Carmanag Point Lighthouse, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
Grey Whale feeding inshore at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
Stellar Sea Lions, Pacific Rim National Reserve. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
West Coast Trail Hikers, Carmanah Point Lighthouse in the distance. Photo credit: Parks Canada.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is nestled in the ḥaḥuułi (traditional territories) of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. The resources of the ocean and temperate rainforests have traditionally supported the social, cultural and economic well-being of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples for generations upon generations. Today Pacific Rim National Park Reserve greets over one million visitors each year.
Carmanah Point lighthouse is located on the remote 75-kilometre West Coast Trail and falls within the traditional territory of the Ditidaht First Nation. The West Coast Trail is an experience of a lifetime as you wind through dense rainforest, along sandstone bluffs and on sandy beaches. Anyone accessing Carmanah Point Lighthouse must have a valid national park entry pass and a valid West Coast Trail overnight use permit.
Large numbers of Grey Whales can be seen from Carmanah Point Lighthouse during their spring and fall migrations between Baja, Mexico and their feeding grounds as far north as the Bering and Chukchi Seas. The West Coast Trail is also the heart of the Pacific Coast Feeding Group. This is a population of Grey Whales that show strong maternal site fidelity to summer feeding grounds along the West Coast Trail.
Steller Sea Lions haul-out on nearby Carmanah Rocks year-round. So, you’re sure to spot them from the lighthouse and hear them roaring too.
You’ll need binoculars to search for Sea Otters. They’re small and hard to spot in amongst the kelp beds or feeding on urchins in the shallow rocky areas. You’ll also have to be lucky. Currently, the southern range of the northern population of Sea Otters extends to Long Beach with only the occasional transients observed southward in the West Coast Trail Unit.
In 1891, the first light shone in the Carmanah Point Lighthouse, guiding mariners along a treacherous stretch of coast. Before the lighthouse was built, sailors called the area “The Graveyard of the Pacific”, because so many sailing ships had wrecked on those shores. Today, West Coast Trail hikers visit the lighthouse, an octagonal tower built in 1922, that looks much the same as it did almost 100 years ago.
Carmanah Point Lighthouse marks the northern side of the entrance to the Salish Sea, part of the critical habitat of the Southern Resident Killer Whales, a species at risk in Canada.
Parks Canada is collaborating with Indigenous partners and other federal departments, to support the recovery of Southern Resident Killer Whales through science, enforcement and education programs.
The sandy coastlines and rocky shores along Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are exposed to the open Pacific Ocean. This means that high tides, large waves and rolling logs can expose hikers and whale watchers to hazardous situations. Creeks and streams flowing into the Pacific Ocean will also be affected by these conditions and by flash floods. Being aware of shoreline risks and taking reasonable measures to mitigate them will minimize the risk of personal injury.
Visitors to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve are advised to use caution when accessing any beach or rocky outcrops overlooking the water at any time. Plan your activities according to tides and observe beach conditions closely. Please obey guidelines and all temporary closures that may be necessary during any season. Learn more about coastal safety by visiting CoastSmart.ca
Nuu-chah-nulth principles of Iisaak (respect) and Hishuk ish ts’awalk (everything is one) are integral to the management and operations of the national park reserve. Ensure your visit keeps these ideas in mind and please also follow “Leave No Trace” principles.
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