Knight Inlet cuts eighty miles through the remote Coast Range of Mountains to the head of Knight Inlet, and Mt. Waddington, the highest mountain located totally within British Columbia.
To the west of this vast wilderness area is Kingcome Inlet, Tribune Channel, Bond Sound, Thompson Sound, Fife Sound, and numerous other sounds and channels. Islands in the region include Gilford, Village, Turnour, Minstrel and Cracroft Islands.
The Knight Inlet area is a true west coast adventure, with great towering mountains rising straight out of the sea, cascading waterfalls and waterslides, and a history rich in native culture.
Covering the central and north coast of British Columbia, from Knight Inlet to the Alaskan border, the Great Bear Rainforest contains the largest tract of contiguous ancient temperate rainforest left on Earth. This temperate rainforest supports Canada’s largest grizzly bears, the rare white spirit bear and thousands of genetically unique races of Pacific salmon.
Knight Inlet is prime black bear and grizzly bear habitat, bald eagles, orcas and other wildlife are abundant, fishing is superb, and the river system supports a phenomenal fall salmon run. Needless to say, the opportunities for nature photography in Knight Inlet are superb.
Tucked deep in the towering Coast Mountains is Grizzly Bear Lodge And Safari, a premier bear and wildlife viewing lodge.
Location: Accessible only by boat or float plane, the mostly uninhabited Knight Inlet is located due north of Johnstone Strait and the small communities of Telegraph Cove and Sayward / Kelsey Bay on Vancouver Island. Two hours by speedboat from Telegraph Cove or a half-hour floatplane flight from Campbell River over the islands dotting scenic Johnstone Strait drops visitors into the heart of the Knight Inlet wilderness. Campbell River on Vancouver Island is accessible from the Vancouver and Victoria International Airports.
Grizzly Bears: Knight Inlet is one of the premier grizzly bear viewing locations in the world, Grizzlies around Knight Inlet emerge from hibernation in spring (starting in April) to feed on the succulent new spring growth. Viewing peaks during fall (late August) when the salmon are running, as grizzlies converge on the salmon spawning streams to feed on the salmon and stock their fat reserves in preparation for the winter ahead.
Knight Inlet provides access to the mighty Klinaklini River, set deep in the Coast Mountains. Wild and seldom visited, the Klinaklini is one of the wildest river systems remaining in British Columbia – and possibly the world.
A popular destination for kayakers near the mouth of Knight Inlet is the Kwakwaka’waka village of Mamalilaculla, on Village Island in the Broughton Archipelago. Now abandoned, and decaying rapidly, the native village is a fascinating site, evidencing traditional cedar house posts of the Kwakwaka’waka period and later post-European dwellings. The midden at Mamalilaculla has been carbon dated to over 6,000 years old.
Potlatches: When the dominion government and missionaries conspired to outlaw the potlatch in 1884, masks, drums, carvings, coppers and other potlatch articles were confiscated and removed to museums in central Canada. Village Island was the scene of one such raid in 1921. Since returned, these magnificent symbols of Kwakwaka’waka heritage and culture are now on display at the Nuyumbalees Cultural Center (formerly Kwagiulth Museum) on Quadra Island, the U’mista Cultural Center in Alert Bay, and the Campbell River Museum.
Visit the U’mista Cultural Centre in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island to view elaborately carved cedar masks depicting the Potlatch ceremony of the Kwakwaka’waka People. This first-rate museum and cultural showcase is a must-see for anyone interested in Northwest Coast art and culture. The Cultural Centre is dedicated to forging links between the Kwakwaka’waka past, present and future.
Mt. Waddington is the highest mountain located totally within British Columbia. Although Mount Fairweather and Mount Quincy Adams, which straddle the US border between Alaska and BC are taller, Mount Waddington is the highest peak that lies entirely within BC. The 4,016-metre peak of Mt. Waddington was only mapped as recently as 1925. Surrounded by impressive glaciers, Mount Waddington and its attendant peaks pose some of the most serious expedition mountaineering to be had in North America, and some of the most spectacular mountain scenery.
The western end of Knight Inlet is a part of the Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park, a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, numerous inlets and adjacent foreshore at the southern extremity of Queen Charlotte Strait, off the west coast of Gilford Island. The islands in Broughton Archipelago are undeveloped and are largely undiscovered. Facilities are limited to a day-use recreation. The numerous remote, solitary islands incorporated in the park provide unlimited and unique fishing and swimming opportunities, and are fabulous for exploring by kayak.
Leading off Knight Inlet via Nickoll Channel toward the north is Thompson Sound, equally remote and wild, with abundant wildlife in their natural habitat.
South of Johnstone Strait is the Robson Bight (Michael Biggs) Ecological Reserve, where up to 200 Orcas arrive each summer to rub on gravel beaches at the mouth of the Tsitika River. Whale watching companies based in Port McNeill, Alert Bay, Sointula, Sayward and Port Hardy all operate tours to Robson Bight.