Best Places to View Salmon Spawning

Every year visitors in Parksville Qualicum Beach marvel as salmon return to the area for spawning. Discover where to spot the salmon runs, what months each species can be found, and other viewing tips.

Salmon splash out of the river during the salmon run in Parksville Qualicum Beach
Photo Credit: @Curiositykilled.kate

From late-summer through early-winter in British Columbia, adult chinook, chum, coho, and pink salmon leave the saltwater of the Pacific Ocean and travel hundreds of miles to return to their original hatching grounds. These fish swim upstream while undergoing a variety of physical changes in order to reach their spawning area. This event, known as a salmon run, provides viewers the opportunity to see salmon jump and flip out of the water.

Upon their arrival, females will dig nests along the bottom of the stream and will lay roughly 3,000 eggs while the males fertilize the eggs. After several days both female and male salmon will die, carrying on the circle of life. Salmon spawning draws in birds and other wildlife providing visitors with unique opportunities to see a wide variety of animals.

Spawning Locations

Salmon runs can be viewed in many different parks and hatcheries surrounding the Parksville Qualicum Beach area. Grab a camera and head to one of these locations for unforgettable views of the salmon run.

Clear waters at the bottom of the lower falls at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Englishman River Falls Provincial Park

Species: Chinook, Chum, Coho, and Pink Salmon

Best Viewing Time: Chinook- September, Chum & Coho- October and November, Pink- July and August

Those who enjoy spending the weekend outdoors can set-up camp at Englishman River Falls Provincial Park. While hiking the trails throughout the park be sure to stop at the crystal-clear pool at the end of the lower falls. This is a great location to pause and watch the salmon spawning.

Little Qualicum & Big Qualicum Fish Hatcheries

Species: Chum, Coho, and Chinook Salmon

Best Viewing Time: Chinook- October and November, Chum & Coho- November and December

From late-September until mid-November the rivers and channels at Big Qualicum and Little Qualicum Fish Hatcheries make ideal salmon spawning viewing spots. Visitors can admire different species of salmon as well as a variety of birds and other wildlife viewing at these hatcheries.

Nile Creek Hatchery

Species: Pink Salmon

Best Viewing Time: Late Summer - Early Fall
Exact view times are dependent on the rain and vary annually.

Explore Nile Creek Hatchery and enjoy watching salmon flip and jump out of the water throughout the spawning event. Visitors have spotted black bears, birds, and wolves, as well as other wildlife, at this location during the salmon run.

Rosewall Creek Provincial Park

Species: Coho Salmon

Best Viewing Time: October

Plan a visit to Rosewall Creek Provincial Park during October to admire the vibrant colors of the season. Be sure to bring a camera to capture the idyllic scenes of the spawning salmon set against the richly colored maple leaves.

Tips for a memorable viewing experience:

  1. Stay out of the water.
  2. Avoid making any loud noises.
  3. Keep dogs leashed and out of the water.
  4. Wear polarizing lenses to reduce the glare from the water.
  5. Wear dull-colored clothing and accessories as bright colors can be distracting to the salmon.

Discover more ways to experience the outdoors in Parksville Qualicum Beach. Plan a trip this spawning season and enjoy one-of-a-kind fall activities during your stay.