Nailoon Park, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada

Nailoon Park, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)

The most famous images of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) feature massive mossy trees, exponentially wider than a human hug. Many have the ocean in the background and some have Haida totem poles, hundreds of years old, in the foreground.

The majority of these photos were taken in one of the Queen Charlotte’s two nature parks, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve or Nailoon Provincial park, Both offer endless opportunities for adventure and to experience breathtaking sights of pristine nature and wildlife.

Nailoon Park, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada

Nailoon Park, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada

National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Queen Charlotte Islands

Haunting open seas, clusters of small windswept islands protecting Haida heritage sites beckon visitors to the wilderness of Gwaii Haanas.

Gwaii Haanas was set aside as a protected area in 1988. Unique because of its spectacular west coast scenery, rich ecology, and Haida heritage, the area is managed in an exceptional way by the Archipelago Management Board. While the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation agree to disagree on the ownership of Gwaii Haanas, they work cooperatively through the Board to ensure its protection. This has been such a successful partnership that “National Geographic Traveler” magazine selected Gwaii Haanas as the #1 Park Destination in North America in 2005.

Enter a wilderness

Gwaii Haanas, located at the southern end of Haida Gwaii stretches 90 km north to south with 1746 km of shoreline, over 200 islands, and a total land area of 1,475 square kilometres. It is accessible only by boat or floatplane.
The east coast has the gentler landscape with sheltered bays, inlets, islands, islets and sandy beaches. Finding a sheltered anchoring spot is not difficult. On the other hand, the west coast is rugged, steep, and exposed to the open Pacific Ocean. Wave energy pounding the rocky coast has been calculated as equivalent to a wind speed of 1500 km per hour!

Haida Culture

Gwaii Haanas has been home to the Haida people for thousands of years. A recent archaeological inventory of the area has documented more than 500 Haida archaeological and historical sites, including villages, smaller habitation sites, rock shelters, caves, and burial caves.

During summer months Haida Gwaii Watchmen live at five of these village sites: K’uuna Llnagaay (Skedans), T’aanuu Llnagaay (Tanu), Hlk’yah Llnagaay (Windy Bay), Gandl K’in Lllnagaay (Hotspring), and SGang Gwaay Llnagaay (Anthony Island), to act as guardians and hosts.

SGang Gwaay is considered to have the world’s finest display of Haida mortuary poles – all over one hundred years old. In consultation with the Haida people, UNESCO declared SGang Gwaay a World Heritage Site in 1981.

European Settlement

European settlement on Haida Gwaii began in the late 1800’s, bringing smallpox and tuberculosis. The Haida population, once numbering in the thousands, was reduced to a few hundred.

Economic ventures by the Europeans included mining, fishing, (including canneries and salteries), forestry and whaling. Rusting boilers and remains of equipment from fishing and mining operations can be seen in Lockport, Bag Harbour, the Copper Islands and various other locations. Still visible today, an open pit mine at Harriet Harbour was in operation during the 1960’s, where the town of Jedway had a population of several hundred. Rose Harbour, located on the north side of Kunghit Island operated as a whaling station until the 1940’s. At its busiest, in 1911, the plant processed more than 300 whales in one year, most of which were caught within 50 miles of the coast of Gwaii Haanas. Today, Rose Harbour is the only privately owned land within Gwaii Haanas and is home to a few modern day homesteading families.

Natural History

Scientists believe that portions of Gwaii Haanas and the islands escaped glaciation during the last ice age. These areas provided refuge for plants and other animals to survive and evolve. Among the unique plants are four species of moss, one liverwort, and six species of flowering plants.

Gwaii Haanas is home to twelve species of nesting seabirds – 370,000 pairs, or 15% of all nesting seabirds in B.C. It also includes pairs of ancient murrelets (50% of the world population) at the only breeding location in Canada, and 75% of B.C.‘s Peales peregrine falcon population.

The Kerouard Islands, at the southern tip of Gwaii Haanas, have the only sea lion rookery on Haida Gwaii. Most visitors to Gwaii Haanas travel the coast line. This coastal area, including the intertidal zone, is one of the largest attractions in the area.

