There is nothing that compares to the sight of wildlife at home in the northern rainforest. Given Prince Rupert’s coastal location, it is no surprise that some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities involve boats and airplanes.
The Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, the only one of its kind in North America, protects prime grizzly habitat. Some 50 grizzlies, along with numerous black bears, are known to make their home in the area. Situated northeast of Prince Rupert, the Khutzeymateen is accessible by air and by water.
Bear watching begins in the spring when the grizzlies descend from their dens to feed on the lush shoreline sedges. From the silence and safety of boats, you may watch as they graze, often feeding on mussels and other sea treats. Whether you come by boat or by plane, the spectacular scenery is an attraction in itself.
Whales are plentiful in the waters around Prince Rupert. For many, the sight of humpbacks, grays, orcas, or minkes leaves an impression that will last a lifetime. The timing of your visit will determine what species you see. It could be humpbacks lunge feeding or bubble netting, or the migrating grays that pass through in spring. Orcas frequent the area, and you will identify the minke by its small head and sharply curved dorsal fin.
Much of our bird population spends the summer at sea, and ferry travellers often carry binoculars to watch for rare and unusual sightings. Kayakers and boaters are often rewarded with a close look at sea birds or curious river otters, and frequently encounter seals and sea lions.
High mountain ledges are populated by mountain goats, most easily seen from an aircraft. And though shy and elusive, you may catch a glimpse of a wolf among the trees.
Throughout Prince Rupert, visitors will see how nature plays a vital role in life on the Northwest Coast. This is Canada’s northern rainforest, and Western Hemlock and Western Red Cedar—so prized by the First People—can be found throughout the city. Salmonberries, a relative of the raspberry that is found only on the west coast, and the cow-parsnip, once used as a vegetable by the First Nations, can be found along city paths.
Eagles and gulls are a common site, and deer wander freely through area streets and gardens. Spending a quiet moment watching the boats along the waterfront is often rewarded by a glimpse of a harbor seal, or one of many species of seabirds, and on rare occasions even humpback or killer whales.
Here nature, and history, are vital to our daily lives. We invite you to share in a wilderness experience that you will never forget.