BC Spaces Page Link
Environmental Education
Take Action
Take articles

menu spacer menu btn menu btn menu btn menu btn menu btn menu btn menu btn menu btn

The Khutzeymateen Valley is Canada's only grizzly bear sanctuary and home to one of BC's most important coastal populations of grizzly bears. Located on the northwest coast of BC, it is a beautiful land of dense Sitka spruce rainforest, fjords, and high rugged mountains.

The Khutzeymateen River watershed, which drains into the Khutzeymateen Inlet on the Pacific Ocean, and the neighboring drainages of Larch Creek and Cedar Creek make up the 44,300 ha (110,000 acres) of the sanctuary.

There are no villages, campsites, or facilities within the sanctuary. In fact, visitors are not encouraged, although controlled viewing in limited numbers is allowed. For those who do visit, it is an experience of a life time.

Glaciers tower above beautiful old growth rain forests of Sitka and spruce, and marine mammals such as seals, otters, and whales frequent the area. The river mouth estuary wetlands provide important spawning grounds for many species of salmon upon which the area's many grizzlies depend. Khutzeymateen is a native Tsimshian word meaning 'a confined space for salmon and bears', an apt description of the Khutzeymateen.

"The Khutzeymateen Valley is Canada's only grizzly bear sanctuary and home to one of BC's most important coastal populations of grizzly bears in the world."


The Khutzeymateen Valley is located 40 km (25 mi) northeast of Prince Rupert in the Coast Mountains. There are no roads; access is by the boats of government approved commercial operators only. For more information on how to visit the Khutzeymateen, please see the 'Recreation' section, further down this page.

Click on the map to view an enlargement


Researchers estimate that approximately 50 grizzlies call this pristine wilderness home, perhaps the largest known concentration of grizzly bears along the BC coast. The grizzlies share the watershed with black bears, wolves, wolverine, mountain goat, marmot, porcupine, harbour seals, beavers, otters, and humpback and orca whales. Over 100 species of birds are also found in the valley including hummingbirds, owls, grouse, shore birds, swifts, hummingbirds, swifts, kingfishers, and woodpeckers, songbirds and waterfowl.

During spawning time the bears feast on important runs of spawning pink, coho, chum and chinook salmon in the Khutzeymateen River system. The salmon also feed eagles, who nest in the area's towering Sitka spruce.

The Khutzeymateen Valley contains three main ecosystem types, each with its own predominant flora and fauna. Areas where ecosystems meet are especially high in biodiversity, as species overlap from one ecosystem into the other. The fact that there are three ecosystems, mountain hemlock, coastal western hemlock, and alpine tundra in this area helps explain its importance to wildlife.

"BC's coastal rainforests are among the rarest and most productive ecosystems on the planet; they are also disappearing before we know almost anything about them. "


Several government licenced ecotour operators offer magnificent sailing trips up the coast and into the Khutzeymateen Valley. From aboard the ship visitors can observe and photograph the area's many amazing animals, including grizzlies and wolves, at close range as they feed along the river or wallow in warm mud holes in the estuary. Zodiacs or kayaks take visitors ashore to visit ancient bear tracks and favorite rubbing trees, used by grizzlies to massage themselves.


At one time, grizzlies were widespread in North America. Due to human population growth and extensive development, including commercial forestry, coastal grizzly bear habitat has been reduced to a few increasingly isolated pockets. Clearcutting has not only devastated much of the grizzly's habitat, but also caused erosion and silting of streambeds, thereby destroying salmon spawning grounds. This further impacts grizzly populations, as salmon are the primary source of food for grizzlies.

In the early 1970s the threat of logging in the Khutzeymateen Valley's crucial grizzly bear habitat was first identified. Other than two small areas cut in 1950 and 1956, the forests of the Khutzeymateen were still untouched. After intense lobbying by environmentalists to prevent the loss of this important area, the Khutzeymateen Valley was designated as BC's only grizzly bear sanctuary in 1992.

"At one time, grizzlies were widespread throughout North America. But due to population growth and extensive development including commercial forestry, the grizzly bear's habitat has been reduced to a few increasingly isolated pockets."

Return to the Rainforest Coast Region

Become Involved!

Report Problems
with this site
or any links.

   Home | About | Explore BC's Parks | BC's Wildlife | History of Conservation | BC's History of Conservation | Wilderness Tourism: Zonation System, Special Management Zones, Jobs and the Environment | Environmental Education: Learning About Nature, | Take Action: What You Can Do, Contribute | Articles: Archive, News Links, Documents | Contact | Links