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Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Hastings, Australia
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Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

My wife and I are planning a trip to Vancouver, and would like to see the Salmon Run and Grizzlies. Thought of Vancouver Island (Port Hardy and Campbell River?) but are unsure of the best places to go to maximize this dream vacation. Have been to Canada before and done the Calgary Stampede to Banff, Jasper, Whistler, Vancouver but not Island. So looking for God Made Wonders and Bears, safely. Need some information about Vancouver Island and things to see and do. Planning on 3 to 4 weeks and hiring a car, but remain flexible. My wife has a slight disability, therefore walking great distances of more then a kilometer or more would be a hassle.

The budget is roughly $300 per day plus or minus, including car hire, not sure if that is possible.

Many thanks,

James

Vancouver, Canada
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1. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Hi James, and welcome to the forums ~

Salmon runs and Grizzlies mean fall here: September mainly for tours, although one location has Grizzly tours from mid-May to mid-September. But you do have a fair number of choices.

You are currently on the BC forum, which is perfectly fine. What you might do is have a look at the Vancouver Island Forum, mainly for the Things to Do button in the green menu bar across the top. That will allow you to research the attractions and activities for all the Island.

Link is here: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g154944-i206-Vanco…

So for mid-May to mid-September, Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures out of Telegraph Cove at the northern end of Vancouver Island would be great. They do a boat ride over to Knight Inlet where you observe from the boats. An all day trip.

http://www.tiderip.com/grizzlytour.html

For the month of September and October, there will be two companies out of Campbell River: Aboriginal Journeys and Marine Safari Discoveries

http://www.aboriginaljourneys.com/

adventurewhalewatching.com/GrizzlyBearTour.h…

Those are your options that I know about for tours from VI. You could also fly into a lodge that deals with wilderness adventure. One recent Trip Report by Valiants will show you a fly-in place. In fact I'll just copy a thread here that includes a link to his TR so you can see some other information as well as his TR.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g154922-i80-k68776…

I will mention that it takes a bit of time and a 1.5 hour ferry ride to get to VI but with 3-4 weeks you will be fine. You may also be interested in knowing about the Adams River salmon run. It's up east of Kamloops.

map: http://goo.gl/maps/CWQk9

information: http://www.salmonsociety.com/

information2: tourismkamloops.com/adams-river-sockeye-salm…

Do have a look at the VI Forum and perhaps the next time you post, if you are going to concentrate on only VI, post on that forum. If you are going to incorporate travel on the mainland as well, this forum would be great.

Wednesbury, UK
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2. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Hi.

As Mufti has pointed out there are a bewildering range of opportunities for wildlife viewing, both short trip and longer durations. VI has a large population of Black Bears, viewing out of locations like Tofino, to add to the mainland Grizzlies, and excellent whale watching potential of course.

In the time you have you could consider the Inside Passage Circle route, with a ferry to Prince Rupert from Port Hardy and back south through BC to Vancouver, although the ferry will crank costs up with a vehicle.

That would also bring the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, from PR, and Tweedsmuir Prov Park into range for additional bear viewing opportunities.

Edmonton, Canada
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3. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

just wanted to say i'm envious...to have 3 weeks to explore the island...sounds like a fabulous trip. i've only seen the salmon run once and it was at a small creek in the okanagan area so it would compare to the larger givers but it was still interesting. some hotels i like on the island are the sidney pier hotel if you want to be close to the victoria area...it has nice views and a nice town for walking around. in parksville, ocean sands resort ocean front rooms are great with a nice beach right there to walk along. they might be a little too pricey for you. for a very quiet couple of days, i enjoy staying at the blue vista resort on mayne island...i think the best cabin i stayed in was called the sea view. had a nice view of the ocean from the deck.

Vancouver, Canada
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4. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

You may find your budget a bit tight as accommodations in some locations may run you close to that. Travelling after the Labour Day long weekend (first Monday in September) usually results in slightly lower prices. You might fly right in to Victoria and spend your first 2- 3 days without a car before renting one and venturing out from there.

I love the suggestion to take on one of the northern ferry routes from Port Hardy, but these are very costly and will run you right over budget.

Look for places on the Gulf Islands that dot the eastern shore of Vancouver Island.

Port McNeill
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5. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Looking at your budget going to a bear viewing lodge is not in the equation and for grizzly bear viewing day trips you are looking at $300 to $350 per person.

