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Porteau Cove Provincial Park
About This Park
Situated on the most southerly fjord in North America, Porteau Cove Provincial Park features waterfront campsites with a view over Howe Sound to the mountains beyond. An old ship has been sunk to provide interest for scuba divers and to attract marine life. There are special facilities for divers. Adjacent train tracks are active and occasional noise disturbance may occur.
Date Established: July 24, 1981
Park Size: 56 hectares (4 hectares of upland and 52 hectares of foreshore)
Know Before You Go
- Tide, wind and weather conditions can change suddenly in Howe Sound. Use caution while swimming and boating in this area.
- Please ensure children are supervised while on the emergency ferry pier.
- Scuba divers are not permitted to use the boat launch.
- The BC Rail train track skirts the boundary of the park. Entering the park requires crossing the train track. This is a controlled train crossing, use caution and obey all signs.
- There are 2 low tide markers near the floating dock which are not mooring buoys and mark very shallow water. Anchoring is prohibited within the park boundary.
- Due to popularity and size of the campground, BC Parks has implemented a maximum stay policy of 7 nights (applies year-round). Reservations are made through BC Parks’ Reservation System.
- Leave No Trace: Exploring the rocky beach at Porteau Cove can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but fishing, shellfish harvesting or removal of other marine life is not allowed. Please minimize your disturbance by leaving everything as you find it.
- Public Pay Phones: The public pay phones are no longer available. They have been removed during the adjacent highway construction and there is no information available as to when this service will be reinstated.
- Septic System: Porteau Cove is on a septic system, including the sani-station and washroom buildings. Antibacterial soaps and harsh chemicals destroy the health and functionality of the system. Please help protect the septic system and the water quality by using only biodegradable soaps during your stay
Sani-Station – Winter Service: The sani station will remain open unless freezing temperatures are forecasted. During periods of freezing weather, the sani station will be closed until the temperatures remain above freezing over a 24 hour period.
- Marine Conservation: Exploring the beach and diving/snorkelling can be a rewarding experience at Porteau Cove. Please practise leave no trace ethics when observing marine life at the park by leaving everything as you find it and by not removing or handling the wildlife. Beach fires are not permitted. Please see gatehouse at the campground for upcoming interpretive demonstrations and events!
- Stargazing and Aurora Borealis viewing is becoming increasingly popular at Porteau Cove. Please note that the day use area closes at 11 pm and access to the campground is not permitted at any time for the purposes of viewing.
- Due to the close proximately of campsites at this park, please ensure music and loud voices are kept within your campsite at all times to provide visitors with the opportunity to experience the sounds of nature, and to protect and enhance the soundscape of the park.
- Plan ahead/carpool: Due to high volumes of traffic and the small size of the park, there is limited parking available. One additional vehicle is permitted per campsite for an additional fee. There is a maximum of 2 vehicles per campsite at any time. Walk-in campsites have only 1 vehicle space per site at anytime. Drop-offs cannot be accommodated due to safety hazard of park road becoming restricted. Additional parking is available in the day-use parking lot, but extra spaces may not be available on weekends. Visitors must register if they stay in the park past 11pm and display a valid permit on their vehicle. Non-registered guests are not permitted in the park past 11pm.
- Please note: Quiet Hours are 10 pm to 7 am: Music, generators, etc. must be shut off completely between these hours.
- Generator use is only permitted between the hours of 9am – 11am, and from 6pm – 8pm. View the generator policy
This park is reservable year-round and is usually full during good weather.
There are 2 low tide markers near the floating dock which are not mooring buoys and mark very shallow water. Anchoring is prohibited within the park boundary.
Nature and Culture
- History: When “Porteau” (porte d’eau) is translated from French into English it means “Water’s Gate”. This name dates from 1908 when John F. Deeks began mining the extensive sand and gravel deposits here to supply Vancouver. A small community of employees lived here until the beginning of the Depression, enjoying good housing, a schoolhouse, tennis courts, and daily ferry service from the Union Steamship Company. These ferries, Lady Cynthia and Lady Cecilia, operated between Vancouver and Squamish until the railway (then the Pacific Great Eastern) was extended from Squamish into North Vancouver.
- Conservation: You are visiting the intertidal home of hundreds of living plants and animals. Please protect your marine resources by leaving them as you find them.
Activities Available at this Park
Outside the park boundary, fish for salmon. It is illegal to fish for cod, rockfish and other finfish in Howe Sound, area 28-4. http://www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fm-gp/rec/tidal-maree/a-s28-eng.html
Harvesting or collection of marine life within the park foreshore boundary is prohibited. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
Pets on Leash
A series of man-made reefs and two sunken vessels provide excellent scuba diving opportunities. Depths vary from 6m to 18m (20’ to 60’). Be cautious of changing tides and strong in and outflow winds. Penetration of vessels is not recommended. The diving area is marked by a series of marker buoys. Various fascinating marine life has established itself throughout the dive area. Harvesting or harassment of marine life is prohibited within the park’s marine foreshore. Diving from a boat is prohibited within the park boundary.
There is an outdoor shower available in the day-use area from March 1 to November 12.
There are steps that lead down to the water’s edge that are located in the main parking lot. Please use proper etiquette when changing into and out dive gear in the parking lots, and avoid gear sprawl that inhibits vehicular traffic. Commercial diving such as providing instruction and guiding is prohibited unless authorized by a Park Use Permit.
Facilities Available at this Park
There are 2 paved double-wide boat launches. It may not be possible to launch during low tide. It may be difficult to launch during the winter months due to the high volumes of driftwood that accumulate on the boat launches. There is parking available for vehicles and trailers in the day-use area. Boats are prohibited in the Dive Area. There is also one mooring buoy and a float available for moorage in the small cove.
Please note: There are 2 low tide markers near the floating dock which are not mooring buoys and mark very shallow water. Anchoring is prohibited within the park boundary.
Cabins / Huts
Porteau Cove Olympic Legacy Cabins
The Olympic Legacy cabins were built by Pioneer Log Homes of Williams Lake, BC and used during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games at Simon Fraser University and the British Columbia Institute of Technology as information kiosks and a showcase of BC Parks.
Each cabin has one bedroom and a loft, a private kitchen and a bathroom. All linens will be supplied. Occupancy for the cabins has been set at a maximum of 4 people.
For further information and rates, please visit www.seatoskyparks.com
Reservations for the cabins at Porteau Cove Provincial Park can be made by calling 604-986-9371.
Pit or Flush Toilets
Vehicle Accessible Camping
This park offers forty-four (44) vehicle accessible campsites, 5 of which are double sites and 2 are pull-through sites. There are also walk-in campsites. There is extra parking in the day-use lot available for a fee. The closest store is in Britannia Beach, approximately 10 minutes north by car. Campsite reservations are accepted during the summer months and first-come, first-serve sites are available in the off-season.
Please note: This park is extremely popular and busy during peak-season months (beginning the May long weekend through to Thanksgiving weekend). Reservations are highly recommended as drop-in sites are usually difficult to acquire.
Sites 1-44 are available for camping during the winter season. Walk-in sites 1-6 are also avaialble for winter camping – see Dates of Operation table above for specific dates. The washroom/shower buildings are closed during the winter season. Potable water is available at one standpipe outside the campground washroom, and the sani-station is open unless temperatures drop below freezing.