8 Places to See the Salmon Run Near Vancouver

Spawning sockeye salmon near Vancouver, BC

The salmon is the lifeblood of British Columbia for wildlife, First Nations, anglers, and foodies. Every fall they return from the ocean by the millions to spawn and die in our creeks and rivers. They swim against the current, heading upstream and jumping up waterfalls to return to the gravel creekbeds where they were born. Most streams see peak salmon returns in October, but you can see salmon in September and November too. Here are a few places to see the salmon run near Vancouver.

Capilano Hatchery, North Vancouver

The Capilano Hatchery is one of the best places to see the salmon run near Vancouver since they have unique underwater viewing windows. You can watch Chinook and Coho salmon swim upstream, jumping from pool to pool up the fish ladder. The Capilano Hatchery is easy to get to by bus, or you can visit on one of North Shore tours offered by Landsea Tours.

 

Hoy Creek Hatchery, Coquitlam

You can find spawning Coho and Chum salmon in the heart of Coquitlam at Hoy Creek Hatchery. The hatchery hosts the Salmon Come Home event each October to celebrate the return of the spawning salmon. In 2019, the event runs on October 20th from 11 am to 3 pm. It includes hatchery tours, live music, habitat restoration, educational exhibits, and children’s activities.

 

Little Campbell River Hatchery, Surrey

Head to south Surrey to visit the volunteer-run Little Campbell River Hatchery. Members of the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club have been helping to maintain stocks of Steelhead, Coho, and Chinook salmon here since 1983. A fish fence across the river funnels the fish into a live trap where volunteers count and identify the fish, then release them to spawn upriver. Each year, they count over 3,500 fish.

 

Weaver Creek Spawning Channel, Harrison Mills

Built in 1965 to provide additional spawning habitat, the Weaver Creek Spawning Channel is a great place to see salmon spawn. There are 3 kilometers of zigzagging spawning channels, with pathways in between for easy spotting. The most prevalent fish here is Sockeye salmon but you might also spot chum and pink salmon. 

Salmon jumping upstream during a salmon run near Vancouver, BC

Indian Arm

Just northeast of Vancouver the Pacific Ocean extends inland in a fjord called Indian Arm. It’s a wild place with few residents and numerous salmon-bearing streams. It’s also the traditional territory of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation. Sign up for a salmon run-focused boat tour of the area run by Takaya Tours, an indigenous run tour company. You’ll see spawning salmon, historical village sites and learn about how First Nations culture and the salmon are interconnected.

 

Mamquam Spawning Channel, Squamish

The Mamquam river runs right through Squamish, and thousands of returning salmon head there each fall. A series of channels built in the 80s and 90s provides ideal spawning conditions for Coho and Steelhead. Four kilometers of flat gravel trails meander through the area, making it a great place to combine an easy hike with some salmon-run viewing.

 

Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery, Squamish

The Tenderfoot Creek Hatchery just north of Squamish hosts returning Chinook, Coho, and Chum salmon each fall during spawning season. You can take a self-guided tour of the hatchery and read about the salmon life cycle on several interpretive signs. We aren’t the only ones who love salmon: the hatchery is also a great place to spot eagles.

 

Terminal Creek Hatchery, Bowen Island

Hop on the ferry to Bowen Island. Disembark at Snug Cove and walk 10 minutes to the fishway at Crippen Park. You can watch Coho, Chinook and Chum salmon jump up the stepped fish ladder towards the Terminal Creek Hatchery

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