Last Easter we took a road trip ( http://bit.ly/cSPwOP ) from Vancouver to, and including a stay in very remote Bella Coola. Here is some of the video footage and photographs from this adventure.
The Bella Coola Valley, a gem of natural beauty within the Central Coast of British Columbia. Wilderness abounds and beckons nature lovers and soft adventurers who wish to get off the well-trod tourist path. It also has an alluring history: the First Nations Nuxalk people (pronounced Nu-hawk) date back 10,000 years. The Valley boasts a temperate climate that encompasses the Coast Mountains, crystalline rivers and inland regions. The Bella Coola Valley lies at the head of a 100 km (60mi) inlet from the outer Pacific Ocean and therefore has much less rainfall than the outer coast region.
Journeying to Bella Coola is an adventure. The Valley stretches 80 km (50 mi) from North Bentinck Arm, to the base of “The Hill” on Highway 20 and can be reached by road from Williams Lake, by scheduled and chartered air service, by private boat and BC Ferries seasonal service. At the eastern end of the Valley is Tweedsmuir Provincial Park a haven for outdoor recreation. Relax with a fishing line in hand, explore a hiking trail, drift a river, hire a guide to watch wildlife, tour the petroglyphs, go horseback riding, mountain biking, air-touring, heli-hiking, swim among salmon. In winter, the mountains guarantee deep powder for heli-skiing, heli-boarding and snowmobiling as well as ample snow for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Small galleries and shops showcase the diversity of artisans who call the Valley home. Accommodation is welcoming with campgrounds and RV locations, small hotels and motels, family-run inns, woodsy cabins/cottages and charming bed and breakfasts.
A visit to Bella Coola is about escaping the hectic pace and embracing the great outdoors — let the adventures begin.
Freedom Road: The “Bella Coola Hill”
Descending the Bella Coola Hill, Easter weekend, 2010.
The romantic name for the last 65 km (40 mi) of Highway 20, the Freedom Highway, came about because of the amazing saga of how this section of road was built. The story dates back to before World War I when the residents of Bella Coola asked the government to build a road from their isolated community of Bella Coola to Anahim Lake. That request was denied, as were many more pleas over the next 30 years. Finally, in 1952, the exasperated citizens decided to build their own road. http://www.bellacoola.ca/culture/hill.php
Petroglyphs at Thorsen Creek, Bella Coola
One of the highlights of Bella Coola is a guided hike to the petroglyphs at Thorsen Creek, which archeologists have dated to between 5-10,000 years. Follow a Nuxalk guide along the magical forested route and immerse yourself in this ancient culture. On a high bank, surrounded by forest, you gaze at weathered etchings of human faces, and others of frogs, fish and geometric patterns carved into rock. The wind whispers through the trees as your guide relates legends. This is a spiritual place and should be experienced with a knowledgeable Nuxalk guide. Our guide was Nels. This may well be the heart of Bella Coola.