Join the West Kootenay EcoSociety at the Kokanee Creek Nature Centre to learn more about our natural environment, get a cup of hot coffee or a cold ice cream, and enjoy our many programs. You can also volunteer to help visitors learn more about how and why to care for our beautiful region. Our hours of operation are from 9AM to 8:30 PM from June 30 to September 6 2016.
About the Kokanee Creek Nature Centre
The Kokanee Creek Nature Centre was built in the mid-1970s to encourage a love of nature and educate campers and residents about West Kootenay ecosystems and the value of environmental preservation.
In 2001, the Friends of West Kootenay Parks began operating the centre with the help of grants from the BC Naturalists Federation.
In 2011, the West Kootenay EcoSociety assumed operation of the centre. BC Parks allows us to use the centre free of charge and provides for utilities and repairs. That lets us focus on the important stuff – making sure our thousands of visitors have a fun and informative experience. We still work closely with Friends of West Kootenay Parks to secure funding and recruit volunteers. The wonderful array of programs at the park would not be possible without funding from our sponsors including: Columbia Basin Trust, the Regional District of Central Kootenay Area E, BC Gaming Commission and support from people like you.
We changed our name from the Visitor Centre to the Nature Centre in 2016 to better reflect the nature of the programs that we offer at the centre, and we adopted a new logo! Come out and visit us and take part in our great programs.
About Kokanee Creek Provincial Park
With over a kilometre of sandy beaches, Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is the number one choice for tourists coming to the West Kootenays.
The park offers visitors the Kokanee Creek Nature Centre and its many programs, a salmon spawning channel, a boat launch, a group campsite, a fantastic viewing platform, many hiking trails and a marina nearby.Within an hour’s drive, you can explore historic Nelson, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Balfour Golf Club, Kaslo with the SS Moyie stern-wheeler as well as the incredible Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.
The park as it is seen today was originally established in 1955 and is located on the old “Busk” estate site. Charles W. Busk was a wealthy English gentleman who came to Nelson in the late 1800s. He had acquired a large tract of land with lake frontage 14 miles from Nelson. From plans drawn by English architects, Busk built a large mansion that once sat on a rise a short way up Kokanee Glacier Road.
First Nations History of the Park is known to be of the Lakes people, the Sinixt, with overlapping use by the Kutenai, the Ktunaxa. As archaeologists piece pre-colonized history together, it is acknowledged that the First Nations people moved about their territories and had a healthy trade with other neighbouring bands. Many arrowheads have been found in the park.
With 257 hectares, Kokanee Creek Park has extensive sandy beaches and a large delta area. Backed by a gentle rising upland, this area gives way to the forested slopes of the Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountains. Kokanee Creek bisects the landscape to form a steep canyon. The park protects the active alluvial creek fan with its marshes and extensive sandspit.
Both the Engelmann spruce/subalpine fir and the interior cedar/hemlock biogeoclimatic zones occur in the park. Prime growing conditions within the park produce a diverse mix of vegetation with magnificent specimens of fir, hemlock and pine. There are both pure and mixed stands of deciduous trees as well as many of the common understory plants including wild rose, queen’s cup and skunk cabbage. Flowers, trees and shrubs are part of the park’s natural heritage, please do not damage or remove them.
The Kokanee Creek Delta ecology also includes many species of animals. A variety of habitats support black bears, coyotes, beaver, otters, and white-tailed deer. We have a large number of birds ranging from the tiny rufous hummingbird to the great blue heron. Many of the birds are migratory but kingfishers, woodpeckers and dippers can be seen throughout the year. The park also has important man-made and natural spawning channels for Kokanee Salmon—landlocked since the last glacial age—that spawn in large numbers in the late summer.
Always be aware of bears and other wildlife in the park. Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife. Please view all wildlife from a distance.