A series of major and minor gold rushes began at Rock Creek in 1859 and throughout the area over the next 10 years, and saw the sudden influx of more than 5,000 miners. Governor James Douglas quickly ordered the rapid construction of the now-famous Dewdney Trail, going from the coast to the gold field just north of the border. Rock Creek became the supply centre for the Boundary Country. When bigger strikes occurred in the Okanagan and the Cariboo, the miners left, but an important trade route remained.
Later, as copper, silver, lead, and zinc ores were being mined in large amounts, the Kettle Valley Railway, a branch line of the Canadian Pacific Railway, was built so that ore and smelter traffic would remain in Canada instead of being shipped to the US, as had previously been the case. One of Canada's most historic and scenic railway routes, the Kettle Valley Railway ran past Rock Creek, operating between 1916 and 1973. The track between the towns of Midway and Penticton was removed in 1980, providing an excellent hiking and biking trail.
After the initial mining boom, the residents of Rock Creek began to develop an economy in agriculture, forestry, and ranching - all of which remain the mainstays of the local economy today. Some of the finest blue ribbon livestock in British Columbia is now raised in Rock Creek and the surrounding area.
The small town of Rock Creek and the Kettle Valley communities of Westbridge and Beaverdell are the gateways to hiking trails, wilderness recreation sites and some of the best fishing lakes in the Boundary Region.
Rock Creek remains an unincorporated community, with services that include a gas station, convenience store, accommodation, pub, restaurant, fruitstand, and gift shop.
Rock Creek is located on the Crowsnest Highway 3, 55.5 km (34 mi) east of Osoyoos and 33 km (20 mi) west of Greenwood, just north of the Canada/United States border.
The trail starts in Penticton, on Vancouver Hill, and crosses over Naramata Road just before Hillside Estate Winery. The incredibly scenic trail meanders through vineyards, orchards, across the McCullough Trestle and takes you north to Naramata. The trail follows along above Naramata Road all the way past Naramata Village to the Little Tunnel, on to the larger tunnels, all the way to Kelowna- across the sidehills, through forests-high above the valley floor. Hike, bike, or cross-country ski this trail seasonally. Vehicles, horses, and ATVs are permitted, but please respect those traveling on foot. Allow yourself a few hours to reach the first tunnel, visible from the village. Magnificent rockery and scenery will awe you on this pleasant grade, which all ages can easily access.
Located east of Osoyoos, this park offers camping in a quiet, forested creek side setting. It provides a convenient escape from the hectic Okanagan Valley. The park has 38 hectares of mature Douglas fir, larch and spruce trees that provide habitat for woodpeckers and other cavity nesting bird species. White-tailed deer are often seen in the park.
A secluded lake in the Okanagan Highland east of Osoyoos, set amid a forest of western larch and lodgepole pine intermingling with willow and black alder that cover the sharply rising surrounding hills. Conkle Lake, named for W.H. Conkle, an early settler in the nearby Kettle Valley, is noted for its rainbow trout. Visitors have come for many years to fish the lake, sunbathe, swim and hike to various viewpoints.
Stands of Ponderosa pine interspersed with open areas of bunchgrass characterize this recreation area that lies astride the Kettle River between the Okanagan Plateau and the Monashee Mountains. The abandoned right-of-way of the historic Kettle Valley section of the Canadian Pacific Railway, completed in 1916 to link the Pacific coast with southern Alberta, passes through the site. On the east bank of the river is evidence of the once flourishing gold and silver mines.
In the summer, excellent canoeing or inner tube riding although there are some hazards on the river. In the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are favourite pastimes.
This park can be found on the banks of Boundary Creek just west of Greenwood. In the creek are small rainbow or brook trout that may reward the patient angler. Slag heap and crumbling stack nearby mark the site of the B.C. Copper Company smelter that once employed 400 men during its years of operation from 1901 to 1918.
Test your gold panning skills! Visitors can rent a pan and shovel at Canyon Creek Ranch and follow the historic Dewdney Trail into the canyon to pan for gold in Rock Creek, which flows through the ranch carrying gold from nearby Mt. Baldy.
The hills and valleys in Boundary Country teem with wildlife. White-tail deer, mule deer, black bears, coyotes, porcupines, bald eagles, hawks, owls, and other wildlife abound.
The Kettle Valley Railroad runs through Rock Creek, providing a perfect biking, hiking and walking venue.
Horseriding trails are located throughout the area on miles and miles of logging roads and skidding trails, ideal for trail riders on their own horse or with a steed from a local stable.
Conkle Lake is a bit of a trek to reach, but once there you'll find good car-top-boat fishing for rainbow trout in an idyllic setting.
Boundary Country Tourism
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia