Nestled on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Campbell River is a destination that offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventures and urban comforts. Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” this charming coastal city boasts a thriving fishing industry and a bounty of marine wildlife. From salmon fishing to whale watching, Campbell River is a haven for those seeking thrilling outdoor experiences.
But it’s not just the outdoors that makes Campbell River special. The city is home to a thriving arts and culture scene, as well as a diverse culinary landscape that showcases the bounty of the region. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing getaway or an action-packed adventure, Campbell River is sure to delight and inspire you. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore the wonders of this beautiful Vancouver Island destination.
Campbell River City Guide: A Brief History Of Campbell River, BC
Campbell River, located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, is a city with a rich and fascinating history that dates back thousands of years. Long before European settlers arrived in the area, the region was home to several Indigenous groups, including the Wei Wai Kai, Wei Wai Kum, and the K’ómoks First Nation. These groups lived off the bounty of the land and sea, fishing and hunting in the rivers and forests that surrounded them. They established intricate trade networks and developed their own unique cultures and traditions.
In the late 1700s, European explorers began to arrive in the area. Captain George Vancouver, who sailed through the region in 1792, named the area after his colleague, Captain Samuel Campbell. The arrival of European settlers brought significant changes to the region, with new industries and economies emerging in the area.
In the late 1800s, the first permanent settlers arrived in Campbell River, drawn by the abundance of timber and fish in the region. The early pioneers built homes, cleared land, and established businesses, laying the foundation for the city that we know today. Many of these early settlers worked in the logging industry, felling trees and transporting logs down the Campbell River to the coast.
The arrival of the railroad in 1914 brought a new era of growth and prosperity to Campbell River. The railroad made it easier to transport goods and people to and from the city, allowing businesses to flourish and the population to grow. The fishing industry also boomed during this time, with canneries and processing plants springing up along the waterfront. Fishing boats from all over the world came to Campbell River to take advantage of the rich waters and abundant fish stocks.
In the 1950s, the construction of the John Hart Dam brought hydroelectric power to the area, further fueling economic growth and development. Today, Campbell River is a thriving city with a population of over 35,000 people. While it has certainly grown and changed over the years, it remains deeply connected to its roots and proud of its rich and storied history.
Visitors to Campbell River can explore the city’s history by visiting the Museum at Campbell River, which features exhibits on the area’s Indigenous history, early pioneers, and local industries. They can also take a stroll through the downtown area, which features several historic buildings and landmarks, such as the Maritime Heritage Centre, the Sybil Andrews Cottage, and the Haig-Brown House. Visitors can also take part in cultural experiences, such as traditional canoe tours with Indigenous guides, or visit the Elk Falls Provincial Park, which offers hiking trails and stunning views of the region’s natural beauty.
Campbell River’s history is one of resilience, resourcefulness, and community. From its early days as a small logging town to its current status as a vibrant city, Campbell River has always been a place of opportunity and growth. The city’s rich history is a testament to the hard work and determination of its residents, past and present, and serves as a source of pride for those who call Campbell River home.
Campbell River Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in British Columbia
Campbell River is a beautiful coastal city on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Known for its natural beauty, it offers a range of outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, and kayaking. With its rich history and stunning scenery, Campbell River is a must-visit destination for travelers.
One of the top attractions in Campbell River is the Discovery Pier. This 150-meter-long pier offers stunning views of Discovery Passage and is the perfect place for fishing or taking a leisurely stroll. The pier also offers educational exhibits about the region’s marine life, making it an ideal spot for families.
For nature enthusiasts, the Elk Falls Provincial Park is a must-visit. The park offers a variety of hiking trails that lead to stunning viewpoints of Elk Falls, one of the largest waterfalls on Vancouver Island. The park also offers picnic areas, a campground, and a suspension bridge that crosses the river.
Another popular attraction in Campbell River is the Museum at Campbell River. The museum offers a glimpse into the region’s history, showcasing the stories of the First Nations people, early settlers, and the local logging industry. Visitors can also view displays of natural history, including fossils and minerals.
