Province wide campfire bans in place, Campers know before you go camping.

Wasa Lake Provincial Park in BC’s Kootenay Region

Last summer we spent ten days motorcycle touring through southeastern British Columbia. One of our favourite destinations between Golden and Nelson was Wasa Lake Provincial Park in the Kootenay region.

Wasa Lake Provincial Park is unlike any provincial park I have visited previously – and I have visited a lot! Located approximately 200 kilometres south of Golden and just 40 kilometres north of Cranbrook, the Wasa Lake Provincial Park campground actually caused me a bit of concern when we were arriving. Despite the fact that I had made a reservation at a campground with around 100 sites, the arrival route to the campsite made me feel like there must somehow be two Wasa Lake Provincial Parks in BC (spoiler: there’s not).

Wasa Lake Provincial Park | Kim Walker

After driving through numerous small communities along the Columbia River, enjoying beautiful views while driving along Columbia Lake, relaxing with a late afternoon dip at Fairmont Hot Springs, then heading for Wasa Lake late in the day, we followed Google’s directions and turned off the highway at Wasa Lake Gas and Food. We saw the main beach area, lovely grassy areas with tell-tale BC Parks picnic tables, a nice looking bike path, and a sani station – so far so good. Then we turned left and were suddenly in the middle of what appeared to be a residential area. Houses and summer cabins flanked both sides of the road and I was left wondering where exactly 100 campsites were going to fit! Fortunately for us, before long it all became clear: Wasa Lake Provincial Park is actually made up of several smaller, disconnected sections. There is a campground set back from the lake, a large day use area with a playground and boat launch, and two smaller protected areas on the opposite side of the lake with no facilities.

Playground at Wasa Lake | Kim Walker

With that sorted, we set about preparing our campsite. Our site was similar to most in the loop: a standard BC Parks gravel pad surrounded by grassland and light tree cover. The site offers both pit and flush toilets throughout the campground and has a shower building near the entrance. A walk around the campsite to orient ourselves uncovered a children’s bike park, an amphitheatre, and a self guided interpretive trail called the Forest of the Rainshadow.

The Forest of the Rainshadow is a 3 or so kilometre, hour-long loop hiking trail departing from near the campground amphitheatre. The sign at the trailhead invites hikers to “wander through a Ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir forest as you make your way gradually uphill to open grasslands… Along the way investigate how the forces of nature and the influence of humans have shaped the Forest of the Rainshadow.” As we did our hike, we saw numerous markers with numbers, which leads me to believe that at one time there was a brochure with information about each marker similar to the Otter Marsh Interpretive Trail we did at Big Bar Lake Provincial Park (see blog). Unfortunately, I was not able to find any information to accompany The Forest of the Rainshadow. Despite this, I would recommend The Forest of the Rainshadow as it is a lovely walk with great views of Wasa Lake.

Wasa Lions Way Trail, Wasa Lake Provincial Park | Kim Walker

The next morning we set out to explore the other sections of Wasa Lake Provincial Park. A great way to do this is by cycling or walking the Wasa Lions Way – an 8 kilometre paved loop around Wasa Lake that connects all the parts of Wasa Lake Provincial Park. Our trip around the lake took us to two sections of Wasa Lake Provincial Park on the west side of the lake without any developed facilities. These areas have undergone significant grassland restoration and it was really interesting to learn about fire maintained temperate grasslands and how fire suppression since the 1940s has negatively impacted these ecosystems.

Our Campsite at Wasa Lake Provincial Park | Kim Walker

As we rounded the north end of Wasa Lake we entered back into the largest area of the park. Wasa Lake Provincial Park has four day-use areas with buoyed swimming areas, which provide safe access to the warmest swimming lake in the Kootenays and over 2,000 metres of beaches. There are 45 picnic sites, a change house, a boat launch, and an adventure playground.

