The city of Powell River (tiskʷat) is the largest community on the Sunshine Coast with a resident population of approximately 13,943 people. There is an additional 6,000+ people who live within the surrounding qathet Regional District. Powell River is located on the traditional territory of the Tla’amin Nation. “qathet” is a name that was gifted to the Regional District by Tla’amin Nation Elders and means “working together.”
Powell River is a city surrounded by natural beauty and adventure. It is home to the Sunshine Coast Trail, the Powell Forest Canoe Route, and world-class rock climbing opportunities in the Eldred Valley. Part of the adventure is getting there—you’ll have to take a ferry (possibly even two), a boat, or a plane. And once you arrive, you’ll discover not only the wide range of outdoor adventures to be had, but the thriving local arts and culture scene. Be sure to check out one of the many festivals and events in the area.
The Powell River Visitor Centre is located in the centre of town on Joyce Avenue. It is well-positioned to help visitors coming from or going to the ferry terminals at Westview and Saltery Bay. You’ll find maps, brochures, and more at the Visitor centre, along with a selection of souvenirs. Ask the staff for recommendations on everything from where to eat dinner to day hikes along sections of the Sunshine Coast Trail.
Did you know? The City of Powell River is considering a name change at the request of the Tla’amin Nation. In the meantime, Sunshine Coast Tourism is doing its best to respectfully navigate the ongoing discussion about the city’s name. Click here to learn more about the process and why a change is being considered.
Things to Do
Outdoor adventure enthusiasts can choose from exciting activities both on water and on land. Along with some beautiful ocean coastline to explore, there are many lakes around Powell River that are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding (tours and rentals are available). Looking for a backcountry adventure? The Powell Forest Canoe Route is a 57km, 8-lake, 5-portage journey with scenery that can’t be beat.
Fishing charters are available in Powell River and are a great way to explore the area. If you’re looking to get in the water, you can scuba dive in places such as Mermaid Cove (where you’ll see an underwater statue called “the Emerald Princess”) or just below the shores of Willingdon Beach (home to the sunken YOGN-82, a WW2 navy supply ship that’s now an artificial reef).
Ready to hike? The Sunshine Coast Trail is the longest hut-to-hut trail in Canada, stretching from Saltery Bay to Sarah Point (in Lund). The whole trail is 180km long, but legs of it can be enjoyed on their own as smaller day or multi-day hikes. There are also plenty of other trails in the region that are great for walks and day hikes, such as the Willingdon Beach Trail, Penticton Street Trails, and Millenium Park Trails.
Mountain bikers will find plenty of trails to explore. Check out the cross-country Suncoast Trails or some exciting downhills at Mount Mahony. For a day of tricks and flips you can head to the Powell River Bike and Skate Park at the recreation complex, which features jumps, ramps, wall rides, and two pump tracks.
Looking for more? Climb the granite walls of the Eldred Valley—said to rival the likes of those in Yosemite—or tee off for a round of golf at Myrtle Point. And in the winter, there are opportunities for backcountry skiing and snowshoeing at places such as the Knuckleheads Recreation Area and Tin Hat Mountain.
If you’re interested in history, the qathet Museum & Archives features exhibits on local First Nations history, forestry, the pulp and paper industry, and more. You can also visit Historic Townsite, which was designated a National Historic District back in 1995. One of the most famous buildings in Townsite is the Patricia Theatre, which is Canada’s oldest continuously operating movie theatre. There are historic walking tours through Historic Townsite available in the summer months, but you can visit at any time to explore Townsite and take in some cool views—including those of ‘The Hulks,’ a semicircle of WW2 era, concrete merchant marine vessels that make up a floating breakwater.
Powell River is also home to a thriving arts scene. Purchase local art at places such as Artique Co-op Gallery and other stops on the Purple Banner Tour, and be sure to check out spaces like the Malaspina Exhibition Centre and the qathet Art Centre to see the latest exhibitions.
Where to Stay
There are many types of accommodations available in Powell River. From hotels and resorts to B&Bs and vacation rentals, there is something to suit your needs.
Boat moorage is available at two city harbours and one resort. There are also camping opportunities near the city, including several easy-to-access lakeside and beachside campgrounds. Hike-in and bike-in campsites are available both along the Sunshine Coast Trail and at other recreation sites. Water access-only campsites are available on many of the lakes surrounding Powell River.
Food and Drink
Powell River is home to pubs, restaurants, cafes, bakeries, a brewery, and more. It’s not hard to find the perfect place to refuel and relax after a long day on the trails or out on the water. You can also pick something up to bring back to your accommodations or to enjoy al fresco on the beach.
Local festivals and events celebrate local talent, culture, and flavours. Annual events include the Townsite Jazz Festival, PRISMA, International Choral Kathaumixw, The Sunshine Music Festival, Powell River Film Festival, Powell River Festival of the Performing Arts, Community Canada Day Celebrations at Willingdon Beach Park, Powell River Logger Sports, and the Blackberry Festival. There are also two fantastic farmers’ markets you can check out year-round.