The Nanaimo river runs through the Nanaimo lakes chain and crosses highway 1 approximately 14 km south of Nanaimo city. The fishable length of the Nanaimo River is 10 km, with excellent access via paved roads and trails. The lower portion of the Nanaimo River, below highway 19, provides good open water for boat drifting.
The river is a moderately sized stream, noted for its relatively late run of steelhead, which peaks during February and March.
Cutthroat and rainbow trout are plentiful, and the fishing pressure is moderate. There is a late summer/fall run of chinook and coho salmon. There are a mandatory catch and release of all cutthroat trout and numerous other closures to sort through, so I would suggest you look into all regulations regarding this river before fishing it. For drift fishing in the lower part of the river, a launching site is available at the rest stop on the south side of the highway crossing of the river.
Campsites are available at first lake and the fishing is great in the lakes. There is a great chance to see lots of wildlife in the upper areas of the river, and you could see bears, deer, elk and many other kinds of smaller animals. In the canyon areas of the river, you can see lots of Northern Alligator Lizards, the canyon area is very popular for swimming and there are many trails that will lead you down to the river from the Nanaimo River Road.
There are many trails around the river that will take you on adventures, the Nanaimo Fish Hatchery is an incredible place to visit, and there are miles of trails here, you could hike around all day and not even come close to seeing them all. The mudflats are another spot to see wildlife, especially birds, thousands of them, there are some nice trails here with viewing areas.