Stamp River Park, located in Port Alberni, is beautiful at any time of year, but especially so in the Fall.
Stamp River Park
The park is home to a cascading waterfall and a popular salmon spawning river. In fact, the annual run of spawning salmon is one of the park’s main attractions.
The Salmon congregate at the foot of Stamp Falls before embarking on their journey up the fish ladders to their spawning beds. Starting in late August thousands of Sockeye Salmon make their spawning runs up the Stamp. It’s also the same journey Coho and Chinook Salmon do every year starting in late September until early December.
A short, well maintained 2-kilometre trail explores the banks of the Stamp River in the park. The well-maintained walking path passes by the fish ladders and the fast-moving rapids. There are several lookout points along the river, which offer excellent views of the salmon fighting their way up the rapids. Watch closely and you will see them jumping out of the water.
Spawning salmon is also a draw for black bear, who head to the river for an easy meal. So, if you are lucky, you may see one or two on the river bank.
When in Vancouver Island wilderness areas, please make sure you are using safety precautions, especially around wildlife. Bald eagles also frequent the area, so don’t forget to bring your camera!
A Bit of History
Stamp River Park is named after Edward Stamp, an English mariner and entrepreneur, who built Port Alberni’s earliest sawmill.
There are 23 non-serviced campsites available at this park. The sites are set in a mature forest, with many of them overlooking the river. There are pit toilets located in the campground, and a freshwater tap near the entrance. The park also has a day-use picnic area.
Stamp River Provincial Park is open all year. Fees are collected from April 15 to October 15. During the off-season, campers must be completely self-sufficient. Camping reservations are accepted.
There are no sani-station/dump facilities on site.
Follow Hwy #4 just past the town of Port Alberni and turn onto Beaver Creek Road. Follow signs to the park.
The McLean “Steam” Sawmill is the only commercial steam-operated sawmill in Canada. You can experience the excitement of steam, as the sawmill cuts wood for demonstration and sale. There are old buildings on-site and plenty of restored logging equipment to look at, including a steam donkey, logging trucks, graders, and lumber carriers.
The Steam Sawmill is open for self-conducted tours 7 days a week from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
During the Summer Season (July – August) they offer guided tours of the sawmill from Thursday to Sunday, as well as the JJ Logging Show, which is a demonstration of the Steam Donkey and explanation of early logging practices.
5633 Smith Rd, Port Alberni (which is off of Beaver Creek Road)
Sproat Lake Provincial Park is within a 20-minute drive from Stamp River Park. The lake is renowned for its warm waters and favoured for swimming, fishing, and boating. Sproat Lake is surrounded by a variety of short access trails, including a trail to the east end of the lake which leads to one of the finest panels of prehistoric petroglyphs in BC.
The area also offers some of Vancouver Island’s best camping. There are two campgrounds available at the Provincial Park. The lower campground is closer to the lake and showers, however, the sites don’t offer as much privacy as the upper (larger) campground located across the highway.
The lower campground is open year-round, while the upper campground is open from May 1 – October 15. Reservations are recommended in the busy summer season (July and August).
9010 Pacific Rim Hwy, Port Alberni
Cathedral Grove offers one of the most easily accessible stands of old-growth forest on Vancouver Island. Trails on either side of the highway lead visitors through paths lined with giant Douglas Fir trees, some of which are over 800 years old. When you come to a mass congestion of cars along Highway #4 you know you will have arrived at Cathedral Grove!
So tell me, when’s the last time you’ve been to Stamp River Park? Let us know in the comments below.
If you are hoping to see the salmon in action, the fish runs continue into early December.
If you happen to be visiting the park at another time of the year, you won’t be disappointed with the beauty that surrounds you. It is truly a lovely park in any season.