After leaving the coast, we headed inland and started making our way back home via Clearwater. There were many (many) forest fires burning across British Columbia. Evacuations, highway closures and new fires were breaking out each day. The highway we needed was one of the only major routes still open, in other words, we could still get out.
Our stay in Vancouver was good – we were lucky enough to be in Vancouver when it wasn’t busy (by Vancouver standards), before the devastating forest fires broke out across the province (thus affecting the air quality in the city). We had three “must see” tourist sites on our list.
The first being Stanley Park. The park is just across the Lions Gate Bridge and is 400 Hectares in size. Incorporated in 1886, it was the first park in Vancouver and was created by nature. It’s dense forests have remained largely unchanged since it’s inception. Some of the trees in the park are 100 years in age and stand up to 79m tall. Unfortunately, much replanting has happened in the past years as trees of this size are susceptible to wind damage. Given the park is nearly surrounded by ocean, the gale force winds have toppled many trees in recent years.
Our next destination was Vancouver. After a ferry ride back to the mainland, we threaded our way through to our home for the next six days – Capilano River RV Park. Located in west Vancouver, it is the only RV park located within the city of Vancouver. Be sure to preplan your route – it will seem weird, but if you cut through the Park Royale shopping centre, it is the best (and easiest) access route. Furthermore, if you happen to follow Google Maps, you run the risk of missing the turn and crossing the Lionsgate Bridge and ending up in downtown Vancouver!
It is a beautiful park – sites are close but still provide room to be outside without staring down the tailpipe of your neighbour. The pool is clean and spacious and the laundry facilities are clean and well kept. Staff is helpful and the compound is both gated and patrolled so your safety is always paramount. They have free wifi – which works quite well throughout the park. A vehicle wash station, onsite propane, doggie park and a playground round out the amenities of this great park.
The park gives you easy access to some of Vancouver’s best attractions – Stanley Park, The Vancouver Aquarium, The Seawall, The Capilano Suspension Bridge and of course, the amazing Lions Gate Bridge. It is also very well located and there is shopping a short walk away! Off a couple of good local transit routes, it is easy to get around Rates are higher than you’d expect in a commercial campground, but this is Vancouver and coupled with it’s amazing location, it is certainly worth the price!
Pianos and pansies? What does that mean, you ask? In our time RVing, we’ve come across a few oddities – weird statues, eclectic people, comedic squirrels. Our first double take was a (poorly) tuned piano in Rossland, BC in 2016. Our son saddled up to it and played his favourite tune. Which in turn, inspired other budding pianists in the area to tickle the ivories when he was done.
Victoria – the capital city of British Columbia, population of 389,000, set along the craggy southern tip of Vancouver Island. It’s a sprawling city with many smaller cities and communities abutting up to it. Jokingly referred to as the land of the newlywed and nearly dead, it is a city for all ages and walks of life.
What do Beacon Hill Park and Emily Carr have in common? They are probably the two most famous things about the city of Victoria! Emily Carr is from Victoria and one of our favourite Canadian painters. Of course we had to tour her family home!
Located in the gorgeous downtown section of Victoria, Emily Carr House is both a National and Provincial Historic Site. The home is part art gallery, part interpretive centre. With it’s sprawling period gardens, it is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Parking can be a bit tricky (as there is street parking but it can be difficult to find). The neighbourhood is old with many towering trees and older historic homes so having to walk a few blocks is part of the experience.
Wildlife! A trip to Vancouver Island would not be complete without a whale or wildlife watching tour. There are many companies in both Ucluelet and Tofino that offer tours (Victoria has them too). Our tour was with Subtidal Adventures, with Captain Brian, an informative, fun-loving, dedicated wildlife conservationist and former Pacific Rim National Park park warden. Their whale watching tours are typically done in a zodiac (their company was the first to offer zodiac tours in the area) and are not recommended for anyone with back problems. This is something to keep in mind if you’ve got any issues with back pain or have had back or neck surgeries.
After our stay in Ucluelet, the next stop on our journey was Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. There are three distinct parts to PRNPR: Long Beach Unit, Broken Group Islands and the West Coast Trail. As we only explored the Long Beach Unit, we will be sharing some resources for discovering the other two portions of the Park (see the end of this article for links).
If there was a place a vacationer could stay forever, it would be the west coast of Vancouver Island. We easily (and quickly) fell head over heels in love with Ucluelet (and area). See our Vacation Series here!
We stayed at “Surf Junction Campground” – a cute little spot, eight kilometers north of Ucluelet and less than one from the Highway 4 junction. The staff were helpful, kind and very friendly. It was clear they had passion for their job and their community. We had a reservation (which was a good thing) although they did have RV sites available, their tent sites were full.