Swans, eagles, ospreys, herons, and ducks rest here on their seasonal migrations. Both the Columbia and the Kootenay Rivers originate here, flowing out of the wetlands in opposite directions, to merge hundreds of kilometres later, at Castlegar, BC.
Type of Wildlife Often Seen
The only free-flowing stretch of the Columbia River---that is, not affected by dam operations---is in British Columbia, from the headwaters at Columbia Lake to Donald at the head of Kinbasket Reservoir behind Mica Dam, a distance of 112 miles (180 kilometres). This stretch, known as the Columbia Wetlands, comprises 68,575 acres (27,430 hectares) of land, open water (30 percent of the total, including the two headwaters lakes, Columbia and Windermere), marsh (35 percent), ponds and channels. The Columbia Wetlands are internationally recognized for the diversity of the aquatic and streamside (riparian) habitat and the variety of wildlife. It provides critical resting and breeding habitat for migrating and resident species of birds along the Pacific flyway because of the natural flyway along the Rocky Mountain Trench. It is the largest river wetland system in Western Canada. The region is home to 100,000 large mammals, 11 different species. Among them are grizzly and black bear, wolf, cougar, wolverine, elk, moose, mountain caribou, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, whitetail deer and mule deer.
Best Times of the Day for ViewingMornings
Best Seasons and Months for ViewingSpring, Summer, Fall
Places and Pointers for Viewing
Canal Flats Provincial Park is available to explore the unique and delicate ecosystem. Wildlife Viewing signage and opportunities are at the following towns and villages: Wilmer, Brisco, Spillimacheen, Parson, Radium, Golden.
Explore numerous viewing opportunities along Highway 93/95 between Canal Flats and Golden