Tahsis and Gold River are known as the gateway to Nootka Sound. These remote communities are nestled in the mountains on the western edge of Vancouver Island. Once booming logging towns, these Villages now boast ample ecotourism opportunities on both land and sea and come alive with adventurous tourists in the warmer months.
A one-and-a-half-hour drive from Campbell River through Strathcona Provincial Park brings you to the Village of Gold River, with a population of 1,200. Leaving the paved roads of Gold River behind, you will begin your scenic journey on the Tree to Sea Drive – a 64km forest service road that takes you to the Village of Tahsis, which has a small population of around 250 people, year-round. You can find a warm coffee shop or restaurant with local ingredients, gas, liquor, and some essentials, but it is best to be prepared for the unexpected and arrive with your own provisions as there are no grocery stores in these parts!
Things To Do In Tahsis & Gold River
Tahsis, Gold River, and the Nootka Sound region are world renowned fishing destinations, but what people are starting to find out is that the ecotourism opportunities in area are endless on land, just as much as they are at sea. Walking & hiking, caving & bouldering, fishing & wildlife viewing are just some of the activities found here. Home of the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation – whose people have inhabited the area for thousands of years – you can feel the deep history when you step foot in these Villages. Yuquot, known as the birthplace of British Columbia, is located on Nootka Island which is accessible from both Gold River & Tahsis.
Explore the Upana Caves
Located just 20 minutes from Gold River, on the way to Tahsis. This impressive cave system is a self-guided day-use site, managed by Recreation Sites and Trails BC. Upana Caves provides novice cave explorers the opportunity to get down, and probably dirty, on their own without previous caving experience. Those wishing to venture into the caves should wear sturdy footwear for climbing over rocks and down slopes (keep in mind your shoes may also get wet), bring warmer clothes than you need for above ground as it is always cool in the caves, and bring a light or two for navigating the uneven ground and searching for critters in the dark.Learn more about the Upana Caves
Feast on locally inspired ingredients
Dine at a local restaurant featuring local ingredients inspired by the Nootka Sound region! Sea and Field Bistro located in Gold River features local produce and foraged goods. The Conuma Grill, located at Moutcha Bay Resort (43kms from Gold River on the Tree to Sea Drive), is a licensed, family-friendly restaurant that offers a locally sourced menu with à la carte breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take in the evening ocean views over a glass of B.C. wine or local craft beer. Sally’s Grill in Tahsis features warm, homecooked meals and baked goods all year round!
Walk the Leiner River Estuary Trail
Be sure to keep your eyes out for wildlife on this leisurely trail close to Tahsis! A level, 2-kilometre round trip trail featuring boardwalks takes you along the beautiful Leiner River to the estuary where it meets the sea. Views of Tahsis are prominent from across the inlet and this is a great place to watch birds, sea mammals, spawning salmon and much more!Learn more about the Leiner River Estuary Trail
Play a round of golf at Gold River Golf & Country Club
Followed by a meal on the patio or inside the Nineteenth Hole restaurant with beautiful views overlooking the course. 9 holes surrounded by snow capped mountains and beautiful forest, this course runs right along the Gold River making for an excellent spot to cool off on those hot summer days!
Paddle one of the lively estuaries
The many rivers in the area provide some excellent paddling opportunities. Explore a multitude of estuaries by kayak, canoe or paddleboard and view wildlife from the water! Kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent from Moutcha Bay Resort in summer months, located between Tahsis & Gold River.Learn more about Kayak Tours in the area
Explore local rivers & lakes
Explore the pristine local rivers & lakes that this area has to offer. On most days you could be the only person at a serene spot surrounded by wilderness. Bring a book to read or explore on foot and view the local flora and fauna, and keep an eye out for wildlife! The rivers come alive in the fall with spawning salmon. It’s always a good idea to have a fishing rod on hand as many of the local lakes are stocked with trout! Make sure to be prepared for wildlife encounters if you are travelling alone.
Hike the Nootka Trail
Tahsis & Gold River are the true gateway to Nootka Sound, and the world famous Nootka Trail on Nootka Island. This 32 kilometre point-to-point trail hosts people from all over the world in the summer months and ends at historic Yuquot. Accessible by boat from Tahsis via Shorebird Expeditions, or by air with Air Nootka out of Gold River. This is a multi-day trip that is not for the unexperienced hiker!Learn more about the Nootka Trail
Visit Yuquot, the birthplace of British Columbia
Experience thousands of years of history that is said to have shaped British Columbia. In the Mowachaht/Muchalaht language it means “where the wind blows from all directions.” Accessible by boat or air. “To outsiders, Yuquot might seem to be at the edge of the world. For us, it is the centre. It is a place of unsurpassed beauty and natural wonders we want you all to witness. You will feel its power. All visitors do. You might share a beach with whales rubbing along pebbles in the surges of surf. You can stare out to the west and feel winds that have crossed the open ocean. Ponder on more than 5,000 years of our history at this very place. Experience nature’s harmonies. Absorb our ancestors’ core values.” Mowachaht/Muchalaht First NationLearn more about Yuquot
Take a day trip about the MV Uchuck III
Marvel at the stunning scenery as you cruise along the remote northwest coast of Vancouver Island. This 136-foot wooden hulled maritime vessel provides passenger and freight service through historic Nootka Sound, Esperanza Inlet, and Kyuquot Sound. Stops are made along the routes to offload freight at remote fish farms, logging camps, resorts and maritime villages that rely on the MV Uchuck III as a lifeline. Many of these remote destinations have no road access. Stops are also made at remote destinations to offload intrepid kayakers. Passengers enjoy watching the day-to-day activities, from maneuvering the vessel to remote docks and offloading freight from the cargo hold to watching intrepid kayakers paddle off after wet launching.Learn more about Get West Adventures on the MV Uchuck III