Stumble on events and happenings you may not have expected. A weekend also means more time to explore.
Having an entire weekend here means you have the opportunity to do some overnight itineraries. The Khutzeymateen is one great spot for this; some tour operators have floating lodges in the inlet and offer rustic—but beautiful—accommodation. This is a plan well worth considering and definitely an experience you’ll never forget.
When you arrive in town, try to find out what’s happening over the weekend. Prince Rupert often has some kind of event going on—art exhibits, book readings, music, theatre, or dance performances, family-friendly workshops, and so on.
Pop into the Visitor Information Centre located within the Port Interpretive Centre in Cow Bay and ask the folks there for a list of current events. Other places you can check include the Prince Rupert Community Arts Council (artsprincerupert.ca), the CBC office on 3rd Ave., bulletin boards in coffee shops, the brewery, and pubs around town, or simply peruse the posters up in many businesses’ windows as you wander around town. Once you have an idea of what's planned for the weekend, you’ll be better equipped to make the most of your stay.
Prince Rupert has plenty of trails that range from rough routes requiring expert knowledge of backcountry travel to short meandering paths in the city itself.
Ask a local, grab a guidebook, or check in at the museum or tourist office, and they’ll be sure to put you on a path that will satisfy your sense of adventure and give you a great taste of the local landscape.
If you have time, head over to Dodge Cove. Most people visiting the tiny community across the harbour catch a scheduled water taxi (ask in the Tourism office for details and a current schedule). From Dodge Cove, there are a couple of great, short hikes, including one that takes you to a beautiful little beach.
For something epic, check this out: the Metlakatla Wilderness Trail is about 10 km (each way), following the rugged northern coastline, past ancient First Nations village sites, and remote beaches. While it’s not a gruelling hike, it will take you about eight hours round trip, so it’s certainly a full day. Along the way, you’ll undoubtedly see plenty of birds and possibly some marine and land wildlife as well. You’ll need to get a water taxi out to the Village of Metlakatla where the trail starts, and of course do plan for the return trip so you don’t get stuck out there. Unless, that is, you plan on camping at the end of the trail where rustic backcountry amenities are provided. For more info, check out metlakatlatrail.ca.
If you’re not keen on going so far afield but still want a big hike, check out one of the trails up Mt. Hays or other nearby peaks. For something a bit mellower, Rupert’s most accessible trail is Butze Rapids, located just out of town. The 5.4 km trail is suitable for all ages and abilities (but is not wheelchair accessible) and features some great interpretive signs highlighting local flora and fauna and excellent views of the unique North Coast forest and craggy coastline.
For a chance to snag a fish or two, a little forward planning will make life a lot easier. Reach out to one of the many sport-fishing guides and you can get yourself out on the water. Great fishing grounds are never far from the city so even if you’re pressed for time, you should be able to sneak in a trip out to a prime spot for salmon or halibut, with time left over to catch the sunset.
Getting outdoors here is often synonymous with checking out great wildlife. If you’re early enough, getting a spot on a wildlife viewing tour is a breeze. For marine wildlife, join a tour that will explore nearby stomping grounds for humpback whales, getting you up close and personal with some of this planet’s largest and most mysterious creatures. For the big ticket land mammals, you’ll want to get up to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary where you’ll have an intimate glimpse of the extraordinary Ursus arctos, better known as the grizzly, or brown bear. Several tour operators offer short daytrip excursions into the spectacular protected area; many combine whale watching en route. And for bird watchers, well, you’ll have a great time on both of these tours, or you can arrange something uniquely avian focussed. Even just walking around town will give you a good view of eagles, ravens, and shorebirds.
Many arts and cultural events aren’t publicized far in advance here, so a little local knowledge will go a long way.
Stop in at the Museum of Northern BC before 5 pm, to get an introduction to northern culture and history, and check out the art in the Ruth Harvey Art Gallery. As the beautiful aesthetic of the longhouse-style building seeps in, you’ll find yourself ready for whatever Prince Rupert’s arts scene can throw at you. If you’re here during the summer (June through August), turn right when you leave the museum and take your first right, down the hill, to check out the Kwinitsa Railway Station Museum. Even if you’re here off-season or wander down in the evening, it’s a cool little spot to check out. Once you’re done, grab a meal at any of the nearby restaurants, check out Rupert’s brewery on the hill down to Cow Bay—even if you don’t drink, the unique ambiance and décor is worth poking your head in for—and freshen up for whatever event you’ve picked for the evening’s festivities. If there isn’t an event you feel like checking out, Fridays and Saturdays are always busy nights at local pubs, bars, and the brewery.
Here on the North Coast, where the Tsimshian people have lived for thousands of years, any mention of arts and culture encompasses the incredible and vibrant cultural heritage—and contemporary art and culture—of our local First Nations. As well as visual art, there are often traditional dance and song performances, well worth checking out.
The surrounding region around Prince Rupert has always been known for its many resources, including seafood. To get a deeper understanding of the resource boom that took place here in the late 19th century through to modern times, head out to the North Pacific Cannery, a National Historic Site. It’s a short drive (or bus ride) from downtown Prince Rupert and you’ll easily spend a few hours out there, if not a full day. The site operates from May 1 until the end of September and features either self-guided tours or—a great option—tours with guides well versed in the long history of Canada’s longest operating cannery. They also serve local food and snacks (including homemade seafood chowder) and hot drinks, as well as operate a gift shop. Bring your camera: you are allowed and encouraged to take pictures and the old, restored buildings are very photogenic.