Strathcona Provincial Park
Created in 1911 in a mountainous area of exceptional scenic beauty to the west of the Campbell River, the Strathcona Provincial Park can claim to be the oldest in British Columbia. Included in its more than 2300 sq. km (900 sq. mi.) are over 100 km (62 mi.) of hiking and nature trails, good water sports facilities on Upper Campbell and Buttle Lakes (accommodation, campsites) and three Nature Conservancy Areas, virgin wilderness accessible only on longer hiking tours.
Official site: www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/strathco.html
Address: c/o BC Parks - Strathcona District, Box 1479, Parksville, BC V9P2H4, Canada
Useful tips: Most park sections are open year-round, but the Ralph River & Buttle Lake areas are only open April 1 to September 30.
Elk Falls Provincial Park
About 10 km (6 mi.) north-west of Campbell River there are more gigantic Douglas firs to be marveled at in the Elk Falls Provincial Park, as well as several waterfalls plummeting as much as 25 m (80 ft). Nowadays these latter can only really be appreciated in the Spring, when the flow of water from the nearby dam is increased following the melting of the snow.Elk Falls Provincial Park has some wonderful walking trails and is known as a place for salmon fishing.
Address: Box 1479, Parksville, BC V9P2H4, Canada
Quinsam River - Salmon Hatchery
When the Quinsam River was dammed in 1974 a hatchery was established in an attempt to counteract the effect of the dam on salmon stocks. Although in 1976 only 2000 fish returned to spawn, by 1986 the numbers had recovered to several hundreds of thousands. The Visitor Center at the hatchery provides imaginatively presented and comprehensive information on the life cycle of the Canadian salmon.
Courtenay and Comox, adjacent townships, are primarily logging and fishing towns. It is also a good base from which to explore the surrounding area, including Strathcona Provincial Park and the Mt Washington ski area.
Denman Island, just south of Courtenay and about an hour north of Nanaimo, is a quiet little island and natural area. The island is home to three provincial parks, Fillongley, Boyle Point, and Sandy Island and has some beautiful beaches.The island is also known for its artists and art galleries. There is an annual pottery tour on the May long weekend, and a Christmas Craft Fair held in early December.Visitors can reach Denman Island by catching the Buckley Bay ferry from Courtenay, Nanaimo, or Victoria.
Hornby Island can be reached most easily from Buckley Bay, which has ferry service from Courtenay, Nanaimo, and Victoria. The island has a small population and offers amenities for tourists including restaurants, shops, and accommodation.Visitors can also explore trails, taking a kayaking trip, check out the Outdoor Education Centre, or stop by the Farm Museum.
Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre
Exhibits at the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre include fossils, geology, First Nations history, pioneer settlement history, social history of the Comox Valley, logging and lumber history. Changing exhibts and special events mean there is always something new at the museum.