Campbell River, Vancouver Island: The Salmon Capital of the World

Campbell River BC

Campbell River Canada
Elk Falls, Campbell River, Canada

If you’re touring Vancouver Island, you really should get up to the Campbell River area.

OK, if you’re stopping in Victoria while you’re on a cruise, it might be a little hard to get there.  Save it for your next visit.  But if you have the time, you won’t regret it is in your itinerary.

Campbell River is an excellent area for enjoying the outdoors and watching wildlife.  The rhythms of life here revolve around the salmon. It’s the Salmon Capital of the World.  The fish returning to their spawning grounds attract anglers and animals.

More recently, this area is becoming known as a destination for adventure and eco-tourism. 

If you are interested in fishing, you probably have heard that there are five species of Pacific salmon that you can fish for depending on the season.  You can fish for Chinook Salmon all year (known as King Salmon).  If you plan a trip for August, you can fish for all five species!

Whether the salmon are hatching, feeding and growing in the river, traveling to the ocean or returning to spawn, their travel around and through the Discovery Passage attracts and sustains a wide variety of wildlife.  It’s like a Canadian safari; you can hope to see whales, bears, otters, eagles, and ravens among other wildlife.

You’ll see a representation of these animals in the First Nations art too.  The “First Nations” name encompasses native people all across Canada.  Here in the Campbell River area, the members of First Nations tribes carved totems and made masks with beautiful representations of all of those animals.

Museums have significant collections of the art, and cultural centers host drummers, singers, and dancers wearing ceremonial regalia.

Step back in history at the Museum at Campbell River and Kwagluth Museum. 

Campbell River Canada
Tofino, Canada

There’s a busy art and culture scene.  You’ll find lots of local shops that feature works by local artists, including authentic First Nations art, jewelry, and carvings.

There is rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing.  You’ll find thousands of caves to explore if you like spelunking.  There is even scuba diving. The Discovery Passage has a reputation as having clear water and lots of sea life to see.  One unique experience is to “Snorkel with the Salmon” as they make their way upstream to spawn.

You can join a tour to visit the area or visit with a rental car.  It’s 95 miles (155 km) from Victoria.  If you come over on a ferry and arrive at Nanaimo, it’s 165 miles (265 km).  You can even sail in if you have a boat.  (Consult tide tables and marine charts for approaches to the Campbell River.)

As far as accommodations, you can go wilderness camping, or you can enjoy destination resorts for fishing and adventure.  Some of the resorts offer floatplane tours, golf packages, and whale or bear watching tours.  You can fly in on small local carriers.

Moreover, Campbell River may call itself the Salmon Capital of the World, but you don’t have to be a fisherman to visit and enjoy it.

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