West to Gold River & Nootka Sound
Hwy. 28 continues past Strathcona Park another 9km (5 2/3 miles) to Gold River (pop. 2,049), a logging port and mill town just to the east of the Muchalet Inlet, and the only major northwestern island community accessible by paved road. The wild coastline around the Nootka Sound, to the west of Gold River, was the site of the first European settlement in the northwest, founded by British Captain James Cook in 1778. The tiny coastal communities here are almost completely isolated from roads, and rely on the MV Uchuck III for public transport and movement of goods. Passengers are welcome to join the MV Uchuck III as it goes between Gold River, Nootka Sound, and Kyuquot Sound.
Late September through early May, the Tahsis Inlet day trip leaves on Tuesdays at 9am, traveling into Nootka Sound and up the Tahsis Inlet between Vancouver and Nootka islands to the village of Tahsis. The 9-hour round-trip costs C$60 for adults, C$55 for seniors, and C$30 for children 6 to 12.
From early June to mid-September, the MV Uchuck III runs a day trip on Wednesdays (early June through Labour Day) and Saturdays (late June through mid-Sept) from Gold River to Friendly Cove, or Yuquot, the ancestral home of the Mowachaht people. The return trip runs 6 to 7 1/2 hours and costs C$70 for adults, C$65 for seniors, and C$35 for kids. It was Friendly Cove where Captain Cook first made contact with the Native peoples of Vancouver Island and established a trading fort.
On Thursdays year-round, the boat departs for Kyuquot Sound, to the north. This 2-day trip goes up the Tahsis and Esperanza inlets to the open sea and eventually the village of Kyuquot, where passengers stay overnight before returning the following day. The cost, which includes lodging, is C$465 for two. A similar trip departs Mondays for Zeballos, a former gold-mining town and good wildlife-viewing spot just a way from Tahsis. This trip costs C$375 for two, including lodging.
For more information on other trips (including a twice yearly trip btw. Gold River and Victoria), or to make reservations, contact Nootka Sound Service Ltd. (tel. 250/283-2515 or 250/283-2325; www.mvuchuck.com). The MV Uchuck III will also take kayakers to various destinations on its routes; inquire for details.
If you need accommodations in Gold River, contact the Tourist Info Centre (tel. 250/283-2202; www.goldriver.ca) or try the Ridgeview Motor Inn, 395 Donner Ct. (tel. 800/989-3393 or 250/283-2277; www.ridgeview-inn.com), where doubles range from C$90 to C$135 in high summer season.