Knight Inlet is the most famous and popular grizzly bear viewing location in Canada, and one of the best places in Canada to see grizzly bears. They congregate in this special location to fish for salmon, and where you can observe interaction between these normally solitary animals as they compete for the best fishing spots. Instead of sending our clients to the much more commercial Knight inlet Lodge at Glendale Cove - which accommodates around 40 people - we prefer to use Grizzly Bear Lodge, located on the beautiful Minstrel Island. With just 6 rooms available, you are sure of a more intimate wildlife experience during your grizzly bear tour from Vancouver Island.
The thing we really like about Grizzly Bear Lodge is that they utilise a fleet of 4 small 3-seat motorboats to transport guests on bear and whale watching excursions which means that couples ‘often’ get a private boat and guide. This fits our philosophy of personal service and intimate experience, and a smaller vessel is also less intrusive and Orcas will often come closer. Bear viewing takes place at Glendale Cove – the same location used by Knight Inlet Lodge – which is a scenic 1 hour boat ride from the lodge. What the lodge loses in proximity to Glendale Cove where Knight Inlet Lodge is situated, it gains by being an hour closer to Johnstone Strait, core habitat of the 16 resident Orca pods that frequent British Columbia’s coastal waters. Grizzly Bear Lodge is often rated by our clients as one of the best wildlife lodges in Canada and featured prominently in our list of the best Canada wildlife holidays.
During the autumn salmon season (late August through to mid-October) grizzly bear viewing is conducted from two elevated viewing platforms on the banks of a salmon spawning channel, and sessions are limited to 2 hours and 6 people per platform to minimise disturbance to the bears. It is however a very action packed 2 hours with rarely a moment when there aren’t multiple bears close to the platforms. From my experience (I have visited Knight Inlet many times) you often see more bears in 2 hours at Knight Inlet than you would in 2 days in other grizzly bear locations in British Columbia.
Grizzly Bear Lodge is open from May each year to coincide with the spring grizzly bear viewing which peaks during the months of May and June. At this time of the year the bears take advantage of the nutritious sedge grasses which grow in abundance around the many river estuaries and the mode of bear viewing in Knight Inlet changes. Instead of visiting the famous Knight Inlet stands, visitors will enjoy gentle rides in a boat skiff designed to move quietly through the water and not disturb the brown bears feeding on the shoreline. Although black bears are out competed by brown bears in the areas close to Grizzly Bear Lodge, you can still sometimes seem them in the tidal zone scavenging for crustaceans. Spring bear viewing in Knight Inlet is the best time to see grizzly bears and cubs feeding and playing together, as the population of resident grizzlies is more spread out and the spring cubs are less likely to be threatened by adult grizzly bears; who would dominate a spawning salmon river.
There are two possible ways to visit Grizzly Bear Lodge. Many of our clients like to take the car ferry between Vancouver and Nanaimo and then drive 2 hours north to the coastal town of Campbell River. There are many excellent grizzly bear tours at Campbell River, but most of these involved just day tours by boat and the majority visit Bute Inlet; not Knight Inlet. One of the most magical and true Canadian wilderness experiences you can have, is to arrive at a remote wildlife lodge by floatplane; and that is exactly what is included as part of a stay at Grizzly Bear Lodge. It is easy enough to leave your rental car at a Campbell River hotel for a few nights and take a taxi to the floatplane jetty.
Another way to get to Grizzly Bear Lodge is to fly all the way from Vancouver, making use of airlines using the south terminal at Vancouver to reach Campbell River airport and then connecting with the floatplane transfer. This means no driving on your bear watching tour of Canada and a very relaxed approach to your bear safari at Grizzly Bear Lodge.
We have a strong relationship with this beautiful lodge at Knight Inlet which we have developed over 15 years. Wildlife Trails guests are treated extra special by the owners and we have some of the best rates on the market. So why not check our Grizzly Bear Lodge safari and enjoy one of the best Canada wildlife holidays out there.