandy beaches and four campgrounds, Kokanee Creek Park has provincial significance and is the number one choice for tourists’ coming to the West Kootenays. There is always lots to do with an adventure playground, visitor centre, spawning channel, boat launch, group camp site, viewing platform, hiking trails, and a marina nearby.
Want more? All within an hour’s drive you can explore historic Nelson, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Balfour Golf Club, Kaslo with the SS Moyie stern wheeler, and finally Kokanee Glacier Park. Discover south central B.C. but save some time for Kokanee Creek Park. If you don’t, you’re going to wish you did.
Friends Campground offers 13 vehicle accessible campsites with electrical hook-ups. The charge is an extra $7 per night.
All campsite and group site reservations must be made through the BC Parks reservations system. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.
Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
Group campsite reservations are accepted at this park through the BC Parks reservations system.
Group Site 1 is located adjacent to the Redfish day-use parking lot and can accommodate 50 visitors for camping and picnicking (must be reserved for both activities) This site is a large circle of 8 picnic tables, large fire pit, water taps, grey water pit and can accommodate up to 8 trailers and multiple tents. Easy access to the Redfish beach.
Osprey Point Campground is offered for group use in the shoulder seasons. There is a communal enclosed picnic shelter equipped with running water, dish pit, steel counter, an air tight stove and picnic tables. The group site can be reserved through the BC Parks reservation system.
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.
Kokanee Creek Park has four campgrounds, Sandspit, Redfish, Osprey Point, and the Friends campground, that offer vehicle-accessible sites. Sandspit, the largest, is located just east of the Kokanee Creek bridge on Highway 3A, while Redfish is located just west of the bridge. The Friends campground is located by the Sandspit day-use and picnic area.
Sandspit campgound is where the majority of the facilities are concentrated. After you exit Highway 3 turn right to the park gatehouse. Staff are available to check reservations and direct you to a campsite. This campground is situated in a diverse forest of both conifers (cedar, hemlock, pine) and deciduous (cottonwood, birch, aspen) trees. The mixed forest provides plenty of shade. A blend of medium to large sites can accommodate large rigs and extra vehicles. The campsites, with 18 doubles, are evenly spaced on four parallel lanes called Gopher, Osprey, Chipmunk and Porcupine. These lanes bisect the outer lane referred to as Park Lane.
Redfish campground has intimate, mostly shaded, small vehicle accessible sites within a cedar hemlock forest. Two of the sites have tent pads but there are no pull through or doubles.
Osprey Point has a mix of sun and shaded sites, equipped with tent pads, picnic tables and fire pits and is situated within a cedar, hemlock, birch and cottonwood forest. A communal picnic shelter with running water, dish pit, picnic tables and an air-tight stove is available for all to use. The adjacent Redfish Beach is easily accessed for kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. There is a dog beach in the south west corner. Please respect the Park boundary and keep dogs under control at all times.
Friends campground offers 39 sites close to the main beach, 13 sites have electrical service. Sites 137 to 145 have 30 Amp service and sites 147, 149, 151 and 153 have 30 and 50 Amp service. Please note: There are no fire rings at sites 137 to 145.
Services are offered in the high use season between May and September. Campsite reservations are accepted and first come, first served sites are also available. Park gates are located at both campground entrances. Kokanee Park Store and Marina and the Crescent Beach Resort are both a 2-minute drive from the park.
Vehicle-accessible camping fee: $32.00 per party per night plus, if applicable, $7.00 electrical per night = $39.00 per party per night
There are two day-use and picnic areas both located on Kootenay Lake.
The most popular is situated beside the north end of Sandspit campground. The beach is sandy, 1km long and has a wonderful large sandbar at its south-eastern tip. There are several picnic tables along the shore line, 60 feet from the waters edge, evenly spaced among cotton wood and pine trees. The trees offer limited shade and the beach can become very hot during mid day. Behind the tables is a large, open grassy area suitable for recreational sports and family gatherings. Nearby and conveniently located are an adventure playground, toilet change house, pit toilet and two barbeque stands. Parking is available for 120 vehicles. If you want tables by the beach, come early as this beach is popular with local residents.
The smaller day-use and picnic area is the Redfish site. The access road is directly across from the Redfish campground entrance on the opposite side of Highway 3. A short drive will bring you to the 40 vehicle parking lot. This location is also where you will find the group picnic and group campsite with the shelter and grassy area. The beach is just a short walk from here and is approximately 300 metres long, described as a mixture of rough sand and gravel. There is no recognized swimming area or change house. A universal pit toilet is close to the beach and a water tap is in the adjacent Osprey Campground.
Both these day-use and picnic areas are popular but please remember there are no fire pits. A dog beach is beside the boat launch at the northeast end of the park.
Sandspit campground has three toilet buildings, the day-use and picnic area has one toilet and change house and a pit toilet. Redfish campground has one toilet building and a pit toilet. Redfish day-use and picnic area shares the pit toilets with the group sites.
Cold well water is available for cooking and drinking. Nine taps are randomly located in both campgrounds.
Sandspit day-use and picnic area has two water fountains.
Redfish day-use and picnic area shares a water tap with the group sites. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
A wharf to assist with launching and singlewide concrete boat launch can be found at the north-east end of the Sandspit day-use and picnic area. The 20 unit day-use parking lot can accommodate vehicles or boat trailers; no overnight parking except for registered campers. A nearby marina will keep your boat overnight. Both water skiing and windsurfing are popular activities on Kootenay Lake.
