Prince Rupert isn’t the kind of place you drop into. It sits above North America’s deepest ice-free harbor at the western terminus of Yellowhead Highway 16. People who make the eight-hour drive from Prince George are coming for a reason. Fishermen love the cool, clear water for its abundance of fish. I love this town for its proximity to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary– the world’s first preserve to protect grizzly bears – and it’s blend of western and First Nations cultures.
Prince Rupert is the jumping off point for the Inside Passage
Prince Rupert – called simply Rupert by the locals – is also the jumping off point for ferries plying the Inside Passage or headed to Haida Gwaii.
You can drive here through the stunning scenery of northern British Columbia and add a voyage on B.C. Ferries for the ultimate road trip. If like me, the idea of missing the boat – literally – has you arriving early, you’ll find yourself with a couple of extra days in this town of 12,000.
Suggestions for things to do in Prince Rupert to make the most of your time in this capital of the north
1. Take a day trip with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours
In May and June you can see grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen, in July through October watch humpback whales feasting in the rich waters.
Stretch your legs and revive your olfactory glands on the Butze Rapids 5-kilometre interpretative hike through lush west coast forest.
Tides here are some of the country’s highest and you can see standing waves when the tides reverse.
3. Have lunch at the North Pacific Cannery National Historic Site
You can save on admission by forgoing the tour and strolling along the boardwalk to the Mess House for tasty eats.
4. Do some souvenir shopping at the Museum of Northern BC’s gift shop
If you have time, tour the collection of northern art.
5. Head to the end of Bill Murray Way
Admire the blooms and the views in Rotary Waterfront Park. For a city on the water, it’s surprisingly difficult to get to the water’s edge. Most of the coastline is dedicated to the shipping of goods, but if you can ignore the train tracks a few metres from the pathway, you’ll enjoy your time here by the water.
6. Poke around the shops of Cow Bay Road
Get a head start on your Christmas shopping at Ice House Gallery, a north coast artist’s cooperative.
7. Admire the giant murals adorning several buildings around town
8. Do the self-guided walking tour
Grab a copy of the Totem Poles of Prince Rupert self-guided walking tour. Take your picture in front of the totems at city hall to prove to your friends you were at this northern jumping-off point.
Further reading on things to do in British Columbia