Moresby Camp is located on Moresby Island, the smaller of the second largest of the 1,884 islands that make up Haida Gwaii, the mystical islands formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.
Moresby Island and Moresby Camp were named after Rear Admiral (later Admiral of the Fleet) Sir Fairfax Moresby, Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Station from 1850 to 1853.
The now-uninhabited logging site of Moresby Camp is the closest road access point to Gwaii Haanas National Park, the northern edge of which is approximately 30 miles (50 km) to the south. Once covered with old-growth cedar trees, this area was clearcut in the 1920’s. The giant cedar stumps still remain, providing a glimpse into what the area may have looked like prior to logging.
The small float at Moresby Camp serves as a floatplane departure spot for those venturing into the park, and a boat launch on the shore of Cumshewa Inlet provides water access to the park and the surrounding inlets and islands. The area roads and the wharf are maintained by the timber company that holds the Tree Farm License for the area.
Location: Moresby Camp is located 28 miles (45 km) southwest of Sandspit, a one-hour drive via Alliford Bay. The Haida Gwaii islands are accessed by ferry from Prince Rupert to the Skidegate Landing Ferry Terminal on Graham Island, by air from Vancouver to Sandspit on Moresby Island (770 km), and by air from Prince Rupert to Sandspit. Other commercial air services (including float planes and helicopters) are available at Sandspit, Queen Charlotte City and Masset. A 20-minute ferry ride connects Graham and Moresby Islands.
The Pallant Creek Hatchery between Moresby Camp and Mosquito Lake is run by the Haida Nation, with support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The hatchery aims for the production of 30 million chum salmon annually, boosting the number of returning adults to about 270,000 per year, 1.1 million coho salmon fry in net pens in Mosquito Lake, and about 530,000 chinook salmon smolts. Pallant Creek Hatchery currently releases 400,000 coho salmon fry to Mosquito Lake and Braverman Creek, which produces annual returns of about 6,000 adult coho to Cumshewa Inlet. This facility has been in operation since 1978, and besides employing residents year round, it is improving the fishery around the Haida Gwaii islands to the benefit of commercial, recreational and Haida First Nation fishermen. Eggs are collected in late August through to mid-October.
Mosquito Lake is located 4.5 miles (7 km) west of Moresby Camp, providing an 11-vehicle recreation and campsite and a boat launch, and good fishing for cutthroat and dolly varden. The lake hosts the annual Family Trout Derby in late May.
Skidegate Lake is located about 11 miles (18 km) north of Moresby Camp, and offers good fishing for cutthroat and dolly varden.
Mushrooms: Skidegate Lake is the heart of a thriving industry for the harvest and export of Chanterelle mushrooms, primarily for the Japanese market. Mushrooms are an annual, if totally unpredictable, harvest on Haida Gwaii. They only grow in second-growth timber, requiring careful management of crown lands to the benefit of both loggers and mushroom pickers. With 60 to 70% of the harvest coming out of the Skidegate Lake and Mosquito Lake areas of Moresby Island, up to 200 pickers can be working in and around Skidegate Lake during August in a bumper crop year.
Fishing: The best lake fishing on Moresby Island is found in Mosquito Lake and Skidegate Lake, both of which are near Moresby Camp. Mosquito Lake is closer to Moresby Camp, about 4.5 miles (7 km) to the northwest, and anglers fishing for cutthroat and dolly varden will be relieved to know that Mosquito Lake was named after the Second World War bomber, and not the wretched bug. The Pallant River flows out of Mosquito Lake to Cumshewa Inlet, and has a good steelhead run in the winter and spring months. Skidegate Lake is about 6 miles (10 km) beyond Mosquito Lake, and offers good cutthroat fishing during the spring, early summer and fall months.
Camping: Moresby Island has four Forest Service campgrounds. There is a 7-vehicle campsite located at Moresby Camp, and 4.5 miles (7 km) west of Moresby Camp is a vehicle recreation site on Mosquito Lake. To find the other two, drive 9 miles (15 km) east from the ferry landing at Alliford Bay to Sandspit. Follow the main road south from there as it leads to two Forest Service campgrounds on the island’s more sheltered east coast. The Gray Bay Campground, 13 miles (21 km) southeast of Sandspit, has two locations and a smaller vehicle campground on Sheldens Bay is located about 7 miles (11 km) farther south.
