In the wild and pristine Pacific Northwest, a few select travellers can enjoy the incomparable thrill of encounters with massive brown bears, soaring bald eagles and large pods of orcas. Most viewing is done from boats, which allows you to get remarkably close.
Situated 70 kilometres north of Campbell River, and accessible by floatplane, Glendale Cove used to be the site of a cannery as well as a First Nations village. However, nowadays this location is renowned for having one of the largest concentrations of brown (grizzly) bears in Canada. The number of bears only grows when the inlet’s abundant salmon run beings in earnest in the late summer months, which leads to unrivalled opportunities to watch and photograph these magnificent creatures.
This remote area can be a place of immense silence in the calm of the temperate rainforest, and one of immense power in the face of the many thundering waterfalls that are fed by glaciers. Knight Inlet and Glendale Cove really start to come alive from late April onwards when bears emerge from hibernation and are eager to feed on the succulent spring growth - you can see as many as 15 grizzly bears and five black bears feeding on sedge grasses, mussels and barnacles along the shoreline. This is the time to see newborn cubs as they venture out for the first time with their cautious mothers. Most viewing is done from boats, which allows you to get remarkably close. Seeing bears at eye level without disturbing them is an unforgettable experience, and offers some of the year's best photographic opportunities, with lush vegetation and spectacular backdrops.
Towards the end of August hundreds of thousands of pink salmon start to surge up the inlet into the Glendale River, attracting dozens of grizzlies who converge on the channels where they spawn to gorge themselves and fatten up in preparation for the coming winter – this really is a must-see wildlife spectacle.
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