One of the best areas for viewing intertidal life is Burnaby Narrows. It is a narrow channel between Burnaby Island and the mainland that is protected from wave exposure but exposed to high velocity, high salinity, tidal currents.

The area supports dramatic species including the bat star (Patiria minata) and the red turban snail (Astrea gibberose). What makes Burnaby Narrows special also makes it very sensitive to impacts by visitors. Avoid walking in the intertidal – the sheltered conditions and abundance of food in the area may make it a “nursery” area for many invertebrate species. Instead, try a float through, camping is not permitted in the area. Arrange your schedule so you have time to make it to your next campsite.

Gandl K’in (Hotspring Island) is renowned for its hot pools,where soaking is both relaxing and social. Lesser known are its interesting biological properties. A rich assemblage of flora and fauna unique to the area are supported by thermal seepage. Again, look but don’t touch. Keep on the designated path so you don’t disturb or trample any plant life. If you need any further information, ask the Watchmen.There are endless opportunities to explore and discover in Gwaii
Haanas.

Camping

Generally you may choose your site in Gwaii Haanas – except for sensitive ecological or village sites. Check with Watchmen base camps for advice.

Be completely self-sufficient by bringing adequate food, clothing and fuel. If you have doubts about your ability or equipment travel with a reputable tour operator. Always allow extra time as weather may change your plans.

Gwaii Haanas Summer Outreach Program

For those who want to learn more about the natural and human history of the Islands, Gwaii Haanas offers day and evening presentations at the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate, guided forest walks and beach explorations, and a speakers series that features visiting scientists and their research. The summer schedule runs from June into September, and programs can be arranged for large groups at other times.

