Kyuquot Sound B.C. Vancouver Island Kayak Information
This spot is a great place to “get lost” in a kayak for a few days, or longer. The Kyuquot Sound, situated in the sparsely populated northwest quarter of Vancouver Island, is reachable only by air or water; its isolated location makes it easy for kayakers to feel as if they have the mountains, rainforest and water all to themselves.
The Kyuquot Sound is one of 5 major sounds indenting the western coast of Vancouver Island. There is plenty to see here, by land and by water, and you will run into very little human traffic, if any, when you go exploring. The temperate rainforests here are pristine and abundant with cedar, fir and spruce trees as well as wildlife. The water, protected by mountains on either side, is often still, making this an ideal trip for inexperienced paddlers.
Page through kayaking books and you will find a wealth of information pertaining to paddling on Vancouver Island but very few pages, if any, will be dedicated to this gem of a spot. Even if there were more words written about this frontier, they would not due justice to its unspeakable beauty. On all sides, the sound is surrounded by steep Vancouver Island Ranges, peaks of over 1,500 meters are surprisingly close to the sound, making this meeting place of high mountains and still water appear especially sublime. Glaciers shaped the main river valleys and inlets here. Once these glaciers retreated, the landscape of fjords and rocky islands that we see today was created. Barrier Islands form an arc in front of the sound, effectively sheltering parts of the sound from nasty Pacific swells and keeping the waters within it calm. That said, there is open-ocean beyond these islands and the water here does face its share of rough days.
When you do come across people fishing or riding boats through the sound, they are often Kyuquot/Checleseht First Nations People. These people are the northernmost of the Nuu-chah-nulth, commonly called Nootka, First Nations and there is evidence that the Kyuquot/Checleseht people have called this area home for several millennia. A few hundred Kyuquot/Checleseht remain here and there is a wealth of artifacts documenting their rich native history throughout the area. The First Nations people have welcomed paddlers to explore as long as they “take only pictures and leave only footprints.”
Getting to Kyuquot Sound
As mentioned earlier, this paradise is only reachable by sea or air. There are always float planes but Kit and company’s choice is to launch from Fair Harbour and paddle into the Kyuquot Sound, which isn’t very far. If driving to Fair Harbour on your own, this is how you would get there. It is roughly a four to five hour drive from the Nanaimo Ferry terminal. From Nanaimo, follow Hwy 19 on Vancouver Island. Once you get to Campbell River, drive about 125 km north to a small town called Woss. There is a gas station, lodge and restaurant here. Continue past Woss but start paying attention to highway signs. In about 22 km you will take the Zeballos turnoff. From there you will be traveling on a gravel logger’s road for another 33 km. There is another 40 km to drive to Fair Harbour but if you are planning for a morning launch, Zeballos is a good place to stop for the night. There are several options for eating, lodging, camping and there is even a bar for a nightcap. In the morning, continue on the road to Fair Harbour. This road is gravel and winding so be prepared to drive slowly.
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