Cove Provincial Park is situated on the most southerly fjord in North America,
and features waterfront campsites with a view over Howe Sound to the mountains
Porteau Cove Provincial
Park, Howe Sound, BC
is limited along the shores of Howe Sound. Wherever you decide to overnight, be
prepared to share it with sounds from the nearby highway and railway. So close
do freight trains come to the sites in Porteau Cove Provincial Park that you might
imagine they're rolling right through your tent.
heart in the thought that highway and railway traffic is a notch more attractive
than having a bear charge through the campground, which is not unheard of elsewhere
in the woods of British Columbia.
As you approach the park, the beach and jetty are what first catch the eye. Only
in winter, once the leaves are down, is it possible to see through the surrounding
forest into the little cove itself. Porteau Cove Provincial Park provides an incredible
setting, especially if the weather is favourable, when the views from the campground
of the Sea to Sky Highway are spectacular.
As you turn into 50-hectare Porteau
Cove Provincial Park, you pass information signs, directed at divers, that detail
the location of several marine vessels scuttled offshore specially for underwater
exploration. Marine life is attracted to such wrecks, making a dive even more
exciting. At Porteau Cove an artificial reef network has been constructed from
chains of tires, hollow concrete piles, concrete blocks and steel H-beams. In
1985, the Nakaya (41m.), a former minesweeper, was scuttled at the northern edge
of the diving area. Three additional shipwrecks were sunk near the reef network
in 1992. The Granthall (28m.) was a steel-hulled CPR tugboat built in Montreal
in 1928. In 1967 the superstructure was removed and the Granthall became a herring
packer. The other wrecks are an 11-metre steel dredge tender, the Centennial III,
and a 15-metre-ferrocement sailboat hull.
calm Howe Sound is an inviting place to paddle, but beware the outflow winds that
build in the afternoon on summer days. Howe Sound is a channel for winds drawn
out to the ocean from cooler inland regions. Kayakers will have an easier time
of it than canoeists when the winds rise. It's worth heading offshore to enjoy
the views of the Howe Sound Crest and Britannia ranges that are not revealed from
land. The 1.2-mile (2-km) paddle north from Porteau Cove to Furry Creek is a pleasant
Porteau Cove alongside
Sea to Sky Highway 99
pictographs painted on the rock face on the north side of the small bay just past
Furry Creek. (Keep an eye out for errant golf balls that may shank your way from
the nearby golf course.) The boat launch at Porteau Cove Provincial Park is the
only public one accessible from Highway 99 between Horseshoe Bay and Squamish.
Provincial Park provides 44 vehicle camping spots and 16 walk-in sites. The park
provides wonderful amenities such as showers, flush toilets, and a sani-station.
As this is the only provincial campground on the Sound, campsites are in constant
demand from late May to early October. The park is usually full, even on weekdays,
with little turnover of campsites in the morning. If you're intent on staying
here, arrive early in the afternoon. A sign posted on Hwy 99 informs travellers
when the park is full. Although the vehicle/tent sites go quickly throughout the
summer and on Friday and Saturday nights at other times of the year, there is
usually a good chance of getting one of the walk-in sites even if you arrive late,
except in the months from June to August. Open all year, fees are collected from
March 1 to October 31 with full services. A winter fee begins November 1 to February
28 with limited services.
As soon as you enter the campground, bear right
to see if any of the oceanfront sites are vacant. An amphitheatre is located between
the drive-in and walk-in campsites. Interpretive displays are presented here on
summer evenings, one of the most scenic locations in the park. Because there is
so little level land, most sites are relatively closely spaced compared to other
provincial parks. Tucked in behind the walk-in sites is the cove itself. A stone
wall on the west side is one of the few remaining signs of a small settlement
that once stood here. There's a charming sense of formality where an open lawn
is laid out beside the cove and a small bridge spans the narrow backwater.
A pebble beach slopes gently into Howe Sound in Porteau Cove Provincial Park.
On summer days when the tide is low and the sun high, the warm rocks heat the
incoming waters, making swimming here a pleasure. For those who brave the ocean,
there are hot showers nearby in the changing rooms. Exploring the rocky beach
at Porteau Cove can be an exciting and rewarding experience. No fishing, shellfish
harvesting or removal of other marine life is permitted at the park.
are just visiting Porteau Cove Provincial Park for the day, park beside the jetty.
This is a wonderful place to enjoy the spectacular views of Howe Sound while watching
wet-suited divers enter or emerge from the cold waters of the Sound. Eat your
picnic at one of the numerous tables spread around the broad, driftwood-littered
beaches on both sides of the jetty. Aptly named Anvil Island sits to the southwest,
while the glaciated peaks of the Tantalus Range rise in the northwest. Take a
walk to the viewpoint on the trail that leads west from the walk-in campsites
and up onto the forested bluff. Stunted shore pines (a coastal variety of lodgepole
pine) and stately Sitka spruce provide shelter on the point, from where you can
look down on the cove or out across the waters of the sound. This is a quiet place
in which to enjoy the surroundings, especially in the early or late hours of the
day, or to stop for an off-season breather from the pressures of the highway.
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.
Porteau Cove Provincial Park is located 24
miles (38 km) north of Vancouver and 12.5 miles (20 km) south of Squamish on the
Sea to Sky Highway 99. The park is open year-round and is usually full during
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