For those looking for an outdoor adventure, Strathcona Provincial Park is a great destination. Located just outside of Campbell River, the park offers hiking trails, camping facilities, and stunning views of the mountainous terrain. With over 250,000 hectares of pristine wilderness, Strathcona Provincial Park is a true gem of Vancouver Island.
Campbell River is also known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” making it a top destination for fishing enthusiasts. Visitors can choose from a variety of fishing charters, whether they want to fish for salmon, halibut, or trout. For those who prefer to stay on land, the Campbell River Estuary is a great place to observe the local wildlife, including eagles and seals.
For a relaxing day out, the Sequoia Springs Golf Course is a popular destination. This beautiful golf course offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests, making it a perfect place to spend an afternoon. The course also has a clubhouse with a restaurant and bar, offering delicious food and drinks.
The Quadra Island is another popular destination near Campbell River. Accessible by ferry, Quadra Island offers a range of outdoor activities, including kayaking, hiking, and beachcombing. Visitors can also explore the island’s cultural heritage by visiting the Kwagiulth Museum and Cultural Centre.
The Haig-Brown Heritage House is another popular destination for those interested in the region’s history. The house was once home to conservationist and writer Roderick Haig-Brown and now serves as a museum and event space. Visitors can learn about Haig-Brown’s life and work and explore the beautiful grounds of the estate.
For art enthusiasts, the Campbell River Art Gallery is a must-visit destination. The gallery showcases the work of local artists, offering a glimpse into the region’s vibrant arts scene. The gallery also hosts a variety of events and workshops throughout the year, making it a great place to immerse yourself in the local culture.
Last but not least, the Tyee Spit is a popular destination for beachcombing and watching the sunset. The beach offers stunning views of the Discovery Passage and is the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring Campbell River.
Campbell River is a destination that has something for everyone, from nature enthusiasts to fishing enthusiasts to art lovers. With its stunning scenery, rich history, and vibrant culture, it is a must-visit destination on Vancouver Island.
Top 10 Things To Do in Campbell River, BC For Visitors
There is no shortage of things to do in this vibrant coastal city. Whether you’re interested in exploring the great outdoors or learning about local history, Campbell River has something for everyone. Here are the top 10 things to do in Campbell River, BC for visitors:
- Go Fishing – Campbell River is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” so it’s no surprise that fishing is one of the top activities here. Join a fishing charter and try your luck at catching a trophy salmon or go fly fishing in the nearby streams and rivers.
- Visit Elk Falls Provincial Park – Just a short drive from downtown Campbell River, Elk Falls Provincial Park boasts stunning waterfalls, hiking trails, and scenic viewpoints. Don’t forget to take a photo on the famous suspension bridge overlooking the falls.
- Explore Quadra Island – Take a ferry from Campbell River to Quadra Island and discover its rugged coastline, stunning beaches, and picturesque villages. Be sure to visit Rebecca Spit Marine Provincial Park, a popular spot for kayaking and camping.
- Go Whale Watching – Join a guided tour and see some of the most magnificent marine creatures in their natural habitat. Orcas, humpback whales, and dolphins are commonly seen in the waters surrounding Campbell River.
- Learn About Indigenous Culture – The Campbell River area has a rich history of Indigenous culture. Visit the Wei Wai Kum and Wei Wai Kai Nations’ Big House to experience their traditional ceremonies and dances.
- Visit the Maritime Heritage Centre – Learn about Campbell River’s maritime history at this interactive museum. Explore the exhibits, including a life-size fishing boat, and take a guided tour to learn about the local fishing industry.
- Go Skiing – Just a short drive from Campbell River is Mount Washington Alpine Resort, a popular ski destination with a variety of terrain suitable for all skill levels. Hit the slopes in the winter or hike the mountain trails in the summer.
- Walk the Discovery Pier – Stroll along the Discovery Pier, a popular destination for fishing and crabbing. Take in the views of the ocean and watch the boats go by.
