Established in 1922, it is one of the oldest parks in the province. Geologically, this area is composed of an immense system of granite rock known as the Nelson batholith. During the earth’s cooling process, mineralized solutions were subjected to great pressure that caused them to be pushed into holes and cracks in this granite mass. These became the deposits rich in gold and silver that caused the local mining boom of the 19th century. Several mines paid quite well but most were worked for only a few years. Many of the park’s trails were originally built for miners hauling ore and supplies.
The park’s primary roles are to:
- Represent the ecological resources of the Selkirk Mountain ranges.
- Conserve grizzly bear and mountain goat habitat.
- Maintain the natural environment.
- Conserve cultural heritage of the early alpine mining history of the West Kootenays.
Lichens and a few other hardy plants survive in the exposed bedrock and gravel moraine near the peaks. Stunted Engelmann spruce and white-bark pine are common at the timberline, with subalpine flower meadows in the wetter areas. The numerous steep slopes and avalanche paths support slide alder and huckleberry. The lower, more protected slopes are forested with Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, lodgepole pine, hemlock, western red cedar as well as a few subalpine larch.
Bird species such as the blue grouse and Franklin grouse inhabit the forests. Ptarmigan and golden eagles are often seen in the open areas. Small animals such as the hoary marmot, pika, ground squirrels, and marten are common, while larger species such as the mountain goat, mule deer and black bear are present in lesser numbers. Protection of significant grizzly bear habitat was the main reason for the expansion of the park in 1995. Areas such as the Coffee Creek drainage have no development and use is discouraged. Other trails are carefully designed to avoid bear habitat or close at certain times of the year when bears are known to be nearby. Separation of people and grizzlies is an important management objective. For more information visit the wildlife safety page.