Note: Low water levels preclude boat launch use in March and April.
A sani-station is available during the collecting season is located at the Sandspit campground. The entrance is to the right of campsite #70.
Electrical service is available in 13 sites at the Friends campground. An additional service charge of $7.00, per night, applies to these sites regardless of whether electrical service is used.
Please note: There are no fire rings in sites 137-145.
There are 9.5km of easy hiking and walking trails within the park. The majority of these trails are located around the campground, visitor centre, spawning channel, lake shoreline, and through the delta. A walking bridge across Kokanee Creek can link you to roads and trails to Redfish campground. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroy plant life and soil structure.
The most popular are three connected trails located on the west side of Highway 3, opposite the Sandspit campground entrance. Canyon trail follows the east side of Kokanee Creek, passes through mature cedar and hemlock trees and leads you to a set of stairs and terraced viewing platform overlooking a canyon. Due to the narrowness of the canyon, the views of the spring runoff are spectacular. The connecting Pine and Woodland trails take you through a forest of yellow pine and birch. The trails combine to make a circle route. All the trails are considered easy to moderate. Depending which route you choose, hiking times range from 30 to 60 min.
In addition, Kokanee Glacier Park is 16km away and contains over 100km of beginner to advanced hiking trails in spectacular alpine terrain.
The two day-use and picnic areas Sandspit and Redfish offer extensive sandy beaches. The water of Kootenay lake is considered cool and refreshing. Here, in shallow areas on the large sand bar the water is warmer. Sandspit beach has a lagoon, which is warm but also a bit slimy. Its popular for wading to find minnows and tadpoles but not recommended for swimming. The only roped off swimming area is at Sandspit. The sandy shoreline provides excellent opportunities for swimming, sun bathing, and water skiing. There are no lifeguards on duty.
The delta provides many opportunities to canoe or kayak and enjoy the abundant birdlife in the park. The lake can be accessed by the day-use and picnic areas or the boat launch at the north-east end of Sandspit beach. Kootenay Lake can have sudden wind or weather changes. Be prepared.
Kokanee Creek Paddle Sports is on site offering canoe, kayak, and paddle board Rentals off the main beach.
Kokanee, rainbow and bull trout are found in Kootenay Lake. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence. Check the BC freshwater fishing regulations synopsis for quotas and restrictions.
The Kokanee nature center is open from 8am to 8pm, serving locally roasted coffee and free Wi-Fi. Check the notices posted daily throughout the park for the activities of the day.
Programs run throughout the camping season for all ages. From Jerry Rangers to evening star gazing, there is always something being offered. For more information, please refer to Kootenay SW Parks or join us on Facebook.
There is a viewing platform at the end of Canyon trail on Kokanee Creek. There is an abundant bird population on the delta or along the creek and a spawning channel for Kokanee.
Pets and domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. A dog beach is beside the boat launch at the north-east end of the park. Park visitors 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 Kokanee Creek 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.
There are waterskiing opportunities outside of the controlled area at this park.
In southern BC on Hwy 3A, a 20 minute drive, 19km east of Nelson or if you travel west take the Kootenay Lake ferry from Kootenay Bay to Balfour. From Balfour it’s another 12km to the park.
This park proudly operated by:
RAP Park Contracting Ltd.
Base camp phone:
Kokanee Creek Park is located on the old “Busk” estate site. Charles W. Busk was a wealthy English gentleman who came to Nelson in the late 1800’s. He had acquired a large tract of land with lake frontage 14 miles from Nelson. From plans drawn by English architects, Busk built a large mansion that once sat on a rise a short way up Kokanee Glacier Road. As a country squire and gracious gentlemen, Mr. Busk enjoyed entertaining guests but also had many interests in surveying, mining, fruit ranching and Scouting. He lived an eloquent, lavish life style. After 1913 the romance of his new way of life had dulled and it is estimated he went through three fortunes. Sadly, within a few years he died, disillusioned by most of his ventures, withdrawn and ignored by friends whom he once had entertained so lavishly. The park as it is seen today was originally established in 1955.
Archaeological evidence in the park indicates seasonal campsites used by First Nations people. Remains of European settlement include evidence of old homesteads and an early estate. Nearby are mining ghost towns and village museums displaying the Kootenay area history.
With 257 hectares, Kokanee Creek Park has extensive sandy beaches and a large delta area. Backed by a gentle rising upland, this area gives way to the forested slopes of the Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountains. Kokanee Creek bisects the landscape to form a steep canyon. The park protects the active alluvial creek fan with its marshes and extensive sandspit. Both the Englemann spruce and subalpine fir and the interior cedar and hemlock biogeoclimatic zones occur here. Prime growing conditions within the park produce a diverse mix of vegetation with magnificent specimens of fir, hemlock and pine. There are both pure and mixed stands of deciduous trees as well as many of the common understory plants including wild rose, queen’s cup and skunk cabbage. Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage, please do not damage or remove them.
The Kokanee Creek Delta ecology includes many species of plants and animals. A variety of habitats support coyotes, beaver, whitetail and mule deer and a large number of birds ranging from the tiny Rufous hummingbird to the great blue heron. Many of the birds are migratory but kingfishers, woodpeckers, and dippers can by seen throughout the year. The park also has important man-made and some natural spawning channels for kokanee salmon, which spawn in large numbers in the late summer.
Park visitors 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.
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.