- Visit the Haig-Brown House – The Haig-Brown House is a historic house museum dedicated to conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown. Explore the beautiful gardens and learn about Haig-Brown’s contributions to environmentalism in the area.
- Relax on the Beach – Campbell River is home to some beautiful beaches, including Saratoga Beach and Miracle Beach. Take a leisurely walk along the shore, enjoy a picnic, or go for a swim in the ocean.
Campbell River is a beautiful and exciting destination that offers a range of activities for visitors of all ages. From fishing and whale watching to cultural experiences and outdoor adventures, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant coastal city.
What To Eat and Drink at Restaurants in Campbell River, British Columbia
Campbell River, BC is a haven for seafood lovers, and there’s no better place to enjoy fresh and delicious seafood than in this picturesque coastal town. From local fish and chips to gourmet seafood dishes, Campbell River has a range of culinary experiences to satisfy any palate.
One must-try dish in Campbell River is the classic fish and chips. The town is home to several popular fish and chips spots, including Dick’s Fish & Chips, which has been serving up its signature crispy, battered fish since 1963. Another popular spot is the Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can enjoy fish and chips on the dock while watching the fishing boats come in and out.
For those looking for a more upscale seafood experience, there are plenty of fine dining options in Campbell River as well. The Painters Lodge is a must-visit for seafood lovers, with their menu featuring local catches like wild salmon, halibut, and oysters. The restaurant also offers stunning views of Discovery Passage, making it the perfect spot for a romantic dinner.
Another great seafood spot in Campbell River is the CR Beach House Restaurant, which offers fresh seafood and breathtaking views of the ocean. Their menu features a variety of seafood dishes, including prawn cocktails, clam chowder, and crab cakes.
Aside from seafood, Campbell River also boasts a number of great bars and breweries. The Beach Fire Brewing Company is a popular spot for craft beer enthusiasts, with their tasting room offering a variety of locally brewed beers. For those looking for a classic pub experience, the iconic Quinsam Hotel is a must-visit, with their menu featuring classic pub fare and a range of beers on tap.
Overall, Campbell River’s culinary scene is a must-try for any foodie. With a range of options from casual fish and chips to upscale fine dining, there’s something for everyone.
Tours For Visitors To Campbell River, Canada
With its stunning natural scenery and diverse wildlife, it’s no surprise that many visitors come to explore the area. To fully experience the beauty of the region, taking a tour is a must. Here are some of the best tours for visitors to Campbell River:
- Whale Watching Tour: Campbell River is one of the best places in the world to see orcas, humpback whales, and other marine life up close. Whale watching tours are available throughout the year, with peak season being from July to September. Tour operators provide knowledgeable guides and offer the chance to see whales in their natural habitat.
- Grizzly Bear Tours: The Campbell River area is home to one of the highest densities of grizzly bears in North America. There are a number of tours available that offer the chance to see these magnificent creatures in the wild. The tours are typically conducted from late August to early October, during the annual salmon run.
- Helicopter Tours: Get a bird’s eye view of Campbell River and the surrounding area with a helicopter tour. These tours provide a unique perspective of the region’s rugged mountains, sparkling lakes, and dense forests. Some tours even include landing on a remote mountain peak for a picnic or hike.
- Fishing Charters: Campbell River is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World” and for good reason. The region’s rivers and ocean waters are teeming with a variety of salmon species, as well as other fish. Fishing charters are available year-round, with knowledgeable guides who can provide tips on how to catch the big one.
- Cultural Tours: Campbell River is rich in Indigenous history and culture. Taking a cultural tour is a great way to learn more about the area’s First Nations people and their traditions. Tours may include visits to traditional longhouses, art galleries, and cultural centers.
- Scenic Tours: There are a number of scenic tours available in Campbell River that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding area. From boat tours that explore the area’s many islands to hiking tours that take you to remote mountain peaks, there’s something for everyone.
