With the return of the Season of the Wild in the Harrison River Valley, it’s the opportune time to experience the bounty of wildlife to be found here! Waterways splash with spawning salmon while sturgeon, the ghostly dinosaurs of the deep, glide in the depths below. The skies are filled with soaring bald eagles, attracted by the salmon buffet. This plentiful ecosystem also attracts scores of other wildlife, on the hunt for sustenance. We invite you to bask in nature’s astonishing symphony amongst the wildlife wonders of the Harrison River Valley.
The Stars of the Show: Salmon, Sturgeon, & Bald Eagles
The return of spawning salmon is the spark that ignites the flurry of activity that is the Season of the Wild. Harrison River is the first designated Salmon Stronghold in Canada, which means that our river’s ecosystem supports a healthy wild salmon population.
The white sturgeon looks much the same as it did back in prehistoric days, with large bone plates instead of scales, lending them a dinosaur appearance. White Sturgeon can live well over 150 yers and grow to over 6 metres (20 feet) in length, and over 454 kg (1000 lbs.) in weight.
With a massive wingspan that ranges from 6 to 7.5 feet, the bald eagle dwarfs other raptors, and is second in size to only the California condor. Adults have the distinctive white head and tail and dark black-brown body, while juveniles are a mottled brown.
An abundance of birdlife, some attracted by the salmon feast, others migrating through on their winter journey, can be spotted at this time of year. According to the National Audubon Birding Society, the Harrison River Valley sees over 200 distinct species flying within our forests and wetlands. Just outside of Harrison Mills, you’ll find the Lhá:lt/Harrison-Chehalis Wildlife Management Area, which was designated an Important Bird Area due to the large number of Bald Eagles and Trumpeter Swans found there. It’s no wonder this region has been designated as part of The BC Bird Trail! It’s not uncommon to see osprey, turkey vultures, ducks, seagulls, great blue heron, trumpeter swans, grebes, loons, sandpipers, blackbirds, ruffed grouse… and SO many more species.
The abundance of salmon and healthy biodiversity in the region attracts a spectacular array of mammals, among them coyotes, bears, river otters and more. You may even spot a seal – they’ve been known to swim up the Harrison River in search of delicious fish!
Wildlife Viewing Locations
• Kilby Provincial Park Loop Trail. Start at Kilby Historic Site or at Kilby Park and walk along the beach, then make your way to the dyke. Follow to the Lougheed Highway, and return along School Road.
• Sandpiper Golf Course Eagle Walk. From the Sandpiper parking lot, follow the Eagle signs and walk across Elbow Creek to the Eagle Viewing Gazebo.
• Qwólts Park & Whippoorwill Point. From Harrison Hot Springs Resort, head west towards the Hot Springs Source. From there continue onto the Sandy Cove & Whippoorwill Point Trail
• Great birdwatching opportunities also abound at Green Point Day Use area, Miami River, Sasquatch Provincial Park, and even right in the Village at the lake-front lagoon! Note: Eagle viewing is also great along Nicomen Slough on BC Route 7 highway from Dewdney to Deroche, but use caution when parking on roadside.
• BC Sportfishing Group 100 Esplanade Ave., Harrison Hot Springs. 1-877-796-3345
• Harrison Eco Tours 100 Esplanade Ave., Harrison Hot Springs. 604-316-4460
• Shoreline Tours 100 Esplanade Ave., Harrison Hot Springs. 604-796-3100 *Note: Shoreline Tours is closed for the season, reopening for tours in spring.
• Fraser River Lodge 7984 Macdonald Rd. Agassiz. 604-796-1210
• Kilby Lodge 76 Kilby Rd. Harrison Mills. 604-316-3988
• Harrison Lake Nature Adventures 196 Esplanade Ave., Harrison Hot Springs. 1-866-572-6444
What wildlife have you encountered in the Harrison River Valley? We’d love to see your HRV wildlife photography, please tag your photos with #JustUpTheRoad or #HarrisonRiverValley to share them with us! To inspire your next visit to the Harrison River Valley, follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest or Facebook, or stop by our Visitor Centre & Sasquatch Museum at #102, 160 Lillooet Road. Click the button below to explore even more!