Bordering Strathcona Provincial Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island is the incredible natural paradise of the Bedwell River Valley. The pristine nature of the Bedwell River Valley and the gorgeous Bedwell River ensures that nothing on earth could be further from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The Bedwell River valley was first surveyed in 1856 by a botanist named Buttle, who found gold in the valley. Word spread quickly, and by the 1860s the first gold rush was on. By the end of the second world war, the area had boomed and busted three times. You can still see the abandoned gold mine and overgrown remnants of the original Bear City, a town that was once prosperous enough to boast its own flop house, Madam, grocery store and taxi service.
Outdoor adventure in this wilderness wonderland is limited by the imagination alone. The remote and less-travelled area offers superb kayaking, hiking, sailing, mountain biking, and both fresh and saltwater fishing.
Most of the west coast of Vancouver Island falls within the traditional lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations people. Archaeological evidence indicates the presence of man along this outer coast of Vancouver Island for at least 4,300 years. The oral histories and knowledge of the legends of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation claim they have been here since the time the world was created.
Most of what is known about past population estimates, composition and territories of local native groups is based upon the knowledge of elders and observations of others recorded over the last two hundred years. Their livelihood was based on the immediate environment; the sea and the forest, which provided sustenance in the form of food, shelter, clothing and spiritual associations. Read more about the History of the Pacific Rim National Park.
Location: Bedwell River Valley is located at the head of Bedwell Sound, nine miles by water north of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Bedwell River Valley is accessed by float plane or a 30-minute boat trip from Tofino, a thrilling journey through the remote Canadian wilds.
Nestled between the beautiful Bedwell River and one of its estuaries is The Outpost of the ultra-luxurious Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge, a 21st-century safari-style collection of white safari-style tents built on raised wooden platforms and discreetly screened by salmonberry bushes. Three riverside tents have views of the Bedwell River, four are in the rainforest, and three are perched on a promontory with stunning mountain views.
Cedar boardwalks link the 10 discreetly situated guest tents to the dining tents, lounge tents, massage tent, kitchen roundhouse and shower facilities. A former navy landing craft can ferry guests plus horses, mountain bikes and kayaks to secluded beaches and remote locations in the area.
Hiking: The beautiful Bedwell River Trail follows the Bedwell River to the boundary of Strathcona Provincial Park. It connects with a trail through Strathcona Park to a trailhead southwest of Jim Mitchell Lake, which is accessible by road from Buttle Lake. Access to the Bedwell Sound trailhead is by boat from Tofino. The Bedwell River Valley offers hundreds of kilometres of trails and abandoned logging roads for hiking and backpacking. Black bears are frequently seen in the area, so hikers should exercise the necessary precautions.
Horseback Riding: Horseback riders can explore the Bedwell River Valley and the hundreds of kilometres of trails and abandoned logging roads.
Flightseeing trips from Tofino over the Bedwell River Valley and Strathcona Park must rank amongst the most spectacular in the world. The sun sparkles on the islands, inlets and coves of Clayoquot Sound, while beneath you the forest valley, ribboned by the great Bedwell River, gives way to breathtaking snow-covered mountains and giant glaciers. A special thrill is flying over Della Falls, the highest falls in Canada and one of the ten highest waterfalls in the world.
Head up the Bedwell River Valley to the old gold mine dating back to the 1860s, an adventure in itself. Shining flashlights and treading gingerly through ankle-deep water, explorers pick way through a dark tunnel and into a large cavern with a ladder leading up to more tunnels.
Mountain Climbing: Climbers can challenge the Big Interior Mountain. The high dome at the head of Bedwell River in Strathcona Park provides a good chance to develop ice axe and crampon skills.
South of Bedwell Sound is the magnificent Pacific Rim National Park, the only national park on Vancouver Island, which provides protection for substantial rain forests and an amazing marine environment on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This unique park encompasses a total area of 49,962 hectare of land and ocean in three separate geographic units – Long Beach, the Broken Group Island and the West Coast Trail. Nature’s reward to hardy hikers include immense old-growth rainforests and significant Nuu-chah-nulth archaeological sites, long sandy beaches, prolific and abundant marine life, isolated beaches swept by powerful surf, cliffs, sea stacks, and surge channels.
No visit to Vancouver Island is complete without a visit to Strathcona Provincial Park, a rugged mountain wilderness of over 250,000 hectares that dominates central Vancouver Island. Mountain Peaks dominate the park, some eternally mantled with snow, while lakes and alpine tarns dot a landscape laced with rivers, creeks and streams. Created in 1911, Strathcona is the oldest provincial park in BC and the largest on Vancouver Island. Fabulous hiking trails include the Della Falls trail to the highest waterfall in Canada, and dozens of trails to the many pretty alpine lakes that dot the Forbidden Plateau area, providing good fly fishing for rainbow trout during summer.
Quait Bay: Nestled in a hidden cove deep in the wilderness north of Tofino on Vancouver Island is the remote Quait Bay. Located off Herbert Inlet in Clayoquot Sound, Quait Bay offers a unique experience for the discerning outdoor enthusiast.
Clayoquot Sound was designated as the Clayoquot Sound UNESCO Biosphere Reserve by the United Nations in January 2000. A favoured destination for travellers from around the world, boating and kayaking in the calm waters of Clayoquot Sound provide one of the most rewarding ways to experience this pristine wilderness environment, where adventurers are truly at one with nature.
Tofino, a pretty fishing village near the entrance to Clayoquot Sound, is a rapidly growing tourist centre for Long Beach and other Pacific Rim destinations. Once a timber and fishing town, Tofino has become a favoured destination for travellers from around the world.