Highlights and main attractions of Bella Coola Valley

A dramatic land of sweeping green valleys and glacier topped mountains, this valley is a paradise for nature lovers and soft adventurers. Time your trip right and you could witness grizzly bears swiping salmon with their claws from spawning rivers, with hardly another person in sight. Within the central coast of British Columbia, this is not a typically renowned bear viewing location, so it is your chance to experience this fascinating and privileged spectacle before everyone else discovers it.

Located in the remote reaches of North Vancouver, reaching Bella Coola is an adventure in itself - a one and a half hour internal flight across glaciated peaks. Bella Coola Valley has a population of about 2,000, and the town of Bella Coola within this is around 600-strong, right in the western section of the valley. 

The landscape is mountainous and rugged, cut through by clear rivers, fringed by green grass and pretty vegetation.

Where is Bella Coola?

Location and activities

The history of this alluring area is evident, dating back 10,000 years and blending into everyday life. The first native people were known as Nuxalkmc, who lived in villages along the rivers and on the coastline. By the time anthropologists researched the region in 1922, these indigenous people had already disappeared, with the Nuxalk (as it was shortened to) living only at the mouth of the Bella Coola River. Immerse yourself in the ancient culture and along with a Nuxalk guide, experience the region’s cultural heritage, whether gazing at weathered etchings carved into rock faces or visiting the local craftsman.

The grizzly bears are the main attraction when it comes to wildlife, and the vast mountain ranges and dense forests make a good home for them. Near the end of the summer, late August to September, the bears make their way down salmon spawning rivers to fatten up in time for winter. Watch them snap up fish in the air and swipe them from the waters with finger-length talons. Mothers may care for their cubs on the banks and males play fight, seemingly just to kill time. 

Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, on the banks of the Atnarko River, is the perfect place to start your grizzly bear journey. Bears wander up to the lodge, sometime napping on the lawn. Take a scenic float down the river whilst bears fish either side of you, or even try fishing yourself. Other activities include setting crab and prawn traps, visit Oceanside hot springs, bird watching, heli-hiking, flight-seeing, valley tours, guided nature walks and cultural tours.

There are also black bears, black tail deer, wolves and mountain goats, as well as a vast amount of birdlife, especially the infamous bald eagle.

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