Located in the heart of British Columbia’s Coastal region, the Great Bear Rainforest is home to thriving biodiversity and acts as an important grizzly bear habitat. It is here, on the edge of the rainforest at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge that we had our first grizzly bear encounter.
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In the winter, Tweedsmuir Park Lodge serves as the base for a flourishing heli-skiing operation. And in the summer months, the lodge and the surrounding Tweedsmuir Park become a dense habitat of grizzly bears in Canada.
Spending 5 days on the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge Grizzly Bear Safari made for an authentic grizzly bear viewing experience. It was a luxury wilderness escape we will never forget.
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About the Great Bear Rainforest
The spectacular Bella Coola Valley is located in the heart of three overlapping eco-zones. The area around the valley and along the coast from Vancouver Island is known as the “Great Bear Rainforest”. The rainforest covers 21 million acres on the North and Central Coast of British Columbia and is abound with wildlife.
Here, the coastal temperate rainforest meets mountains, fjords, and glaciers. This fosters rich biodiversity with an incredible mix of land and marine life. The Great Bear Rainforest is the largest intact coastal temperate rainforest on the planet. In recent years, it has been diligently protected from logging and industrial development.
Grizzly bears in Canada flourish here in the temperate Great Bear Rainforest where rivers and fjords make way for salmon spawning. During the salmon season (between August and October), the bears emerge from the forest. They make their way towards the Bella Coola River to fill up on the fish. The opportunity to see grizzly bears in their natural habitat feasting on salmon is one of the greatest wildlife shows on the planet. And it’s an adventure worth taking!
About Tweedsmuir Park Lodge in the Bella Coola Valley
Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is ideally positioned for grizzly bear viewing. The lodge sits on 60 acres of private land within the beautiful Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. The Bella Coola river runs right along the property of the lodge. Every year, the lodge grounds become a playground for dozens of bears.
But don’t be fooled. A stay at the Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is not a rugged experience, but a luxury wilderness escape complete with fantastic food, fabulous wines, incredible guides, and comfortable chalets.
The historic lodge was originally built in 1929 and is one of seven magnificent luxury wilderness lodges of Canada. The grounds consist of 10 timber chalets with a stunning main lodge, complete with a restaurant, a bar and a games room. There is also a spa, gym and hot tub on site.
There are ten luxury chalets at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge perfectly set up for a peaceful wilderness retreat. The timber-framed chalets are rustic and cozy with a queen or king bed, ensuite bathroom, and private deck. Each chalet is unique in its own way but all of them offer a cozy base for your Grizzly Bear adventures.
We stayed in one of the Loft Chalets that are nestled on the edge of the forest and boast wildlife viewing right from your deck. The chalet was very spacious. It offered not just one but two double beds, making it perfectly set up to house a family. And although we only used one bed, we loved the extra space for our camera gear and other electronics. Not to mention, the high loft-style ceilings of the chalet.
If you are looking for a smaller and cozier space, there is the Grizzly Log Chalet. It offers an ideal retreat for couples and boasts stunning views and a toasty gas fireplace.
If you’re travelling with a group, consider staying in the Pika Duplex which blends Scandinavian minimalism with luxe yet eco-friendly finishes.
The main lodge at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge houses an on-site restaurant offering international cuisine paired with award-winning wines.
For breakfast, the culinary team serves up a great a la cart menu with favourites like Eggs Benedict featuring farm-fresh eggs and salmon from the Bella Coola Valley.
The lunch menu changed daily and included 2-3 main options along with an appetizer. There was usually a choice of salad, sandwich/flatbread or a more filling pasta option. Snacks, tea and coffee are available throughout the day.
Dinners were definitely our favourite! Each dish featured local produce and seafood perfectly paired with British Columbia wines. We particularly enjoyed the Asian theme night with dishes taking inspiration from Vietnamese and Thai cuisines. We were happy to see that the team can accommodate any allergies as well as our vegetarian and low carb dietary restrictions.
Tweedsmuir Park Lodge offers all-inclusive packages for nature and adventure tours. Based on the time of year, you can enjoy guided nature walks, see grizzly bears, go fishing, or even go heli-skiing. We visited in late summer and went on an amazing grizzly bear safari.
Grizzly Bear Safari
September to October at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge marks the prime time for west coast grizzly bear tours. We were lucky enough to enjoy a 4-night Grizzly Bear Safari led by expert guides in an incredible natural setting.
Our safari started once we arrived in Bella Coola after taking the scenic ferry ride from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. We settled in and got a run-down of the lodge and its surroundings before heading into the restaurant for a delicious 3-course dinner.
Just after breakfast, we met our amazing guide, Ellie, for a few bear awareness tips before going on a guided walk through an old-growth forest. The guide pointed out how to recognize signs of grizzly bear activity and showed us around the peaceful landscape. We followed a couple of trails snaking along the river, drove out to the bear viewing spot at Fisheries Pools and eventually returned back to the lodge and wandered down to the wildlife viewing platforms looking over the river.
With the salmon spawn in full swing, it didn’t take us long to spot our first set of grizzly bears: a mom, Lucy, and her 2 young cubs. We watched them enjoy salmon right in front of the viewing platform at the lodge and eventually disappear into the forest.
In the afternoon, we jumped into a river raft for a drift down the Antarko River. It’s a great opportunity to see the bears from another perspective. And although we weren’t lucky this time around, our guide, Jessep, shared some fascinating stories of his bear encounters and his vast knowledge of their habitat.
We joined our guide, Jessep, for a long hike to the Rainbow Range. We hiked through a burnt forest and fields of wildflowers and berries and enjoyed lunch relaxed by a beautiful lake with a colourful mountain range as our backdrop. A perfect way to stretch our legs and enjoy the unique flora and fauna of Tweedsmuir Provincial Park.
Our last full day was filled with more bears and more adventures. Our morning drift proved to be quite exciting as we got a chance to see another mom and cub right on the river bank.
After a wonderful meal, we took on a fun adventure on via Ferrata, a unique climbing course featuring links and ladders that allowed us to climb above the Great Bear Rainforest along a rock face. It was a fun and slightly terrifying activity that offered stunning views of the Bella Coola Valley!
That evening, we enjoyed our final evening on the sundeck overlooking the grounds. The food was fantastic as always and the sunset was beautiful. But, what we loved the most was a surprise visit from a few grizzlies! Mama bear and her cub stopped by the main lodge on their way from the river to the forest. We were lucky enough to spot them from our dinner table. Then, we rushed to the end of the porch and got a bonus 15 min bear viewing experience in the middle of our meal!
We spent our last night at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge dreaming of cuddly bear cubs. We are in awe of our experience at the lodge. What an amazing way to see grizzlies in the wild!
Disclaimer: We were hosted guests on the Grizzly Bear Safari at Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, but as always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own, no matter who is footing the bill for our stay.