Wasa Lake Loop Trail | Kim Walker

Wasa Lake Provincial Park is an absolute gem for family camping. We observed that most campers seemed to have their bicycles, and between the many trails to explore, the great beaches, and the laid back vibe, I can see how Wasa Lake Provincial Park would be a great place to unwind.

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For other places to camp in this area or elsewhere in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtags #campinbc #explorebc.

Soak in the Sunshine Coast Along BC’s Salish Sea Route – Saltery Bay to Lund

Indigenous cultures, artistic communities, sea-inspired activities, spectacular coastlines and old growth forests make up British Columbia’s Salish Sea Coastal Route. This blog covers the Sunshine Coast part of the drive, from Saltery Bay north to Lund. Click here for the Sunshine Coast blog from Langdale to Egmont which also includes ‘Getting There’ from the BC Mainland.

Paddling Along the Coastline of Desolation Sound | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

Saltery Bay

After a 50-minute ferry ride across Jervis Inlet from Earl’s Cove you arrive at Saltery Bay on the Malaspina Peninsula. It was named in the early 1900s when it was the base for a salmon saltery and fish packing plant. Nearby are Mermaid’s Cove and Saltery Bay Provincial Picnic Park, a popular stop for, yes, a picnic. Mountain bikers can explore the 48-km Elephant Bay Loop. Between Saltery Bay and Powell River lies Lang Creek Estuary, a superb location for salmon fishing and beach casting when the fish run in autumn. There are several hiking trails and forest recreation sites along the way too. Palm Beach Regional Park off Hwy 101 before Brew Bay is open year-round and bids adieu to summer with the Sunshine Music Festival on Labour Day Weekend.

Powell River | Province of BC

Powell River/Texada Island

Powell River is the ancestral home of the Sliammon First Nation. The city of Powell River lies along the shores of the Georgia Strait at the heart of the Malaspina Peninsula and faces west to Vancouver Island. Inlets and Powell Lake separate this area from the rest of the BC mainland, making it a magical place to visit.

It’s an area steeped in Indigenous culture, logging and BC heritage (check out the educational forestry museum). Late winter sees the Powell River Film Festival in the classic Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously running cinema. The townsite has over 400 buildings dating to the original 1910 town plan and, in 1995, was designated as a National Historic District of Canada. Stroll around for yourself or book a heritage walking tour or take in an Indigenous experience, such as the Tla’amin Nation Cultural Tours where you can meet skilled craftspeople and learn about traditional practices. Music gatherings include the Townsite Jazz Festival in April and the PRISMA Festival & Academy Festival in mid-June, which unites renowned guest artists with top international music students for two weeks; spectators are invited to watch the symphonies and orchestras that take shape here. Mid-July means outdoor entertainment with a unique logger sports event.

Tacos and margaritas at Mexican and Latin influenced Costa del Sol in Powell River | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Local produce can be purchased at the Townsite Public Market and Coast Berry Company, a blueberry, strawberry and honey farm and café, and the Powell River Blackberry Festival and street party is in August. For an educational outing visit the Tla’amin Salmon Hatchery.

From kayak and canoe rentals and dive trips to day tours and eco resort indulgences, there are numerous tour opportunities and 32 lakes in the Powell River area. Golfers and cyclists should head southeast to Myrtle Point Golf Club and explore the roads through Paradise Valley agricultural area.

Aerial View of Desolation Sound, including Mt Denman and the Coast Range Mountains | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

Beachgoers can check out Willingdon Beach Municipal Campsite on the northern edge of town (open year-round), Mowat Bay Park at the bottom end of Powell Lake, or, northeast of town, Haywire Bay Regional Park, operated by the Regional District. Travellers to Vancouver Island can take a ferry from Powell River to Courtenay.

