Each year, the Sockeye Salmon, found only in the Northern Pacific Ocean, make their way back to their birthplace to spawn. The journey from birth to the ocean and back is a round trip of over 4,000 kilometres. The salmon swim upstream from the Strait of Georgia, up the Fraser River through rapids, up waterfalls, and avoiding predators in under twenty days. This is their final journey in life. Sockeye Salmon are semelparous, meaning they die after spawning, and they don't eat during this process but use the fat they stored up over a lifetime. Very few people get the chance to see this rare occurrence or special time in the salmon life cycle. The river is a sight to behold as bright red salmon cram together on the river bed floor.
Every four years a dominant salmon run occurs, and 2018 was one of them with over 3.8 million salmon swimming through the Thompson Okanagan. This autumn, hundreds of vibrant-red salmon will swim up the South Thompson River to the shores of Adams River to spawn. Tsútswecw Provincial Park (pronounced Choo-Chwek) is fifty minutes east of Kamloops on Squilax-Anglemont Road and surrounds the eleven kilometres of Adams River bridging Adams Lake to Shuswap Lake. Tsutswecw, when translated from the Secwépemctsìn, means “many rivers”. The Adams River is well known for Sockeye Salmon spawning, with thousands of people visiting every year during the first three weeks of October to see this naturally occurring phenomenon.
Though you might come for the Salmon Run, Tsútswecw Provincial Park is worth a visit all on its own with a variety of trees and fall colours. Pack a picnic with a thermos of tea or coffee from and explore over 26 kilometres of trails while enjoying the crisp air. Remember to dress appropriately, as you will be standing still or walking slowly along the shores. We suggest taking at least four hours to view the salmon and explore the trails.
The park is fully accessible with a large stationary viewing platform 300 metres from the main parking lot, plus there are washrooms and accessible picnic tables along the short path. If you’d like to bring your dog, they'll need to be on a leash. During this sensitive time, the salmon are spawning at the bottom of the river, and any kind of disruption can destroy eggs and habitats. Please respect the sensitive environment and stay out of the river.
The salmon run has long served as an important food source for the Secwepemc (pronounced "suh-kwep'-mugh) Nation, as sockeye salmon are a vital part of their diet. Excavations of their historical villages along the river show that the tradition of salmon fishing has always been important, dating back at least to 2000 BCE.
Learn about nature, indigenous history, and watch a flurry of entertaining activity on the banks of Adams River.