North Central Rocky Mountain Forests, Park J: Purcell, Selkirk and Monashee Mountains

World’s greatest alpine rock climbing area, largest sockeye salmon run in North America, and old growth forests

The three mountain ranges to the west of the Continental Divide in British Columbia contain little-known wilderness areas and spectacular scenery. The westernmost range, the Monashee Mountains, transitions into the drier Okanagan region.

Purcell Mountains

Bugaboo Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°47’ W116°48’) is 13,600 ha and considered one of the world’s great alpine rock climbing areas. The glacier-sculpted granite spires are over 3,000 m in elevation. The park also includes the Bugaboo, Vowell, and Malloy glaciers. It is 50 km west of Brisco via gravel road.

James Chabot Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°31’ W116°1’) is a 14-ha small beach park in Invermere providing lakeside recreation on Windermere Lake.

Doctor Creek Trail, Recreation Sites and Trails BC (N50⁰2’ W116⁰10’) begins at a trailhead on the Bull River and continues west to the Lizard Range. The trailhead is east of the Purcell Wilderness Conservancy and west of Canal Flats.

Purcell Wilderness Conservancy Provincial Park and Protected Area, British Columbia, is 202,700 ha of pristine mountain terrain between Fairmont Hot Springs and Kootenay Lake. Forests are old growth cedar and hemlock. Access is by trails on the perimeter.  The northernmost point is north of Dutch Creek (N50°21’ W116°13’), the easternmost point is on Skookumchuck Creek (N49°57’ W116°4’), the southernmost point is at Sawtooth Peak (N49°50’ W116°12’), and the westernmost point is on Hamill Creek east of Route 31 (N50°12’ W116°56’). The northern access is from Invermere to Toby Creek (N50°20’ W116°25’), eastern accesses are from Canal Flats to Dutch Creek (N50°15’ W116°11’) or Findlay Creek (N50°10’ W116°11’), southern access is from Kimberley to Dewar Creek (N49°54’ W116°28’), and western accesses are on the east side of Kootenay Lake, accessed from Route 31 at Meadow Creek. These are at Hamill Creek (N50°12’ W116°56’) and Johnson’s Landing-Fry Creek (N50°4’ W116°52’). The latter trail extends 12 km up Fry Creek Canyon to Carney Creek. The Earl Gray Pass Trail is 60 km between Hamill Creek and Toby Creek.  From the southern entrance at Dewars Creek, a trail leads to the Dewars Hot Springs, used by elk, goat, deer, and moose for minerals and nutrients. Rare plants and a rare damselfly are also found in the area.

Thunder Hill Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚10’ W115˚51’) is a small 44-ha preserve on Routes 93/95 west of Canal Flats. The site includes forest and grassland typical of the East Kootenay Trench. This park is at the upper (southern end) of Columbia Lake and is approximately the source of the Columbia River.

Windermere Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°25’ W115°58’) is 200 ha of native grassland on the shoreline used by large populations of ungulates.  It is on Westside Road south of Invermere.

Selkirk Mountains

Arrow Lakes Reservoir, BC Hydro, extends 230 km from Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar (N49°20’ W117°46’) north to Revelstoke (N51°0’ W118°12’). Lakeside recreation areas include Syringa Creek Provincial Park (N49°21’ W117°54’), Fauquier Park (N49°53’ W118°5’), Burton Historic Park (N50°0’ W117°53’), McDonald Creek Provincial Park (N50°8’ W117°49’), Nakusp Park (N50°15’ W117°49’), Eagle Bay Recreation Site (N50°34’ W117°57’), Arrow Lakes Provincial Park-Shelter Bay site (N50°38’ W117°55’), Akolkolex Falls Recreation Site (N50°50’ W118°2’), Blanket Creek Provincial Park (N50°50’ W118°5’), and Begbie Falls Recreation Site (N50°56’ W118°12’).

Canyon Hot Springs, British Columbia (N51˚8’ W117˚51’) is in Albert Canyon between Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Goat Range Provincial Park, British Columbia, is 78,947 ha of old growth forest and alpine meadows in the Selkirk Mountains. The north end is at Gerrard along the Lardeau River on Route 31 (N50°31’ W117°16’) and the south end is at Wilson Creek (N50°8’ W117°21’). The Gerrard area offers the opportunity to see spawning Gerrard rainbow trout, while the Wilson Creek trail leads to a large waterfall. Other scenic areas are Poplar Lake (N50°17’ W117°18’) and Spyglass Valley. To the west of the park is Hamling Lakes Wildlife Management Area.

