The Ultimate

Visitors Guide to Campbell River

Use this page as your starting point for a journey filled with extraordinary experiences in Campbell River.

Jump to section: Planning Your Trip | How to Get Here | Visitor FAQs

Planning a trip to Campbell River? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve compiled this practical guide on how to get to here, and what you need to know to make your time here great.

So, whether you’re planning a short visit or a lengthy stay, use this page as your starting point for a journey filled with extraordinary experiences in Campbell River.

Use the table of contents to navigate to what you are looking for, or keep reading.

Planning Your Trip

If you’re thinking of coming to Campbell River, there are some important things to consider for a smooth and fun trip. Here are some essential bits of information for visitors:

Weather and Clothing

  • Campbell River has a moderate marine climate. Summers are typically warm but not hot, and winters are mild & wet compared to much of Canada.
  • Pack layers to accommodate shifts in temperature, especially if you’re planning outdoor activities. Waterproof clothing is also recommended, particularly in the fall and winter months when rainfall is more frequent.

Transportation

  • Public transportation (bus service) is limited, especially outside of the city area. Renting a car might be the most efficient way to explore.
  • Check in advance if you need a shuttle or taxi from the airport and book these services if necessary.

Local Transit:

  • Campbell River Transit System provides bus services throughout the city, however remember that CR is a small city — we definitely don’t have the bus system that gets folks people anywhere fast.
  • Taxi services are available.
  • There is NO Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing apps. Sorry!

Biking and Car Rentals:

  • Bike rentals offer a scenic way to explore.
  • Car rental agencies are located at the airport and in the city.
  • Bottom line: Limited public transportation and the lack of rideshare apps means renting a car is almost always going to be your best bet if you want to get around (and out of) town.

Wildlife and Safety

  • If you’re heading into the wilderness for hiking, fishing, or camping, make sure to let someone know your plans and expected return time.
  • Our region is known for abundant wildlife; including bears, cougars, eagles, and elk. Educate yourself about wildlife encounters, remain cautious, and keep your distance.

Fishing Licenses

  • Campbell River is famous for salmon fishing, but make sure you’re aware of the local fishing regulations and have the necessary licenses.
  • Fishing Licenses: You can purchase your fishing license online or at various local shops (currently you can only purchase licenses online). Information & application for freshwater & saltwater fishing licenses here.

Timing & Local Events

  • The summer and fall months are very busy, with popular events and salmon-fishing tourists: so book accommodations and activities well in advance during these seasons.
  • Check our local events calendar to participate in community events, festivals, or fairs which could enhance your travel experience.

How To Get to Here

Whether you’re flying in from afar or driving over from a nearby city, our guide will provide you with all the necessary information to ensure your travel is smooth and straightforward.

Arriving by Air

Nearest Airports:

  1. Campbell River Airport (YBL): Just 20 minutes from downtown, but limited flights and connections.
  2. Comox Valley Airport (YQQ): Located 45 minutes away, this airport provides additional connectivity with various carriers, and flights from Vancouver (YVR) are plentiful & convenient to Comox Airport.
  3. Nanaimo Airport (YCD): Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes from Campbell River, serving multiple domestic flights that connect through major hubs.
  4. Vancouver International Airport (YVR): Though further away with 2 hour ferry ride to Nanaimo and a subsequent 1.5-hour drive to Campbell River, YVR is a major international gateway, offering numerous domestic and international flights.

Tips for Air Travel:

  • Book your flights in advance to secure the best rates.
  • Understand that Campbell River is not particularly convenient to get to, you can’t just “fly-in” as easy as you might expect, despite having an airport.
  • Although Campbell River has it’s own airport, it is small and has limited flights. Most people fly into Comox via Vancouver and rent a car to get to Campbell River. Or fly into Vancouver Intl Airport, then take a 2 hour ferry across to Nanaimo, and then drive to Campbell River.
  • Pro tip: Personally, as a local that travels to the states and back often to visit family: I almost always return to Campbell River by flying into Vancouver then taking a ferry across to Nanaimo. The best / cheapest flights are out of Vancouver and the ferry ride over to the island (to Nanaimo) is an enjoyable, scenic journey enjoyed by locals as well as tourists. However, it does add extra steps to the journey so if you can get a flight into Comox or Campbell River from Vancouver, then it might be worth the premium price of getting a flight vs the ferry.

Arriving by Road

Driving Directions:

  • From Victoria: Follow BC-19 N, taking exit 161 for Campbell River. The drive typically takes about 3 hours.
  • From Nanaimo: Take BC-19 N to Campbell River, which should take around 1.5 hours.
  • From Comox: Take BC-19 N to Campbell River, which is about 40 mins.
  • From Vancouver: Take BC ferries to either Duke Point or Departure Bay Nanaimo (2 hour by ferry), then drive north 1.5 hours.

Arriving by Sea

Ferry Services:

  • BC Ferries offers routes from Vancouver to Nanaimo. From there, you can drive or take a bus to Campbell River.
  • Water taxis and charter services are available for direct access to coastal areas and islands.

Planning Your Ferry Trip:

  • Book your ferry tickets in advance during peak season.
  • Always check the ferry schedule for any changes prior to your trip.

Campbell River Statistics

I’ve been working on this big list of statistics & interesting facts about Campbell River — it’s still a draft, I hope to organize this and improve the content with images, charts, etc. in the near future.

