Along the northern and central coast of British Columbia is a stretch of land, nearly as large as Ireland, that lacks roads and other forms of modern development. This location is the Great Bear Rainforest, and its inaccessibility is part of its charm keeping its waters clear, its airs fresh, and its landscape stunning.
Travelers wishing to access the Great Bear Rainforest will run into some challenges, but it is an accessible region for those who plan properly. Driving into this protected area is really only possible to a point. Once travelers reach peripheral cities, then that's about it for their car. However, there are many ways to explore this park.
About Great Bear Rainforest
Many travelers are likely not aware of the scope of the Great Bear Rainforest. Dominating the coastline of British Columbia, the Great Bear Rainforest covers 6.4 million hectares, which is close to the size of Ireland. Protecting this area has become incredibly important to the local community and governing bodies.
The historic agreement protecting the Great Bear Rainforest ensures the protection of both old and second-growth forests in British Columbia while also making sure there are opportunities for First Nations People to benefit from jobs and economic development in the region.
In 2016, the decision was made for the Great Bear Rainforest Land Use and Great Bear Rainforest Act to conserve 85% of the forest and 70% of the old growth over time. The purpose of this decision was to ensure a high level of ecological integrity.
Here’s How to Reach Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest has long been a popular destination for nature-loving travelers. Here they can enjoy stunning landscapes, waterways, and an array of wildlife. However, reaching the Great Bear Rainforest isn’t always straightforward. The vast majority of the Great Bear Rainforest lacks roads, with roads only reaching the surrounding cities and towns of Port Hardy to the south, and Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Prince Rupert to the north. However, there are few means of transportation to and from the Great Bear Rainforest.
The beautiful town of Bella Coola generally serves as the threshold for those entering the Great Bear Rainforest by car. Drivers will use Highway 20 to make the six-and-a-half-hour drive from Williams Lake. Driving on this road, though, is definitely part of the adventure though. It was built in 1953 and currently features a 15-kilometer-long ascent from the valley floor to the Chilcotin Plateau. In total, travelers gain 1,600 meters as they pass through Heckman Pass and its steep grades and switchbacks.
Other Drive-in options include Prince Rupert, Kitimat, and Terrace. They all offer roads that can access the interior of British Columbia, and as long as it is during the warm months of the year, conditions should be fine on these roads.
- Road Conditions - Link
For some, accessing the Great Bear Rainforest by rail is the go-to method. Available three times per week from Prince George Terrace and with regular travel available between Prince George and Prince Rupert, Travelers have a chance to experience the Great Bear Rainforest scenically and in comfort from a train. There are also special offers available that take travelers through the Canadian Rockies and Pacific Coast areas, with an overnight stay in Prince George, and travel along the mighty Skeena River.
- Learn More - HelloBC
Using B.C. Ferries are another method travelers can use to access the Great Bear Rainforest. From mid-June to mid-September, B.C. Ferries offer travelers the chance to sail between several of the port cities in this region. The Ferries can also get travelers from Vancouver Island to the Great Bear Rainforest, with ferries regularly moving between Port Hardy and Bella Coola.
Another ferry option is using Discovery Coast Passage which only opiates in the summer, but they run between Port Hardy on the north tip of Vancouver Island and Bella Bella, Shearwater, Klemtu, Ocean Falls, and Bella Coola. Regardless of which ferry option travelers choose, they will be able to reach the Great Bear Rainforest by sea.
- B.C. Ferries - Book Now
- Reservations - Required
- Discover Coastal Passage - Schedule
- Learn More - HelloBC
For travelers trying to get close to the Great Bear Rainforest before transferring to another form of transportation, here is a look at all the airports in the region.
- Bella Bella
- Bella Coola
- Hartley Bay
- Ocean Falls
- Prince Rupert
- Port Hardy
What To Do And See At Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest welcomes its visitors with a variety of activities and experiences. Travelers may simply just be here to relax and take in nature. With clean air, miles of coastline to explore, and the dense temperate rainforests of the northwest, there is much to simply take in here. For a more rigorous adventure, there are hikes to explore, mountains to climb, and waterways to discover. It may not be an easy park to access, but that is half its charm, as so much of this beautiful place has been left untouched and perfect for travelers to discover regardless of which method they use to do so.