Vancouver Island Roadtrip advice

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Vancouver Island Roadtrip advice

Postby 35thAV » Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:53 am

The family and I are heading north from Seattle to explore the island this summer (July/August). We are planning on taking a long week with the kiddo (18 months). We've never been past Victoria so we are taking the ferry to Nanaimo and going from there.

Are there any <i>must do</i> stops on the way to Tofino and Long Beach?
Any campground recommendations?
Any advice on roads, weather, other travel issues?

Any advice is appriciated!

Thanks
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Postby fpoole » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:03 pm

Kewl, that sound like fun...

I drive/dive up there alot, been to most places....
Out of Nanaimo, there is just one main road, it's good all the way up to Port Hardy.

The further up you go the roads leading to the west are mostly paved, but to Nootka, there is a dirt road. Not bad, apx 40-50mph will work...

Beautiful places up there... so not sure what you're looking for. Sorry, havn't explored the campsites yet, but we did do camping at Campbell River at the park, just nw of the city and then over to Quadra island to the campsite on the East side.

You might take a look at do ing the "Loop"... Nanaimo to port hardy, back down to grab a ferry over to Powell River. The "Mermaid Park"... just south of Powell river is very nice for camping and right one the water, sort of..
I've got some maps, although it's pretty hard to get lost, only one road, it might help. It's geared toward diving, but does have some above water pics that might help.
http://www.psdivers.com/reviewpost/showcat.php?cat=7
(I can never get that link URL thing to work, sorry)

Hope that helps...

frank
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Postby stevec » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:53 pm

We did a week-long camping trip up there a couple of years ago, and liked it so much we went back the following year. A few things I'll mention:

1. The last couple of years, WA State Ferries has offered a 50% discount to RV's, to keep their prices competitive with BC Ferries. I would expect them to do the same this year. This ferry runs from Anacortes to Sydney, so you can drive up to Nanaimo on the island instead of driving up I-5 and crossing the border, then taking the Tsawwassen ferry over. For us, the WA State Ferry worked out better, as we camped (for free) at the Casino just outside Anacortes the night before.

2. Just north of Nanaimo, you can stay on Hwy 19, or turn onto the old highway, now designated 19A. Take 19A!!! It's a bit slower, but hugs the water for most of the way to Campbell River. Much more scenic!

3. If you go all the way to Port McNeill or Port Hardy, I highly recommend the Alder Bay Campground. It's between Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove, and is right on the water. We've stayed there both trips, and it's probably the best developed campground I've stayed at. You can book a fishing or whale watching charter right at the campground, and walk to the dock to catch your boat. Last time there were four bald eagles hovering around the bay, two adults and two juveniles, as well as a few seals fishing in the bay. If you're there on the right day, you can watch the cruise ships going by, only a few hundred feet from shore!

4. Strathcona Park was beautiful, but there isn't too much there, just a few trails. We talked to a few people who said they were still developing it, and that in coming years there would be more trails and camping areas.

From about Campbell River north, don't expect it to be sunny the whole time. We had rain more days than not, and we were there in August both trips. The roads were in pretty good shape, unless you are going west to Port Alice, etc. August is when the Chinooks are running, 30-40 pounders are not uncommon starting the second week of August, even fishing off the dock in Campbell River!
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Postby fpoole » Thu Mar 19, 2009 6:15 pm

when the Chinooks are running, 30-40 pounders are not uncommon ....


Yah (Campbell River), we swim with them every time we're up there... just float along... some big ones, but most are gone when we hit the water on Labor day...

but fun... and the water fall further up the road is kewl...

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Postby 35thAV » Tue Mar 24, 2009 9:35 am

Do you folks have any information about the Tofino & Long Beach area?
We were thinking thats where we would head to.

Also has anyone been to the Horne Lake Caves? Are they just a cheezy tourist trap or are they worth the time and price of admission?
1976 Westwind 13' with dual rear doors (48")Painted to match the F250 <b><i>My big little trailer!</i></b>

<b>The road takes me to the dirt, the dirt takes me to the whitewater, the whitewater takes me to the......</b>
My adventures blog:<b> http://blastshelter.blogspot.com/</b>
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Postby mjg444 » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:26 pm

Hi:

I use to go to Ucluelet fishing every year with guys at work. It is very pretty there and the drive from Port Alberni is pretty but not much between there and Ucluelet. And it's quite a long curvy road. Then there is Long Beach which has great surfing evidently (I'm not a surfer and beside it looks too cold there even in the summer).

I didn't check out Tofino too much or other camp areas because I didn't have a car. I'm sure there are some great places near Long Beach and Tofino though. We stayed in the Ucluelet campground in a 36 foot motorhome. It's basically downtown but near the water. We weren't exactly roughing it!

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Postby rallyfan33 » Thu May 21, 2009 2:08 pm

I live in Port Alberni on the way to the West Coast. I don't know where to start, but you can always email me any specific questions.
rallyfan33 AT hotmail DOT com
I'm heading out to Tofino/Ukee on June 4th if you need any scouting done! I get out there once a month for work to see clients (I'm in insurance).

The road from Port Alberni to Tofino has some rough parts so take your time. It's being worked on constantly.

Horne Lake Caves is very non-touristy and worth the trip if you like that kind of thing. www.hornelake.com . THAT road is gravel and was rough the last time I was there. There is a Provincial campground to stay at though.

Visit Coombs Market (goats on the roof) on Hwy 4a between Parksville and Port Alberni. http://www.oldcountrymarket.com/

Port Alberni has a Steam Train and the only working Steam Mill thats worth a look. http://www.alberniheritage.com/

Tofino/Ukee has whale watching, surfing, kayaking, hiking tours, etc. And of course an amazing beach!

Hope we can cross paths on your trip! We have a shelf that folds out to a bunk in our small teardrop for our 3 1/2 yr old. I always like to see other ones for ideas!

Hope this is useful!
Brian.

I can recommend restaurants all along the route too depending on your taste and budget.
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Postby rallyfan33 » Thu May 21, 2009 2:18 pm

Hey, your blog shows you like river rafting... my brother took a trip with these guys a while back:
http://www.destinyriver.com/

Its an hour past Horne Lake Caves but north rather than west to Tofino.
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