Get Outta Town: Campbell River

Words by Laurel Sliskovic
Photo by James Headrick

More than simply the salmon capital of the world.

 


 

Do you love walking along the ocean while the tide ebbs and flows? Are you a fan of sunsets pouring spectacular light onto snow-capped coastal mountains? Do you enjoy gathering around a beach fire with your friends and family on a long summer’s eve while watching for whales, dolphins, and eagles? Does hiking or biking through lush forests on single track and double-wide trails make you happy? My answer to each of these questions is yes, absolutely, and I get to participate in all of these experiences because I live in Campbell River.

I know our island is full of breathtaking viewscapes, beautiful coastal communities, and awe-inspiring recreation areas, but I believe some of the best spots are in Campbell River. Pedal your bike or drive up the Old Island Highway (19A) for the most welcoming entrance to this diverse and growing community. As you cross the Oyster River south of Campbell River’s city limits, you will come upon Shelter Point Distillery, a must stop for anyone interested in agri-tourism, alcohol, and Vancouver Island growers and producers. The trail system along the Oyster River is also a lovely place to explore, with routes taking you out to the ocean, (nicknamed the ‘pub to pub trail’) up to Salmon Point, or up river into some glorious single-track hiking and biking trails. Look to the TrailForks or the Strathcona Regional District websites for trail maps.

Continuing up into Campbell River, you’ll see a number of places to pull off the highway and soak in the views across the Salish Sea and up Discovery Passage. Depending on the day, you’ll see many Campbell River residents and visitors scattered along our shores, or gathered around a beach fire celebrating the beauty, freedom, and coastal air that surrounds us. There is something primal and liberating about a beach fire that seems to resonate with people of all ages—food tastes better (mmm…s’mores), guitar tunes sound sweeter, kids wander further, and nights feel longer.

On the topic of beach fires, if you haven’t visited one of Campbell River’s newest food and beverage attractions, Beach Fire Brewing & Nosh House, I suggest you bring your thirst and hunger and settle in for an afternoon or evening of fresh and local flavours. In similar spirit as neighbouring craft breweries across Vancouver Island, Beach Fire’s vibe is friendly and inclusive, designed to foster relationship building and connectivity amongst its patrons. The same can be said about many Campbell River hospitality businesses: Healthway Natural Foods, Java Shack, Ideal Cafe, and Daves’ Bakery are just a sampling of places that warmly welcome in first time and long-time customers. So much of the charm of this community comes from the mix of traditional and innovative ways, our long-established families, our new residents, and visitors to our region.

We are a community comprised of families with deep roots in forestry, recreation, mining, environmental conservation, fisheries, First Nations traditional cultures, and tourism. This wildly diverse population makes for spirited debates and creative partnerships across sectors, with volunteer organizations, local governments, and private businesses rallying together to promote and grow Campbell River from within, all while recognizing the value of external investments as complementary to our existing resources. The BC Hydro John Hart Generating Station project opened up the opportunity for the Rotary Club of Campbell River to leverage funding from Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) to build the Elk Falls Suspension Bridge and upgrade its surrounding trails. Nearby, you will find Snowden Demonstration Forest, McIvor Lake, Elk Falls Provincial Park, and the fly-fishing mecca known as the Campbell River. Be sure to visit Roderick Haig-Brown’s fishing home, take in the Campbell River Salmon Festival & Logger Sports, participate in the Words on the Water writing festival, explore Nuyumbalees Cultural Centre on Quadra Island, hike out Ripple Rock, or stroll along the 7km Rotary Seawalk.

We are hikers, bikers, naturalists, boaters, artists, stand up paddleboarders, birders, musicians, carvers, and fisher(wo)men, and we welcome visitors who want to be a part of our healthy, creative, growing, and active community.

Author’s note: I research the value and impact of leisure on community sustainability, and I work at Beach Fire Brewing & Nosh House, so I’m aware that I’m biased (but aren’t we all in some way?).

 
Find your own version of Campbell River’s beauty
at campbellriver.travel