Canada 150: Making the Most of Your National Parks Pass in British Columbia

2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass & Guides

2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass & Guides

If you haven’t already heard, Canada is turning 150 in 2017 and in order to celebrate, Parks Canada is offering free 2017 Discovery Passes. These passes provide free admission for a group/family travelling together in one vehicle to all Canadian National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites operated by Parks Canada. Note: regular fees still apply for services like camping.

National Parks are one of my favourite places to visit. In fact, after my husband and I got married in 2014, we packed almost everything we owned into a storage locker and set out on what turned out to be a 78-day camping trip across Canada focused primarily on visiting our National Parks and National Historic sites, guided by our National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of Canada.

Obviously, when Parks Canada announced that Discovery Passes were going to be free in 2017, I was ecstatic. I put in my order, and when I received my pass in the mail I was excited to see that Parks Canada had included a brochure listing all 148 National Parks, Historic Sites, and Marine Conservation Areas in the country. Of these 148 sites, fourteen are in British Columbia, which gives us plenty to explore in 2017!

Hiking in Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Hiking in Yoho National Park, British Columbia

To get the most out of your Discovery Pass requires careful planning. From now until the end of August, I will be featuring my top picks for the must-visit spots in each park. For now, here are a few highlights to whet your appetite!

Hiking in Yoho National Park

  • The 8.5 kilometre one-way trail in Yoho National Park to the Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site is definitely worth your sweat! On the way back, take the alternate route passing by Marpole Lake for some spectacular views and to enjoy the black and orange streaked cliffs.

    Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mt. Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia

    Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mt. Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia

Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mount Revelstoke National Park

  • How often do you get to cover almost 2,000 metres of elevation in just 26-kilometres – and on a good paved road, nonetheless! Mount Revelstoke National Park provides that opportunity. For those feeing more adventurous however, leave the car at the bottom and hike the 10-kilometre Summit Trail to the top.

    Kayaking in the Broken Group Islands, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia

    Kayaking in the Broken Group Islands, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia

Kayaking the Broken Group Islands in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

  • For an adventure like none other, leave the city behind and head to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s Broken Group Islands. The Broken Group is made up of over one hundred islands of various sizes, some of which offer camping. If you are an experienced kayaker, you can head out on your own. If not, many tour operators can assist you with all stages of your trip. Make sure you give yourself at least three or four days to paddle to really experience the Broken Group.

    Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

    Radium Hot Springs, Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

Relaxing at Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park

  • For utter relaxation, head to Radium Hot Springs in Kootenay National Park and soak your troubles away. The odourless and clear naturally heated mineral pools are the biggest in Canada. The facility also offers a full-service day spa in case you are somehow still holding on to your worries after your soak in the hot springs.

Step back in History at Fort Langley National Historic Site

  • Experience BC’s birthplace at Fort Langley National Historic Site. Try your hand at gold panning, watch the sparks fly in the blacksmith shop, and then stay overnight in the fort in an oTENTik

    Blacksmith at Fort Langley National Historic Park. Photo: Parks Canada/M. Boland

    Blacksmith at Fort Langley National Historic Park. Photo: Parks Canada/M. Boland

No matter which National Park or National Historic Site you choose, breathtaking scenery and fascinating history are waiting for you. Canada’s National Parks truly are some of the best places in the world, and living in British Columbia, we are so lucky to have many of them in our own backyard. The National Parks and National Historic Sites in British Columbia are:

  • Yoho National Park
  • Rogers Pass National Historic Site
  • Mount Revelstoke National Park
  • Glacier National Park
  • Kootenay National Park
  • Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site
  • Fort Langley National Historic Site
  • Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
  • Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites
  • Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
  • Fort St. James National Historic Site
  • Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site
  • Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site
  • Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site

 Watch for upcoming blogs on some of our National Parks & National Historic Sites. The next one will be published April 13.

For campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out Where to Camp at Camping & RVing BC.

Published: March 30th, 2017

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Kimberly Walker by Kimberly Walker

Kimberly is a Special Education, Elementary School teacher in Hope, BC. Previously having worked ten years at the Hope Visitor Centre & Museum promoting tourism in Hope and British Columbia, Kimberly worked on many local history projects in the museum as well as researching and writing articles for the local newspaper. Kimberly loves travelling with her husband Dale and their dog Alpine. In the fall of 2014, they spent the first 78 days of married life travelling and camping their way across Canada - just the two of them and the dog - travelling in a Hyundai Elantra! Kimberly loves various outdoor recreation types and exploring our beautiful province.

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