- Wildlife Tours: In addition to whales and grizzly bears, Campbell River is home to a wide variety of other wildlife, including eagles, seals, sea lions, and more. Wildlife tours offer the chance to see these animals up close in their natural habitat.
- Kayaking Tours: For a more active tour experience, consider a kayaking tour. Paddle through the region’s calm bays and inlets, taking in the stunning scenery and keeping an eye out for wildlife.
- Stand-Up Paddleboarding Tours: Another fun and active way to explore the region is on a stand-up paddleboard. Guided tours are available for all skill levels and provide the chance to explore secluded beaches and coves.
- Biking Tours: The Campbell River area is home to some great biking trails, from easy scenic routes to challenging mountain biking trails. Guided biking tours are available and provide a great way to see the area while getting some exercise.
- The Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery in Campbell River is a remarkable and unique destination that visitors to the area simply must see. This hatchery plays a vital role in the conservation and preservation of salmon populations in the region, making it a great educational experience for those who want to learn about the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship.
No matter what type of tour you choose, exploring Campbell River with a knowledgeable guide is sure to enhance your experience and provide a deeper appreciation for this beautiful region.
Campbell River Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Campbell River, located on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, is a popular tourist destination known for its breathtaking natural scenery, outdoor activities, and wildlife. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or an extended vacation, there are a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference.
- Hotels: Campbell River has a range of hotels to choose from, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury. Many hotels are located in the downtown area and offer easy access to shops, restaurants, and attractions.
- Resorts: There are several resorts in and around Campbell River that offer a complete vacation experience. From family-friendly resorts with swimming pools and activities for kids to upscale resorts with spa services and fine dining, there is something for everyone.
- Bed and Breakfasts: For a more personal and intimate experience, bed and breakfasts are a great option. Many are located in charming heritage homes and offer delicious home-cooked breakfasts.
- Vacation Rentals: If you’re looking for more space or want to stay for an extended period of time, vacation rentals are a great option. From cozy cabins to luxury waterfront homes, there are a variety of options available.
- Campgrounds: For the ultimate outdoor experience, there are several campgrounds in the Campbell River area. Many offer waterfront campsites and access to hiking trails, fishing, and other outdoor activities.
- RV Parks: If you’re traveling in an RV, there are several RV parks in and around Campbell River that offer full hookups and other amenities.
- Hostels: For budget-minded travelers, there are several hostels in the area that offer dormitory-style accommodations and shared facilities.
- Fishing Lodges: Campbell River is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World” and there are several fishing lodges in the area that offer guided fishing trips and accommodations.
- Houseboats: For a unique vacation experience, consider renting a houseboat. Many houseboats come equipped with kitchens and other amenities and offer a great way to explore the beautiful waters around Campbell River.
- Farm Stays: For a more rural experience, there are several farm stays in the area that offer accommodations and the opportunity to experience life on a farm.
No matter what your budget or preference, Campbell River has a variety of accommodation options to choose from that will make your stay in this beautiful part of British Columbia unforgettable.
Here are some potential places to stay in Campbell River, BC:
- Painter’s Lodge: This iconic resort is nestled in a beautiful natural setting on the shores of Discovery Passage. The lodge offers a range of accommodation options, from cozy guest rooms to private cabins, all featuring stunning views of the water. Amenities include two restaurants, a spa, fishing charters, and wildlife tours.
- Anchor Inn & Suites: This centrally located hotel provides easy access to downtown Campbell River and the marina. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with some offering ocean views. The hotel also features an indoor pool and hot tub, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant.
- Dolphins Resort: Located on the shores of Discovery Passage, this charming resort offers rustic yet luxurious cabins and suites, each uniquely decorated with a distinct coastal theme. Guests can enjoy fishing charters, kayaking, and other outdoor activities, as well as the resort’s cozy lounge and restaurant.
- Above Tide Motel: This family-owned and operated motel is situated right on the waterfront in downtown Campbell River, offering stunning views of Discovery Passage. Rooms are clean and cozy, with all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay. The motel also features a lovely garden area and barbecue facilities.
