Cowichan River Provincial Park
Guide

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Introduction

Featuring first class recreation and an impressive balance of nature and human heritage, Cowichan River Provincial Park should be one of your top priorities when visiting Vancouver Island on a RV getaway. Cowichan River Provincial Park is rich in cultural history and the name of the park is taken from the Coast Salish word ‘Khowutzun’, which means ‘land warmed by the sun'. Cowichan Valley has been home to the Cowichan Tribes from the earliest times and members still own and reside on most of the land surrounding the city of Duncan and along the Cowichan River.

The park was first established in July of 1995 after Crown Land was recommended for protection. Nowadays the park is made up of 3494 acres (14.13sqkm) and it protects significant stretches of the Cowichan River, which is designated as both a BC Heritage River and a Canadian Heritage River. The river is the main attraction of the park, as it includes great recreational options such as swimming, canoeing, white-water kayaking, tubing and fishing. Skutz Falls is also a must see as it offers stunning views of river rapids and a great spot for an afternoon picnic. If you are looking for wildlife you will be impressed with the diversity that the park has to offer. Small mammals found in the park include shrews, voles, bats and the native red squirrel. Larger mammals such as black bears, cougars, black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk also call the park home throughout the year.

Stoltz Pool Campground will be the place to stay with your RV when visiting the park. In total there are 39 drive-in sites at the quiet campground with all sites being primitive with no water, electric or sewer hookups. Campsite reservations are accepted and some are also available on a first-come, first-served basis. Peak season at Cowichan River Provincial Park runs from April to October.

RV Rentals in Cowichan River Provincial Park

Transportation in Cowichan River Provincial Park

Driving

Cowichan River Provincial Park is located in the south-eastern region of Vancouver Island and is situated around 13 miles west of Duncan. The park has one entry and exit point that is serviced by Riverview Road West, which runs through the southern end of the park.

Since the park is located within fairly close proximity to the city of Duncan you will have the opportunity to pick up supplies and take advantage of services and amenities. There are also other towns located close to the park, including Sahtlam (around six miles or 10 kms away), Lake Cowichan (around 10 miles or 27kms away) and Somenos (around 11 miles or 19kms away).

Accessing the park should be very straightforward as the roads in and around the park are relatively flat, very well maintained and feature no obstructions. The road into the campground (which is located south of the park on Wasa Lake Park Road) is also kept in very good condition. During the winter the park remains open, however if you do plan on visiting the park during winter make sure you call the park in advance to confirm that there will still be access available.

Parking

There is plenty of parking at Cowichan River Provincial Park.

Public Transport

Unfortunately there are no public transport options that will take you to Cowichan River Provincial Park.

Campgrounds and parking in Cowichan River Provincial Park

Campsites in Cowichan River Provincial Park

Reservations camping

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Stoltz Pool Campground

Stoltz Pool Campground is the only RV friendly campground at the park and is located in the woods near the beautiful Stoltz Pool. The campground has 39 drive-in sites along with another four walk-in sites and they are all situated in the second-growth Douglas fir stand. The sites at the campground are well spaced, offer great privacy and feature easy access to the river. All sites are primitive so there are no water, electric or sewer hookups for you to use during your stay.

Despite this there are still some great amenities within the campground, including pit toilets, picnic tables, fire pits and water collection points. The campground is also pet friendly and has overflow parking available before the entrance to the campground.

Please not that there is no cell phone reception at all in the park and there is also no WiFi. Campground reservations are accepted and sites are also available on a first come, first served basis. If the campground reservations are booked out online we recommend arriving early to the campground to guarantee that you will have a site. During the winter the campground is also open with limited amenities available.

Seasonal activities in Cowichan River Provincial Park

In-Season

Picnicking

Feel like having a relaxing afternoon over a picnic? If so, you are in luck as there are four day-use areas available for you to enjoy at Cowichan River Park. Each area has its own unique amenities depending on its location and there really is something for everyone. If you are looking for great river access you should check out the Stoltz Pool day-use area as it has a boat launch, riverside trail, picnicking area with tables, parking, pit toilets, information shelter and an all-purpose playing field. If you are looking for a forest surrounding you can go to the 66-Mile Trestle day-use that features parking, pit toilets, picnic tables and an information shelter.

Paddling

Visitors to the park also have the opportunity to do some canoeing and kayaking. The most popular spot on the river to go paddling is in the Stoltz Pool day-use area. If you are an experienced whitewater kayaker there are also opportunities for you to experience the challenge of navigating the river between Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon. While the river is suitable for year-round kayaking, the best water conditions are from October through to June. There are no guarantees that rentals will be available so make sure to bring your own watercraft if you want to get out on the water.

Swimming

Cooling off during the hot summer months by taking at dip at Stoltz Pool or the basin of Skutz Falls is one of the most popular activities to do at Cowichan River Provincial Park. While there is no specific marked swimming areas, there are many great spots for you to choose from. Be aware that if you are swimming in the river that it has fluctuating water levels and sometimes the currents are harsh. Remember that there are no lifeguards at the park so swim to your ability.

Off-Season

Wildlife Viewing

Cowichan River Provincial Park is an awesome spot for those looking to do some wildlife viewing. There are river viewing points at Skutz Falls and Marie Canyon that are prime locations to watch spawning salmon in the fall, while Marie Canyon overlooks the Cowichan River where you can look down into the sheer rock canyon. Small mammals found in the park have been spotted from the 66-Mile trail and include shrews, voles, bats and the native red squirrel. Throughout the year you may also be able to see black bears, cougars, black-tailed deer and Roosevelt elk.

Hiking

Hiking is abundant at Cowichan River Provincial Park with a maze of developed and undeveloped routes that will offer you great walking and hiking opportunities in and around Cowichan River Provincial Park. In total there are four marked trails that combine for 25 miles of trail. Be aware that as emergency aid is not immediately available over much of the trails so that you should hike prepared. Including basic supplies such as drinking water, a first aid kit and adequate clothing/footwear will be a great way to prepare yourself.

Fishing

Fishing lovers rejoice! Cowichan River Provincial Park has some excellent river fishing opportunities for you to experience that will helpfully lead you to catching the big one. The Cowichan River is a very important river within Vancouver Island because of its variety of fish species. This is great news for those casting as line since there are many species, including coho, chinook and chum salmon, steelhead, rainbow and Cutthroat trout. The river is also only one of two rivers in British Columbia that is known to have Brown trout, which was introduced from Scotland in the 1930s. Before casting a line make sure you check up on the rules and regulations of the park. Specific fishing closures are posted at information shelters within the park.

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