Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Near the cities of Campbell River, Cumberland and Courtenay which are access points to the park.
Paradise Meadows (Mount Washington) - From Hwy 19 follow signs to Mount Washington Ski Resort via Strathcona Parkway for 25 kilometers. Turn left onto Nordic Lodge Road for 1.5 kilometers to Paradise Meadows parking lot.
Forbidden Plateau (Wood Mountain) - Follow the signs from Hwy 19 to the Forbidden Plateau ski area via Forbidden Plateau Road (19 kilometers).
Size: Over 617,000 square acres
Fees: Fees are collected from May - September at camping facilities in Butte Lake, Ralph River and Driftwood Bay (group) campgrounds. Note that backcountry camping fees apply at Forbidden Plateau Core Area, Elk River Trail, Bedwell Lake Loop, Della Falls Trail and marine campsites on Butte Lake.
Activities: Hiking, picnic, backcountry camping, fishing, rock climbing, boating, biking on roads, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, mountaineering, canoeing, kayaking, swimming
- RV and tent campgrounds: Butte Lake (85 sites) and Ralph River (75 sites).
- Group campground: Driftwood Bay has 25 sites.
Reservations for either can be made at: 1-800-689-9025
- Picnic grounds: Several sites on and near Butte Lake and locations along Hwy 28.
- Boat launches: 2 ramps at Butte Lake
- Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre, located 5 km east of the park entrance at Buttle Lake, offers outdoor education and wilderness skills training and accommodation. Phone: (250) 286-3122
Contact: BC Parks, Phone: (250) 954-4600 website
Riding Fool Hostel - About 25 minutes from the park. Owner Jeremy is knowledgable of local trails and very friendly. Accommodations were affordable and very nice as was our overall stay. We can't recommend enough! Bunks for singles and private rooms for couples available. 2705 Dunsmuir, Cumberland, BC, V0R 1S0, Phone: 1-888-313-FOOL, Fax: (250) 336-8253, website
Located in the center of Vancouver Island, Strathcona is a rugged mountain wilderness. Mountain peaks, some perpetually capped with snow tower over the park, while lakes and alpine meadows dot a landscape laced with rivers, creeks and streams. Designated in 1911, Strathcona is the oldest provincial park in British Columbia. It was named for Donald Alexander Smith, the First Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, a Canadian pioneer and one of the principals in the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
In the valley and lower regions of the park stand forests that were already old in 1778 when Captain James Cook of the Royal Navy landed at Nootka Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Della Falls, the highest waterfall in Canada with an overall drop of 440 metres in three cascades, is located in the southern section of the park. Fed by glaciers and alpine streams, the crystal clear waters of Della Lake spill over the edge of a rocky cliff and cascade into the valley of Drinkwater Creek. Nearly eight times higher than Niagara Falls and amongst the top ten highest falls in the world, Della Falls are only seen by the few adventurers who undertake the arduous hike through Strathcona Provincial Park.
Many pretty little lakes dot the Forbidden Plateau area, providing good fly fishing for rainbow trout during summer. The Forbidden Plateau region of Strathcona has the origin of its name in Indian legend. The plateau was believed to be inhabited by evil spirits who consumed women and children who dared to venture into the area.
The reward for those who venture onto the plateau today is an area of subalpine beauty. Views of glaciers, mountains and the forests stretching eastward to the Strait of Georgia are visual highlights. A prominent site from summits in the park and the highest point on Vancouver Island, the Golden Hinde at elevation 2 200 metres, stands at the head of the Wolf River almost in the centre of the park, to the west of Buttle Lake. The park extends from sea level to above 1,800 meters in elevation, and therefore supports a great variety of forest and plant life. Douglas-fir, western red cedar, grand fir, amabilis fir and western hemlock of the coast forest cover much of the valleys and lower mountain slopes, giving way to sub-alpine fir, mountain hemlock and creeping juniper in the sub-alpine areas. Through summer months the park offers a spectacular floral display in various areas. Found at varying heights are heather, lupine, monkey flowers and violets, as well as Indian paintbrush, phlox and moss campion.
Vancouver Island's separation from mainland British Columbia by Johnstone Strait and Georgia Strait has resulted in many mammal species common to other parts of the province not been found on the island. Chipmunks, porcupines, coyotes, foxes and grizzly bears are absent, while species such as the wolf, Roosevelt elk, the Vancouver Island marmot and the coastal black-tail deer are different from their mainland relatives. Strathcona has a large deer and elk population, with year-round viewings of Roosevelt Elk possible, while wolves and cougars, though present, are not frequently seen. Strathcona also supports a rather varied bird population, including the chestnut-backed chickadee, red-breasted nuthatch, winter wren and kinglet. The gray jay, Steller's jay and the band-tailed pigeon are also likely to be encountered when hiking through Strathcona Park. The park also protects blue grouse, ruffed grouse and the unique Vancouver Island white-ptarmigan.
Buttle Lake, named for Commander John Buttle who explored the area in the 1860s, is the major body of water in the park. Buttle, and the many other lakes and waterways in the park can provide good fishing in season for cutthroat trout, rainbow trout and Dolly Varden.
Summer in Strathcona Provincial Park is usually pleasantly warm while winters are fairly mild, with the exception of the higher levels where heavy snowfalls are quite common. From November through March, snowfalls are general on the mountain slopes and alpine plateaus. Snow remains all year on the mountain peaks and may linger into July in the higher elevations. Summer evenings, as elsewhere in the coastal areas of British Columbia, can be cool and rain can be expected at any time of the year.
The Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau areas have some visitor-orientated developments, but the rest of the park is largely undeveloped and appeals to people seeking wilderness surroundings.