The Greater Victoria Area has a lot to offer for outdoorsy people, whether it’s hiking, camping, boating, cycling, or just having the privilege of watching one of Nature’s great events. One of those great events is the salmon run, when the salmon migrate upriver from the ocean to spawn and create the next generation of salmon. To get to their spawning grounds, these fish will often leap out of the water over obstacles, such as small waterfalls and rapids. This annual event is important for the local salmon population, but a noteworthy side-effect of it is that the salmon run also provides us humans with quite a spectacle.
There are several spawning rivers and creeks in the Victoria area, including some in the city itself, but one of the best places to watch the salmon run is Goldstream Provincial Park. Here, you get a sort of triple threat: the salmon run, the pleasure of spending time in a majestic old-growth forest, and the variety of other wildlife that the salmon ultimately attract.
Highlights of Goldstream Provincial Park
- Old growth forest
- Salmon run
- Wildlife watching
- Picnicking/ Barbecuing
- Minutes from Victoria and Mill Bay
- Public restrooms
- Nature house and lookout
Goldstream Provincial Park is divided into several areas. The best place to see the salmon run is the day area of the park which, if you are coming from Victoria, is on the right side of the Trans-Canada Highway, shortly before it becomes the Malahat Drive. Here, you’ll find a public picnicking area that is complete with charcoal-burning barbecues, a number of tables (including some in a covered area), public restrooms, accessible trails, and a nature house and lookout at the end of a short trail. Some of the trails overlook the Goldstream River, which is where you’ll see the salmon. The spawning season is between mid-October and early December, with the best time being the first week of November. During that time, thousands of chum salmon pack the shallow Goldstream River, turning the otherwise calm waters into what looks like bubbling rapids.
The Wildlife at Goldstream Provincial Park
The salmon run, in itself, is an awe-inspiring sight, but what makes the whole thing even better is the other wildlife that the salmon run attracts. Goldstream Provincial Park already has a population of eagles, since the river empties out into a body of salt water. There are also turkey vultures, ospreys, and black bears, all of which are attracted to the park in greater numbers during the spawning season, because of the fact that there is so much food available for them in one place.
Although the black bears don’t often show up when there are lots of people around, the eagles and other predatory birds don’t mind so much. So, if you come to Goldstream Provincial Park to watch the salmon run, make sure to bring your camera. Not only will you get some great photo opportunities with the salmon, but the chances are pretty good that you’ll see something else worth a few photos.