I’ve wanted to visit Northern BC for years now, but somehow the logistics never worked out. Driving there would take ages, and flying would leave me carless in a place where transportation is paramount to seeing the sights. The idea of flying and taking public transit had never even crossed my mind – until a month ago when my partner Adam and I partnered with BC Transit to visit Prince Rupert.
Prince Rupert lies directly below the Alaskan border, 1534 kilometres north of Vancouver. I know that stat, because Cowpuccino’s Coffee House proudly declares it on a signpost outside their shop. An endless enchainment of coastal islands borders the city and lush, green rainforest covers everything your eyes can see. No skyscrapers, no pollution, just a beautiful city bursting with nature.
Everywhere you look, you can see totem poles and First Nations artwork. There’s a craft brewery and restaurants that serve up the catch of the day, and in typical small-town fashion, every single person is friendly and always willing to chat.
Day 1: Cultural Exploration and Trail Running
We jumped on the culture bandwagon and set off on a 40-minute bus ride to Port Edward to visit the North Pacific Cannery. The site is BC’s oldest surviving cannery and an entire preserved community where First Nations, Japanese and European families once came together each fishing season.
On our way back from Port Edward, we stopped at the Butze Rapids bus stop, a bus stop in the middle of the woods that gives riders access to a network of wilderness trails. We opted for the 10km Tall Trees Trail which hit all the marks for views. As we wound through the towering cedars and moss drenched forests, we couldn’t hold back our amazement how accessible the trail was by transit. From the top, two panoramic viewpoints greeted us with views of the nearby mountain ranges, ocean and the city of Prince Rupert.
Day 2: A Tour into the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary
On our second day, we got a taste of what Northern BC is best known for; its remote wildlife. We caught a bus just a few stops to downtown where we checked in with Prince Rupert Adventure Tours for our visit to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary. The wildlife preservation is located a stone’s throw from the Alaskan border, deep in a fjord only accessible by boat. The grizzly bear tour turned out to also include a humpback whale sighting and ended with a spectacular visit from more than twenty bald eagles. It was the kind of experience that comes along once in a lifetime for most, or every day for our friendly tour guides!
Day 3: Kayaking the Coves and Tasting the Flavours
Named after a herd of cows who swam to shore 100 years ago, Cow Bay is a historic area with quirky artwork and cow-spotted decorations everywhere. It’s within walking distance of the hotels and is the epicentre of Prince Rupert. We met our Skeena Kayaking guide in Cow Bay and departed on a paddle tour of nearby Kloiya Bay. From basecamp, we paddled past starfish-coated cliffs, forest-lined shores, and spotted more than a couple of playful seals. Despite our visit being in the busy season, we didn’t see another soul and the whole bay felt like a private escape.
After the tour, we returned to Cow Bay to sample the seafood at Dolly’s Fish Market and with heavy hearts, packed our bags and rode the shuttle bus back to the airport. Our time in Prince Rupert had come to an end, but there are so many other communities to #ExploreBCbyBus, perhaps we’ll visit Terrace next!
Want to plan your own #ExploreBCbyBus trip? Click on the links at the top of this page to get inspired by suggested day trips in communities across BC. Plus, if you share how you’re using BC Transit for your adventures this spring on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using #ExploreBCbyBus, you’ll be entered to win weekly prizes of month-long bus passes, and a Grand Prize of two year-long bus passes and an adventure getaway for 2 or 4! All details can be found at explorebcbybus.com/contest.