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Vancouver/Whistler/Bella Coola Trip

When did we go….

  • October 4-11, 2022


Why did we go…

  • we wanted to try a backcountry experience seeing the grizzly bears and had booked this for 2020, but ‘vid’ issues delayed it by two years


How did we get there…

  • 1.5 hour flight to Vancouver
  • 2 hour drive to Whistler
  • 70 minute flight from Vancouver to Bella Coola
  • 40 minute drive from Bella Coola to Tweedsmuir Park Lodge



Where did we stay…


  • Westin Bayshore
  • located on Coal Harbor and beside Stanley Park
  • this is our go to Vancouver hotel, given its location

Bella Coola:

  • Tweedsmuir Park Lodge
  • built by the famed outdoorsman Tommy Walker in 1929 as a gentlemen’s hunting and fishing retreat
  • before being renamed in honor of Governor General Lord Tweedsmuir, it was known as Stuie (‘a pleasing place of repose or ‘a quiet place’) after the old First Nations village there
  • we had our own timber framed chalet that was very well appointed
  • beautiful property along the Bella Coola river with a bear viewing station perched above the river
  • situated near the staggering granite slopes of Mt Stupendous and Mt Melikan where the Atnarko, Talchako, and Bella Coola rivers merge
  • the grounds had a fire pit, fitness facility, hot tub, massage room, and a beautiful lodge
  • the staff were all amazing and provided outstanding service



Where did we eat…


  • Hapa Izakaya (dinner, Yaletown, average ambiance but great food and service)
  • Blue Water Café (dinner, heritage warehouse in Yaletown, excellent food, and fun to watch the master sushi chefs, although our waiter was substandard)


  • Hunter Gather (breakfast, casual but good food, and great service)
  • Naked Sprout (lunch, healthy cuisine)

Bella Coola:

  • all the meals were at the lodge and were amazing (hot and cold breakfast, bag lunches, three course dinners)



What did we do…


  • walked along the inner harbor, into Yaletown, and along Robson Street
  • relaxed by the pool and on our patio on the 20th floor of our hotel
  • had nightcaps in the H Lounge at our hotel


  • walked around the village
  • spent three hours at the fantastic Scandinave spa enjoying the hot and cold pools and relaxation area

Bella Coola:

  • enjoyed the complimentary lodge activities, including the hot tub, outdoor fire pit, wildlife viewing platform, pool table, foosball, and reading
  • had many bear sightings, including a bear named Perfect, who wandered through the property before dinner one night
  • there are roughly 25 grizzlies that inhabit the area near the lodge, and some of the ones we spotted were named Perfect, Dark, Light, Coco, Miss E, and Ivory
  • one of our hosts, Doug, was a hoot and regaled us with interesting historical stories and local knowledge
  • hiked the Rainbow Range trail with a guide named Simon from Montreal and a lodge guest named Susie from Lake Tahoe (over 6 hours along an incredibly unique landscape)
  • toured the Bella Coola Valley with a guide named Bryn, who is from Bella Coola (met an Indigenous chap named Richard who regaled us with amazing Indigenous stories, toured the sacred grounds of the Nuxalk territory with our guide Zac and had lunch on the beach)
  • went on an ecology tour with our guide Krista where we learned we saw some amazing moss features and numerous types of mushrooms along with other flora
  • floated the Atnarko river with our guide Tamar, where we saw two mother bears and one with a cub, as well as a couple of bald eagles (very peaceful float, and she just released a book called Chasing Rivers: A Whitewater Life)
  • did a second float with our guide Jessib where we saw one bear and then another bear with two cubs
  • did a nature walk with Ellie (incredible bear and habitat knowledge), where we, unfortunately, did not encounter any bears





  • one of Canada’s densest and most ethnically diverse cities
  • greater Vancouver population of 2.6M


  • one of the largest ski resorts in North America but also a summer playground for outdoor enthusiasts
  • population of 14,000

Bella Coola:

  • located at the heart of the world’s most extensive interconnected fjord system, the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, and a very dramatic landscape of glaciers, plunging creeks, pristine rivers, and granite cliffs
  • the lodge is on the traditional territory of the Nuxalk and Ulkatcho First Nations
  • home to the grizzly bears of the 21 million acre Great Bear Rainforest
  • population of just over 2000



What did we not do that is on the agenda for next time:

  • spend more time in Vancouver and Whistler



Final thoughts:

  • the weather was terrific for early October, which everyone couldn’t stop talking about
  • we met some fun, interesting, and in some cases, eclectic people at the lodge