MUST DO: Check out Upana Caves; Visit White Ridge Provincial Park
A relatively young community, the Village of Gold River was founded in 1965 to service the pulp mill about five miles out of town.
On the edge of Strathcona Park, Gold River, 91 kilometers west of Campbell River, boasts incredible scenery, fantastic fishing and amenities – such as its acclaimed Anne Fiddick Aquatic & Sports Centre – of much larger communities.
The village is built on the shores of the Gold River, considered one of the top steelhead fishing rivers in the province. A summer steelhead season runs from April through October. The nearby Heber River is also home to summer steelhead.
While the pulp mill has been affected by the downturn in the forest industry, Gold River’s tourism sector is booming. Along with the excellent river and lake fishing, the salmon fishing is superb in nearby Muchalat Inlet, named for the Native Indian band that still lives along it shores. The inlet, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Nootka Sound, (where Captain James Cook became the first European to set foot on Canada’s west coast), teems with huge chinook salmon, some coming in at over 50 pounds.
Gold River has taken advantage of the big fish, transforming itself into a getaway for the dedicated fishermen and outdoor enthusiast. Accommodations range from campsites to luxury resorts.
If you’re not into fishing but want to view the splendor of Nootka Sound, hop aboard the Uchuck III, a working coastal vessel that supplies villages and logging camps between Gold River and the small village of Tahsis or Gold River and the west coast village of Kyuquot. In addition to one-and two-day trips (keep an eye open for grey whales, eagles, black bear and a variety of seabirds), the Uchuck III carries kayakers and their boats to convenient locations along its route.
If you’re taste runs to the deep and mysterious, Gold River – home to the B.C. Speleological Association – is the place for caving. You can arrange tours of the Upana Caves, 17 kilometers northwest of Gold River. A self-guided tour – about one hour – can also be taken. Always go well prepared into the caves. Check with the Canadian Caving Association for details.
If you’re taste runs to the up and open, Kings Peak, Elkhorn Mountains and Crest Craggs are a mountain climber’s dream, drawing climbers from around the world.
And if you’re into walking – serious walking, that is – the Great Walk runs every June. Billed as the toughest walkathon in North America, the Great Walk – along a gravel, hilly road – goes from Gold River to Tahsis, a total of 66 kilometers. Participants, many from around the world, enter the event, raising money for their favorite charities.
If You Go to Gold River…
BY ROAD: From the south, take the Inland Island Highway north, at Campbell River, head west along Hwy. 28. Gold River is 90 kilometers away, about 1 1/2 hours. From Port Hardy, head south on Hwy. 19 (the Island Highway) to Campbell River. Go right on Hwy. 28.
BY AIR: Scheduled airline connections are out of Vancouver to the Campbell River Airport. You can also arrange for floatplane service direct to Gold River.