In British Columbia, salmon is a pretty popular and significant part of the local culture and economy. This fish migrates through BC water during the fall season, and it’s quite fascinating to see them make their way upstream to spawn.
If you’re not quite sure where to witness the salmon runs, we’ve put together a list of some of the best places to see this amazing natural spectacle.
Drop by the Capilano Hatchery
Address: 4500 Capilano Park Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4L3, Canada
Contact Details: 604-666-1790
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 8am to 7pm
Since 1971, the Capilano Hatchery has greatly contributed to the recreational fishery in Burrard Inlet by raising and releasing coho and chinook salmon.
The hatchery gives a great opportunity to learn about the life cycle of salmon and the importance of environmental stewardship. When you go in, there are informational plaques with info about the hatchery. Plus, you can watch the salmon leaping up the ladder or chilling in the feeding ponds.
While you’re here, make sure to take a stroll on the serene, circular paths around the hatchery.
Visit the Bell Irving Hatchery at Kanaka Creek Regional Park
Address: 11484 256 St, Maple Ridge, BC V2W 1H1, Canada
Contact Details: +1 604-970-8404
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am 7pm
In Kanaka Regional Park, the Bell Irving Hatchery has been raising coho and chum salmon since 1983, and they release these fish into numerous streams across the Lower Mainland.
There are a couple of earthy ponds where they raise salmon. You can hang out there, watch the salmon, see how they act, and even feed them. The guides will also fill you in on how their hatchery works and how they handle stormwater treatment.
In the hatchery, make sure to check out the picturesque river with stunning views where you can set up a picnic amid all that lush greenery.
Get a Glimpse of Salmon Spawns at the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel
Address: 17780 Morris Valley Rd, Agassiz, BC V0M 1A1, Canada
Contact Details: +1 604-796-9444
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 8am to 4pm
Built in 1965, the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel is the spot where sockeye salmon, along with a smaller number of chum and pink salmon, lay their eggs. It accommodates approximately 45,000 adult spawning fish.
This 3-kilometer channel acts as an extension of the original Weaver Creek, providing a place for more salmon to naturally spawn. It’s a fantastic experience to get up close to the fish as they gather in large numbers within the channels.
Before you head out, be sure to visit their website to find the optimal times for catching a glimpse of salmon.
Venture to the Little Campbell River Hatchery
Address: Surrey, BC V3S 9R9, Canada
Contact Details: +1 778-709-0094
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 8am to 4pm
The Little Campbell River Hatchery is home to a diverse species of plants and animals. Along the path to the hatchery, you’ll find informative signs about the life cycle of salmon and the whole process of salmon spawning.
As you walk around the hatchery, you’ll see the ponds where the salmon are raised from eggs to fry before being released into the river. Behind the hatchery, you’ll find an abundance of stunning sights and sounds, along with a diverse range of wildlife.
The hatchery is always accepting volunteers to restore and enhance the Little Campbell River, so if you’re up for it, you can contribute to the conservation efforts by joining as a volunteer.
Sign Up for a Salmon Run Boat Tour at Indian Arm
Address: North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact Details: +1 604-904-7410
Operating Hours: Monday to Friday: 8:30am to 4:30pm
Join a spawning salmon tour and take a stroll along the ancestral trails by the Indian Arm River’s edge, where you can spot several streams filled with salmon.
Takaya Tours, a tour company run by indigenous folks, provides a tour that gives you the chance to witness salmon spawning, explore historical village sites, and learn about the connection between First Nations culture and salmon.
Parking is quite limited here, so make sure to come early to secure a spot.
Check Out the Built-in Salmon Channels at Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery
Address: 1000 Midnight Way, Brackendale, BC V0N 1H0, Canada
Contact Details: +1 604-898-3657
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 8am to 3pm
With a focus on enhancing coho, pink, chum and chinook salmon stocks in the Squamish River watershed, the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery has released over 3 million smolts each year.
Embark on a self-guided adventure through a well-kept facility with a bunch of fish tanks holding various salmon species. If you prefer a guided tour, be sure to give them a call ahead of time to check on tour availability.
During the winter months, the Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery also serves as a great viewing location to see Squamish eagles.
Climb an Easy Trail to the Mamquam Spawning Channel
Address: 1940 Centennial Way, Squamish, BC V8B 0H3, Canada
Contact Details: 604-815-4994
Operating Hours: Contact for opening hours
The Mamquam Spawning Channels are teeming with coho and steelhead salmon journeying from the stretches of the Pacific Ocean to lay their eggs. Explore the 4-kilometer trail that winds through the channels, surrounded by an abundance of nature.
You’ll see signage along the Dipper Trail that explains the salmon cycle, which includes their migration, spawning, and the importance of the spawning channels for their survival.
When you spot the “Sensitive Habitat Area” sign, make sure that your dogs are on a leash and kids are supervised closely to prevent any disturbance to the local wildlife and their habitats.
Tour the Tynehead Hatchery
Address: 16585 96 Ave, Surrey, BC V4N 2E2, Canada
Contact Details: +1 604-589-9127
- Wednesday: 9am to 12pm
- Saturday: 10am to 12pm
The Tynehead Hatchery is a 100% volunteer-run establishment that raises and releases chinook, chum, coho, and steelhead salmon. Sometimes, you may even spot trout varieties in the river.
Each year, they release around 250,000 salmon back into the Serpentine River, and it’s quite an amazing sight to see the send-off as the fish swim downstream towards their natural habitat.
To make the most of your visit, the trails inside the hatchery actually go all the way to Fort Langley and Green Timbers Park, so you can explore more of the surrounding areas.
Get Educated at the Seymour River Hatchery
Address: 2369 Lillooet Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7J 2H9, Canada
Contact Details: +1 778-452-4583
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 6am to 5pm
Nestled within the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve, the Seymour River Fish Hatchery is an informative spot where you can witness the dedicated efforts of the Seymour Salmonid Society in salmon improvement.
At this facility, you’ll encounter salmon, steelhead, and rainbow trout as they make their way back to the Seymour River’s source to continue the life cycle.
The trail to the Seymour River Salmon Hatchery is a bit challenging so it’s wise to wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water.
See the Salmon at the Terminal Creek Fishway and Hatchery
Address: Hummingbird Ln, Bowen Island, BC V0N 1G1, Canada
Contact Details: +1 604-224-5739
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 7am to 7pm
The Terminal Creek Fishway and Hatchery is a must-see for both locals and tourists eager to witness the return of chum and coho salmon.
If you continue along the trail towards the lagoon, you’ll have the chance to observe salmon spawning in the gravel beds nearby or even under the captivating Bridal Veil Falls.
To get here, look for signs to “Crippen Park,” where you’ll walk for about 10 minutes to an observation deck at Fishway, where there’s a trail that leads to the hatchery.