Elk Falls Provincial Park
About This Park
A thundering waterfall and some of the finest year-round salmon fishing in Canada are just two of the reasons Elk Falls is one of the most popular provincial parks on Vancouver Island. Add to that the extensive network of forest trails, the nearby Quinsam salmon hatchery and, in the fall, the sight of spawning salmon in the Quinsam and Campbell Rivers, and it’s easy to see why this provincial park is considered one of the best campground accommodations in the “Salmon Capital of the World.”
This convenient location – just 2 kilometres from downtown Campbell River on central Vancouver Island – provides quiet riverside camping in the heart of a world-renowned fishing area. And you don’t have to go far to find fish – from November to March, the steelhead run right by the campsites on the Quinsam River. As spring progresses, lakes in the area – many of which have been stocked – ripple with rainbow, cutthroat and dolly varden trout. During late spring and through the summer, fishermen head to the tidal waters to fish for chinook or coho salmon.
After a morning of fishing, pack a picnic lunch and take a cool stroll to the Elk Falls day-use area. Just 3 km from the campground, this picnic area contains easy walking trails and the plunging 25-metre waterfall that gives this park its name. Hiking trails also lead to other areas in the park, which is home to the only significant stand of old-growth Douglas fir north of MacMillan Provincial Park.
The large campground at Elk Falls Provincial Park provides a convenient base camp for day tripping. Gold River, destinations in the Sayward Forest, Kelsey Bay, Rock Bay, and the parks of Quadra and Cortes Islands are within easy reach.
Quinsam Campground at Elk Falls Provincial Park is located 3 km north of Campbell River on central Vancouver Island on Hwy 28 toward Gold River. The Elk Falls day-use areas are located 3 km west of the campground off Hwy 28.
Maps and Brochures
- Park Map [PDF] (January 21, 2020)
- Parking and trail locations in Elk Falls Park and on BC Hydro property [PDF 2.5MB] (January 15, 2020)
Nature and Culture
- In the campground, each of the campsite posts identifies a tree, shrub or flower growing adjacent to the post or near the campsite.
- Wildlife: Wildlife in Elk Falls Park includes a variety of small mammals and birds. Great blue herons, killdeer, Glaucous-winged gulls, crows, Chestnut-backed chickadees, Golden-crowned kinglets and starlings are the most abundant resident bird species. Mammals include deer, bears and cougars, as well as shrews, squirrels, voles, raccoons, mink, river otters, muskrat and beaver. A beaver dam and pond are located west of the campground. Roosevelt elk also utilize portions of the park for winter range. Fish species include steelhead, cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout, three spine stickleback, fresh water Sculpin and chinook, chum, coho, pink and sockeye salmon.
- Management Planning Information
Approved management plan for Elk Falls Provincial Park [PDF 1.02MB]
This is not the original management planning product. This document has been scanned from the original format of the plan. It may contain some formatting changes, however the content is consistent with the original.
Activities Available at this Park
Cycling is permitted on roadways in the park and mountain bike opportunities exist on the pumphouse trails, which connect to the Snowden demonstration forest trail network. The pumphouse trail network is best accessed from near the water tower uphill of the logging road bridge over the Campbell River.
Trail and stunt construction is prohibited.
Freshwater fishing in Quinsam and Campbell River, as well as, saltwater/ocean fishing near the town of Campbell River. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate fishing licence.
An extensive 6 km trail system offers a variety of hiking opportunities within Elk Falls Provincial Park.
In the day-use area there is a short trail to the magnificent old growth Douglas fir forest. Another system of trails will take you to Elk, Moose and Deer Falls, found along this portion of the Campbell River. Detailed trail maps are located at the day-use areas and in the campground.
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.
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in beach areas or park buildings. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks. There are swimming holes near the falls at the day-use area of the park.
Viewing platforms are located at the day-use area near the falls, as well as along the Canyon View Trail. These sites offers spectacular views of the deep rock canyons and waterfalls.
Facilities Available at this Park
A number of facilities in the park are wheelchair-accessible or have been designed for park visitors with mobility challenges.
Elk Falls Day-use Area – Viewpoints and Suspension Bridge approach:
The paved parking includes stalls that are designated for people with mobility challenges, all pit toilets and most picnic tables are wheelchair-accessible. The trails accessing the first set of viewpoints are designed to a 5% grade or less and have hard packed trail surfaces, park bench resting spots, and safety fencing.
Please note: The stairs, suspension bridge and the lower viewing areas are not classified as wheelchair-accessible.
Quinsam River Fishing/Viewing Platform:
A flat concrete platform just below the Quinsam River Highway Bridge provides access to a holding pool for salmon before it enters into the Campbell River. In the fall it holds pink, coho and chinook while on their way upstream. The trail is graded at more than 5% but it is smooth and can be accessed with wheelchairs, it is a short 60m. away from the parking area, and is located across from the Quinsam River Campground.
Quinsam River Campground:
A number of campsites have wheelchair-accessible picnic tables. The entire campsite has wheelchair-accessible pit toilets located throughout.
While fires are allowed, we encourage visitors to conserve the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using stoves instead. Campfire rings are provided at each campsite. Firewood can be purchased from the park facility operator. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please don’t gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park (this is a ticketable offence under the Park Act). Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented. Be prepared to bring a portable stove for cooking.
Cold water taps are located in the campground. Taps are shut off during the winter season.
This park has a day-use area, located 3 km west of the campground off Highway 28. This is the closest trail head to the suspension bridge.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Pit toilets are located throughout the campground and day-use area. Flush toilets are located at the sani-station in the campground.
There is an adventure playground with barrier-free play structures included. There is also a nearby play field at the campground in this park.
A sani-station/dump is located in the campground. The sani-station is closed in the winter season.
Vehicle Accessible Camping
This park offers 122 vehicle-accessible campsites. Approximately 25 of these sites border the Quinsam River; the rest are set in a second-growth forest. The Quinsam campground entrance is located on the west side of the Quinsam Bridge. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
This park offers winter camping, but no services are available during the off-season.
Winter Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $11.00 per party / night