Goosegrass Creek Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N52°0’ W118°15’), is a 2,500-ha undisturbed watershed with old growth forest. It is located on the south side of Kinbasket Lake, Columbia River arm.

Hamling Lakes Wildlife Management Area (N50°16’ W117°31’) is 30,572 ha in the Selkirk Mountains east of Upper Arrow Lake with old growth forest and alpine meadow habitats. It was established to protect the woodland caribou, grizzly, wolverine, bald eagles and other rare wildlife.

Kinbasket (Mica) Lake, BC Hydro, is formed by Mica Dam (N52°4’ W118°34’) on the Columbia River. It includes a long northwestward arm in the Rocky Mountain Trench in the former valley of the Canoe River.

Lew Creek Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50°32’ W117°27’) is 815 ha, encompassing the entire watershed of a glacier-fed creek and three ecosystems. Lew Creek originates in a cirque below a glacier on Mount Hadow, and flows through western hemlock-redcedar-yew forests before emptying into Trout Lake.

Martha Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51°9’ W118°12’), is 71 ha on Lake Revelstoke. The location is 20 km north of Revelstoke on Route 23. It provides reservoir recreation opportunities.

McDonald Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°8’ W117°49’) is 468 ha on Route 6 adjacent to Arrow Lake on the Columbia River, providing reservoir recreation opportunities.

Lake Revelstoke, BC Hydro, is on the Columbia River north of the town of Revelstoke and extends for 130 km upstream to Mica Dam (N52°4’ W118°34’). Martha Creek Provincial Park (N51°9’ W118°12’) provides lakeside recreation. There is a visitor center at the Revelstoke Dam (N51°3’ W118°12’).

Rosebery Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°2’ W117°24’) is 32 ha with a campground on Wilson Creek near its confluence with Slocan Lake, just off Route 6. It is between Goat Range and Valhalla Provincial Parks and also is in a valley of hot springs.

Summit Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°9’ W117°39’) is 6 ha on Summit Lake on Route 6 southeast of Nakusp. The park is important for western toad migration and breeding. Mountain goats may be seen on the 500-m-high slopes of the nearby Nakusp Range.

Monashee Mountains

Adams Lake Provincial Park is north of the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) at Squilax. The Bush Creek site (N50°59’ W119°44’) is 100 ha on the southwest side of Adams Lake on the Holdings/Adams Lake West Road and provides lakeside recreation opportunities. The Spillman Beaches site (N51°8’ W119°36’) is 170 ha accessed by boat only.  The Poplar Point site (N51°12’ W119°32’) is 32 ha to the north of Spillman Beaches, also accessible only by water on the east side of Adams Lake.

Upper Adams River Provincial Park extends for 65 km from Adams Lake to north of TumTum Lake, protecting old growth floodplain forests and salmon spawning habitat. North of TumTum Lake, the park is known for its abundant lichen flora. The area of the park is 5,730 ha; the south end is at Adams Lake (N51˚24’ W119˚27’) and the north end is north of TumTum Lake (N51˚56’ W119˚6’). Access is by logging roads east from Route 5.

Anstey-Hunakwa Provincial Park (N51°8’ W118°55’), is 6,850 ha on the Anstey Arm of Shuswap Lake, accessible only by boat. The large park includes old growth cedar forests and a trail to Hunakwa Lake. Lakeside recreation opportunities are available at Rendezvous Picnic site (N51°5’ W118°56’), Anstey Arm West (N51°5’ W118°55’), Anstey Beach (N51°8’ W118°54’), Four Mile Creek (N51°5’ W118°54’), and Wright Creek (N51°8’ W119°0’), former Shuswap Lake Provincial Park sites now included in this park.

Arrow Lakes Provincial Park (N50°38’ W117°55’), is 21 ha of beaches and rocky headlands at the Shelter Bay Ferry terminal on Upper Arrow Lake. Route 23 crosses the lake at this point.

Blanket Creek Provincial Park (N50°50’ W118°5’) is 318 ha on Route 23 on Upper Arrow Lake. Near the campground is Sutherland Falls, a 12-m drop on Blanket Creek.

Cinnemousun Narrows Provincial Park (N51˚0’ W119˚0’), is 740 ha at the junction of the four arms of Shushwap Lake. The park is accessible by water only and has walk-in campsites and a hiking trail.

