5 Unique Locations to Explore in Nanaimo, BC

Morden Colliery, Nanaimo

Morden Colliery, Nanaimo | Kim Parcher

Many people pass through Nanaimo while on route to various other Vancouver Island destinations. In doing so, some of the most fascinating and unique locations are missed.

Here are five great reasons to make Nanaimo one of the top places to explore.

Morden Colliery Historic Provincial Park

This small Provincial Park offers a glimpse into the early mining history of Nanaimo. In 1912 there was a working coal mine at this very location. What’s left is the last remaining coal tipple on Vancouver Island.

Secured behind a chain link fence, the large structure is visible right from the parking area. There is also a short trail that circumvents the artifact.

This Provincial Park is located just south of the Duke Point ferry terminal. Heading south on Highway #1 (towards Ladysmith), turn right onto Morden Road, and follow to the end.

Morden Colliery, Nanaimo

Morden Colliery, Nanaimo | Kim Parcher

The Arboretum

The H.R. MacMillan Grant Ainscough Arboretum is an unofficial park owned by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN). The site used to attract university groups from across the province, who studied the behaviour and growth of exotic trees. What’s left is 150 species of trees that are now maintained and monitored by volunteers, as well as the RDN. Visitors to the area will be delighted with the plaques and interpretive signs giving details of each trees origin.

The Arboretum is also located near the Duke Point ferry terminal. From the Duke Point Highway, follow the signs as if you are heading to Jack Point & Biggs Park (off Maughan Road). Turn right onto Phoenix Way, and immediately turn right again. You will see a yellow gate and the sign for the park.

Roberts Memorial Park, Nanaimo

Roberts Memorial Park, Nanaimo | Kim Parcher

Roberts Memorial Provincial Park

A short 1 km hike through a grove of Douglas Fir trees takes you to a rocky shoreline of sandstone ledges and tidal pools. This area is part of the geological heritage of Vancouver Island and represents ancient sea beds.

The rocky beach offers great opportunities for wildlife viewing. Seals and otters are often found basking on the warm rocks, while Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagles and a variety of seabirds soar overhead.

The park is in Yellow Point, just south of Nanaimo. Take the Cedar Road exit from Hwy 1, and then turn onto Yellow Point Road. Follow signs to the park.

The Abyss, Nanaimo

The Abyss, Nanaimo | Kim Parcher

Extension Ridge

The 16-inch-wide earthquake fissure, located on the Extension Ridge trail, is known locally as ‘The Abyss’. Although not much is known about this large crack in the earth, there is speculation that it could be a result of a collapsed mine tunnel that was triggered by an earthquake years ago. To date there is no information about how deep the crack really is.

The trailhead is found off Harewood Mines Road in South Nanaimo. There is a small parking area under the power lines, and a large sign to let you know you have arrived at Extension Ridge. Head up the trail (under the power lines) for approximately 100 meters and climb the stairs. Keeping right, continue to follow the trail for approximately 15 minutes to reach the earthquake fissure.

Petroglyph Park, Nanaimo

Petroglyph Park, Nanaimo | Kim Parcher

Petroglyph Provincial Park

This small South Nanaimo Provincial Park has the most concentrated collection of ancient rock carvings on Vancouver Island.

A clearly marked paved trail will lead you through the park to view the petroglyphs. Information boards and replicas near the beginning of the trail provide details about the history of the area and help decipher the carvings.

The real petroglyphs are scattered around the park, and although hard to see due to being moss covered, finding them is half the fun!

Access this park right off Hwy #1. Watch for signs as you are heading north towards downtown Nanaimo. The park comes up quickly on your righthand side just after Haliburton Street. There is a large parking area at the trailhead.

For places to camp on Vancouver island and elsewhere in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.

Post your BC travel and camping photos using the hashtag #CampinBC

Published: August 16th, 2018

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Kim Parcher by Kim Parcher

Kim Parcher is an avid explorer. Nothing brings her greater joy than discovering new places and inspiring others to do the same. For all things related to Vancouver Island, visit her on Vancouver Island View, a great resource about the best things to see and do on the Island.

2 thoughts on "5 Unique Locations to Explore in Nanaimo, BC"

Hi Louise,
You’ll be happy to know that the sign is still there (and still beautiful!). It’s a lovely park to explore.

Avatar Louise Grant says:

Thank you for listing the HR MacMillan Grant Ainscough Arboretum here. I am so happy to see part of the Arboretum preserved
(30 years ago there was a beautiful carved sign honouring his work with the arboretum & forestry).

L. Grant (G Ainscough’s daughter)

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