Wilderness. Pure & Unfiltered.
Campbell River, located in the North Central Island, is a region steeped in nature in its purest and wildest form, offering an escape from the everyday hustle and bustle of larger urban centres. Swap busy streets for empty trails and the sound of cars for the chirping of birds. Set course to explore cascading waterfalls, meander through old-growth forests, provincial parks, camp under the stars, and cast a line in some of the Island’s best recreational fishing.
All of these areas are accessible by vehicle, so you can get to most locations via car, truck, RV, campervan–whichever you prefer!
Whether you’re a longtime island resident in search of a unique staycation, or coming to the Island in search of wilderness and downtime, this road trip is a great way to see and do it all. This road trip can be completed in a weekend, but we recommend slowing things down and savouring each location for a few days.
Campbell River, the hub of the region. A charming seaside city, nestled in nature and surrounded by the wild. It’s the perfect basecamp for those in search of adventure, wildlife tours, and outdoor recreation while still having easy access to urban amenities.
Check out the thundering water flows at Elk Falls, learn about the life cycle of salmon at the Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery, take a sunset stroll along Discovery Pier, hike Ripple Rock trail, be immersed in First Nation’s culture at the museum, and cap off the day with some local libations at Beach Fire Brewing. Not only do they feature their own lineup of craft brews, but also a great selection of regionally crafted wines, cheeses, baked goods, coffee, and more from local producers.
Campbell River offers a varied assortment of places to stay. Rest your head in a remote resort or stay in a downtown hotel for easy, walkable access to things to do and places to eat or book in on one of the many local ocean view hotels. Camping? There are several provincial and private parks to suit your needs, as well as privately owned properties, providing something for everyone’s needs. Check out the full list of places to stay on Destination Campbell River’s website.
Hop on a 20-minute ferry from downtown Campbell River to start your journey on Quadra Island. Cozy up on a beachfront campsite or relax in the comforts of a waterfront resort. Spend an afternoon hiking or biking the local trails, then peruse the local artisan studios, sample island-grown wine, then visit Rebecca Spit for an unforgettable near 360-degree view of the beach and surrounding coast.
With its rich biodiversity and varied terrain, it’s easy to see why Quadra is highly attractive to outdoor enthusiasts. But beyond being a cornucopia for outdoor recreation, its soothing, laid-back lifestyle and beautiful beaches appeal to those from all walks of life.
Return to Campbell River (no need to worry about paying for the return ferry, it was covered in your initial sailing)
Before leaving Campbell River and heading northwest, be sure to stop at a grocery store and stock up on meals, snacks, and water for the next few days, as supplies are limited once you begin down Highway 28 to the west coast. Cell service also becomes quite patchy the further west you go, but landlines are available in towns to contact friends and family.
Head west from Campbell River through jaw-dropping Strathcona Provincial Park towards Gold River. The 87-kilometre drive is one of the most scenic on the island, winding through lush forests between towering mountains to Nootka Sound. On your way to Gold River, be sure to set some time aside to check out some of the great points of interest along Highway 28, including Buttle Lake, several picnicking spots, and several great hikes.
Gold River was originally established as a forestry town in the early 1960s, this relatively “new” town is one of the Island’s best-kept secrets for those in search of epic views, great camping, and of course, some of the best fishing on the West Coast.
What many may not know is that this area is ripe with opportunities for self-guided spelunking! Just 25-minutes from Gold River, Upana Caves is home to five caves and a few viewing platforms. If caving isn’t your thing, there are several fantastic day hikes in the region as well that take you to waterfalls, lakes, and stunning viewpoints. There is some camping available in the area through B.C. Parks but guests should know that because of the remote location, these sites only include the basics, come prepared! Check out this blog post by Destination Campbell River for more information about what you need to know before visiting Upana Caves.
One of Gold River’s most popular attractions is the MV Uchuck III, a converted minesweeping ship turned into a transport vessel now used to deliver goods to remote communities throughout Nootka Sound. Originally built in 1942, the ship has been refitted to include a comfortable lounge, coffee bar, and access to the upper deck. Hop on for a day cruise throughout the sound as it delivers supplies to fish farms and resorts, sign up for a multi-day excursion that includes accommodation, meals, and transportation.
The next destination on this west-coast road trip is Tahsis, a small town at the mouth of Tahsis Inlet. The road from Gold River to Tahsis is appropriately named the Tree to Sea Drive, a well-maintained gravel road spanning roughly 80 kilometres to the beautiful coastal community in Nootka Sound. There are several opportunities to pull over to soak up and snap a photo of the breathtaking scenery and wildlife.
Though the commute to Tashsis isn’t long, Mucha Bay Resort is a great place to stop along the way for a night–or several. Located just after the halfway point between the two communities, the resort offers lodge suites, luxury yurts, oceanside chalets, and serviced campsites, so there’s truly something for everyone. The resort offers an array of activities for everyone in the family, but their best-known for their professional fishing charters.
Tahsis itself if a small, but very accommodating community. Whether you’re a serious angler, a young couple looking for adventure, or those simply looking to disconnect and relax with a view. Needless to say, adventures in Tahsis that can be tailored for people of every age and activity level.
Whether you’re planning your trip to Vancouver Island or are a longtime resident looking to explore something new, there’s so much to be seen and explored in the Campbell River region for all ages and interests. To start planning your trip or find out more about other destinations, attractions, and amenities in Campbell River, visit CampbellRiver.Travel.