Dunn Peak Protected Area is 19,350 ha between the North Thompson River near Little Fort (N51˚30’ W120˚10’) in the Okanagan dry forests ecoregion and Harper Creek (N51˚29’ W119˚51’) in the North-Central Rockies forest ecoregion. In between is Dunn Peak, a 2,634-m-high matterhorn and the highest peak in the vicinity. Notable features are old growth forests, lakes, tarns, and swamps. Most of the park is wilderness without trails, but the park also includes large islands in the North Thompson River along Route 5.

Eagle River Provincial Park is a riparian corridor along the Trans-Canada Highway between Sicamous and Revelstoke. It is along the Eagle River from near Taft (N50˚56’ W118˚45’) downstream to Malakwa (N50˚58’ W118˚32’).

English Lake Provincial Park (N50˚55’ W118˚20’) is 337 ha south of the Trans-Canada Highway and west of Revelstoke.

Foster Arm Protected Area, British Columbia (N52°17’ W118°35’) is a 1,000-ha area on Kinbasket Lake with interior cedar hemlock forests.

Greenbush Lake Protected Area, British Columbia (N50˚47’ W118˚18’) is 2,800 ha of old growth cedar, hemlock and subalpine fir and protects grizzly bear and mountain caribou habitat. It is reached via the Sugar Lake Road north of Cherryville on Route 6.

Mount Griffin Provincial Park and Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50˚54’ W118˚34’) is 3,000 ha south of the Trans-Canada Highway at Three Valley.  Access is via the Yard Creek Forest Service Road.  The park protects Caribou and Wap Lakes, while the ecological reserve provides a transect from valley bottom to alpine meadow. Douglas-fir and western hemlock forests predominate at lower elevations, and subalpine fir is at higher elevations.

Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°55’ W119°38’) is 1,000 ha located 5 km north of Squilax on the Squilax-Anglemont Road. The park is known for the largest sockeye salmon run in North America, with millions of fish in the Adams River. The salmon run is in early October.  Peak salmon runs are on a four-year cycle, with 2018 and 2022 being dominant years with the most fish. There are 26 miles of trails, which follow the Adams River and pass rapids and waterfalls.

Harbour-Dudgeon Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia, (N51°34’ W119°10’), is 375 ha in area, which surrounds a series of lakes on Harbour Creek, a tributary to the Adams River. It is reached by logging roads from Adams Lake. The park includes old growth spruce and cedar-hemlock around Harbour Lake, along with moose and caribou.

Herald Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚47’ W119˚12’), is 80 ha on the Salmon Arm of Shushwap Lake. There are three campgrounds, and a trail leads to Margaret Falls and a canyon upstream. The park is 14 km from Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway).

Kingfisher Creek Provincial Park and Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50˚48’ W118˚47’), is 1,900 ha of subalpine parkland at the transition between the drier Okanagan region and wetter North-Central Rockies forests. It is accessible by foot and is 14 km east of Sicamous.

Momich Lakes Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51˚20’ W119˚22’), is 1,850 ha to the east of the north end of Adams Lake, accessible by gravel logging roads. The park includes the most northerly occurrence of western larch in British Columbia.

Monashee Provincial Park, British Columbia, is 22,722 ha of a wilderness hiking park with old growth subalpine fir, Douglas-fir, cedar, and hemlock forests; alpine meadows, and glacial cirques. A herd of mountain caribou roams the area. The western portion is along the Shuswap River (N50˚31’ W118˚26’), the southern portion is along Bill Fraser Creek (N50˚26’ W118˚14’), and the northeastern portion is along Vigue Creek (N50˚38’ W118˚11’) The highest point is Mount Fosthall (N50˚29’ W118˚16’), and there are other peaks reaching 3,000 m in height. Access is from Cherryville on Route 6, via Sugar Creek Road and Spectrum Creek Road. A noncontiguous portion of the park is at Rainbow Falls on Spectrum Creek (N50˚29’ W118˚27’). From Spectrum Creek trailhead, a trail provides the main access into the park. Sol Mountain Lodge (N50˚27’ W118˚11’) provides lodging near the park on the southeast.

Moonraker Recreation Area, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, British Columbia (N51°15’ W116°59’), includes a trailhead at Cedar Lake Recreation Site and 50 km of trails west of Golden.

Mud Lake Delta Provincial Park, British Columbia (N52˚7’ W119˚9’) is 500 ha of floodplain wetlands east of Blue River off of State Route 5. The site is accessible by canoe via the North Thompson and Mud Rivers.

North Fork Wild Park, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, British Columbia (N51°0’ W118°42’) is on Avoca Road off of the Trans-Canada Highway north of Craigellachie and west of Revelstoke. The 51-acre preserve features a network of trails through old growth cedar and hemlock in the North Fork Perry River canyon, which is fed by glacial meltwaters.

