This is the first of six pages, a guide to Pacific Rim National Park, one of the gems of the Canadian national parks system.
along the wild west coast of British Columbia's Vancouver Island,
the most accessible parts of Pacific Rim
National Park offers visits to two distinct
natural environments, close enough to each other
to visit on the same vacation, but varied enough
to attract people who become entranced with one
unit and stay for a few days, a week, or
park lies northwest of Victoria. To reach the
park from the province's capital city, drive
north on Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada) and turn
west at Parksville. Highway 4 leads to the
coast, running through Port Alberni before
climbing to the summit of the Mackenzie range.
You'll soon see the Pacific Ocean as you
expansive string of beaches stretch 7 miles (11
km), in a rarely-broken strand of white sand,
between the villages of Ucluelet and Tofino.
Along the beach are temporary islands, pockets
of trees and underbrush which are raised twenty
or thirty feet above the sand floor, made into
islands by the high tides and then becoming part
of the beach as the ocean recedes. These "air
islands" are the result of the constant scouring
and washing away of the earth.
Standing on the
beach, one can only see to the horizon, beyond
which lies thousands of miles of Pacific and --
somewhere in the distance -- the islands of
Japan. Some days the horizon is not visible, for
this is a truly wild coastline, often buffeted
by wind, rain, and high, pounding surf. Walking
along Long Beach in the rain is one of the
greatest pleasures offered a nature-lover
anywhere, as is sitting in the hospitable
shelter of the Wickaninnish Center (a marine
museum and restaurant), gazing at the storms
which frequently roll in, casting huge piles of
logs to the back of the beach and creating a
surreal backdrop to the gently-sloping sand
beaches flank the main beach. Florencia Bay, to
the southeast, has a crescent-shaped beach, the
site of many shipwrecks over the past 300 years.
To the northwest -- beyond Portland Point -- is
another isolated stretch of beach, accessible
only by boat. Several stretches of beach are
separated by rocky headlands, jutting out into
Beach—to the north of the Wickaninnish Centre—is the most impressive of the Long Beach
unit, where the huge piles of driftwood logs are
stacked in disarray. Surfing is a popular
activity on Long Beach, but my favorite, and
less exhausting, pastime is strolling along the
beaches looking for razor clams and oysters, and
watching the shore birds that dance with the
outgoing tides in their constant search for
snacks. Along the headlands are tidal pools,
whichcontain a wide variety of sea life
including mussels, sea stars, limpets, hermit
crabs, varieties of seaweed and
is no entrance gate to the Long Beach unit.
Parking charges are levied when using the park.
The best tactic is to purchase a day ticket from
the machines to avoid being caught on a overtime
hiking excursion. The day ticket may be used
throughout the unit.
at the verge where Barkley Sound meets the
Pacific Ocean is a boaters paradise: the Broken
Group Islands. This small, rocky archipelago
provides a wide range of coastal scenes
including sandy beaches, tidepools, caves, surge
channels, and quiet anchorages in sheltered bays
between the islands. The islands offer an
overwhelming sense of peace and one-ness with
nature, available in few other places. Part of
the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the
islands are uninhabited by humans, except for
the campers who find their way to the
archipelago during the summer months.
West Coast Trail
third part of the park is the more remote and utterly magnificent hiking trail along
the Pacific Coast, accessible only during the
summer months, with reservations required months
(or even a year) in advance.
The West Coast Trail is featured in our guidebook "Pacific Coast Adventures the Road Guide"
See the following pages for detailed information on Park features and accommodations.