Archaeological, Wildlife & Adventure Tours
Prince Rupert is at the center of an amazingly scenic area, but unless you have your own boat, you'll find it hard to get around. A good option is to sign on with a local tour operator. One of the most unusual excursions is the Pike Island Archaeological Tour, operated by the Metlakatla band of the Tsimshian First Nation. Tiny Pike Island (Laxspa'aws) is 9km (5 2/3 miles) from Prince Rupert in Venn Passage, and is at the center of a rich archaeological area that was once one of the most densely populated regions in pre-Contact Native America. The island has three village sites that were abandoned 18 to 20 centuries ago. Although none have been excavated, guides point out the house depressions in the forest floor and discuss the midden deposits, the shellfish and bone piles that were essentially the garbage pits of these prehistoric people. Tours are offered daily from May to Labour Day, starting at 11:30am and returning to Prince Rupert at 4pm; they cost C$65 adults, C$49 children 5 to 12. The trails on the island are not difficult, but are not wheelchair accessible. The Pike Island tours are offered by Seashore Charters (tel. 800/667-4393 or 250/624-5645; www.seashorecharters.com), which has an office at Atlin Terminal. Seashore Charters offer a variety of other tours, including whale-watching.
One of Prince Rupert's most unique adventures takes you to Canada's only wildlife preserve dedicated to the grizzly bear. Access to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Preserve, northwest of Prince Rupert, is highly restricted, and a very limited number of outfitters can offer trips to this pristine wilderness, home to abundant numbers of Ursus horribilis. There's no other access to the preserve, and humans are forbidden to actually land. The most affordable option is Palmerville Adventures (tel. 888/580-2234 or 250/624-8243; www.palmerville.bc.ca), which offers trips to the preserve on jet boats. Their half-day trip combines an air flight (either by seaplane or helicopter, depending on the size of the group) plus a journey into the preserve on a covered jet boat, with rates starting at C$425 per person. Although Prince Rupert Adventure Tours (tel. 800/201-8377 or 250/627-9166; www.adventuretours.net) is not one of the two outfitters that are allowed into the Khutzeymateen preserve itself, this outfitter does offer affordable day trips to the area near the wilderness area. Of course the grizzlies don't recognize boundaries, so the chances of viewing bears, as well as other wildlife such as eagles, seals, and mountain goats, is good. A 6-hour trip, including a sack lunch, is offered May through July and costs C$180 for adults. This outfitter also offers a variety of whale- and wildlife-watching tours, kayak drop-off and pickup, plus the popular, 1 1/2- to 2-hour Kaien Island Circle Tours trip, which circumnavigates Prince Rupert's Kaien Island. The trip visits the city's busy docks and the seaplane terminal, and circles the island to view wildlife and such phenomena as reversing tidal rapids. The cost is C$55. Tours are offered May through September and leave from Atlin Terminal at Cow Bay.
For a historical 2-hour walking tour of the city, contact Heritage Walking Tour (tel. 250/624-3207 or 250/624-5637). It leaves daily May through August from the Museum of Northern British Columbia and is free with museum admission. A self-guided walking-tour booklet is also available for C$2.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.