Naturally, with Prince Rupert having the largest ice free harbour in North America and many inlets surrounding the area, exploring the magic of the North coast of British Columbia by sea makes perfect sense.
The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary is a magical place, only accessible by water. This is a mind-blowing experience, something worthy of a spot on your bucket list while visiting Prince Rupert.
Jamie, the owner of the Khutzeymateen Wilderness Lodge and former Park Ranger for the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, generously shared his knowledge with us as we cruised along the Khutzeymateen Inlet. We saw an incredible 14 Grizzly Bears feasting on Sedge, a type of grass common on the West Coast that is extremely high in protein. We watched in awe, as they, well simply existed as they do in nature.
In addition to once in a lifetime opportunities to view Grizzly Bears in their natural habitat, we also learned many fascinating facts about Grizzlies. Did you know that female Grizzlies “hold” embryos in their body for months until their body knows if it has enough nourishment to bear cubs?! If they are healthy enough and have enough food resources-the embryo will implant and she will become pregnant, and if she does not have enough resources the embryo will be absorbed into her body, and she will not be pregnant. WILD!!
We spent a number of hours meandering around the inlet. Not only did we see Grizzly Bears, the scenery was spectacular- waterfalls, steep cliffs, snow-capped mountain peaks, and the beautiful, calm waters of the inlet. An experience we will not forget.
As we headed back to the lodge, my son said, “I’m tired of Looking at Grizzly Bears!” just before he drifted off to sleep. If that doesn’t equal a fulfilling experience, I don’t know what does!! Our starting (and end point) for our time exploring the sanctuary started at the Khutzeymateen Floating Wilderness Lodge. The lodge itself is beautiful and charming. It feels very west coast, and boasts luxury bedding, cozy common spaces, an outdoor firepit and sauna, as well as an onsite chef and kayaks for continued exploring around the inlet. Jamie mentioned they are trying to plan a wellness retreat in 2023, and I can’t wait to hear more about this. Can you have bucketlist experiences more than once?!
As our time in the sanctuary came to a close, we were once again treated to the views from above as Ocean Pacific Air returned to pick us up and take us back to Prince Rupert.
By this time, I am very aware of the pull and the magic of this little slice of coastal wilderness, surrounded by the sea and the mountains.
As our final adventure, we chose to take the Northern Expedition Ferry and make the trip south from Prince Rupert to Vancouver Island via water. Clocking in at 17 hours, this is not the fastest way to travel, however this is a very enjoyable choice for long-haul travel. Views along the way, wildlife viewings, that moody mist that the pacific northwest is known for, and so many rainbows top the highlight list of our day at sea. We passed huge granite cliff faces, seals and sea lions, whales, historic landmarks, Indigenous villages, and multiple waterfalls. This perspective from the water is such a unique vantage point, and honestly- a really enjoyable way to travel.
As I mentioned, I did this trip with my 4 year old son. I know that the time of 17 hours would send some people running, but in my opinion this was the best way to travel with a child!! We booked a cabin with beds and a shower for a place to relax if needed, as well as the lounge seats at the front of the boat, with wrap around views. While more time than flight, an comparable driving times, the ferry allows more freedom to move around, take in the views, take a nap, a shower, and time to really appreciate those BC Ferries play places. Thank you BC Ferries 😉 The ferry route finishes in Port Hardy, British Columbia, on the Northern tip of Vancouver Island which is a place that is well worth exploring as well.
Prince Rupert and it’s food, friendly people, unassuming nature, untouched wilderness, and quiet calm has really captured my heart, and I cannot wait to plan another trip.