Vancouver Island is home to many incredible places, and the Taylor River rest area is no exception. On a road trip to Tofino, it is among the best stops along the Pacific Rim Highway 4.
The rest area is nothing out of the ordinary, but once you walk over to the riverbank, you will know why this place is so popular. You might even think you have been transported suddenly to some amazing tropical destination.
The river has mesmerizing blue-green, crystal-clear waters that you can best witness on a sunny day. It winds through lush green forests, and there are numerous places to enjoy the incredibly coloured water along the way.
Things to Know About Taylor River Rest Area
The Taylor River rest area is an excellent stop on the way to Tofino for a quick break or a refreshing swim. You can view the map here. The road to Tofino from here is scenic but very windy.
The rest area has a big paved parking lot with picnic tables, toilets, and free Wi-Fi and is surrounded by a large forest. Taylor River is Sproat Lake’s primary water source, linking to Alberni Inlet and eventually flowing into the ocean.
Directions to Taylor River Rest Area
Taylor River Rest area is a short 42-kilometre drive from Port Alberni, 84 kilometres from Tofino, 123 kilometres from Nanaimo and 234 kilometres from Victoria.
Take the Trans-Canada Highway 1 from Victoria. In Nanaimo, take a slight right turn onto Highway 19 North towards Parksville and Campbell River. After about 34 kilometres, take exit 60 onto Highway 4 West toward Port Alberni.
From Port Alberni, drive on Highway 4 for about 40 kilometres. Turn right onto the Taylor River rest area. Although the rest stop is located just off Highway 4, it is easy to miss. We suggest using Google Maps for navigation.
Things to Do at Taylor River Rest Area
Taylor River rest area is a popular place to snap quick photos, picnic, or dip inside the crystal-clear water. The river here is deeper and moves more slowly. You can spend a few minutes or a few hours at this magical place.
The river has a stunning turquoise blue colour during summertime, and during the rainy season, the river has a greenish shade.
Capture Impressive Photos
Taylor River rest area used to be a hidden gem, but now the secret is out! Because of social media, the site is now visited by many people wanting to see the mesmerizing blue water with their own eyes.
There are multiple places around the Taylor River where you can park your car and walk down to the riverbank. The rest area provides the best access. Other sites are not marked on the map, so you will have to explore and might need to do some bushwalking.
Taylor River is one of the most beautiful swimming holes in BC, but do not be fooled by the colour of the water. The river is freezing cold! It does feel refreshing to go swimming on a hot summer day; you will be energized and feel ten years younger!
While the river is popular for summer swimming, it is also a salmon spawning ground. Make sure to leave the area as you found it and not interfere with the natural ecosystem.
Jump From a Rope Swing
If you like jumping, you can grab the rope swing and plunge into the icy-cold water. We jumped multiple times, and it was so much fun! The water did not seem very deep, but it was up to our chest.
The rope swing is conveniently located a one-minute walk from the parking lot. You will see it as you walk down to the riverbank. A small cliff on the right side is also popular for jumping.
Taylor River is a fantastic place for a stand-up paddleboard. Enjoy the river’s beautiful hues of blue as you glide over the water’s surface. The water is crystal clear, and you can see down to the river bed.
You will feel like you are paddling on some faraway tropical island surrounded by stunning scenery. It is almost hard to believe this fabulous swimming spot is on Vancouver Island.
The parking lot is next to the Taylor River, and you do not have to carry your watercraft too far.
Have a Picnic
After a long journey, the Taylor River rest stop is a great place to relax and have a bite to eat. There are a few picnic tables and benches situated close to the river.
You will need to bring your food and snacks; you can always grab a take-out in Port Alberni. The next best picnic spot along the highway to Tofino is at Kennedy Lake.
Things to Do Near Taylor River Rest Area
Many visitors to the Taylor River rest area are either heading to Tofino or spending the weekend at Sproat Lake. We recommend visiting Walley Creek and Kennedy Lake on the road trip to Tofino. Both are located along the Pacific Rim Highway 4.
You can stop at the Taylor Arm Provincial Park if you are heading towards Port Alberni. A nice trail through a mossy forest will take you to a lovely Sproat Lake beach. This area is good for swimming, canoeing or kayaking, and fishing.
Explore Wally Creek
Wally Creek is a popular swimming hole during summertime. It also has one of the best views along the highway, with towering mountains in the background. If you are driving from Port Alberni, there is a pull-out on the right-hand side of the road, with plenty of parking space.
You will need to walk over some large rocks to get to the river, but it’s worth it! Just be careful because they can be slippery.
In the summertime, you will notice people walking around in swimming suites. The water inside the Kennedy River is crystal clear and has a mesmerizing emerald green colour. Some small pools are popular for swimming, but the water is cold.
You will also find interesting rock formations shaped by the river for thousands of years and a lovely waterfall. Make sure to stay away from it if you plan on swimming or jumping from the cliffs. There have been a few accidents where people got pulled into the waterfall and had to be rescued.
Relax at the Kennedy Lake
Kennedy Lake is Vancouver Island’s biggest lake and is a popular spot for swimming, fishing and kayaking. The evening provides an opportunity to marvel at mesmerizing sunsets.
You can also enjoy snacks or lunch surrounded by beautiful scenery. Picnic tables are located close to the shore.
There are a couple of places along the highway to access Kennedy Lake. Our favourite spot is on the southern side of the lake, a few kilometres off the main road. This place does not get many visitors and is so peaceful and serene.
Tofino is home to stunning beaches, dramatic cliffs, lush rainforests and marine life. It is also the epicentre for surfing on Vancouver Island and provides the best surfing in all of BC and Canada. There are tons of amazing things to do in Tofino for everyone.
If you like hiking, the most popular trails are CoxBay Lookout, Wild Pacific Trail, the enchanting Rainforest Trail and Lone Cone Mountain on Meares Island. Some of the scenery you will see is out of this world!
Other popular Tofino activities include soaking in the healing waters of Hot Springs Cove, kayaking, whale and bear watching in summer, storm watching in winter and tasting the fabulous local cuisine.
Our favourite beaches in Tofino are Cox Bay, Chesterman Beach, Long Beach, Halfmoon Bay and Mackenzie Beach. Even if you are not planning on surfing, you can walk, relax, have a picnic, and enjoy quality time with your friends or family.
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Read More Travel Guides
We hope you enjoyed our guide on visiting the Taylor River rest area. Let us know in the comments below what is your favourite place around Port Alberni. Here are a few of our articles to inspire your travels on Vancouver Island.
- Long Beach in Tofino – 10 Reasons to Visit
- Kennedy Lake – The Hidden Gem of Tofino
- Red Creek Fir – The World’s Largest Douglas Fir Tree
- Sombrio Beach – 7 Reasons You Should Visit
- Mount Arrowsmith Hike – Everything You Need to Know
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