Southwest across the water from Powell River is Texada Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands, with Courtenay, Vancouver Island beyond that. Each July the sandy beaches of Gillies Bay on Texada are home to the community event of Sandcastle Weekend. Other entertaining gatherings are the Texada Island Fly-In (air and car/bike show), the Texada Island Blues & Roots Festival, the Sunshine Music Festival and the Run the Rock 8 km and half-marathon/marathon. Said to be the toughest marathon in Canada it attracts runners from around the world. For a calmer outing visit Texada’s beaches to experience their vast intertidal zones or chill out and watch some skimboarding.

For more on Powell River read the blog Powell River, Insulated By Nature.

Lund

At the most northern end of Highway 101 is Lund, a quaint village known for craft harbour, fishing (Lund Seafood Festival in May), sea touring and being the gateway to Desolation Sound, the deep-water area at the northern end of the Salish Sea. Lund sits on Tla’amin land in the qathet Regional District and is home to the Coast Salish people. Its first European settler was Swede Charlie Thulin who, in 1889, named the harbour after a city in his home country.

Visit art studios such as Tug-Gumh Gallery or indulge yourself at Nancy’s Bakery or the Lund Resort at Klah Ah Men, an award-winner in Indigenous tourism.

The Harbour at Lund | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

East of Lund is Okeover Arm Provincial Park and Okeover Inlet, a superb spot for harvesting oysters and clams (tidal water licence required). Diver’s Rock Regional Park and Copeland Islands Marine Provincial Park are just north of Lund. The latter is made up of a small chain of island, islets and rocks in Thulin Passage and is a prime area for wildlife viewing and wilderness camping; there are also some anchorages for small vessels. For an unforgettable experience book a water taxi or snorkel/dive trip to Savary Island, southeast of Lund—it has some of the warmest waters north of the Baja and sandy shores to relax on. Lund Water Taxi offers services to Savary and Cortes Islands, Sarah Point (start of Sunshine Coast Trail) and Desolation Sound. They also have bicycle and kayak transfer services.

Water enthusiasts and hikers are keen on Inland Lake Provincial Park and the Sunshine Coast Trail from Powell River to Sarah Point, approximately 47 km north of Lund. There is 13 km of wheelchair accessible trail around Inland Lake.

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The Sunshine Coast region is home to the traditional and ancestral territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, shíshálh, Tla’amin, Klahoose and Homalco Nations. Visitors are encouraged to learn about how they can engage in cultural exploration.

Read our suggested drive along the Salish Sea Coastal Route or learn about winter activities on the Sunshine Coast.

Check out the first part of this tour up the Sunshine Coast by reading the blog Soak in the Sunshine Coast Along BC’s Salish Sea Route – Langdale to Egmont

For places to camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtags #campinbc #explorebc.

Soak in the Sunshine Coast Along BC’s Salish Sea Route – Langdale to Egmont

Indigenous cultures, artistic communities, sea-inspired activities, spectacular coastlines and old growth forests make up British Columbia’s Salish Sea Coastal Route. This blog covers the Sunshine Coast part of the drive, from Gibsons area north to Egmont. Watch for part 2 which will cover Saltery Bay to Lund.

Sechelt Waterfront Photo: Province of BC
Sechelt Waterfront Photo | Province of BC

The Sunshine Coast area is only accessible by ferry, boat or plane providing an island feel experience. It has a mild coastal climate with many sunny days however, visitors should be prepared for wet days. (Boaters and hikers, check the weather before heading out.) Rain or shine, there are plenty of things to do in this incredible part of British Columbia. Fill your days exploring beaches, biking, paddling or fishing. Book a land or sea tour, take in a museum or festival, visit an art gallery or relax at a spa. Fuel up at breweries, cideries, distilleries, farmers’ markets and specialty food shops.

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons Photo: BC Ale Trail
Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons | BC Ale Trail

Getting There

The 40-minute BC Ferry ride to Langdale on the Sechelt Peninsula departs from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver; along the way take in Coast Mountain views and the spectacular Howe Sound. For travellers heading northwest to Powell River and beyond there’s a ferry between Earl’s Cove and Saltery Bay across the Jervis Inlet and on to the Malaspina Peninsula area of the Sunshine Coast. Total kilometres (not including ferry rides) from the Langdale ferry terminal to the village of Lund is approximately 140 km.

