Bella Coola, situated where the Bella Coola River runs into Bentinck Arm, although not on the coast, has the distinct characteristic of being on salt water. Bella Coola’s natural environment is awe-inspiring in its untouched beauty. A day trek to Clayton Falls Park is exhilarating at any time during the year as seals are often seen playing at the mouth of the river, and further out in the ocean you can spot sea lions. Just outside the village of Bella Coola you’ll find the Thorsen Creek Petroglyphs. This sizeable petroglyph site contains over 100 Native rock paintings. Access to this site is through the First Nations Reservation, so a guide is required.
East of Bella Coola on Highway 20 is Hagensborg. Norwegian settlers first settled this area in the late 1800s and an original settlers home has been set up to look like as it did in 1894 when the Svisdahl family first built it. The Hagensborg Norwegian Heritage House does not have regular hours, so it is wise to call ahead and make an appointment.
Bella Coola is located on Highway 20, 456 kilometers (283 mi.) west of Williams Lake. The drive into the Bella Coola Valley involves “the hill,” a portion of Highway 20 that involves grades to 18%. Commercial air service is available to the airport in Hagensborg, but charter airlines will fly to most areas. BC Ferries run from Port Hardy on Vancouver Island to Bella Coola. Travel time depends on the number of stops the ferry makes and varies from 13 ½ to 33 ½ hours. Population: 1,104 Elevation: 13 m (43 ft.) Avg. July Temp: 20ºC (68ºF)