Things to doThe following list of things to do around the valley, beginning in the western most point of Highway 20, literally Mile 0 should take about two days. Be prepared to be amazed. And bring your umbrella. Remember, it IS the Great Bear Rainforest!
Clayton Falls:Just two kilometers west of the Bella Coola Wharf, Clayton Falls cascades down worn granite cliffs to pool a short distance from the salt water of the North Bentinck Arm of the Burke Channel. In the fall, watch salmon trying to jump up the cliff (they never can but they always try). Occasionally you can catch an otter swimming up the stream pursuing the salmon spawning at the base of the falls. A secure and picturesque viewing platform is making this a popular spot for weddings. (1/4 – 1/2 hr.)
Museum:Bella Coola’s museum, housed in a beautiful heritage building of Norwegian log construction, focuses on early First Nations and the commercial fishing history.
Rene Morton, daughter of pioneer Cliff Kopas, is a popular local historian and guide, available to group tours. (2 hr. to full day escort)
Ancient Rock Carvings:Four miles (about 6 kilometres) from the docks, visit the ancient Petroglyphs with a Nuxalk guide on a moderate 10-minute hike. The extensive array of ancient rock carvings is accessed via First Nations land and is a very culturally important location to the Nuxalk people. We strongly recommend, out of respect for the people and their heritage, that you hire a Nuxalk guide. We recommend Chris and Lance Nelson, twin brothers, as they are the only local guides who combine stories with drumming and singing. (These guides can be booked through the Lodge once you arrive. 2 hr.)
The Hatchery:Snootli Hatchery is one of only two hatcheries in the province that return more in direct fishing revenue than they cost to operate. Free tours available, Monday to Friday, no pre booking required. This leads into a stop further down the itinerary called Bella Coola Valley Seafoods. (1 – 1 ½ hr.)
Snootli Creek Park:The trail head for this network is found just off Walker Island Park Road midway between the villages of Bella Coola & Hagensborg. Meander beneath giant cedars, or picnic beside an abandoned beaver dam (washed out in the 2010 flood, they may come back yet). Appropriate for horseback riding, strolling on foot, or bicycling.
(1–1 ½ hrs)
Norwegian Heritage House:Built as an original Norwegian farm house, then relocated to its present location on Highway 20 in Hagensborg, it is furnished by donations from the families of early settlers. The Norwegian heritage is prominent in the Valley, and the stories of these amazing pioneers are something special to discover. For example, we have all heard of the difficulties First Nations people experienced at the hands of white settlers and white government. Well, Bella Coola is unique according to local elders. Today the Nuxalk elders will tell you they got along well with the Norwegian’s “until the white people came.” These Norwegian pioneers are the people whose sons and daughters, in partnership with industry and First Nations, built the Freedom road up The HILL when the government said it couldn’t be done.
NOTE: The Norwegian Heritage House is the location for the Bella Coola Valley Tourism Association’s Visitor’s Info Centre.
Creekside Studio Gallery:Located on Hwy 20 just east of Hagensborg, this charming gallery sits on the banks of a small salmon-bearing stream. We list this Gallery as a must see. Owner/artists Jill and Ernest Hall fill the sunlit space with their own pieces of pottery, clay sculpture and glass work. Other renowned local artists have pieces in the space, creating a well-balanced but eclectic selection. The Halls will enjoy showing you around the gardens - make sure you ask about the forest walk, and plan on spending at least an hour there! (www.creeksidestudiogallery.com )
Bella Coola Valley Seafoods:A few kilometers further along Saloompt Rd., watch world famous wild salmon being processed. Choose your purchase from a selection of the best smoked salmon - a wide selection of flavours is available. A limited amount of Halibut is available most of the time. (www.centralcoastbc.com/seafood ) (1/4 - 1/2 hr)
Shopping in Hagensborg:For those “necessities” drop in to the Shop Easy, a modern day General Store. You will not believe what you can buy in this store! Then browse the Swan’ Goose Gallery, a charming boutique stocked with beautiful bath products, clothing, giftware and souvenirs.
Alternate half day Feature Tours:
Alpine Tours:Enjoy an exhilarating 4 wheel drive tour to the alpine of Blue Jay and Grey Jay Lakes, experience the stunning views of the Great Bear Rainforest Conservancy, and the fiords of the North & South Bentinck Arms of Burke Channel. Pick wild blueberries as the ancient peoples did. Swim in the lake and enjoy a picnic by a campfire (3 – 4 hrs.)
River Drifts:Drift the valley river systems with certified guides, the most luxurious way to see the wilderness. Bears are active along the rivers from late August to mid-November. There’s a reason the natives and pioneers used the rivers as highways. Note: These drifts are 4 - 5 hours long and are generally scheduled for early morning (7 – 8 a.m.) and mid afternoon (3 p.m.) to take advantage of prime bear viewing time. Tours can be booked through the Lodge.
Contact us for more information.