BC Ferries’ Vessel Island Sky Approaches Earl’s Cove | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

Langdale

The Sunshine Coast has more artists per area than any other place in Canada, and Langdale is one of the anchor towns of the Purple Banner Tour, a self-directed studio and gallery tour which runs northwest to Powell River. A purple banner on a property indicates an artist at work, and some of them open their studios to the public. Another crafty event is the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, which takes place from Langdale to the Earls Cove area every October, with over 175 venues taking part!

Hikers and walkers can stroll the beach at Hopkins Landing or Smith Cove Park, which has a great viewpoint toward Gambier Island. Test your quads along Soames Hill Trail between Langdale and Gibsons, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of nearby islands and the Salish Sea. Mountain bikers should check out Sprockids Park and its 14 km of well-kept trails.

Gibsons Public Art Gallery. Carving is “Welh Áynexw tl’a Swa7ámchet” or “Spirit of Our Ancestors”. Artist: Sinàmkin (Jody Broomfield) of the Squamish Nation | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Gibsons

Perched on a hillside with harbour views, the town of Gibsons is a steppingstone to the Sunshine Coast. Coffee shops, boutiques and art galleries are popular with locals and tourists, and the Gibsons Public Market is open year-round. A must while here is Tidepools Aquarium, a collect-and-release aquarium located inside the market.

History buffs will enjoy the Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives (recently named one of the best community museums in BC). For more art there’s the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and The Kube, with its working artists’ studios, gallery and curated retail. The Gibsons Landing Jazz Festival is held each June and is a fun way to kickstart the summer.

Painting the Roberts Creek Mandala Photo: Mary Ann Bell
Painting the Roberts Creek Mandala | Mary Ann Bell

Roberts Creek/Davis Bay Area

There are more than a few fun events in and around Roberts Creek and Davis Bay with farmers’ markets in both communities and Davis Bay’s annual sandcastle competition in July. Creek Daze is an August event that celebrates all that is whimsical in the area, with live music, food and craft vendors and games. Be sure to visit the Roberts Creek General Store and the Roberts Creek Mandala artwork on the way to the pier.

East of Roberts Creek is Kitchen Sink Rescue, with its farm animal sanctuary, and the Sunshine Coast Golf & Country Club. Low tide at Roberts Creek Provincial Park means sand bar exploring, sea star spotting and seal watching.

Sechelt Harbour Sunshine Coast
Sechelt Harbour Sunshine Coast

Sechelt

Sechelt is located on a narrow isthmus that separates Sechelt Inlet from the Salish Sea and is surrounded by forests. It’s a magnificent area to kayak or to take a float plane tour for a bird’s-eye view.

Art is in the air each spring in Sechelt with its Festival of the Performing Arts and in August during the Sunshine Coast Festival of the Written Arts, a gathering of Canadian writers and readers. October sees Oktoberfest followed by the Sechelt Festival of Lights in early December. The Raven’s Cry Theatre shows movies and hosts events and the shíshálh Nation tems swiya Museum has a large collection of artifacts including cedar baskets and ancient stone tools.

Take in the sights and smells of local flora at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden and wander along the long, sandy beaches in Porpoise Bay Provincial Park.

Halfmoon Bay | @glamouraspirit_:

Halfmoon Bay

Northwest of Pender Harbour on the way to Halfmoon Bay is Sargeant Bay Provincial Park and Trout Lake Picnic Area. South of Halfmoon Bay is Coopers Green Park with its beaches and great diving. Hikes can be had at Halfmoon Bay and Coopers Green trailheads.

