High in the Kootenay Ranges of the Rocky Mountain region of south eastern British Columbia is one of the alpine gems of our park system, Top of the World Provincial Park. An area of great beauty, the park is part of the Top of the World Plateau, most of which is at an elevation in excess of 2,200 metres. The jagged peaks of the Hughes Range form a backdrop to the west of the park, and the Van Nostrand Range dominated by Mount Morro--at 2,912 metres marks the highest point in the park.
Camping and hiking are popular activities in this backcountry park that has many family-friendly features. An easy, improved and well maintained trail leads to Fish Lake, where a 16 site lake-side campground is located. There is also a public cabin available accommodating 14-18 people.
Although remote, Top of the World Park is beautiful in winter, and is popular with cross-country skiers and ice fishers alike. The Lussier Forest Service Road is not plowed from km 25 to the Top of the World trailhead.
There are numerous designated campsites at Fish Lake.
Backcountry camping fee: $5 per person per night (age 6+)
The BC Parks backcountry permit registration service allows you to purchase a backcountry camping permit before leaving home. Although this does not reserve a campsite, it provides the convenience of prepaying for your trip and not having to carry cash. We encourage all visitors to register online so we can reduce the need to collect fees in the field.
The Fish Lake cabin is located on the shore of Fish Lake. The cabin is available on a first-come, first-served basis and accommodates 14 to 18 people on bunks along the perimeter of the cabin walls.
A wood stove is located in the center of the cabin, but firewood is not provided from October to May. An axe is available. Use extreme caution when cutting wood. Do not split firewood inside the cabin. Trees, dead or alive, are not to be cut for any reason. There are also two tables located inside the cabin. You must bring in all other camping gear and amenities including sleeping pads and cooking and eating utensils. Please pack EVERYTHING out of the park that you brought in and, when leaving ensure that the cabin is left in a tidy condition and that nothing is left inside the cabin, especially garbage and food. No pets or smoking inside the cabin.
Winter camping is available depending on the accessibility to the trailhead via the Forest Service access road.
There are several great hiking trails in this park. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Fishing is a major attraction at this park, particularly in Fish Lake which has a trail circumnavigating the lake for access. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Traditionally, most people who come to Top of the World Provincial Park have done so to angle for the cutthroat and Dolly Varden that thrive in Fish Lake. Cutthroat average 20 cm and Dolly Varden come in at 30 cm.
There are special regulations covering fishing in this park which must be followed so that all visitors will be able to enjoy the park as much as possible:
Cycling is permitted at this park. Mountain bike enthusiasts may only ride the 6-km hiking and horse trail between Nicol Creek trailhead parking lot and Fish Lake. These busy trails are used by young families, therefore cyclists must use extreme caution. Bicycles must keep to pathways. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
For details on e-biking within Top of the World Provincial Park, see the e-biking section.
Please note that bicycles with electric assist motors (e-bikes) are permitted on signed or designated trails within Top of the World Provincial Park, provided they meet the definitions and criteria for e-bike use as outlined in the BC Parks cycling guidelines.
Hunting is permitted only during an open season as described in the Wildlife Act and BC Hunting and Trapping Regulations. All guided hunts are by permit only.
Top of the World Park is located 48 kilometres northeast of the village of Kimberley, access is via White Swan and Lussier Forest Service Roads, and extreme caution must be exercised at all times while travelling these roads. The access route is normally passable from late May until late October.
Via Whiteswan Lake: Turn east off of Highway 93/95, 4.5 kilometres south of Canal Flats. At kilometre 21.3 take the fork to the right (Lussier River Junction). At kilometre 29.6, turn right and cross Coyote Creek. Continue straight at kilometre 30.7, staying on the main road till reaching kilometre 52. The trail begins at this point.
National Topographic Series map 82G/14W (Queen Creek) at a scale of 1:50,000 covers the park area. These maps are available from most map retailers in British Columbia.
History: The area encompassed by Top of the World Provincial Park is within the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa Nation. During pre-colonial times, visitors came from as far away as the interior of British Columbia, Montana and Alberta to obtain chert, a grey, translucent, obsidian-like rock that was mined at Top of the World Park and traded as well as worked into tools and weapons. Removal of archeological artifacts within the park is prohibited.
Conservation: At mid elevations, the forests in Top of the World Park consist primarily of old growth balsam and Douglas fir and Engelmann spruce with some lodgepole pine below 1,700 metres in the Lussier Creek drainage. Sitka alder is common in the lower reaches of the Summer Creek drainage and is found along the Lussier River and around Fish Lake. Near the timber line, alpine larch and white bark pine are interspersed with fir and spruce.
Alpine flowers carpet much of the plateau in July and early August, with glacier lilies, mountain forget-me-nots and western anemone being the most abundant. At lower elevations, there are globe-flowers, Indian paintbrush, broad leafed arnica, bunchberries and yellow columbines adding their vivid splashes of colour.
Wildlife: The park is home to several species of large mammals, occasional sightings are made of moose, elk, white-tailed deer, wolverine, bear and porcupine in the Lussier River and Coyote Creek watersheds. Mule deer frequent the alpine meadows and marmots are found at higher elevations. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep may be seen in the vicinity of Mount Doolan and near Mount Morro, and mountain goats are seen on the ridges that form the western boundary of the park.
Bird life is abundant around Fish Lake. Clark’s nutcrackers, Steller’s jays, grey jays, varied thrushes and pine grosbeaks inhabit the lake area throughout the summer. Scaups, buffleheads and other waterfowl, including loons, often rest upon the lake; bald eagles and ospreys are seen in the spring when the fish are spawning. Fish Lake, the largest body of water in the park, is noted for its cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden fishery.
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.