Exploring the Depths of the Campbell River

Every fall the salmon begin their long journey home to spawn in the river where they were born. One of the best places to witness this phenomenon is the Campbell River. While you could watch from shore and get glimpses of the salmon as they make their way upstream we suggest donning a wetsuit and joining the salmon. Float down the crystal-clear waters of the river and marvel at the salmon as they battle their way upstream. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the experience and why snorkelling with the salmon is a must-do fall activity. 

when to go

Snorkelling season usually begins in Mid July but hits its prime in August. The season runs until the end of September.

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What you’ll see 

The Campbell River is special as it’s home to all 5 species of salmon. The run starts with the Pinks in July, Chinook, Coho and Sockeye return August through September, the last to return are the Chum Salmon at the end of September. 

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What to Expect 

Snorkelling through the Campbell River is a completely unique experience. The waters are crystal-clear allowing for amazing visibility. If you have an underwater camera be sure to bring it!

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Bonus Sightings 

The Banks of the Campbell River are also teeming with life so don’t be surprised if there are a few bonus wildlife sightings. Look out for kingfishers, eagles and friendly seals who are all out trying to catch their dinner.

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Continue the Journey 

After your journey down the river is complete we highly recommend visiting the Quinsam Hatchery to learn more about the life-cycles of the salmon and their importance to our coast. 

This experience is best done with an experienced guide who can hook you up with wetsuits, rafts and the knowledge of the best spots to go. To get set up with an operator contact our helpful Visitor Services Counsellors.

Explore Fall in Campbell River

Our Tips for Enjoying Every Season in Campbell River

Our Tips for Enjoying Every Season in Campbell River

This fall we’ve been celebrating the experiences that make this season special with the Campbell River Fall Collection. Check it out and use #CRiverCollection on your past and present photos before mid-October for your chance to win an epic Campbell River experience! Don’t fret if you’ve been following along from afar but unable to visit this fall. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite local experiences to do in every season and all weather below. 

How many Drifted Creations can you spot? 

Join the informal community scavenger hunt to find animals and mythical creatures crafted from driftwood that have been placed within the city and region. Be pleasantly surprised by this outdoor art when you explore Campbell River or take your clues from this handy map. Follow Drifted Creations on Facebook for updates on workshops to make your own driftwood sculptures. 

P.S. Pictures or it didn’t happen!

One of local artist Alex Witcombe’s animal sculptures made from driftwood that washes up on Campbell River’s beaches.

Programs and events at the Campbell River Museum reflect the changing seasons

A visit to the Campbell River Museum means stepping into a rich and engaging display of regional and local history. The museum welcomes you at any time of the year, but keep an eye out for changing exhibits and events. Get spooked at the Night at the Museum for Hallowe’en, enjoy the Festival of Trees in December, and miniature train and landscape popup in February. Writer in Residence and open house discussions keep strong ties to arts and conservation via the Haig-Brown House alive and well. 

And remember, Campbell River locals get in free on Wednesdays!

 Learn about the living culture of Indigenous people from present-day Vancouver Island through storytelling, carvings, artifacts, art, and oral history.

Discover Campbell River history from the air

Depart from Campbell River’s famous Tyee Spit via floatplane to experience a Historic Mail Flight with Corilair. Marvel at stunning scenery as you participate in delivering mail and supplies to remote communities off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. The unique part...you’re a passenger, but this is a real service, so the route changes depending on the deliveries needed that day! 

Book in advance to secure your spot for peak season (May-September).

Adventure awaits! Many remote communities are air or water access only and have been supplied by float planes departing from Campbell River for generations. Hop on a floatplane to get a taste of this lifestyle for yourself!

Waterfall chasing - rain or shine! 

Return to Elk Falls time again as the locals do to see bright fall foliage, misty temperate rainforest winters, and the thunderous flow of water after the rain. Take a hike and go a little further afield to check out waterfalls in Strathcona Park. Lupin Falls has been known to freeze in February providing an entirely different waterfall experience.

Getting up close and personal with Lupin Falls in Strathcona Park.

Activate winter explorer mode! 

