Campbell River, on northern Vancouver Island, is situated on the 50th parallel at the south end of the Discovery Passage opposite Quadra Island.
Nanaimo (90 minutes by car) and Victoria (three hours) are south of the city, while Port Hardy and the ferry to the northern BC mainland is 238km/148mi north along scenic Highway 19.
Campbell River marks the spot where the open waters of the Georgia Strait narrow down and fill with a tight cluster of islands. The BC mainland’s coastal mountain range looms large to the east.
The Discovery Passage runs north along the coast of Quadra Island through Seymour Narrows (famous for its surging tides) and onwards to the Johnstone Strait. This is prime whale watching, salmon fishing, boating, and kayaking territory. On the eastside of Quadra, sailors ride stronger breezes while navigating around such smaller clumps of tree, rock and shell-lined foreshore as Cortes, Read, Marina, Sonora, and West Redonda islands enroute to Desolation Sound.
Parks & Interior Wilderness
While a double-lane highway runs south from the city back to civilization, a far more rugged, untamed landscape of forests, lakes, river systems, and mountain peaks stretch north towards Sayward and Port McNeill, as well as west to the island's Pacific coast. Highways also reach these remote corners of the island, but the traffic here is thin and driving a pleasure.
Elk Falls Provincial Park, Beaver Lodge Lands, and the Snowden Demonstration Forest are all shady refuges for hikers and mountain bikers relatively close to downtown. Further west towards Gold River (a deepwater port that leads to historic Nootka Sound and the open Pacific) is Upper Lake Campbell and the north end of Strathcona Provincial Park. Climbers tackle the Golden Hinde (Vancouver Island's highest peak at 2,210m/7,250ft) while skiers make tracks for Mount Washington Alpine Resort south of town.
Climate and Weather
Summer days here are warm and dry, with average highs in the mid-20s Celsius (mid-70s Fahrenheit) and the likelihood of much hotter spells in the dog days of July and August. The winter rains fall heavily between October and February, keeping the evergreens moist and generating white-water currents in the rivers. Winter lows hover around the freezing mark.