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Best Things to Do and See in Campbell River

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The Ultimate Guide to Exploring Campbell River, BC and Beyond…

Campbell River is a vibrant coastal city known for its natural beauty and outdoor adventures. Whether you’re a nature lover, outdoor enthusiast, or history buff, there is something for everyone to enjoy in our town and surrounding areas.

From breathtaking hikes to unique cultural experiences, here are the top things to do and see in Campbell River, BC and nearby areas.

I’ve organized these into a few categories, use the table of contents to find what interests you, or keep reading.

Walking and Hiking

If you enjoy walking in nature, Campbell River has so many great options to get a bit of exercise while exploring local scenery and wildlife.

Elk Falls Provincial Park & Suspension Bridge

Immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of Elk Falls Provincial Park and be mesmerized by the magnificent Elk Falls waterfall, one of the area’s most extraordinary natural landmarks.

Follow scenic trails, enjoy a picnic by the river, and immerse yourself in the tranquility of this picturesque park

Be sure the check out the bird’s-eye view of Elk Falls by crossing the thrilling Elk Falls Suspension Bridge. This engineering marvel offers incredible views of the cascading waterfall and lush greenery below, making it a must-visit attraction for nature enthusiasts.

Address: Millennium Trail, Campbell River, BC V0P 1N0
More info: https://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/elk_falls/

Sea Walk

Stroll along the scenic Sea Walk, a picturesque waterfront pathway that stretches along the shores of Discovery Passage.

Take in the beautiful views of Quadra Island, watch for wildlife such as seals and eagles, and enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride along this beautiful seaside promenade. You’ll see driftwood artwork along the way, too!

Address: Seawalk, Campbell River, BC V9W 1A7
More info: History of the Sea Walk in Campbell River

Discovery Pier

The Discovery Pier is a bustling waterfront destination in Campbell River that offers a unique blend of recreational activities and coastal charm.

Photo by David Stanley
CC BY 2.0 DEED

Stretching out into the calm waters of Discovery Passage, this iconic pier is a hotspot for both locals and visitors looking to soak up the beauty of the surrounding ocean.

There is a concession stand open May – Sept that’s a popular spot to get ice cream.

Address: 655 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC V9W 2C3
Live webcam: https://www.skylinewebcams.com/en/webcam/canada/british-columbia/campbell-river/discovery-pier.html

Ripple Rock Trail

Embark on a scenic hike along the Ripple Rock Trail and journey through the lush forests and rugged terrain of Seymour Narrows. Admire panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and ocean, and learn about the infamous underwater rock that was once a hazard to navigation in these treacherous waters.

Authors note: At the museum in Campbell River, you can watch a short documentary about Ripple Rock — which was one of the largest non-nuclear explosions on record.

Location: Head north on Hwy 19. Trail head is located just 16 km north of Campbell River.
There is a turn off from the highway to a parking lot, which is visible from the highway.
More info: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/canada/british-columbia/ripple-rock-trail

Beaver Lodge Lands Trails

Beaver Lodge Lands are a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, showcasing the diverse ecosystem of Campbell River and providing a recreational hub for outdoor activities.

This system of trails stretches from almost one end of town to the other — with multiple entrances and dozens of trails. You could do a quick 20 minute loop, or a multi-hour hike.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll through nature or an adventurous mountain biking experience, the Beaver Lodge Lands offer something for everyone to enjoy in the heart of Vancouver Island.

Note: Bears and cougars do travel the trails at times, but generally aren’t a problem or seen much on the busier trails.

Location: Go to the end of Trask Rd for one trailhead with a parking lot. Other trailheads exist.
More info: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/forestry/managing-our-forest-resources/beaver-lodge

Tyee Spit / Dick Murphy Park

Tyee Spit is a picturesque stretch of land that juts out into Discovery Passage, offering stunning views of the ocean, surrounding islands, and passing marine vessels. This iconic landmark is a popular spot for locals and visitors to enjoy a leisurely stroll, watch the sunset, or simply take in the beauty of the coastal scenery.

The Spit features a paved walkway that meanders along the waterfront, providing a scenic route for pedestrians and cyclists to explore the shoreline and soak in the fresh sea air.

For birdwatchers, Tyee Spit offers excellent opportunities to observe a variety of species, including bald eagles, seabirds, and shorebirds that frequent the area. Keep your eyes peeled for herons wading in the shallows, and cormorants perched on the rocks as you wander along the waterfront.

This is also the home to the world famous Tyee Fishing Club.

Location: 3200 Spit Rd, Campbell River, BC V9W 6E3 will get you to the parking area.

Wildlife Appreciation and Adventure

Besides all the wonderful trails and seaside walks we’ve mentioned, here are ideas to experience Vancouver Island’s wildlife.

Discovery Passage Aquarium

Visit the Discovery Passage Aquarium and get up close and personal with a variety of marine creatures from the waters of British Columbia.

Observe local fish, invertebrates, and other marine life in their natural habitats, and learn about the importance of ocean conservation. Small but mighty, this is a great place to take kids.

Learn more: https://discoverypassageaquarium.ca/

Whale Watching

Embark on a thrilling whale watching tour from Campbell River and witness majestic marine mammals in their natural habitat. Keep a lookout for the distinct dorsal fins and graceful breaches of orcas as they swim and play in their natural environment.

