Parks In Our Area
Seal Bay Regional Nature Park
On Bates Road south of Saratoga Beach is a BC Wildlife Watch viewing site where California and Steller sea lions, seals, and migratory birds hang out at this sunny stretch of coastline.
Spring is a time of increased activity, when the sea lions arrive as they follow the annual herring and eulachon migration. (Eulachon are a small, sardine-sized fish.) Trails begin from the north end of the road and lead to a staircase that descends to the beach.
Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park
If you can arrange a boat charter to journey by boat to Mitlenatch Island Provincial Park, you’ll find a bird-watching and wildflower paradise 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Saratoga Beach.
Mitlenatch is home to the largest seabird colony on the Strait of Georgia, principally 3,000 pairs of glaucous-winged gulls. Other nesting species include pelagic cormorants, pigeon guillemots, and black oystercatchers.
Specially designed trails for wildlife viewing lead across the middle of the island between Northwest and Camp Bays to an observation blind. This area is characterized by open meadows carpeted with wildflowers from April through August.
Access is restricted to other parts of the island where rocky uplands are forested with trembling aspen, a species more frequently seen in the BC Interior. Their presence, along with prickly pear cactus, are a result of the semi-arid conditions here in the rain shadow cast by the Vancouver Island Mountains.
Miracle Beach Provincial Park
Miracle Beach Provincial Park is one of the most popular parks on Vancouver Island, located immediately south of Saratoga Beach. The extravagant expanse of cobblestone beach that gives way to hard-packed sand flats at low tide where herons stalk, seals bark, and ravens and eagles call is fabulous.
What a chorus! The beach seems to stretch forever in each direction. Watch for harbour porpoises, Steller sea lions, California sea lions (much smaller), harbour seals, and killer whales.
Located in a second-growth forest of gnarly Douglas fir, western red cedar, and western hemlock. Wildflowers bloom throughout the park from early spring to the end of summer. Black Creek flows through the park and past the Miracle Beach Nature House, which has natural-history displays.
Beachcombers will find a tide chart posted here daily from late May to September. Pick up a brochure here and take a self-guided nature walk through the park.
Oyster Bay Shoreline Regional Park
As you pass north of Saratoga Beach, it’s hard not to notice strollers and cyclists meandering along Oyster Bay Shoreline Regional Park, a shoreline bike-and-walking trail with gravel beaches and great views across to Quadra Island.
Pulverized oyster shells speckle the gravel with a bright, white hue. The trail winds for much of the distance from Campbell River’s southern perimeter to the central harbour, passing the new museum on the hillside above the beach.
The occasional picnic table and park bench invite travellers to pull over and join the fun.
Mt. Washington Ski Resort
Saratoga Beach is a winter destination for skiing at Mt. Washington Ski Resort, located 19 miles (31 km) west of Hwy 19 at Courtenay.
Mt. Washington (elevation 5,216 feet/1590 m) has long been known for having good snow conditions from early in winter to well past Easter, despite the fact that the top of the mountain isn’t as high as the peaks of Blackcomb or Whistler Mountains.
The snow here is often deeper than anywhere else in British Columbia, and occasionally anywhere else in the world! In 1995, Mount Washington had more snow than any other ski resort in the world. This accounts, in part, for Mount Washington being the second-busiest winter recreation destination in British Columbia, behind Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort.
Mount Washington also provides excellent hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding in summer, or you can simply make the 40-minute trip to Mount Washington to ride the chair lift and enjoy the wonderful views of the surrounding area.