Zeballos was originally explored by Spanish gold-seekers in the 1700’s, and named after Lt. Ciriaco Cevallos. In the 1920’s, Zeballos was re-established as a mining town when its elusive veins proved as rich as the locals’ imagination.
Here is a community whose roads were once truly paved with gold! In fact, the owners of the nearby gold mine actually scraped the surface of the road at one time so the tailings could be run through new equipment and residual gold removed.
Today, there’s still occasional prospecting, along with the mainstays of fishing, logging and tourism.
Location: North of Campbell River on Highway 19, a two and one-half hour scenic drive takes you to the picturesque little village of Zeballos on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Gold: “Roads were caked in mud, but every street was paved in gold” – from 1938-1943, $13 million worth of gold bricks were shipped from Zeballos.
Fur Trade: Gateway to Kyuquot Sound, home of Canada’s only sea otters – their valuable fur was another reason for the early exploration of the BC coast.
Spelunking: Visit Little Hustan Cave Regional Park – a cathedral entrance leads to extensive underground caves, sink holes and canyons. If you’ve never experienced the sensation of spending time underground, it’s like mountaineering in the dark with the sight of a smooth, white world revealed in the beam of your headlamp.
Historical artifacts and photos of gold mining history can be viewed at the Zeballos Museum.
Fishing: The area offers excellent sport fishing, and the nearby lakes challenge freshwater anglers.
Trails: Shady boardwalks and walking trails wind through the Zeballos River estuary and along the river, providing visitors with a perfect opportunity to enjoy the native plants and wildlife of the rainforest.
Zeballos is a jumping-off point for nearby Nootka Sound and Kyuquot Sound on Vancouver Island’s remote and wildly beautiful west coast. Travellers can book boat trips in Zeballos to explore the fjords and waterways around Nootka Island, and kayakers and boaters can launch from Fair Harbour, a 35km trip by unpaved road from Zeballos, to explore Kyuquot Sound and Brooks Peninsula / Muquin Provincial Park, where lovable clown-faced sea otters have made a comeback.
This is a vast, windswept, sea-sprayed section of Vancouver Island’s northwest coast. The snout of Brooks Peninsula offers some protection for Checleset Bay from the winter storms that blow south from the Gulf of Alaska. Sea kayakers should beware the fury of the winds and surf that build around its protruding bulk, especially at Cape Cook and Clerke Point. The rewards for making the journey are the solitude provided by the surroundings and the sight of magnificent stands of Sitka spruce, the only species of tree able to thrive under the constant salt- and magnesium-loaded spindrift that the winds whip from the tops of the swells and carry ashore in the breeze.
In the sheltering forest, marbled murrelets nest in the deep moss that enshrouds the thick branches of the spruce. Herds of Roosevelt elk graze in the lush, green understorey, while black bears forage in the berry-laden bushes. If you are among the few visitors who make their way here each year, you will be treated to one of the last remaining environments on the west coast where logging has been held mercifully at bay. Brooks Peninsula Provincial Park is huge, 127,528 acres (51631 ha) of wilderness that is best explored with the help of a guide.
Explore the historic waters and stunning scenery of Nootka Sound aboard the MV Uchuck 111, a converted minesweeper that carries 100 passengers and up to 100 tons of freight. With a comfortable wood finished lounge, coffee shop and upper deck seating, it is the perfect way to spend a relaxing day on the West Coast. Arrangements can be made to wet launch kayakers in a convenient location along the route. Day trips operate from Gold River to Yuquot (Friendly Cove) on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the summer (June to September).
Salmon Spawn: In the fall, see the Zeballos River teem with spawning salmon. The salmon draw people, bald eagles and bears to the area as they struggle up the Zeballos River to spawn in the streams in which they were born three to four years earlier.
Outdoor Adventure: The peaceful community of Zeballos is a deep-sea port surrounded by rugged mountains and forests, offering a multitude of outdoor adventures, such as hiking, wildlife viewing, caving, rock climbing, diving, kayaking and fishing, or camping in a Forest Service Recreation Site near Zeballos or in Fair Harbour.