Watch in awe as humpback whales surface and exhale mighty spouts of water, showcasing their immense size and power as they feed on schools of fish.

With luck, you may also catch a glimpse of other marine wildlife, such as sea lions, seals, bald eagles, and porpoises.

Learn more: https://www.campbellriver.travel/whale-watching/

Salmon Fishing

Cast a line and try your hand at salmon fishing in the abundant waters surrounding Campbell River, known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.”

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a first-time fisherman, the city’s legendary salmon runs offer an exciting and rewarding fishing experience.

Both the Campbell & Quinsam Rivers boast legendary salmon runs for anglers and fly-fishers, and there is also amazing salt-water fishing from shore, at the pier, or on the ocean with a local charter.

Bear & Salmon at the Quinsam River

If you are visiting in the fall, during the annual salmon runs — you’ll find the Quinsam River the hot-spot to see local black bears fishing for salmon.

Walk along the river bank to see eagles, ravens, herons and kingfishers all gathered in this area during the salmon runs. And, if you are lucky (or at least stay long enough) you are also very likely to see black bears fishing for salmon, too.

You can learn about the fascinating world of salmon conservation at the Quinsam River Hatchery, where you can witness the miracle of salmon spawning up close.

Explore the hatchery’s educational exhibits, tour the fish-rearing facilities, and gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of salmon in the local ecosystem.

More info: https://quinsamhatchery.ca/

Arts and Culture

Campbell River has great museums to visit (especially great if the weather is bad) and many events throughout the year that showcase local artists.

Annual Chainsaw Carving Competition

If you visit Campbell River in late June, don’t miss the annual Transformations on the Shore Driftwood Carving Competition, where talented artists from around the world gather to create unique sculptures out of driftwood.

Admire the elaborate designs and artistic creations that decorate Campbell River’s waterfront, giving it a distinctive charm. Even if you aren’t here for the competition, you can still see many of the carvings all year round in various locations around town.

Event details: https://campbellrivernow.com/event/driftwood-carving-competition/
More info: https://crshorelinearts.ca/

Campbell River Museum

Explore the rich history and culture at the Museum of Campbell River, where you can learn about local Indigenous heritage, maritime history, and pioneer roots. Discover fascinating exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays that showcase the city’s past and present.

Authors note: we have the best collection of west coast native art anywhere on the island. The Campbell River Museum is world-class and worth the visit!

Location: 470 Island Hwy, Campbell River, BC V9W 4Z9
More info: https://crmuseum.ca/

Farmers Market & Art Fair

Every Sunday from May 5 until September, the farmers market in downtown Campbell River is bustling with local produce, arts, crafts and more. This is a favorite weekly event for locals in the summer, but visitors will also appreciate the vibrant street market.

Details: https://www.facebook.com/p/Campbell-River-Farmers-market-Arts-Faire-100064656553491/
Location: Spirit Square, Shoppers Row Campbell River, BC V9W 2C8 Canada

Campbell River Art Gallery

Immerse yourself in the local art scene at the Campbell River Art Gallery, a hub for contemporary visual art and cultural expression. Browse thought-provoking exhibitions, attend art workshops and events, and discover the creative talents of local and regional artists.

Address: 1235 Shoppers Row, Campbell River, BC V9W 2C7
More info: https://crartgallery.ca/

Maritime Heritage Centre

Discover the maritime history of Vancouver Island at the Maritime Heritage Centre, a fascinating museum that showcases the city’s rich seafaring past. Explore exhibits on local fishing traditions, boat-building techniques, and historical artifacts, and learn about the vital role of the ocean in shaping the community.

Website: https://maritimeheritagecentre.ca/

Nearby Destinations

Campbell River is a hub to other locations such as Quadra Island and the famous Strathcona Provincial Park. If you have time to journey outside of town, here are the places to visit first.

Quadra Island

Take a trip to Quadra Island, just a short ferry ride from Campbell River, and discover a tranquil paradise of pristine beaches, scenic hikes, and charming artisan shops.

Explore the island’s lush forests, rocky shorelines, and vibrant cultural scene, and soak up the laid-back island vibes. Ferries travel every 30 minutes from Campbell River.

From Quadra, you can take an additional ferry to Cortez Island.

Learn more: https://www.quadraisland.ca/
Ferry Schedule: https://www.bcferries.com/routes-fares/schedules/seasonal/CAM-QDR

Strathcona Provincial Park

Venture into the wilderness of Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island’s largest provincial park and a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Hike through lush forests, swim in crystal-clear lakes, and marvel at breathtaking mountain vistas in this awe-inspiring natural playground.

Website: https://strathconapark.org/

Drive to Gold River

Gold River is a historical town on the west coast of the island. This is such a beautiful drive (abt 1.25 hours) from Campbell River. Winding roads, mountains, rock bluffs, ocean vistas and quirky rural towns. You’ll drive through Strathcona Provincial Park on the way, along with other amazing places to stop.

Editors note: I highly recommend visiting Lady Falls — it’s along the way & quick hike off the highway to see a really beautiful waterfall.

Conclusion

Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping activities, serene natural beauty, or cultural enrichment, you’ll find plenty to see and do in this picturesque coastal community. Plan your next getaway to Campbell River, BC, and explore the best that this scenic destination has to offer.

Locals: What did I miss? Where do you take friends and family when they come to visit? Please leave a comment below. Thanks!

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