Gordon Bay Provincial Park
About This Park
For a great family camping vacation, head to Gordon Bay Provincial Park, located on the shores of Lake Cowichan, north of Duncan on Vancouver Island. In the summer the lake is warm and the sandy beach makes for great family swimming. History buffs find plenty to interest them in the park and the surrounding area, which is home to a second-growth Douglas-fir forest. Set in one of Vancouver Island’s sunniest valleys, this area boasts the highest average annual temperature in Canada.
The lake is known for its spectacular freshwater fishing in the spring, fall and winter, when anglers can be challenged by rainbow, cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout. Waterskiing and windsurfing are also popular activities on the lake.
This small wilderness area features a number of walking and hiking trails with unparalleled views. Keen-eyed hikers can spot a variety of wildlife and birds, including juncos, Stellar’s jays, chestnut-backed chickadees, mergansers and golden eye ducks. Visit in April when the wildflowers are at their peak.
Established Date: September 18, 1969
Park Size: 104 hectares
- A fascinating little museum with history about the area is located at Saywell Park. Teleglobe Canada presents guided tours of the Lake Cowichan Earth Satellite station. The forest industry has a number of displays and demonstration forests throughout the area.
All campsite and group site reservations must be made the BC Parks reservations system. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first-come, first-served.
Campsite reservations are accepted.
Group Campsite Reservations
Group campsite reservations are accepted at this park.
Nature and Culture
- History: The area is rich in the logging history of the Cowichan Valley, and a number of displays and demonstration forests are located near the park. The forest was one of the first on the island to be logged, probably because of the relative ease with which the felled trees could be skidded to the lake and floated to the mills. The notched stumps supported springboards that allowed old-time loggers to stand above the dense shrubbery so they could cut down the massive trees that dominated the area.
- Conservation: The forest floor is covered with the same kind of shrubs that made such hard work for the fallers: thimbleberry, salal and salmonberry. You can also see vanilla leaf, foamflower and bunchberry which grow closer to the ground. Dolly Varden, Rainbow and Cutthroat trout live in the lake and chum, coho and Chinook salmon spawn in the lake and its tributaries. Steelhead spawn in the Cowichan River. Rare rocky mountain juniper adds to the uniqueness of the area. Adjacent to Gordon Bay Provincial Park is Honeymoon Bay Ecological Reserve, which protects a variety of rare and endangered plant species.
- Wildlife: As you walk through the forest, look for deer, raccoons and red squirrels. Birdwatchers often see juncos, Stellar’s jays and chestnut-backed chickadees, as well as mergansers and golden eye ducks. Black bears, Roosevelt elk, black-tail deer, beaver, raccoons and cougars can all be spotted in the park.
Activities Available at this Park
Cowichan Lake is known for its spectacular fresh-water fishing in the spring, fall and winter, when anglers can be challenged by rainbow, cutthroat and Dolly Varden trout.
Fishing is permitted as per provincial and federal fishing regulations. All anglers should check the current regulations issued by Fisheries and Oceans Canada prior to fishing. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Pets on Leash
Cowichan Lake provides excellent swimming and water-oriented activities. The water is warm in the summer and the sandy beach has a designated swimming area, identified by a log boom. Access to the swimming beach is via the day-use area.
There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks.
Facilities Available at this Park
Cold water taps are located throughout the park. Taps are shut off during the off-season.
Annual Drinking Water System Reports 2021
Youth group camping charges per night are $1/person (6+), with a $50 minimum and $150 maximum. Read the Youth Group policy about Criteria for Youth Groups.
Regular group camping charges per night are the base rate for the site, which is $120.00/group site/night, plus $5/adult (16+, minimum charge for 15 adults), plus $1/child (6-15). Children under 6 are free!