Strathcona Provincial Park is located on Vancouver Island, approximately
48 km (30 miles) west of Campbell
River and 40 km (25 miles) east of Gold
River on Hwy 28.
Oldest Provincial Park
Strathcona Provincial Park was formed in 1911 and is British Columbia's
oldest provincial park, as well as the largest on Vancouver Island,
consisting of around 250,000 hectares (617,763 acres). The park
is made up of vast snowfields, glaciers, and rugged wilderness areas
with some of Vancouver Island's largest mountains, including the
highest one - the Golden Hinde, at 2,200 meters (7,218 feet). Strathcona
Provincial Park definitely makes for a good destination point if
you are visiting Vancouver Island and love the outdoors.
There is an endless amount of outdoor recreation available at the
park, including canoeing, kayaking, hiking, back country skiing,
and, with the appropriate license, fishing for Rainbow and Cutthroat
trout in Buttle Lake. Strathcona Provincial Park can be accessed
from Campbell River, Central Lake near Port
and Gold River. For wildlife viewing, the park has a large number
of diverse animal species, including Black bears, Bald eagles, deer,
cougars, Trumpeter swans, ptarmigan, frogs, Whiskey Jacks and tree
Washington Alpine Resort
There are so many access points and wilderness trails in Strathcona
Provincial Park that one can't ever seem to cover them all. One
local favourite is through Mount Washington Ski Resort near Courtenay
which sits adjacent to the park near Forbidden Plateau. From Mount
Washington, you can use the private facilities at the Raven Lodge
and either hike into the park during the summer or cross-country
ski or snow shoe around Paradise Meadows and beyond in the winter.
Strathcona Provincial Park has two vehicle-accessible campgrounds:
one called Buttle Lake, the other, Ralph River. Both campsites are
set in areas of large trees, mainly Douglas fir, and are quite private.
Buttle Lake is near the spot where the larger Buttle Lake joins
Upper Campbell Lake and is closer to Hwy 28; Ralph River is towards
the south end of Buttle Lake on the Westmin Road (Buttle Lake Road).
Reservations are accepted at a limited number of campsites at both
Buttle Lake and Ralph River, with the remainder of the campsites
operating on a first-come, first-served basis.
There are some back-country campsites located throughout the park,
especially along the wilderness trails. There are also a number
of marine sites situated on the north-west side of Buttle Lake.
Strathcona Provincial Park also features some day-use areas, complete
with picnic tables and pit-toilets generally situated on the west
side of Buttle Lake on the Westmin Road.
Canada's tallest waterfall, Della Falls at 440 metres (1443 feet)
high, is located at the south-east corner of Strathcona Provincial
Park. Getting to the falls requires a number of factors, including
a few days travel by foot, being well fit, and camping out in wilderness
campgrounds. To get to the falls trailhead, you have to first cross
Great Central Lake, located near Port Alberni, from the Ark Resort
(to the west by about 35 km - 21 miles), by boat or water taxi.
You then follow Drinkwater Creek and an old logging railway right-of-way
for approximately 15 km (9 miles). The Della Falls Trail usually
takes at least 7 hours one way and therefore camping is required
in the wilderness campgrounds found along the trail.
Due to the Strathcona Provincial Park Master Plan, snowmobiling
and quading are not allowed; this is mainly due to noise pollution,
possible impacts on wildlife, potential oil/fuel leaks, and the
sharing with other stakeholders. Unfortunately, for these reasons,
all motorized vehicles (unless authorized with a permit) have been
banned completely from within the boundaries of Strathcona Provincial
Park. If you do snowmobile, the closest place to the park is at
Mount Washington Ski Resort.
Strathcona Provincial Park surrounds another smaller provincial
park on the south-west side of Buttle Lake called Strathcona-Westmin
Provincial Park. Within this park, there are many hiking opportunities,
including great viewing platforms of Lower and Upper Myra Falls
- a very scenic, cascading waterfall flowing into Buttle Lake. Strathcona-Westmin
Provincial Park is a very unique park in its own right, different
from other BC Parks in that, within its boundary, there is a working
Myra Falls Mine
The mine operating since 1966, was once owned by Westmin Mines and
known as the Boliden Mine and now goes by the name of Nyrstar Myra
Falls Mine. Operated by Nyrstar, an international mining conglomerate,
the Nyrstar Myra Falls Mine produces zinc, copper, gold, and silver
concentrates, and, depending on ore prices, expects to be operating
at least until 2030. The road into Strathcona-Westmin Provincial
Park goes right beside the mine operation.
The area of Hwy 28 that runs through Strathcona Provincial Park
is generally rated as one of British Columbia's best motorcycle
rides. This motorcycle ride, nicknamed "the Gold River Run",
is complete heaven and will take you through some unbelievable curves
and straight sections, through trees and wilderness areas of Hwy
28 on your way to the small community of Gold River. Just remember,
there is the potential for a wildlife or vehicle collision, so please
be cautious - especially at night.
For adventure motorcycle riders, there is a circle route that continues
north from Gold River to the small community of Woss. From Gold
River, take the road over the Gold River then towards Muchalat Lake
and the Nimpkish Main Forest Service Road. Along the way, the gravel
road takes you past Muchalat Lake Recreation Site. The road will
eventually take you to the small community of Woss and Hwy 19; from
here, you can return to Campbell River on Hwy 19.
Just remember if you are enjoying the provincial parks and the countryside
around British Columbia, please remember this is bear country. Try
to avoid the rivers during heavy salmon spawning times unless you
feel comfortable with bears around and take the usual precautions.
There is also the possibilities of encounters with wolves or cougars
so please play it safe.
Myra Falls -
Buttle Lake Campground
Beach at Buttle
Yatman Gold River
South End Buttle