Wandering the rugged West Coast of Canada – Ucluelet, BC

Some folks we met while traveling on Vancouver Island raised their eyebrows when we told them we were heading to Ucluelet.  They were excited for us, but then they would point at Betsy and say, “you’re going in that?”

Opinions varied on the wisdom of taking a large RV towing a car on the steep, narrow and winding highway 4, which was also undergoing major construction.  But others had done it, and our adventurous traveling friends Eric and Laurel gave us a vote of confidence as they had made the trip.  Steve figured if we crashed and burned at least he’d have someone to blame…

After asking around and doing some more research we were up for the challenge and on our way.  We made it just fine, and the drive was definitely worth it!

The road construction area overlooked Kennedy Lake

West of Port Alberni the road became narrow, uneven and twisty as it snaked through the island’s mountainous interior.  We finally reached the dreaded construction area after completing the nearby 18% grade:

Betsy was indeed the biggest girl in town.  We heaved a collective sigh of relief when we saw the Ucluelet welcome sign, and were soon settled in with cold beers and a smoked salmon lunch at what turned out to be our favorite campground on Vancouver Island.  Wild Pacific Camp has only six sites, and Betsy qualified for the longest one as we tucked her into the forest for our 10-night stay.  Awesome!

Visiting entertainers brought smiles to our faces every morning:

We could see and hear this guy from our site


Ucluelet is a Nuu-cha-nulth First Nation word meaning “safe landing place.”  It’s located on the magnificent outer West Coast of Vancouver Island at the north-western corner of the wild, untamed Pacific Ocean.  We loved this small town of only 1,800 full time inhabitants, a very laid-back place where nature rules and modern tourism hasn’t taken hold.

Fishing still plays a big part in Ucluelet’s economy, and that was fine with us as we continued our salmon and halibut diet.  We enjoyed halibut fish and chips at Jiggers Food Truck, and some very tasty seafood chowder at Heartwood Restaurant.  I’m salivating just writing about it!

Wild Pacific Trail

Following the top-rated trail on Vancouver Island, the Wild Pacific Trail, we discovered for ourselves why it’s so named.  Hugging the undulating and wind-swept shoreline for much of our hike, we dipped in and out of rainforest along the way.  We paused at several viewpoints to soak up ocean vistas between strolls through ancient cedar and spruce-filled forest.  This one was a winner!

We passed through a canopy of windswept trees

Despite the misty and slightly foggy day, we were in awe of how serenely beautiful the scenery was.  The trail was carefully planned to protect the windblown ancient trees, and storm-watching decks called “Painter’s Perches” were built around protective trees that blended beautifully into the surroundings.

A hiker preaches at the pulpit, a “Painter’s Perch”

Rocky bluffs battered by waves
A century-old Amphitrite Lighthouse continues to withstand massive storm-generated waves.
Broken Group Islands and Barkley Sound

We’ve seen interesting trees at Cape Flattery in Washington, but this trail takes it to another level, featuring a dizzying number of exquisite “tree formations” (I made that up) that we constantly stopped to examine.  Fascinating!

We made a side trip onto the Ancient Cedars Loop Trail:

This tree has branched out into four gigantic arms

In addition to giving the trail a 5-star rating on Alltrails, we made a donation to help support this magical place:

We’ve missed seeing beautiful sunsets during the past few months, and we’re happy to catch a nice one on the west coast of Vancouver Island before heading back to civilization:
Watching the sun slowly dip past the horizon
What a way to end the day!



  1. Well ML. You’re burning that keyboard up with the goodness of the PNW. Slugs, ferns, moss, mountains, coastlines, and the views that make it so special. Thank you for getting my fix from the SW.

  2. New to your blog and enjoying it! I always wondered about Highway 4. It does look a little daunting! Beautiful pictures.

  3. I’ve enjoyed these posts on Vancouver Island. It’s an area we’ve always wanted to visit but probably won’t. So, I appreciate the tour via your posts. Lovely photographs as usual 😊

  4. This looks to be one of the most fascinating places you’ve discovered. I’ve fallen in love with it from your pics and prose. Definitely worth the hair-raising drive to get there!

  5. I’m very happy you made it to Ucluelet without incident on that crazy highway. We knew you could do it, with Steve at the wheel! (And whew, we didn’t want to be blamed if things went south, LOL!)

    You found a spectacular place to stay! We liked staying in the national park, but I love the idea of staying in a sweet little park with only six sites. I’ll remember that for our next visit to the island. We’re so glad you enjoyed your time on the Wild West Coast. Your photos are wonderful—your capture of the Bald Eagle is especially stunning! And your fabulous sunset. We’re delighted you guys enjoyed your time there. 😊

  6. Once I recovered from reading about your crazy drive, I was able to thoroughly enjoy your spectacular hike and most yummy food. I told John you did 18% grade (he can finally believe me)! I know he guestioned me when you put it on fb. I can’t imagine 18% n a MH. We did 16% grade today in the Jeep on the East Portal Rd in Black Canyon. That was quite steep. Steve is brave (or maybe crazy)…haha! What a great hike! Endless scenery! Love those trees! Fresh seafood…drool!!!

  7. Oh, drives like that terrify me, but they always lead to the best places! Good job, Steve!

    For all the years we lived in the PNW, I’ve never gotten a good shot of the Stellars Jay. Yours is fantastic both in true color and activity!

    That driftwood octopus looks like a spider, and not a cute fuzzy tarantula, either shiver

    I hope the weather has improved a bit for the rest of you time in the upper left corner!

  8. Wow! 13% grade? The most we’ve done (in our gasser) is 10% and that freaked me out. I’m glad you made it safe and sound. It looks like a lovely place to visit. Your pics are beautiful!

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