As long as you’re prepared for the elements, fantastic adventures await you in the mountains of Strathcona Park when temperatures fall and snow blankets the landscape. And if you think canoeing and kayaking are just for the summer months? Think again! Bring your own gear and kayak or canoe in McIvor, Campbell, or Buttle Lake. Be sure to check the wind and weather conditions, and don’t be shy to contact the Visitor Centre for information on other options.

Nothing beats the silence after a snowfall and the company of colourful winter skies.

Show us how you #DiscoverCampbellRiver in every season. Won’t get a chance to visit us this fall or winter? Put us in your calendar for a spring road-trip or weekend getaway! There is always wilderness, adventure, and friendly locals welcoming new seasons and new guests. In the meantime, follow along via Instagram and Facebook

Experience Fall with this Campbell River Collection

Experience Fall with this Campbell River Collection

Have you missed out on the limited edition Campbell River Collection pieces this September? Don’t fret! The Campbell River Collection continues with experiences that truly embrace autumn. Now’s the perfect time to gather your friends and family to make outdoor memories. Embrace the benefit of a quieter off-season and step into a spell-binding time of changing leaves and crisp ocean air as October nips at our heels. Keep reading for tips on how to make the most of your fall trip to Campbell River.

Challenge yourself to fly fishing 

Anglers gravitating to the Quinsam and Campbell Rivers is as sure a sign of fall as anything else! Wading out into the river to snag the notoriously tough fighting Chum salmon requires a special blend of tenacity and patience. If you’re a first-timer or looking to brush up on your skills, local guides will show you the ropes to practice and perfect your technique. Rushing waters, gorgeous fall light, and intermittent sounds of other wildlife create a peaceful setting for this sport. While there are year-round fishing opportunities in Campbell River, each season brings a unique and sought after experience, and fall is a highlight. Fly fishing has been a peaceful pastime for Campbell River locals for generations. Visit the historic Haig-Brown House or read the many writings of conservationist and passionate fly fisher Roderick Haig-Brown to connect more to this history. Don’t miss your chance to try fly fishing in 2019!

Get a local perspective from a top guide, including licensing and operator information by reading Fall Fishing in Campbell River 101: Tips from a Pro


Tick a cold water dive off your bucket list!

Get in the local mindset and embrace outdoor adventure at every opportunity. Get into a dry-suit and explore the breathtaking underwater world in the abundant oceans that surround us. Kelp forests, playful sea lions, dramatic drops, and marine life await for certified recreational divers. Fun fact: the large nutrient-rich tidal exchanges that happen in the ocean off Campbell River result in surprising colourful marine flora and fauna. But don’t take our word for it, take a look for yourself! 

Head to the Campbell River Collection to connect to local guides and operators.

Sample local libations at award-winning Shelter Point Distillery 

After a day of adventuring, warm up in the cozy interior of Shelter Point Distillery and whet your palette with whisky and vodka tasting. A visit here is both an education and a tasty treat. Listen in as passionate distillers tell you the story of how they became stand out Canadian whisky producers in a remarkably short time. Hint: the secret is local barley and ocean air! They’ll even give you a backstage peek into the meticulous processes if you’re lucky! Purchase a bottle or two for your next special occasion and to remember your fall trip to Campbell River, and keep an eye out for their newly released gin offerings. Enjoying being on Island time? Take a moment to stretch your legs in the inviting Oyster River trails that surround the distillery.

The Campbell River Collection: Limited-Edition Fall Experiences

The Campbell River Collection: Limited-Edition Fall Experiences

Each year, for a brief window of time, the cycles of Campbell River’s natural environment are abundantly clear and exciting to see up close as the last golden days of summer fold into a glorious fall. Multiple salmon runs draw people seeking a special catch and make for an astounding sight for underwater adventurers. Grizzly bears come to the river's edge in nearby inlets to feast and are a sight to behold. Beautiful weather and a summer well spent brings people together to celebrate community connections, traditions, and heritage. Destination Campbell River invites you to partake in these limited-edition experiences. Everything you need to know is listed below. Hurry! Before you know it, leaves will be falling and evenings closing in on us as we move on and embrace the next phase of fall. 