Nailoon Park, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canadahttps://i0.wp.com/plexusworld.com/wp-content/uploads/MossForrest_ROW7658579861_1366x768.jpg?fit=800%2C450https://i0.wp.com/plexusworld.com/wp-content/uploads/MossForrest_ROW7658579861_1366x768.jpg?resize=150%2C150 Damien Lucian Travel & Tourism
Nailoon Park, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) The most famous images of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) feature massive mossy trees, exponentially wider than a human hug. Many have the ocean in the background and some have Haida totem poles, hundreds of years old, in the foreground. The majority of these...
<h2>Nailoon Park, Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands)</h2> The most famous images of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands) feature massive mossy trees, exponentially wider than a human hug. Many have the ocean in the background and some have Haida totem poles, hundreds of years old, in the foreground. The majority of these photos were taken in one of the Queen Charlotte's two nature parks, Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve or Nailoon Provincial park, Both offer endless opportunities for adventure and to experience breathtaking sights of pristine nature and wildlife. <div><dl id="attachment_107"><dt> </dt></dl></div> <h2>National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, Queen Charlotte Islands</h2> Haunting open seas, clusters of small windswept islands protecting Haida heritage sites beckon visitors to the wilderness of Gwaii Haanas. Gwaii Haanas was set aside as a protected area in 1988. Unique because of its spectacular west coast scenery, rich ecology, and Haida heritage, the area is managed in an exceptional way by the Archipelago Management Board. While the Government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation agree to disagree on the ownership of Gwaii Haanas, they work cooperatively through the Board to ensure its protection. This has been such a successful partnership that “National Geographic Traveler” magazine selected Gwaii Haanas as the #1 Park Destination in North America in 2005. <h2>Enter a wilderness</h2> Gwaii Haanas, located at the southern end of Haida Gwaii stretches 90 km north to south with 1746 km of shoreline, over 200 islands, and a total land area of 1,475 square kilometres. It is accessible only by boat or floatplane. The east coast has the gentler landscape with sheltered bays, inlets, islands, islets and sandy beaches. Finding a sheltered anchoring spot is not difficult. On the other hand, the west coast is rugged, steep, and exposed to the open Pacific Ocean. Wave energy pounding the rocky coast has been calculated as equivalent to a wind speed of 1500 km per hour! <h2>Haida Culture</h2> Gwaii Haanas has been home to the Haida people for thousands of years. A recent archaeological inventory of the area has documented more than 500 Haida archaeological and historical sites, including villages, smaller habitation sites, rock shelters, caves, and burial caves. During summer months Haida Gwaii Watchmen live at five of these village sites: K’uuna Llnagaay (Skedans), T’aanuu Llnagaay (Tanu), Hlk’yah Llnagaay (Windy Bay), Gandl K’in Lllnagaay (Hotspring), and SGang Gwaay Llnagaay (Anthony Island), to act as guardians and hosts. SGang Gwaay is considered to have the world’s finest display of Haida mortuary poles – all over one hundred years old. In consultation with the Haida people, UNESCO declared SGang Gwaay a World Heritage Site in 1981. <h2>European Settlement</h2> European settlement on Haida Gwaii began in the late 1800’s, bringing smallpox and tuberculosis. The Haida population, once numbering in the thousands, was reduced to a few hundred. Economic ventures by the Europeans included mining, fishing, (including canneries and salteries), forestry and whaling. Rusting boilers and remains of equipment from fishing and mining operations can be seen in Lockport, Bag Harbour, the Copper Islands and various other locations. Still visible today, an open pit mine at Harriet Harbour was in operation during the 1960’s, where the town of Jedway had a population of several hundred. Rose Harbour, located on the north side of Kunghit Island operated as a whaling station until the 1940’s. At its busiest, in 1911, the plant processed more than 300 whales in one year, most of which were caught within 50 miles of the coast of Gwaii Haanas. Today, Rose Harbour is the only privately owned land within Gwaii Haanas and is home to a few modern day homesteading families. <h2>Natural History</h2> Scientists believe that portions of Gwaii Haanas and the islands escaped glaciation during the last ice age. These areas provided refuge for plants and other animals to survive and evolve. Among the unique plants are four species of moss, one liverwort, and six species of flowering plants. Gwaii Haanas is home to twelve species of nesting seabirds – 370,000 pairs, or 15% of all nesting seabirds in B.C. It also includes pairs of ancient murrelets (50% of the world population) at the only breeding location in Canada, and 75% of B.C.‘s Peales peregrine falcon population. The Kerouard Islands, at the southern tip of Gwaii Haanas, have the only sea lion rookery on Haida Gwaii. Most visitors to Gwaii Haanas travel the coast line. This coastal area, including the intertidal zone, is one of the largest attractions in the area. One of the best areas for viewing intertidal life is Burnaby Narrows. It is a narrow channel between Burnaby Island and the mainland that is protected from wave exposure but exposed to high velocity, high salinity, tidal currents. The area supports dramatic species including the bat star (Patiria minata) and the red turban snail (Astrea gibberose). What makes Burnaby Narrows special also makes it very sensitive to impacts by visitors. Avoid walking in the intertidal – the sheltered conditions and abundance of food in the area may make it a “nursery” area for many invertebrate species. Instead, try a float through, camping is not permitted in the area. Arrange your schedule so you have time to make it to your next campsite. Gandl K’in (Hotspring Island) is renowned for its hot pools,where soaking is both relaxing and social. Lesser known are its interesting biological properties. A rich assemblage of flora and fauna unique to the area are supported by thermal seepage. Again, look but don’t touch. Keep on the designated path so you don’t disturb or trample any plant life. If you need any further information, ask the Watchmen.There are endless opportunities to explore and discover in Gwaii Haanas. <h2>Camping</h2> Generally you may choose your site in Gwaii Haanas – except for sensitive ecological or village sites. Check with Watchmen base camps for advice. Be completely self-sufficient by bringing adequate food, clothing and fuel. If you have doubts about your ability or equipment travel with a reputable tour operator. Always allow extra time as weather may change your plans. <h2>Gwaii Haanas Summer Outreach Program</h2> For those who want to learn more about the natural and human history of the Islands, Gwaii Haanas offers day and evening presentations at the Haida Heritage Centre in Skidegate, guided forest walks and beach explorations, and a speakers series that features visiting scientists and their research. The summer schedule runs from June into September, and programs can be arranged for large groups at other times.

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