Welcome to the North Central region’s unofficial “Outdoors HQ,” located in a natural wonderland famed for its kayaking, hiking, caving, wildlife viewing and, above all, sports fishing. Anglers from the world over have been reeling in all five species of Pacific salmon here ever since author Roderick Haig-Brown put Campbell River on the fishing map a century ago. Purists join the Tyee Club and stand thigh deep in fast-flowing rivers. Parents and kids cast lines from Canada’s first saltwater fishing pier. Some visitors simply enjoy takeaway fish-and-chips by the sea or when dining on the catch of the day in a cozy restaurant. Didn’t bring your fishing rod? No problem, just head over to the Discovery Fishing Pier or the Campbell River Visitor Centre to rent one.
Campbell River is the gateway to Strathcona Provincial Park and the mazy waterways of the Discovery Islands. The city serves as a great base for regional daytrips and is also worth exploring in its own right. Local highlights include: the Maritime Heritage Centre (a Canadian Heritage Site and home to the BCP 45 fishing boat, an image of which once decorated the back of Canada’s $5 bill); the Museum at Campbell River (with its renowned First Nations collection); the Discovery Passage Aquarium; and the Rotary Seawalk, a seaside promenade nominated as one of the “Great Places in Canada” by the Canadian Institute of Planners.
Campbell River Through the eyes of the travellers
Things to do in Campbell River
- Fresh and saltwater fishing put “the salmon capital of the world” on the international map in the late 19th century, and the sport remains a prime draw for visitors to this day. The must-do checklist: Snorkel with the salmon; cast a line in the Campbell River or from the Discovery Pier (Canada’s first saltwater fishing pier); fish for trout and steelhead in more than 200 lakes and streams; learn about salmon and their remarkable life cycle at the Quinsam Salmon Hatchery; and bid for membership in the exclusive Tyee Club. Guides, boat rentals, and backcountry and heli-fishing tours are available.
- Embark on seasonal whale, wildlife and sightseeing tours in Zodiacs or covered boats from Campbell River’s waterfront. Among the recent additions to the adventure menu are guided Discovery Passage tours through some of the world’s fastest tidal surges.
- Stroll the scenic Rotary Beach Seawalk and enjoy the remarkable, often whimsical collection of wooden sculptures that have been placed along the route. New additions are produced annually during the annual Transformations on the Shore chainsaw carving competition in late June.
- Experience nature in the raw within an easy drive of downtown by visiting Strathcona Provincial Park, the Snowden Demonstration Forest and Elk Falls Provincial Park. The 4km Ripple Rock Trail leads to a viewpoint overlooking Seymour Narrows and the site of a major navigation hazard that stood offshore until it was blown to pieces in 1958 in one of the world’s largest planned, non-nuclear explosions.
- Revisit area history at the Museum at Campbell River, the Campbell River Maritime Heritage Centre (home to the BCP45, a fishing seiner that once adorned the Canadian $5 bill) and the riverside home of renowned angler, author and conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown.
- Those with an eye for art appreciate the fine work displayed at the Campbell River and District Public Art Gallery and local First Nations art galleries. Sybil Andrew’s Cottage is the home of the Community Arts Council and a showcase for more than 150 artists. For live art, find out what’s on at the Tidemark Theatre?
- Schedule a visit for one of more than 200 performing arts events held annually in town, including concerts, festivals and theatre productions.
- Mountain bikers whoop and holler as they navigate the groomed trails in the Snowden Demonstration Forest. Another 20km of trails snake through the Beaver Lodge Lands in the heart of town.
- Marvel at the big-picture view of the North Central Island during flightseeing expeditions or after catching a ride in a seaplane on the Inside Passage mail run.
- See what lurks in local tide pools, kelp forests and eel grass beds at the interactive, kid-friendly Discovery Passage Aquarium at the entrance to the Discovery Fishing Pier.
- Shop downtown Campbell River’s historic mile from the Tyee Plaza to the Museum at Campbell River. Read about local history on signage along the sidewalks.