Within one hour of the city of Campbell River, BC there’s enough to do to keep you happily busy for over a week. The city and surrounding area are a snap to reach, especially with lots of direct flights on major airlines to Comox, a short 45minute drive away. And even Victoria is just over a three hour drive away. I would suggest these 10 things to do in the Campbell River – Courtney area.
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Things to do near Campbell River summary
- Campbell River has been called the Salmon Capital of the World, so if you’re into fishing, you’ll be in heaven for both ocean and freshwater fishing.
- Not into fishing? That’s okay too. Campbell River, with its backdrop of snow-capped mountains lies between beautiful Strathcona Provincial Park to the west and the Discovery Islands to the east. Both of these places offer lots for the outdoor adventurer, especially paddling and hiking.
- Campbell River is known as a rainy spot but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the city. Enjoy a forest hike, chase waterfalls, go storm watching, or explore some of the nearby communities like Courtney and Comox. Kids will love visiting the Discovery Passage Aquarium.
- Campbell River is the gateway city to northern British Columbia.
- Described below are 10 of the top things to do in and near Campbell River.
Visit the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge
It’s a short, easy walk through the forest to the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge and cantilevered viewing platform from the parking lot in Elk Falls Provincial Park – located just 10 minutes by car west of Campbell River.
The falls themselves are a magnificent sight, plunging 25 m to reach the Campbell River and gorge. While not everyone loves the airy feeling on a shaking suspension bridge, this is the best place to view the gorge.
Don’t miss your chance to stand in awe of massive Douglas fir trees while exploring a network of trails in the park on foot.
Check out the Haig-Brown Heritage House in Campbell River
It took me three times of driving past the Haig-Brown Heritage House to figure that this pretty house was actually the museum I was looking for. Because it’s also a B&B it can be a bit confusing. Believe Google when it’s giving you directions.
The 1923 home is the former home of Roderick Haig-Brown, a well-known conservationist and environmentalist, writer and magistrate, and his wife Ann Haig-Brown. Haig-Brown was a prolific writer, penning 25 books and over 200 articles that have “influenced fisheries biologists, ecologists and countless others interested in the evolving relationship between people and nature.”
For six months of the year the house is run as a B&B with the library the spot where you go to hear the stories about Haig-Brown and to view his extensive collection of books. A writer-in-residence has the use of the house for the other six months.
You don’t really book a visit – you just show up and hope someone is around. Check out the website to get updated information on the time of the annual Haig-Brown Festival, the memorial lecture and the weekly tea and croquet parties.
Enjoy the view from the Mount Washington Scenic Chairlift
Enjoy a scenic 15-minute ride on Mount Washington’s scenic chairlift in Strathcona Provincial Park from approximately mid-June through until late September.
The chairlift takes you to the summit at an elevation of 1,588 m where on a clear day you can see all the way from the Strait of Georgia to Mt. Baker in Washington. If you’re feeling energetic you can elect to walk back to the base.
It’s only a 40-minute drive from Campbell River to reach Mount Washington.
Walk the Discovery Pier in Campbell River
Located in downtown Campbell River, the 180 m long Discovery Pier offers superb views of Discovery Passage and lots of people watching opportunities, at least on sunny days. It also offers easy access to some excellent recreational fishing.
You can even buy a license and rent a rod and tackle from the concession on the pier. Finish your visit with an ice cream cone.
Visit the Discovery Passage Aquarium
If you’re visiting Campbell River with kids, don’t miss a stop at the Discovery Passage Aquarium for a hands-on educational and fun experience. Learn about the marine life and habitats in Discovery Passage from spring until fall every year.
Go salmon fishing from Campbell River
Did you know Campbell River is the salmon fishing capital of the world? It’s easy to hire a fishing guide at Painter’s Lodge for half a day or more. Even if you don’t catch a thing (I didn’t) it’s fun to bob on the ocean looking for whales and seals while enjoying the west coast backdrop.
Read: The Campbell River Salmon Fishing Experience
Take a Marine Wildlife Tour
Want to see what the area around Campbell River and the Discovery Islands looks like from a boat? Sign up for a three hour family-friendly marine wildlife tour leaving from Painter’s Lodge. You’ll see everything from bald eagles to whales, seals and sea lions. And you’ll learn and sea about Ripple Rock – a former underwater mountain located in the Seymour Narrows of the Discovery Passage. Ripple Rock was blown up in 1958 in a blast that reached 1000 feet high.
Take a Fossil Tour at the Courtenay and District Museum & Paleontology Centre
If you or your kids are into fossils and dinosaurs you must visit the Courtenay and District Museum and Paleoontology Center. You can see the actual specimens of the Puntledge elasmosaur discovered nearby in 1988 by a father and his 12 year old daughter.
If you want a hands-on experience of looking for fossils sign up for their three hour tour. They run twice daily in the summer and via pre-registration from March to May and September to November.
The tours start at the museum with an introduction and video before heading out to one of the fossil sites along a local river, just 10 minutes away. And yes you’re allowed to keep any fossils you find.
Discover the Comox Valley on a Bike
If you want to slow down and experience the Courtenay area by bike, sign up for a tour with Island Joy Rides. They can provide bikes and then a local’s perspective of the area with plenty of food stops to showcase the region.
Read: Discovering the Comox Valley by Bike
Eating in Campbell River
I had a couple of standout meals while in the Campbell River area. In Campbell River, try Dick’s Fish and Chips for an authentic west coast experience, replete with fresh fish like halibut and cod, not too greasy fries, mashed peas and coleslaw. Then go for a long walk! The restaurant is directly across from the Discovery Pier.
At the Atlas Café in Courtenay the globally themed food with plenty of nods to the west coast (salmon, mussels and tuna) is so beautifully presented you may hate to ruin the dish.
Hike in Strathcona Provincial Park
It’s about a 40-minute drive west of Campbell River to get to the Mount Washington Ski Resort area and the network of trails in Strathcona Provincial Park. One I’d recommend in particular is the Kwai Lake Loop hike. Over its 15.6 km length it gains only about 200 m of elevation. It’s not as hard as its length might suggest.
The hike takes you to some pretty sub-alpine lakes. If you visit in summer, you’ll be rewarded with some lovely wildflower-filled meadows. It is possible to camp by the lakes too.
Where to stay in Campbell River
If you stay at Painter’s Lodge, you’ll feel a tad removed from Campbell River – in a good way. It’s on the water so salmon fishing and nature tours leave right from its docks. Across on Quadra Island there is a sister property that’s a bit more rustic – April Point Resort & Spa. I liked the feel of this place and the gorgeous views.
I’ve stayed at the Coast Discovery Inn in Campbell River several times. Rooms are predictable, nothing fancy but fine for a night or two.
I’d also recommend the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa, 40 minutes from Campbell River – where I spent two delightful nights. I particularly liked being able to walk out my bedroom door to a lounge chair on the beach.
Location map of things to do within one hour of Campbell River
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