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 as a park in 1981. Indian Arm was designated to park status in July 1995 as part of the Lower Mainland Nature Legacy initiative. A management agreement was signed in 1998 between the Tsleil-Waututh Nation and the province of British Columbia, establishing a park management board that oversees any issues related to the management, conservation, recreational and cultural heritage objectives for the area.
This 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.
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.
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 as well as sea-run cutthroat, and a small steelhead population. 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. Indigenous species include anemones, nudibranches, tritons, shrimp and rockfish. Crabs are particularly abundant and use the area off Twin Islands for breeding. View the wildlife safety page for more information on staying safe.