Everything you need to know to ride the North Island 1000

“It is very rare to have this sort of ride here in B.C.” — Al McBeth

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Two side-by-side ATVs next to a lake at dusk with a pink sunset over mountains in the background.

The North Island 1000 passes through the towns of Campbell River, Holberg, Gold River, Port Hardy, Tahsis, Port McNeill, Zeballos, Woss, Port Alice, Sayward and Coal Harbor. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

British Columbia’s Vancouver Island is home to unparalleled beauty and adventure. Thanks to the efforts of the Mid-Island ATV Club and Campbell River ATV Club, Vancouver Island’s majesty is more accessible than ever before. These two ATV clubs have put in a tremendous amount of work to create the North Island 1000, a revolutionary 1,000-kilometre route through northern Vancouver Island, B.C.

Whether you ride a quad, dirt bike or side-by-side, the North Island 1000 is a must for any rider with a penchant for the exceptional, just ask UTV distance-jumping world record holder Al McBeth. The extreme stunt jumper and owner of Concept Distributing recently rode the North Island 1000 and shared his experience with RidersWest.

Al McBeth takes a selfie on a mountain on Vancouver Island.

Al McBeth, a UTV distance-jumping world record holder, recently rode the North Island 1000 and explains why you should check it out too. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

What is the North Island 1000?

The North Island 1000 is a 1000+ kilometre loop ride around the North half of Vancouver Island, starting and finishing in Campbell River.

What do I need to ride the North Island 1000?

A permit is mandatory to run this course in an off-road vehicle, which can be purchased from the Mid-Island ATV Club.

Two ATVs park at the end of a bridge on the North Island 1000.

A permit is mandatory to run this course in an off-road vehicle, which can be purchased from the Mid-Island ATV Club. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

How do I access the trail for the North Island 1000? Where are the staging areas?

This ride follows a GPS track and provides staging areas around the Campbell River area on the map. Keep in mind many of these spots are some distance off the main roads so be prepared to leave your vehicle unattended.

An ATV is parked next to a Shell gas pump on Vancouver Island.

The GPS route will keep you on the roads that your North Island 1000 permit is valid on. It is not recommended to leave the GPS route in these towns. This map will take you to fuel stations and necessities as needed. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

What communities does the North Island 1000 go through? Am I able to drive an ATV or dirt bike through these communities?

This ride passes through the towns of Campbell River, Holberg, Gold River, Port Hardy, Tahsis, Port McNeill, Zeballos, Woss, Port Alice, Sayward and Coal Harbor.

The GPS route will keep you on the roads that your North Island 1000 permit is valid on. It is not recommended to leave the GPS route in these towns. This map will take you to fuel stations and necessities as needed.

Two ATVs ride over a long expanse of wood chips on a mountain.

Whether you ride a quad, dirt bike or side-by-side, the North Island 1000 is a must for any rider with a penchant for the exceptional. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

Is there a recommended route to take (start point/end point) or can I pick up and go from various locations?

Although we started in Campbell River, there is no regulation as to where one would start or stop the course.

What do I need to take with me as I embark on the North Island 1000?

This is a long course, and although you can stay on fairly main logging roads throughout, there are many options to try more challenging terrain on this ride. Day trips off the main path will add time (and potential challenges) to your adventure. Towns are usually within range, but spare fuel is definitely recommended as well as food. Vehicle dependency will define which spare parts you bring as well.

Prepare to spend the night. Although hotels are available, the amazing camping areas we found along the way were a huge highlight.

Prepare for weather. The North Island’s beauty is a direct result of precipitation, and weather reports can change quickly.

A sign reads “Be prepared for the unexpected” above a fallen tree on top of a car.

Day trips off the main path will add time (and potential challenges) to your adventure. Towns are usually within range, but spare fuel is definitely recommended as well as food. Vehicle dependency will define which spare parts you bring as well. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

What is there to see along the North Island 1000?

There is tons of wildlife along the way so drive with care. From bears and deer to otters and beavers, keep your camera out. Old mines, quarries, dams and towns with a rich cultural history makes it hard to keep your eyes on the road at times.

Rocks form a long line at a quarry on Vancouver Island.

Old mines, quarries, dams and towns with a rich cultural history makes it hard to keep your eyes on the road at times. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

How long does it take to ride the North Island 1000?

It took us five days to do this trip but we easily could have spent two weeks. There is just so much to take in. To properly film this adventure, it would probably be more like three weeks. So many epic camp spots were passed up because we were on a bit of a schedule.

Trails are constantly being built to expand this riding area and add even more to an already epic ride.

A trestle bridge is off to the side of a camping spot on a beach next to two ATVs.

It took us five days to do this trip but we easily could have spent two weeks. There is just so much to take in. To properly film this adventure, it would probably be more like three weeks. So many epic camp spots were passed up because we were on a bit of a schedule. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth

What was your experience riding the North Island 1000? Did it meet your expectations?

The trip exceeded our expectations. Overlanding on a UTV is tough to beat. So many breathtaking views on the trip to take in from sea to sky and so many different things available to do. This trip was not as ocean-orientated as we originally thought, but the inland fresh water more than made up for it. We brought paddle boards for the lakes, but swimming in the rivers was a huge hit too. The amount of freshwater on this run is mind blowing, and our first two days were mainly spent jumping in every river and lake we passed. Fishing, sightseeing, rallying and technical four-by-fouring will all add thrill to the adventure.

It is very rare to have this sort of ride here in B.C. The Mid-Island and Campbell River ATV clubs have jumped through huge hoops and spent generous time to make this all possible for us legally and geographically. Please ride appropriately on this adventure and have respect for the locals and communities as you pass through. 

An ATV ascends a sketchy rocky trail up a mountain.

This is a long course, and although you can stay on fairly main logging roads throughout, there are many options to try more challenging terrain on this ride. — Photo courtesy Al McBeth


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