© Keith Holmes/Hakai Institute
Travelling to the Great Bear Rainforest can be as much a part of the adventure as exploring your destination. Most of the region’s 64,000 sq km are roadless wilderness, making transportation by land limited. Port Hardy to the south, and Bella Bella, Bella Coola, and Prince Rupert to the north, are the main transportation hubs on and around the Central Coast. Access to other communities is usually through one of these locations.
Bella Coola, known as the Gateway to the Great Bear Rainforest, is accessible by car. The drive from Williams Lake along Highway 20 is approximately 6.5 hours (450km/280mi). The road was built in 1953 by local residents and features a 15 km ascent from the valley floor to the Chilcotin Plateau, gaining 1,600m in elevation to the summit at Heckman Pass with a number of steep grades and switchbacks.
Kitimat, Terrace, and Prince Rupert also have road access from the interior of B.C., and Port Hardy has road access from the rest of Vancouver Island. For a spectacular view from the road during the spring and summer months, consider driving onto the ferry at Prince Rupert, then follow the Skeena River via Highway 16 to Terrrace.
Many believe there is no better way to see scenic B.C. than by rail. Train service is available three times per week from Prince George to Terrace. Regular train travel is also available between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Special packages are available through the Canadian Rockies and Pacific Coast areas, with an overnight stay in Prince George, and travel along the mighty Skeena River. Learn more at Hello BC.
B.C. Ferries provides a vehicle and passenger service from mid-June to mid-September sailing to and from Port Hardy, located on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. Reservations are required. From mid-September to mid-June, ferry service is available twice a month from Bella Coola to coastal communities of Bella Bella, Shearwater andOcean Falls with transfers at McLoughlin Bay in Bella Bella to Prince Rupert and Klemtu, or Port Hardy.
The Discovery Coast Passage operates in the summer only, and runs between Port Hardy on the north tip of Vancouver Island and Bella Bella, Shearwater, Klemtu, Ocean Falls, and Bella Coola. The Inside Passage runs between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy with stops in Bella Bella and Klemtu. For ferry service to these locations outside summer months, see the Inside Passage Fall/Winter/Spring schedule.
Learn more at Hello BC.
- Bella Bella
- Bella Coola
- Hartley Bay
- Ocean Falls
- Prince Rupert
- Port Hardy
Learn more at Certified Airports in B.C.
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