Bella Coola Valley, British Columbia Canada FAQs
Wednesday April 23rd, 2014
Where Is Bella Coola?
Bella Coola, which is the name of both the small town and the Valley, is located about one-third of the way up the province of British Columbia. Although many people think it is on the ocean, itīs actually 100 kilometres inland up the Burke Channel and North Bentinck Arm of the Pacific Ocean.
Is Bella Coola the only town in the Valley?
Bella Coola, located beside the Bella Coola River a short distance from North Bentinck Arm, is on the western edge of the Valley and is the primary area of retail business. The other main community is Hagensborg with a smattering of services. Along Highway 20, the artery that connects the Valley to BCīs interior, are the villages of Fourmile, Firvale and Stuie, which are so small you may not realize you are in a community.
Approximately how long is the drive from Vancouver, BC?
The distance is 1,000 km (625 mi) with the approximate driving time of 10 to 12 hours. There are many sights to experience along the way -- check out the Itineraries.
Should I book ahead?
Reservations are required on the seasonal ferry service. From June through September, it is crucial to book your accommodation before your arrival.  Because many visitors arrive by scheduled ferry service, this means that the hotels, small inns and lodges, B&Bs and campgrounds get very busy. So plan ahead and book ahead.
Because this is a remote area, how difficult is it to get supplies?
There are approximately two dozen retail and service outlets in Bella Coola and Hagensborg, the two service centres. At Kopas Store, reminiscent of the original general store in Bella Coola, there is also a hardware store, pharmacy and grocery store. Some services are in Hagensborg as well as about a dozen home-run businesses. There are post offices in both Bella Coola and Hagensborg and an Internet caf? in the latter.
Where is the best place to pick up groceries?
For food and general supplies go to retail outlets in Bella Coola or Hagensborg.  There is a farmerīs market on Mackenzie Street on Sunday mornings, June to September, 10 am to 2 pm, an organic market and a seafood store. Liquor can be purchased at the liquor store in Bella Coola.
Are there ATMs?
ATMs are located at the Hagensborg Shop Easy and the Thunderbird Store in Bella Coola. Kopas Store and Tallheo Gas Bar give cash on debit cards.
Where do I get my vehicle serviced?
There are three service stations and several places to have your car repaired, including two “cottage industry” repair shops in the Bella Coola Valley. Propane is available at two service stations, one in Bella Coola and one in Hagensborg.
Where is the Visitor Information Booth located?
The Bella Coola Valley Visitor Info Booth is located at 450 Mackenzie Street in Bella Coola. It is open June to August from 8 am to 5 pm. During September it is open Mondays, Wednesdays to Sundays from approximately 9 am to 4 pm. Maps, brochures and travel guides are available as well as friendly tourism personnel. The phone number is 250 799-5202
Where do I get emergency medical treatment?
The Bella Coola General Hospital has a walk-in clinic.

What if my pet needs care?
There is no veterinary service in the Valley; the closest is in Williams Lake.

Will I see bears?
Probably. The Bella Coola Valley is one of the provinceīs most densely populated regions for both black and grizzly bears. Take a wildlife sighting tour and stay alert while driving or walking anywhere in the Valley. Bears move throughout the Valley, with the denser population being in Tweedsmuir Park. They can be dangerous in early spring as they emerge ravenous from their dens. Bears are most active on the Valley floor from March to late June, at which time they will begin to head into the surrounding hillsides following the ripening fruit. By late August, they return to the Valley to feed on the large runs of spawning salmon in the local rivers. All the local rivers, streams and side channels contain spawning salmon. By September the bears become very focused on fishing, to build fat reserves before winter hibernation. Weīve never had a tourist nabbed by a bear. Be bear smart, keep your distance and you will be fine.
What other precautions should be taken regarding wildlife?
The Valley also supports a healthy population of cougars (mountain lions). When visiting the Valley with your dog, keep it on a leash for its own protection.
Why are so many cars parked on the side of the highway?
Fall is mushroom season and fungi aficionados head into the woods to harvest them. Crops are most concentrated in the east end. Pine mushrooms, found only in old-growth forests, contribute a significant amount to the local economy. Most locals are mushroom savvy and spend time picking them -- including business owners.  So if you drop in on a business in the middle of a weekday and find it closed, you can assume the owner has gone mushroom picking for a few hours.

Many of those cars parked on the highway also belong to fishermen. Bella Coola is world renowned for the sport fishery, and one of the last places in North America where you can stand along the side of a river, in complete isolation, and not pay for the privilege. See that pullout in the middle of nowhere that looks like a parking lot full of cars?  Thatīs likely a really good spot to fish.
Does it rain much in Bella Coola?
The locals love to tell you -- and it is true -- that Bella Coola, located in the heart of the Coast Mountains at the end of a long finger of salt water, receives less rain than coastal communities. The Valley runs almost due east/west. The rain clouds move in from the Pacific, dropping rain as they move inland. Historic Ocean Falls is located at the edge of the mountain range, halfway up the inlet. Annual rainfall there is approximately 250 cm (100 inches). Each year, Bella Coola averages 228 cm (90 in); Hagensborg, 14 km further inland, experiences 152 cm (60 in); and Firvale, another 30 km east, receives about 76 cm (30 in).