Campbell River – Vancouver Island

Relaxing at our campsite by the river

Relaxing at our campsite by the river

We were treated to more of the spectacular mountain , lake, and forest scenery on our way back from to the East Coast of Vancouver Island. We had decided to go further North to Campbell River and plan a whale watching trip. We had two campsites in mind and ended up in Elk Falls Provincial Park, very close to the town, but in a beautiful area by the Quinsam River. We selected a beautiful, spacious site with the river running at the edge, bald eagles and herons cruising up and down the river, fishing, and settled down to a ‘chill-out’ day. That evening, several black bears cruised up the river and we were notified by the ranger that a Cougar had been seen in the campground (no pictures, I’m afraid). We walked the river every day in hopes of seeing more and Colin spent a lot of time trying to get a close-up Eagle shot; several times, just to tease him, they flew very quickly a foot or two over his head.

Elk Falls

In addition to being a picturesque waterfall, Elk Falls is the site of a brand new Hydro Project. This will replace the 68 year old hydro-electric generating station, by siting a new station completely underground to improve reliability, beautify the area, and enhance the salmon habitat. At the moment, water is taken from the John Hart Lake and fed through three massive pipes all the way down to the generating station. These three overground pipes will be replaced by an underground tunnel to the new underground station. Colin hiked to the falls, saw the brand new suspension bridge overlooking the falls, hiked to the bottom and back up the many steep trails and steps and, as usual, took too many pictures. The notice about warnings of water level rise reminded Colin of the time as a young boy, before he learned to swim, being stranded with his brother in the middle of a rushing river in Scotland when a the local Hydro-Electric plant released additional water.

The Tyee Club
Picture from Tyee Club website

Picture from Tyee Club website

We planned our whale watching trip while eating the “Best Fish and Chips in Canada” at Ziggers (recommended by a local) overlooking the Campbell River. Colin noticed some strange behavior of a group of 30 or so identical-looking boats moving back and forth in slow motion over what looked like a windward-leeward sailboat race. However, there were no sails, only oars. It reminded Colin of Friday night Laser racing in light winds at West River Sailing Club. It turned out to be the British Columbia Tyee Club, a very serious, exclusive and prestigious organization. Membership is limited to those who catch a Tyee (Chinook Salmon) over 30 lbs using approved rod and tackle, from an approved boat, in the river off the clubhouse during an approved event!

Whale Watching

We took a six hour whale watching trip out of Campbell River. The naturalist on board lowered our expectations of seeing Orcas as the salmons were not as plentiful this year and the ‘seal eating’ Orcas were very difficult to see, hunting by stealth. We did see a large  Humpback Whale off one of the many islands in the area. He was diving and breathing every four minutes so we spent some time in the area, wondering where he would show next. He obliged us by showing his tail several times (see movie below) and so was identified as Zorro, recognized by a “Z” shaped scar on the starboard side of his tail. Stellar sealionsWe spent the rest of trip touring around the Islands, enjoying the beauty of the strait on a perfect weather day. The cormorants, sealions and harbor seals were out in force, particularly at the Vivian Island Nature Preserve, and we recorded a movie of the wonderful noise of the sealions (below).

Click on any thumbnail below to see larger image gallery.
P.S. The two last pictures in the gallery: this private home is seriously combating the rising electricity bills, generating their own power. What would our Saefern community Architecture Committee do if we came to them with such a plan?

Zorro the Humpback Whale

Sealions on Vivian Island Nature Preserve


  • Campbell River, BC

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    Elk Falls Provincial Park near Campbell River, Vancouver Island

  • 4 Comments on “Campbell River – Vancouver Island

    1. I love the photo of Cheryl sitting at the picnic table working on the NCAC website. What kind of camera do you use?
      From Cheryl: How did you know I was working on the NCAC website? Of course I was!! Thanks for following us Jim!
      From Colin: I use an Olympus OM-D E-M10 mirrorless camera. Olympus has a great lens reputation. Thinking of upgrading the camera to a OM-D E-M1 MkII when it comes out soon. https://www.dpreview.com/news/9740173952/olympus-announces-e-m1-mark-ii-development

    2. Colin, tu as un réel talent de photographe! C’est toi et non l’appareil photo qui a du génie.
      From Colin: Merci Michèle, tu est très gentille.

    3. The photos are fabulous and keep getting better and better. We managed to see bears along the road to Tofino a few years back. Our whale watching was dissapointing though. Lots of bubbles, not much whale. The couple we went out with got really sick. Keep the photos and stories coming.
      From Cheryl: What a great compliment about the photos. I agree that Colin just keeps on improving! I loved your story that you saw bears along the Tofino road. Wow, no such luck for us. And the way you stated whale watching, lots of bubbles, not much whale, that’s exactly what we experienced! Just the hump of a humpback, blow spouts, and then a little tail flip. No body, and no Orcas. I hate it when I get seasick, and I was sorry to hear your trip was burdened with illness from your travel mates. No fun to be seasick. Love to you and Karen.

    4. Cheryl’s Noggin’ my fav!…closely followed by the thousands of other extraordinary photos. Envious in Annapolis..xo
      From Cheryl: Thanks for loving my noggin’. I never know what the back of my hair looks like (mirrors not in abundance in the van) and it was a nice surprise when I saw it! Love that you love the photos too. We are in the mutual envious club, so much for us both to be thankful for. Can’t wait for you to see all the rock pictures we took for you. Love to Susan, Will, and Annie.

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