When someone mentions ‘British Columbia’ you probably think of the majestic, snow-capped mountains the province is so famous for. While the mighty mountains alone are definitely enough to make this province a great destination for year-round outdoor adventures, British Columbia is so much more than just mountains.
There is no denying that this western province has a lot going for it in terms of natural beauty and we, as outdoor enthusiasts, could not be happier to take advantage of that. So let’s look past the mountains for a moment and explore what else British Columbia has to offer.
Photo: ©Destination BC / Adrian Dorst
British Columbia has an impressive 25,725 km of coastline dotted with some 40,000 islands. Not only that, the pacific coast of Canada is known to be one of the most diverse marine environments in the world. This is a playing ground for seals, sea lions, orcas, humpback whales, minke whales.. the list could go on for quite a while, but you get the idea.
Can you imagine what an amazing backdrop this makes for active travel? For example, you can paddle off the coast of Canada’s surf capital, Tofino, and take in the beautiful coastal views while whales swim below you and bald eagles fly high above in the sky. What a way to get close to nature!
Photo: ©Parks Canada
Trails of legendary reputation
If you prefer to keep your feet (mostly) dry and explore on land, our absolute favourite hike is the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island – a 75 km trail that has garnered an international reputation as one of the world’s top hiking trails. While not an easy hike by any means (think carrying a full pack, muddy boots, climbing ladders, and crossing streams,) the West Coast Trail will have you walking past sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, intriguing caves, scenic waterfalls, through lush rainforest and more.
Did the full pack part leave you spooked? Don’t worry – on our West Coast Trail to Victoria trip we include a food drop and you can hire a porter for an additional fee to take some of the load off your shoulders.
Unique wildlife and cultural encounters
North of Vancouver Island are the Haida Gwaii islands, a group of over 100 islands that happen to be one of the richest biological areas in the world. Due to their remote location, there are relatively few visitors but the islands are a hotspot for marine life and home to several subspecies of plants, birds and small mammals that aren’t found anywhere else on Earth.
The Haida Gwaii islands are named after the Haida people whose rich culture is evident throughout the area. It’s here that you can find one of the last truly authentic examples of First Nations village in the west coast, with totem poles that were first erected hundreds of years ago. The best way to explore these magical islands is onboard a sailing or motor yacht – but do remember to plan your trip early.
Travel back in time
All the way up north, extending across the borders of Alaska and Yukon,lies an old trail made famous by gold-hungry stampeders on their way to the Klondike Goldfields. Hundreds of men and women used the Chilkoot Trail in the late 1900’s but today, a strict permit system allows only a small number of trekkers on the historic trail.
Evidence of the golden days remains in the form of abandoned trail-side gear, but the real attraction here is the stunning natural beauty of the remote and rugged region together with a long-standing spirit of adventure.
Wine and sunshine
If you thought world famous mountains and a coastline full of adventures was enough for one province, you’d be mistaken... because there’s more. Let us introduce you the Okanagan Valley, wine country and the sunniest region in Canada.
Complementary to the picture perfect rolling hills spotted with vineyards is the superb cycling on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. Pedal across the dramatic Myra Canyon Trestles, navigate a series of mountain-piercing tunnels, and top off your adventure with a glass of local wine and culinary delights. The Okanagan area knows how to enjoy life, that’s for sure.
Photo: ©Tourism Whistler / Robin ONeill
Mountains, if you must
If after all this you still long for the mountains, think Whistler. Unparalleled mountain vistas are a given but there you will also find awe-inspiring hiking routes and exciting biking trails. Not to mention alpine lakes, glaciers and lush rainforest – all in the same place! The exhilarating Via Ferrata will take your adrenaline level to new heights but if you would rather just admire the beauty of British Columbia from the top of a mountain, that’s quite alright too.
Province of the Month
Jan 2017 > Newfoundland & Labrador
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