Glacier and craggy peaks above the valley.
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Discovery Coast Circle Tour
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The Bella Coola Valley

"They called it a highway, but it was only two ruts really, and took 10 hours to traverse." - One of the first people to drive the 'Hill' in 1953

As there have been some changes to the "Discovery Coast Ferry Route "(Route # 40), the West Chilcotin Tourism Association recommends that you check the latest ferry schedules, type of ferry, and amenities, before embarking on your trip.

Bella Coola is where you will either end or begin the water leg of the circle tour. Be sure to check with the BC Ferries schedule before planning your trip!

The Bella Coola Valley is a gem set in a necklace of craggy peaks. The entire length of the Valley is protected by mountains of the Coast Range and terminates at the head of the North Bentinck Arm which is 60 miles from the Pacific Ocean proper. As a result, although it sees rainfall, it's nothing like the outer coast regions, and yet people in the valley still enjoy a very temperate climate.

The Nuxalk people occupied the valley long before the first explorers such as Captain George Vancouver's surveyors who first mapped the Bentinck Inlet and Alexander Mackenzie who arrived overland in 1773. Aside from the rich hunting and fishing available to the Native people in the valley, there was tremendous trade between them, other coastal people, and the tribes on the Chilcotin Plateau via the 'grease' trail. So named for the Oolichan fish oil carried over the trail inland to be traded for obsidian, furs and other goods. By the mid 1800's the Hudson Bay Company had set up a trading post and by 1892, the first settlers had begun to arrive.

Norwegian settlers were first drawn here over 100 years ago because of the incredible resemblance to the fjords and valleys of their own country and set about settling and farming the valley. Little communities such as Stuie, Firvale and Hagensborg sprang up, and industry expanded from farming, to fishing, logging and commercial canneries across the inlet from Bella Coola.

The valley has several large rivers flowing to the ocean, the most well known being the Atnarko, Bella Coola, Nusatsum and Saloompt. The Atnarko and Bella Coola Rivers are famous for their salmon fishing and favorites for drift fishing as well as fishing from shore with fly lines or lures.

The rainforest environment with plentiful berries and abundant fish during the salmon runs supports a large grizzly and black bear population. There are several operators that offer guided tours in the valley if you would like an opportunity to view the bruins and other wildlife. There are also several guided hiking trips or you can get maps and go it alone.

Bella Coola offers tremendous saltwater fishing for halibut, salmon, rock cod, crab, and more and there are several fishing boats available for charter. Or simply charter a yacht to explore the channels, inlets and islands of Bentinck Arm and beyond.

Explore the ancient petroglyphs estimated to be at least 4000 years old or follow in Alexander Mackenzie's footsteps along a portion of the 'grease' trail. Immerse yourself in Nuxalk culture or simply walk around Bella Coola, view the various totems and explore their gift shops and galleries.

The Bella Coola Valley is home to numerous waterfalls, many of which snake down the steep mountain faces overshadowing the valley, but one in particular is quite accessible. Clayton Falls is just past the Bella Coola harbour marina and is a sight to behold. The falls are truly awe inspiring and help provide much of the hydro electricity to Bella Coola. There is a viewing platform there, and a beautiful place to have your lunch at a picnic table just across the road and down on the saltchuck. There is also a mysterious little waterfall tucked away in a grotto coming back from the harbour to Bella Coola townsite on your right hand side. Keep your eyes peeled because it is hidden and there are no signs, but it's beautiful!

The jewel of the valley is Tweedsmuir Park on the easternmost end of the valley. It extends from the foot of the famous Bella Coola Hill up over the top and includes Heckman Pass. As the largest protected park in British Columbia, it offers everything in the way of wilderness adventure. Teeming with wildlife, the park is a great place to be for wildlife viewing as well as fishing, hiking, trail riding, canoeing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, downhill skiing and pretty much any other activity you would like to take on. The park has a massive trail system, including a good portion of the Alexander Mackenzie Heritage Trail also known as the Grease Trail, which is several hundred miles long and can take a month to complete. The park is also home to Hunlen Falls, the third highest freefall waterfall in Canada and is a favorite with canoeists for its famous Turner Lake Chain from which the waterfall flows.

There are lots of events held throughout the year in the Bella Coola Valley. There's the Bella Coola Rodeo, Fall Fair, and they put on a terrific Music Festival in July bringing in big name bands and singers. Check with the local tourism association to find out more about events and activities being held in the Valley.

There are several services available in Hagensborg, Bella Coola and throughout the valley including grocery stores, fuel stations, restaurants, inns, B&B's, cabins and RV and tent camping sites. There is a lodge and camping within Tweedsmuir Park itself. Hagensborg offers an extensive selection of lodging nearest to the park as well as dining, but you'll find accommodation all along Highway 20 to Bella Coola proper.

Operators - Bella Coola

Bella Coola Motel
Bella Coola Valley
Bella Coola Grizzly Tours
Bella Coola Valley
Creekside Gallery & Guest House
Bella Coola Valley
Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
Bella Coola Valley
Several ocean going fishing boats moored at harbour.
 
Green trees line the Bella Coola river with peak behind.
 
Spray from a delicate waterfall in the woods.
 
Eagle perches on a stump above ocean water.
 
A hiking path through green trees.
 
Two men saw a log while a third holds it.
 
Single lane highway down the Bella Coola Hill.
 
Bella Coola Hill single lane.
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