Pukeashun Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51˚12’ W119˚15’), is 1,800 ha of alpine and subalpine areas, wetlands, tundra, and a high elevation pass, located 42 km north of Scotch Creek and Sushwap Lake.

Scotch Creek Hlina Trail, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, BC (N50°57’ W119°25’), features a trail to views of Shushwap Lake to the south. It is reached from the town of Scotch Creek on the north shore of Shuswap Lake.

Upper Seymour River Provincial Park, British Columbia, includes the headwaters of the Seymour River (N51°42’ W118°58’) and extends downstream to 40 km north of the town of Seymour Arm (N51°25’ W118°54’). The park includes glaciers, tundra, old growth interior western cedar and hemlock forests, and subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce forests. The park is reached by gravel road from Seymour Arm.  The access road passes a short trail to 40-foot Seymour River Falls (N51°17’ W118°54’).

Silver Beach Provincial Park, British Columbia (N51°14’ W118°58’), is on the Seymour Arm of Shuswap Lake. The 130-ha park includes camping areas and the remains of a historic gold rush town. It is reached by an 80-km drive by turning off the Trans-Canada Highway at Squilax.

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50°54’ W119°26’), is 150 ha and consists of a campground and beach providing lakeside recreation. Copper Island (N50°55’ W119°24’) is also included in the park. The park is accessible by road from Squilax on Route 1 (Trans-Canada Highway).

An additional 900 ha of park areas are along the four arms of Shuswap Lake. On the east-west trending main arm are the St. Ives (N50˚59’ W119˚6’) and Horseshoe Bay (N50˚59’ W119˚7’) sites, both on the north shore. On the southwest-trending Salmon Arm are the Herald Provincial Park, described separately, and the Aline Hill (N50°57’ W119°2’), Tillis Beach (N50°55’ W119°5’), Hermit Bay (N50°54’ W119°5’), Paradise Point (N50°48’ W119°10’), Hungry Cove (N50°52’ W119°3’), Marble Point (N50°55’ W119°2’), and Swall  (N50°58’ W118°59’) sites. Marble Point features marble outcrops and a trail.

On the northeast-trending Anstey Arm are the Twin Bays (N51°3’ W118°58’), Anstey View (N51°1’ W119°0’), and Roberts Bay (N51°2’ W118°57’) sites. On the north trending Seymour Arm are the Silver Beach Provincial Park, described separately, and the Albas (N51°12’ W119°0’), Two Mile Creek (N51°10’ W119°2’),  Encounter Point (N51°8’ W119°2’), Woods Landing (N51°4’ W119°3’), Woods Landing South (N51°3’ W119°4’), Nielsen Beach (N51°1’ W119°2’), Cottonwood Beach (N51°5’ W119°1’), Beach Bay (N51°10’ W119°0’), Bughouse Bay (N51°14’ W118°55’), and Fowler Point (N51°14’ W118°59’) sites. The Albas site has trails to waterfalls along Celesta Creek. On nearby Mara Lake is the Mara Point site (N50˚48’ W118˚59’).

Upper Shuswap Ecological Reserve, British Columbia (N50˚40’ W118˚21’) is 70 ha of old growth western red cedar along the Shuswap River about 50 km north of Cherryville, via Sugar Lake Road.

Victor Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚57’ W118˚24’) is 15 ha on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Revelstoke; however, no public access or facilities are constructed.

Wap Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚44’ W118˚35’), is at the upper end of Mabel Lake in the transition between the Okanagan and North-Central Rockies ecoregions.

White Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚54’ W119˚14’), is 266 ha on the shoreline of White Lake, reached from Balmoral on the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1). The lake is known as a rainbow trout fishing area. The park provides habitat for the western painted turtle. Rare plants are found in calcareous clay wetlands at the upper end of the lake.

Wild Rose Bay Park, Columbia Shuswap Regional District, BC (N50°58’ W119°6’), is on the south shore of Shuswap Lake and features a trail to a scenic shoreline view of the lake.

Yard Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia (N50˚54’ W118˚49’) is a 175-ha camping and hiking park on the Trans-Canada Highway (Route 1) east of Sicamous. The Eagle River Nature Trail Network is on the north side of the highway, and the campground is on the south. The cedar and hemlock forests are noted for the presence of American dipper along the Eagle River. The park also provides spawning for the most westerly natural population of the westslope cutthroat trout, and spawning for salmon.