- Campbell River Lodge: This welcoming lodge offers comfortable and affordable rooms in a tranquil forest setting just a short drive from downtown Campbell River. Guests can enjoy the lodge’s indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, and fitness center, as well as its on-site restaurant and lounge.
Day Trips From Campbell River, Canada
Campbell River is a gateway to some of the most breathtaking natural attractions in British Columbia. From scenic ocean vistas to rugged mountain trails and cascading waterfalls, there is no shortage of outdoor activities to explore in the surrounding areas. Here are some top day trips from Campbell River:
- Strathcona Provincial Park: Located just a short drive west of Campbell River, Strathcona Provincial Park is a stunning wilderness area that boasts numerous hiking trails, pristine lakes, and mountain peaks. Visitors can explore Della Falls, the tallest waterfall in Canada, or trek to the summit of Mount Albert Edward for panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and glaciers.
- Quadra Island: A quick ferry ride from Campbell River, Quadra Island is a picturesque destination known for its rugged coastline and lush rainforests. Visitors can explore the island’s numerous hiking trails, kayak through the protected waters of the Discovery Islands, or visit the Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre to learn about the region’s First Nations history.
- Cortes Island: Just a short boat ride from Quadra Island, Cortes Island is a quiet and peaceful getaway with secluded beaches, scenic hiking trails, and an abundance of wildlife. Visitors can explore the island’s artistic community, sample local organic produce, or simply relax and enjoy the pristine natural beauty.
- Elk Falls Provincial Park: Located just a short drive south of Campbell River, Elk Falls Provincial Park is a popular day trip destination for its picturesque suspension bridge over the Campbell River, as well as its numerous hiking trails that wind through old-growth forests and past cascading waterfalls.
- Whale Watching Tours: Campbell River is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” but it is also a prime location for whale watching. Visitors can take a guided tour to see orcas, humpbacks, and other marine mammals in their natural habitat.
- Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park: Located north of Campbell River, Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park is a rugged and remote area known for its crystal-clear waters, abundant marine life, and stunning natural beauty. Visitors can explore the park by boat, kayak, or on foot, and enjoy camping and picnicking in some of the most pristine wilderness areas in Canada.
- Mount Washington Alpine Resort: Located just over an hour’s drive from Campbell River, Mount Washington Alpine Resort offers some of the best skiing and snowboarding in British Columbia, as well as numerous summer activities like mountain biking, hiking, and zip lining.
- Miracle Beach Provincial Park: Located just south of Campbell River, Miracle Beach Provincial Park is a popular day trip destination for its expansive sandy beach, scenic hiking trails, and family-friendly camping facilities.
- Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit: A short drive north of Campbell River, the Sayward Forest Canoe Circuit is a unique backcountry experience that winds through pristine wilderness areas, past cascading waterfalls and tranquil lakes.
- Comox Valley: Located just south of Campbell River, the Comox Valley is a picturesque region that offers a wide range of outdoor activities, from hiking and mountain biking to fishing and kayaking. Visitors can explore the quaint town of Courtenay, visit the local farmer’s market, or take a scenic drive along the coast.
- Gold River: Just an hour’s drive from Campbell River, Gold River is a small community nestled in the heart of Vancouver Island. Visit the Uchuck III, take a hike, or enjoy the scenic views of the Nootka Sound.
Campbell River Transportation Guide
Campbell River offers a variety of transportation options to help you get around and explore the area.
If you are flying into Campbell River, you will arrive at the Campbell River Airport (YBL). The airport is located just 10 minutes south of the city center and offers daily flights to and from Vancouver and other destinations in British Columbia. Car rentals are available at the airport, so you can easily rent a car and explore the surrounding areas.
If you prefer to travel by sea, you can take a ferry from Vancouver or other nearby cities to Nanaimo or Victoria, which are both located on Vancouver Island. From there, you can either rent a car or take a bus to Campbell River.
