This park was established August 23, 1973.
The colourful history of the Okanagan Valley is very evident in the park. There are archaeological sites and provincially significant First Nations pictographs found on rock outcrops and canyon walls. At one time, the local Salish Indigenous peoples used Wild Horse Canyon as a wild horse trap.
Historic trails form part of the current trail network, some dating back to 1860, when Father Pandosy established an oblate mission near Kelowna. Settlers used a trail through Wild Horse Canyon, but finding the south end of the trail crossed extremely rough and rocky country, Father Pandosy instituted a better trail higher up to the east.
Good’s Creek Canyon Trail was named for Dave Good, supplier of survey crews for the Kettle Valley Railway, built in 1915. Commando Bay was used to secretly train Chinese-Canadians for guerrilla warfare in 1944, during World War II.
Little remains at the crash site of a DC3 passenger plane that went down in December of 1950 roughly 1km northeast of Divide Lake. The two CP Air pilots died in the crash, while 16 others on board were rescued by local search and rescue teams. There is no trail access to the site.
The park is a representative example of the Okanagan Basin and Okanagan Highlands. The terrain ranges from the deeply incised melt water channels of Good Creek and Wildhorse Canyon to the 1579m high Okanagan Mountain with spectacular examples of heavily glaciated rock terrain including classic rock drumlins, grooves, flutes and striations.
The park encompasses ecosystems from three different biogeoclimatic zones: the bunchgrass zone in some of the lower but more exposed areas, the ponderosa pine zone in much of the lower elevations and the interior Douglas fir zone on the upper mountain reaches. Significant old growth Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce covers more than 2500 hectares. The park’s plant life represents the influence of both the dry southern and wetter northern climates. The park protects a significant portion of undeveloped lakeshore along Okanagan Lake.
The variety of ecosystems represented in the park leads to an abundance of wildlife that is surprising in an area so close to Kelowna.
The rugged rocky terrain is habitat for mountain goats. White-tailed deer, moose, elk, lynx, marten, coyote are also found in the park. Small but very important species are the blue listed Western harvest mouse, Nuttall’s cottontail (the furthest northerly occurrence) and spotted bat. The northern alligator lizard and western skink can be found under rocks or bark in open wooded areas while the yellow-bellied racer prefers grasslands and open fields.
Blue listed reptile species found in the park include western painted turtle, rubber boa, gopher snake, western blue racer and western rattlesnake. The park protects habitat for five blue and two red listed bird species including the western grebe and white-headed woodpecker.