What is The Great Bear Rainforest? Everything You Need to Know About This Unique Destination

Thinking about booking one of our unique Marine Wilderness Tours? You’ll spend your 4 or 5-day trip exploring The Great Bear Rainforest by land and sea, spotting a vibrant array of wildlife, some of which are found only in this small corner of the world.

From bald eagles to grizzly bears to orcas, this remote region of British Columbia is one of the most ecologically diverse wilderness areas in the world. 

Ready to prepare for your trip? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about The Great Bear Rainforest.

It’s a Temperate Rainforest

If the word “rainforest” brings to mind lush, humid jungles located along the equator, teeming with monkeys, snakes, and bugs the size of a small dog, you might be confused to learn that there’s one located north of the U.S.-Canada border.

In fact, by definition, a rainforest is;

 a tropical woodland with an annual rainfall of at least 100 inches (254 centimeters) and marked by lofty broad-leaved evergreen trees forming a continuous canopy

If this definition doesn’t sound quite right for Canada, that’s because The Great Bear Rainforest isn’t just a rainforest; it’s a temperate rainforest. A temperate rainforest, by definition, is a;

woodland of a usually rather mild climatic area within the temperate zone that receives heavy rainfall, usually includes numerous kinds of trees, and is distinguished from a tropical rain forest especially by the presence of a dominant tree

The region’s heavy rainfall and variety of foliage are what make the area a rainforest, rather than high humidity and heat. But just like the rainforest in the central and southern part of the world, The Great Bear Rainforest is teeming with unique wildlife.

It’s as Big as the Nation of Ireland

While you’ll spend nearly your entire trip exploring the area, you’ll wind up covering only one very small portion of this massive forest. 

The Great Bear Rainforest covers more than 6.4 million hectares along the north and central coast of British Columbia. That’s roughly the same area as the entire country of Ireland.

It’s One of the Last Tracts of Unspoiled Temperate Rainforests Left in the World

Just as with tropical rainforests, temperate rainforests are under constant threat. Logging, expansions of cities, and wildfires spurred by humans have wiped out countless thousands of miles of rainforests around the world and even throughout the rest of Canada.

Its remote location and large size make The Great Bear Rainforest one of the last remaining, unspoiled tracts of temperate rainforest left in North America–and the world. The region accounts for about one-quarter of the world’s coastal temperate rainforest.

It’s Home to the Elusive “Spirit Bear”

One of the things that draw visitors to the region is their hope of sighting the elusive “Spirit Bear.” In fact, the legends that surround this unique creature draw visitors to The Great Bear Rainforest from all around the world.

“Spirit Bears” are actually called Kermode Bears. Found only in The Great Bear Rainforest, the Kermode Bear is a subspecies of the black bear. But unlike their not-so-distant cousins, the Kermode Bears have naturally white fur. Only about 10 percent of all black bears born in the region carry the recessive gene that leads to white fur.

The Spirit Bear isn’t the only unique creature you might spot in the region. Bald eagles, whales, and the equally elusive Coastal Wolf are also popular sights.

The Rainforest is Endorsed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Decisions over who would manage The Great Bear Rainforest, and how it would be managed, came to a head in February of 2016. During that same year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, and Duchess Kate officially endorsed the Great Bear Rainforest. This was done under The Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy Initiative.

While the royals likely won’t have a hands-on approach to making decisions about the future of the rainforest, their endorsement has helped bring attention to its unique needs and beautiful natural diversity. The Government of British Columbia, First Nations, as well as environmental groups and forest industry representatives created guidelines for how the forest would be managed, allowing both for the long-term protection of the area and its natural resources, and caring for the needs of the people who call the region home.

Visiting The Great Bear Rainforest

The Great Bear Rainforest is one of the most unique, beautiful natural destinations in the world. When you book one of our Wilderness Tours, you’ll get an up-close and personal look at the forest and some of the incredible species, both in the water and out, that call the region home. If you’re really luckly, you might even spot one of the elusive Spirit Bears!

Ready to explore the wilderness in search of bears, orcas, wolves, and more? Book your 2021 Wilderness Tour today for a once-in-a-lifetime trip–that is until you decide to book your return trip in 2022!