From a rugged coastline dotted with First Nations villages to mountains wrapped in ribbons of mist, you can see it all on B.C. Ferries Vacations’ Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour. Drive aboard and enjoy a seven-night cruise from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and to Prince Rupert, a city on B.C.’s north coast.
“It’s one of the most beautiful places on Earth,” says Jared Davis, vice president of Prince Rupert Adventure Tours. “It’s very tranquil up here. There are mountains and waterfalls and wildlife all over the place. It’s world-class wildlife viewing.”
Here are some awe-inspiring experiences you can’t miss while in the Northern B.C. area.
See bears, whales and other wildlife
Watch whales gather to feed or grizzly bears emerge from hibernation. The Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour package includes a grizzly bear tour (available May 12 to July 30, 2019) or a whale-watching tour (available August 2 to September 25, 2019).
The seven-hour grizzly bear tour takes visitors to the world-renowned Khutzeymateen, “Valley of the Grizzly,” aboard a state-of-the-art catamaran.
“The Khutzeymateen is very unique,” Davis says. “It’s one of the only places in the world where we can almost guarantee you’ll see grizzly bears every single trip. There are eagles soaring all around, there are grizzly bears everywhere. It’s a beautiful place.”
Whale-watching tours are equally memorable. There’s a huge population of humpbacks that returns to the region every year. You may also spot other species of whales, sea lions, seals, porpoises and other wildlife.
Experience Indigenous culture
The Museum of Northern B.C. in Prince Rupert welcomes you into a traditional longhouse overlooking the harbour and offers authentic Indigenous experiences. Here, you can immerse yourself in the natural and cultural heritage of the Northwest Coast through exhibits, tours, presentations and special programs. The Winter Feast Tour and Performance, for example, allows you to learn about the tradition of feasting and then get a taste of it yourself.
Bathe in old-growth forest
Forest bathing has become a big trend—and for good reason. There’s a growing body of research showing that there are health benefits to basking in the beauty of the forest, including reducing your risk for many chronic illnesses.
On the Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit Butze Rapids Park and Trail in Prince Rupert, where you can hike through the old-growth rainforest and coastal wetlands to a viewing area that overlooks the rapids.
Visit a historic cannery
A century ago, dozens of salmon canneries dotted the coast of British Columbia, playing a key role in shaping the province’s economy and culture. Today, few commercial canneries remain in operation, but you can still catch a glimpse of what the industry was like decades ago.
The Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour takes you along the banks of the Skeena River, where you can see the last remaining structures of the canneries that once lined the shores. For a closer look, stop at the North Pacific Cannery just outside of Prince Rupert, a national historic site that offers guided tours, engaging exhibits and a taste of the local cuisine.
You can also stay at Cassiar Cannery, where you can enjoy gourmet meals or participate in one of their unique eco experiences.
Visit a majestic mountain town
As you make your way along the wilderness circle, you’ll pass through Smithers, an aw-inspiring town surrounded by mountains, lakes and rivers. You can try your hand at paddling a canoe, kayak or raft on one of many waterways, or head to Hudson Bay Mountain for some epic mountain biking.
Spend some time in the city
After all that time in nature, the tour rolls into Prince George, which is known as the capital of Northern B.C.. You can enjoy a classy meal and catch a show at the theatre. Not far from town, you can visit two historic sites: Huble Homestead, a pioneering 1900s settlement, and Fort St. James National Historic Site, a restored Hudson’s Bay Company post.
To book your fully customizable Inside Passage Wilderness Circle Tour, visit B.C. Ferries.