As Mufti has said you should be considering September to also see salmon in the rivers. However, Tide Rip http://grizzlycanada.com/ in Telegraph Cove do offer bear tours all summer as they also view the bears in the inter-tidal area feeding on grasses, sedges, and inter-tidal life. Once the salmon start to run Tide Rip times their tours to the tides to allow them to take their flat bottom boats up the river to view the bears feeding on salmon. I was out with them this September and had a female grizzly chase a salmon through the shallows and catch it within 30 of the boat where she and her cub then munched down on it.

While on the north end of Vancouver Island you may want to go up to the Quatse River in Port Hardy where you may see salmon heading up stream. There is a short easy walk right along the river near the road. You can then head into the Quatse Salmon Centre to learn more http://www.thesalmoncentre.org

If seeing bears is a big part of the reason for your trip I would also consider joining a trip with Discovery Marine Safaris adventurewhalewatching.com/GrizzlyBearTour.h… from Campbell River to view the bears from platforms next top the salmon stream. A different viewing area and a different viewing experience than you get with Tide Rip.

For a good base on northern Vancouver island look at At Waters Edge B&B http://atwatersedge.ca/ in Port McNeill. With only four room you need to book here early. There are other options but they are not nearly as nice or cost much more. From here you can do your bear tour with Tide Rip one day, visit Port Hardy and the Quatse River another, take a ferry to Alert Bay and visit the Umista Cultural Centre http://www.umista.org/ , and maybe spend a day whale watching with http://www.whaletime.com/ or http://stubbs-island.com/ and visit the Whale Interpretive Centre in Telegraph Cove http://www.killerwhalecentre.org/

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

KK, while you're here and as it's not inappropriate. Would you give a land reference to where Georgia Strait ends and Johnstone Strait begins? Maybe Malcolm Island is the northern reach of JS?

Port McNeill
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7. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Hi Mufit,

Maybe more detail than you want, but here you go...

Johnstone Strait primarily runs east /west, contrary to most people thinking it runs north/south. The eastern end of Johnstone Strait is East Thurlow Island, north or Seymour Narrows near Campbell River. I believe Georgia Strait then starts to the south of Campbell River and Quadra Island. Johnstone Strait's western end is near Telegraph Cove. From here it becomes Broughton Strait and runs up past Alert Bay, to Port McNeill, and past Malcolm Island.

Where I spend most of my summer is on Hanson Island right across from Telegraph Cove and and at the east end of the island is Blackney Passage that connects Johnstone Strait to the eastern end of Queen Charlotte Strait and Blackfish Sound. Orca Lab is situated here. At the western end of the island is Weynton Passage that also connects to eastern Queen Charlotte Strait. These two passages bring lots of nutrient rich waters to the surface and concentrate feed for all the diverse marine life living here.

To relate this back to the OP and grizzly bear watching, Tide Rip Tours start from Telegraph Cove and you travel by boat down Johnstone Strait and then travel though part of the Broughton Archipelago before entering Knight Inlet part way up where you will then continue to Glendale Cove to view bears. It is about a two hour boat ride each way. I went out with Tide Rip about half a dozen times this year and on every trip we saw lots of wildlife enroute to viewing the bears. The playful Pacific white-sided dolphins were always a hit with visitors.

Vancouver, Canada
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8. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Oh KK, I'm drooling. Reading this is making me want to come back! Well, I wanted to anyway, but now I really want to.

Vancouver, Canada
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9. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

I love all that stuff. Thanks for explaining, KK. Map is out, have examined it all. I see the "dog leg" at East Thurlow Island differentiating Johnstone Strait from the water (Discovery Passage, I see) leading down to Campbell River and Georgia Strait. So, QC Strait is large and basically north of Hanson, Swanson and Malcolm Islands heading out to QC Sound? and Broughton Strait is more contained, south of Cormorant Channel MPP and Malcolm Island?

Discovery = good old Captain Vancouver. Broughton, Malcolm, Johnstone, et al. If the Brits didn't get us, the Spaniards did with Quadra and Galiano, et al. Love how a bottle of Galiano liqueur is shaped very much like Galiano Island.

Port McNeill
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10. Re: Planning a road trip to see Salmon Run & Bears, West Coast

Mufti, you've got it. Queen Charlotte Strait gets wider as it heads west. It is much narrower at its eastern end between Hanson, Swanson, and Malcolm Islands. We kayak a lot in this area, referred to locally as the humpback triangle. If interested in this kind of "stuff" having the book "British Columbia Coast Names - Their Origin and History" by Captain John T. Walbran can make looking at charts or on-line maps even more informative.