Camping in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Hiking: The Gray Bay-Cumshewa Head Trail leads 3 miles (4.5 km) from the end of the Forest Service road near Sheldens Bay along the shoreline to Cumshewa Head, one of the easternmost points on Moresby Island.
Hiking & Backpacking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Logging Roads: A logging road runs 25 miles (40 km) south from Alliford Bay to Moresby Camp, the first 9 miles (15 km) of which are paved. When travelling on logging roads, drivers should drive with headlights on, observe the 50 km/h speed limit, stay alert for posted signs and indications of oncoming traffic, and grant right of way to the monster logging trucks. The roads are safest to travel between 6 pm and 7 am, or on weekends.
Kayaking: The entire cluster of the Haida Gwaii islands has been circumnavigated by kayak, and is open to the seafaring explorer, but Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is by far the most popular kayaking playground. Many kayak trips start at Sandspit, although a less exposed route starts from Moresby Camp. From Moresby Camp to the northern boundary of the park reserve is a two-day, 22-mile (35-km) paddle, weather permitting. You could spend months, even years, exploring the coasts in Gwaii Haanas, stopping to investigate the many onshore and inland attractions, and still not feel that you knew the place. But that’s part of the magic and appeal of the Haida Gwaii islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, or just the Charlottes.
Visitors launching small boats or sea kayaks at Moresby Camp may choose to travel south to Gwaii Haanas on the inside waters of Carmichael Passage and Dana Passage, and avoid the exposed waters between Cumshewa Head and Porter Head on the Tangil Peninsula. Louise Narrows has strong currents, so time your travel with the tides. It takes about two days, weather permitting, to travel by kayak from Moresby Camp to the northern border of Gwaii Haanas at Tangil peninsula.
Kayaking tours are available for people with a strong spirit of adventure and previous sea kayaking experience. Some trips incorporate a 4-hour zodiac ride from Moresby Camp to Rose Harbour, a former whaling station located on the north end of Kunghit Island, at the southern tip of Haida Gwaii. From Rose Harbour the tour group sets out in kayaks for the outdoor adventure of a lifetime.
Canoeing & Kayaking in Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands).
Nearby Gordon Cove also has a public mooring buoy and float.
Wildlife: Haida Gwaii is rich in wildlife in the sky and sea, and on the ground. Many of the animals are native, but some – blacktail deer, elk, beavers, and raccoons – are introduced. Among the native species, expect to see black bears and river otters, birds such as bald eagles, Steller’s jays, and peregrine falcons, and all kinds of ocean creatures, from grey and killer whales to jellyfish and starfish. One of the best places to see the latter is in Burnaby Narrows on the east side of Moresby Island, accessible only by boat from Moresby camp (12 nautical miles). Also known as Dolomite Narrows, the waterway connects Juan Perez Sound with Skincuttle Inlet. The narrows are about half a mile (1 km) long, about 160 feet (50 m) wide, and quite shallow, especially at low tide. The bottom is coloured with a cornucopia of sea life: starfish, sea urchins, moon snails, clams, needlefish, sea cucumbers, sea blubbers, red crab . . . the list goes on and on. Because of the high nutrient content in the water, the aquatic life is almost impossibly large and vibrant. From a kayak or other small boat the viewing is good; with a mask and snorkel, it’s even better. At low tide it is possible to walk along the shore, but as this can’t be done without treading on delicate life forms, it is discouraged.
To the northwest of Moresby Camp is Alliford Bay, the Moresby Island terminus of the important inter-island ferry between Alliford Bay and Skidegate Landing on Graham Island.
Southeast of Moresby Camp is Louise Island, enveloped by islands and Hecate Strait on the east coast of Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), the mountainous Louise Island is home to the ancient Haida village of Skedans, and one of the largest displays of totem poles in these mystical islands.
Circle Tours: See the best of Northern BC and Haida Gwaii on one of the Circle Tours that capture the wonders of the north. The Inside Passage Circle Tour and the Native Heritage Circle Tour include Haida Gwaii by catching a ferry from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands).
Circle Tours in British Columbia.