Ever wanted to go on northern Vancouver Island’s most adventurous road trip?

Wanting to see the most rugged and majestic landscapes in northern Vancouver Island? This wild twelve-day journey will take you from Victoria to some of the northern-most parts of Vancouver Island. Pack your bags and get ready for a serious adventure!


The Journey North: Victoria to Telegraph Cove

Day 1-3 highlights:

  • Cumberland
  • Sayward Valley
  • Scenic drive

After doing a vehicle handover with our Victoria team, you’ll start by driving from Victoria to Comox Valley. Comox Valley is home to Mount Washington Alpine Resort, offering biking, hiking, and even ziplining! Cumberland Brewing is a great stop en route if you’re looking for a quick beer (please drink responsibly!). Need baked goods or coffee? Cumberland Village Bakery and Cumberland Grind are our favourites.

Once you’re past Campbell River, the road narrows, and you’re getting into some true northern Vancouver Island wilderness! Make sure to fill up on gas and supplies in Woss before driving north, gas stations and supplies become less frequent. Some great camping spots include Horne Lake near Coombs (make sure to check out the goats on the roof of the Old Country Market!), and by the Sayward Valley lake just past Campbell River.

whale watching in northern Vancouver Island

Welcome to the North: Telegraph Cove and Port Hardy

Day 4-5 highlights:

  • Whale Watching
  • Gooding Cove

Whale watching is one of Telegraph Code’s best activities! Telegraph Cove was a long time BC Fishing hub, you’ll see remnants of that in the town. Several whale watching tours operate out of Telegraph Cove, giving you a chance to get close to these magnificent creatures. You might even see orcas, humpback whales, or minkes!

Gooding Cove’s small secluded beach and unobstructed Pacific Ocean views makes for another great stop. Cell service can be limited back here, but don’t worry, our FarOut team will make sure you’re well-prepared with maps and GPS devices. To start, check out our blog on navigating the backcountry for more tips.

Next up is Port Hardy, northern Vancouver Island’s base for outdoor adventure junkies. Port Hardy is famous for its breathtaking rugged coastlines, beautiful secluded beaches, and world-class hiking trails. You’re now halfway through your trip, so if you’re looking for a night off from camping, Port Hardy Cabins is the perfect place to relax, rest and clean up before hitting the road again for the second half of your trip.

The town is also an amazing opportunity to learn more about northern Vancouver Island’s history, culture, and wildlife. Port Hardy lies on the traditional territory of the Kwakiutl First Nations, and the nearby land also being home to the Quatsino and Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw. You’ll find totem poles, big houses, and more in the area – it’s steeped in history. We recommend checking out the Port Hardy Museum to see more First Nations artifacts.

northern Vancouver Island's beaches

Northern Explorer: Exploring the Provincial Parks

Day 6-9 highlights:

  • Grant Bay
  • Raft Cove Provincial Park
  • Cape Scott Provincial Park

Used to busy highways? Driving around this part of Vancouver Island may feel a little different. Cars are few and far between here, so you’ll have the roads to yourself for adventuring! Before you head off from Port Hardy, stock up on gas, food, and water. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife when driving through these areas—you might just spot a bald eagle or two, and even some bears! Here are some tips on bear safety you’ll want to brush up on before your trip up island.

Kwaksistah Regional Park Campsite in Winter Harbour is a great camping spot. There are eight sites to choose from, all with fire pits, picnic tables and outhouses. Keep in mind that these sites don’t have running water or power.

Southwest of Winter Harbour is Grant Bay, a must-see secluded white sand beach. Grant Bay is a great place have a campfire and soak up the views. We’ll make sure you’re up to date local and provincial fire bans before your trip.

North of Grant Bay is Raft Cove Provincial Park. A beautiful 45 minute walk to the beach will take you through coastal old-growth forests with Hemlocks, Western Red Cedars, and Sitka Spruces. It can be a bit muddy on this trail, so make sure to have some good boots!

Cape Scott Provincial Park, located on the northernmost part of Vancouver Island, is also a great stop. Cape Scott is a hiker’s mecca, whether you want to grunt through the 33km Cape Scott Trail in one day, or leisurely enjoy the 4km San Josef Bay trail, it’ll be a blast! Look for wildlife while you’re on the trail! Bald eagles, sea lions, even orcas have been spotted.

If you love this place so much that you want to stay the night, the San Josef Heritage Park campsite is the best spot. Amenities can be limited, but we’ll help you plan to make sure you have all the essentials!

overlanding in northern Vancouver Island

Heading Back South: Vernon Lake and Strathcona Provincial Park

Days 10-12

  • Vernon Lake
  • Strathcona Provincial Park
  • Elk Falls Provincial Park

After an amazing 10 days of adventuring around northern Vancouver Island, it’s time to slowly make your way back to Victoria. While you’re driving back, there’s a few good ways to break up the trip.

Vernon Lake is the first spot to spend a night. It’s a pristine lakeside campground, the perfect spot for a swim on a warm summer day! Once you’ve rested your weary legs, you’ll start the next day by driving from Vernon Lake to Campbell River. You’ll end up at nearby Gold River, taking you through some of BC’s most stunning scenery, including Strathcona Provincial Park—the oldest provincial park in Canada!

Strathcona has several campsites for you to pick from for another night out camping in the wilderness. Reservations can fill up in peak seasons, but we’ve got lots of local expertise on where you can camp in the park, even if sites are booked up (check out our blog post). Buttle lake is a great picnic spot for your last day! Myra Falls is nearby, if you walk to the end of Buttle Lake, the falls is just a stone’s throw away.

roof-top tent camping in northern Vancouver Island

Taking a road trip all the way to northern Vancouver Island is a gem of a trip few get to experience! Does this sound like your type of trip? We’re here to help you plan your adventure. Book a call with one of our team members here, and we’ll help you map out an epic road trip you’ll never forget.