Marvel at grizzly bears in their natural habitat

In the Pacific Northwest, returning salmon draw bears down to vibrant glacial fed rivers to feast and prepare for the winter ahead. The waterways in the Campbell River region are the prime place to see this ecosystem in action. Boats depart from Campbell River for bear viewing excursions up to Bute and Toba Inlets. Keep alert for excellent opportunities to see whales, seals, dolphins, and eagles. All tours are managed by local Indigenous nations who welcome and guide guests in their traditional territories and educate guests about the cultural significance of the grizzly bear.

The Homalco First Nation manages bear viewing in Bute Inlet, and the Klahoose First Nation does so in the Toba Inlet. 

Be sure to set aside a full day of your trip to Campbell River for a grizzly bear excursion as the full journey takes 8 hours (a 2 hour boat ride each way, and a bear viewing time of 3 hours.)

  • Until October 15th
  • Depart from Campbell River to Bute or Toba Inlet

 Fun fact!

Grizzly bears don’t live on Vancouver Island itself but can be seen on guided tours and special viewing platforms in nearby inlets on the mainland of British Columbia.

Tyee Fishing: A Campbell River Tradition

Hire a local guide and head out onto the water where the currents are just right for Tyee salmon fishing. It’s a Campbell River tradition made famous by the Tyee Club of British Columbia and the unique fleet of rowboats that congregate together near the end of each summer. It’s all about patience, excitement, bragging rights, and hearing the legendary stories from locals and fellow fishers.

Prefer to stay on land? You can view the boats angling for a position as they round the estuary and enter the Tyee Pool from the viewing platform at the Tyee Spit (aka Dick Murphy Park). You can also enjoy the spectacle from the scenic grounds of the Tyee Clubhouse, open from July 15-September 15 where you can get warmed by the fire and established club members are often available for a chat and a fishing tale or two.

What’s the goal?

Catch a 30-pound+ Chinook salmon (also called a Tyee). 

When can you do it?

Only until September 15th! This special time lasts for 2 months with August as prime conditions. If you’ve missed this round, make a note to book ahead with a local guide next summer. The season runs July 15-September 15 every year.

How do you do it? 

Connect with local guides here.

Did you know?

The Tyee Club officially began in 1924 after a surge in sport fishing in Campbell River from the 1890s. However, Indigenous people had been salmon fishing in the area since time immemorial. Local Laich-Kwil-Tach people were indispensable guides for the first sport fishers. Learn more about this history here.

Snorkelling with the Salmon: An Underwater Adventure!

Slap on a wetsuit and get up close and personal with thousands of salmon returning upstream to spawn. Yeah, maybe you’ve snorkelled in the tropics once upon a time, but have you ever drifted along in Pacific Northwest Coast rivers closer to home? Fantastic visibility and the chance to see five different salmon species makes this a treat for pros and newcomers alike. Dive in, go with the flow, and marvel at your very own wildlife documentary.

When can you do it?

Any time before September 15th!

How do you do it? 

Call the Campbell River Visitor Centre for more information and to be put in touch with local operators.


Local tip:

Head to the Quinsam Fish Hatchery before you hit the water to learn about the life cycle of spawning salmon.

Create, Learn, and Connect at the Art and Earth Festival

Join us for the first-ever Art and Earth Festival, where three days of artistic and educational programming celebrate our community’s connections to the natural beauty that surrounds us. Learn how to weave cedar, see artwork made from driftwood, and attend talks to learn more about the environment. Be sure to stop by  Haig-Brown House on Sunday to celebrate World Rivers Day in a place known for fishing heritage and waterways stewardship.


September 20th-22

  • Downtown Campbell River

For recommendations on where to stay and eat during the festival, see here.

These experiences are available for a limited time only as part of the first-ever Campbell River Fall Collection. Don’t miss out on the magic. Click here to see how to collect these experiences and make memories this season. And remember to use #CRiverCollection and #DiscoverCampbellriver to share your photos this fall!

More Fall experiences

Bear Watching

Bear Watching

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Tyee Fishing

Tyee Fishing

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Snorkel with the Salmon

Snorkel with the Salmon

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Art and Earth Festival

Art and Earth Festival

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