  • Population: 35,138 (2021 Census)
  • Climate: Campbell River has a moderate climate
  • Parks: Campbell River has over 30 designated parks spanning more than 400 hectares, ranging from small neighborhood parks to larger preserved natural areas.
  • Elevation: The city’s elevation is roughly 26 meters (85 feet) above sea level. The Vancouver Island Ranges, to the city’s west, rise to around 2,200 meters (7,218 feet).
  • Trails: Campbell River boasts over 100 km of hiking trails.
  • Bird Species: Campbell River and its surrounding area are home to approximately 220 bird species.
  • Whale Watching: There are over 7,000 Orcas in the waters off Campbell River.
  • Sea Walk: The Rotary Sea Walk in Campbell River is a scenic 8.5 kilometer (5.28 miles) oceanfront walk ideal for walking, jogging, or biking.
  • Campbell River Museum: The Museum rests on the 1st Nations land of Wei Wai Kum and We Wai Kai and is ranked in the Top 10 Canadian museums.
  • Restaurants: There are roughly 70 places to eat in Campbell River including restaurants, cafes, and food trucks, offering a diverse cuisine to cater to different taste buds.
  • Forestry Industry: This industry remains a significant part of the economy in Campbell River. The city processes over 800,000 cubic meters of wood annually.
  • Mt. Washington Alpine Resort: This popular ski resort, roughly 45 minutes from Campbell River, receives an average of 10.5 meters of annual snowfall.
  • Tyee Club of BC: This club has registered over 1,000 catches of Tyee Salmon (fish weighing 30 pounds or more) since its establishment in 1924.
  • History: The city is home to one of the oldest paleontological sites in North America with discoveries dating back over 80,000 years.

Why Visitors ❤️ Campbell River

Here is a quick glimpse at some of the biggest reasons why Campbell River is enjoyed by travelers from around the world.

Nature Lover’s Paradise
With forests, rivers, and the ocean nearby, you can experience the diverse ecosystem and unique wildlife of the region. Don’t forget to explore the stunning natural landscapes that surround the city.

First Nations Heritage
Did you know that Campbell River has a rich Indigenous history? The artwork of local First Nations people is found throughout the city and offers a fascinating glimpse into their traditions and culture.

Waterfront Relaxation
Campbell River’s picturesque waterfront is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the scenic views. Take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, relax on the beach, or dine at one of the waterfront restaurants with stunning ocean views.

Whale Watching Excursions
One of the most popular activities in Campbell River is whale watching. Hop on a boat tour and witness majestic whales in their natural habitat, along with other marine wildlife like orcas, dolphins, and seals. It’s an unforgettable experience for nature lovers.

Cultural Festivals and Events
Throughout the year, Campbell River hosts various cultural festivals and events celebrating music, art, food, and more. Immerse yourself in the local culture and community by attending these lively and engaging events that showcase the city’s creativity and diversity.

Outdoor Adventure Hub
Adventure seekers will find plenty to do in Campbell River – from hiking trails and camping spots to kayaking and wildlife watching. With its proximity to nature, the city is the perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore and experience the great outdoors.

Local Markets and Shopping
Explore Campbell River’s local markets and shops to discover unique souvenirs, handcrafted goods, fresh produce, and more. Support local artisans and businesses while finding treasures to remember your visit to this charming city.

Salmon Fishing Haven
Campbell River is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” Fishing enthusiasts can learn all about the city’s deep connection to salmon fishing and why it’s a top destination for anglers.

Hydroelectric Legacy
If you’re into engineering, you’ll definitely want to check out the John Hart Dam and generating station. These landmarks showcase Campbell River’s history in hydroelectricity and are pretty impressive to see.

Pioneer Settlement Exploration
Interested in the island’s pioneer history? Campbell River was founded way back in 1855 and has evolved into what it is today. Exploring its early settlement days can give you a glimpse into its historical journey.

Golfing Retreat
Golf enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Campbell River offers some top-notch golf courses with stunning views and challenging holes. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned golfer, you can tee off against the backdrop of British Columbia’s natural beauty.

Thriving Arts and Culture Scene
From local galleries and museums to art festivals and cultural events, there’s a lot to discover and appreciate in the city’s creative community.

Foodie Approved
Indulge in the local culinary scene, with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and food markets offering delicious locally-sourced ingredients and unique dining experiences. Don’t miss the chance to taste fresh seafood!

Visitor FAQs

You have questions? We have answers! Here are some of the most common questions visitors have when planning their trip to Campbell River.

This depends on what you are interested in seeing and doing while you’re here. For example, If you really want to see bears and salmon at the Quinsam River — you’ll need to be here late summer / early fall.

Although some Orcas stay in the area through the winter, May through November is your best chance for tours that offer the chance to view Humpback and Gray whales.

Fishing opportunities are year-round, but each species has it’s own season.

Some must-see attractions include the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge, the Sea Walk, the Museum, and nearby nature parks like Elk Falls Provincial Park and Strathcona Provincial Park.

If you are visiting in late summer / fall — you should definitely check out the Quinsam River & Hatchery to view the amazing salmon runs and local black bears.

See our blog about Best Things to Do and See in Campbell River for more ideas.

Yes! The downtown Farmers Market happens every Sunday starting in May. It’s a bustling event of food, arts and music.

Popular hiking trails in Campbell River include the Canyon View Trail, Ripple Rock Trail, Elk Falls Provincial Park trails, Beaver Lodge Lands, and the Snowden Demonstration Forest. These trails offer varying levels of difficulty and scenic views.

Whale-watching tours can be booked through local wildlife tour operators and charter companies in Campbell River. They offer guided tours to spot whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine wildlife in the waters around the city.

Our site publishes a calendar of events in Campbell River here.

Still have more questions?

Please comment below! We’ll do our best to answer your question and also add them to this page so other travelers can find them in the future. Thanks!

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