Once you are in Campbell River, there are several transportation options to get around the city. The Campbell River Transit System offers bus service throughout the city and surrounding areas, making it easy to get around without a car. Taxis and ride-sharing services are also available for those who prefer more direct transportation.
If you want to explore the surrounding areas of Campbell River, there are several tour companies that offer transportation and guided tours. These tours can take you to areas like Strathcona Provincial Park, Quadra Island, or the nearby Discovery Islands.
In addition, there are several car rental companies in Campbell River, making it easy to rent a car and explore the surrounding areas at your own pace.
Overall, Campbell River offers a variety of transportation options to help you get around and explore the beautiful area. Whether you prefer to fly, drive, or take a guided tour, there are options available to suit your needs.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Campbell River?
After your trip to Campbell River, there are plenty of nearby destinations worth visiting. Here are ten suggestions for places to explore in the surrounding area:
- Quadra Island: Take a short ferry ride from Campbell River to Quadra Island and experience its natural beauty and unique culture. Hike or bike the trails, visit the beaches, or learn about the island’s First Nations heritage.
- Strathcona Provincial Park: Just a short drive west of Campbell River, Strathcona Provincial Park offers stunning scenery, numerous hiking trails, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
- Mount Washington Alpine Resort: A popular year-round destination, Mount Washington offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter and hiking and mountain biking in the summer.
- Comox Valley: Located about an hour south of Campbell River, the Comox Valley offers a mix of urban and rural attractions, including farmers’ markets, wineries, art galleries, and more.
- Port Hardy: This remote coastal town is a gateway to the rugged wilderness of northern Vancouver Island. Visit the nearby Cape Scott Provincial Park or take a wildlife-watching tour.
- Tofino and Ucluelet: These two coastal communities are known for their stunning beaches, rugged coastline, and world-class surfing. Take a scenic drive from Campbell River to explore them.
- Telegraph Cove: This picturesque community on the northeast coast of Vancouver Island offers whale watching tours, kayaking, fishing, and more.
- Campbell River Estuary: Just minutes from downtown Campbell River, the estuary offers a peaceful setting for birdwatching, hiking, and fishing.
- Gold River: Located about an hour west of Campbell River, Gold River is a small community surrounded by stunning natural beauty, including the Nootka Sound and the Strathcona Provincial Park.
- Sayward: This small town is located about 40 minutes south of Campbell River and offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and swimming.
No matter which direction you choose to explore after your time in Campbell River, Vancouver Island offers a wide variety of attractions and natural beauty to discover.
Campbell River Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, then Campbell River should definitely be on your list of destinations to visit. From its rich history and culture to its stunning natural beauty, there is something for everyone in this coastal city.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a nature lover, a foodie, or just looking for a relaxing getaway, Campbell River has plenty to offer. Take a stroll along the oceanfront, explore the trails in the forests and mountains, or indulge in some fresh seafood and local craft beer.
With so much to see and do, Campbell River is truly a hidden gem of British Columbia. Its friendly locals, stunning scenery, and abundance of outdoor activities make it a must-visit destination for travelers looking to experience the beauty of Canada’s west coast.
So pack your bags, book your trip, and get ready to fall in love with the charm and beauty of Campbell River. You won’t be disappointed!
In Campbell River’s waters wild and free, The salmon leap and the eagles flee, A land of beauty that nature crafted, A paradise where your soul can be refitted.
From the rugged mountains to the ocean blue, Campbell River offers adventures anew, Whales breaching, bears fishing, and seals sunbathing, A feast for your senses and soul engaging.
Take a stroll along the Discovery Pier, Or hike the trails in the Elk Falls Park near, Explore the rich history of this town, And leave behind all stress and frown.
With fresh seafood and craft beer on tap, Campbell River welcomes you with open lap, A land of wonder and natural delight, A place to find peace and your inner light.
So come to Campbell River and let your spirit soar, In this land of nature’s grandeur and more, A place where you can find your heart’s desire, And leave with memories that will never tire.