Pender Harbour

Surrounded by sea inlets, this community is water-centric and full of fun. The end of May means the annual Pender Harbour May Day, and 2025 will be its 80th year! The Pender Harbour Blues Festival in June and August sees the Harbour Chamber Music Festival and the Pender Harbour Wooden Boat Show, a celebration of marine heritage, ​with historical boats, ​land-based displays and kids’ activities. Winter features the very original Pender Harbour Christmas Boat Parade.

Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast | Destination BC/Albert Normandin

Madeira Park, just south of Pender Harbour, is a hub of marine activity. Check out the many paddle sport and fishing rentals in the area.

Earls Cove to Egmont

At the north end of the Sechelt Peninsula, Earls Cove is home to the ferry terminal location for sailings to Saltery Bay. The ferry links the lower and upper areas of the Sunshine Coast.

Experience a scenic 50-minute (16 km) ride up the Agamemnon Channel, around the northeast tip of sparsely populated Nelson Island and into Jervis Inlet. You will think you’re in Norway with views of rugged mountain slopes and fjords. Don’t be fooled, it’s the Coast Mountain Range!

Whitewater Kayaking Skookumchuk Narrows near Egmont | Destination BC/Danielle Hayes

South of Earls Cove is Ruby Lake and the sandy beaches of Dan Bosch Park. Ruby Lake and nearby Sakinaw Lake have great trout fishing in season and are perfect for freshwater activities, including canoeing portages. The lagoon at Ruby Lake is a rewarding spot for waterfowl and wildlife viewing.

East of Highway 101 on the drive up from Pender Harbour is the large provincial park of Spipiyus, renowned as having the oldest closed-canopy temperate rain forest in Canada. Its hiking trails even offer ocean views.

Egmont is a waterfront village on Secret Bay, 7 km east of the BC Ferries terminal. It’s the trailhead for Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park, and has modern marinas offering moorage and supplies for yachts and floatplanes. Boat charters are available here, as are a variety of guided tours, including kayaking. Make sure to visit the Egmont Heritage Centre to learn about the Shíshálh peoples and the history of logging and fishing in the community.

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The Sunshine Coast region is home to the traditional and ancestral territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw, shíshálh, Tla’amin, Klahoose and Homalco Nations. Visitors are encouraged to learn about how they can engage in cultural exploration.

Read our suggested drive along the Salish Sea Coastal Route or learn about winter activities on the Sunshine Coast.

For places to camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtags #campinbc #explorebc.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia

On a recent trip through the Kootenays we spent a few nights at one of my favourite campsites in the area: Kokanee Creek Provincial Park.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is a large and popular campground 20 minutes east of Nelson. The park has four separate campgrounds, accepts reservations for 132 of its 189 vehicle-accessible sites, and has many things to see and do during your stay.

On our last stay, we camped at the Sandspit Campground, which is by far the largest campsite area. Other campground areas include the Redfish Campground, the Osprey Point Campground, and the Friends Campground, which offers 13 sites with electrical hook ups. Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has all the facilities you would expect in such a large and popular provincial park: water taps, a large adventure playground, a sani-station, both pit and flush toilets, and shower buildings at both the Sandspit and Friends campgrounds.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Campsite | Kim Walker

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has quite an interesting history. Archaeological evidence indicates that areas within the park were used as seasonal campsites by Indigenous peoples. In the late 1800s, a wealthy Englishman named Charles W. Busk moved to the Nelson area and established the “Busk Estate” – which included a large mansion where he entertained guests. By 1913 Busk was disenchanted with his new lifestyle and he died only a few years later. Today, all that remains of the original Busk Estate are some stone walls and an oval concrete swimming pool – but these are generally well hidden! One hiking trail in the park is called the Historic Busk Estate Trail and that is where you might start if you wanted to try to find the ruins.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Nature Centre | Kim Walker

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has an excellent nature centre open daily from 8am to 8pm.  There are many programs for all ages run out of the nature centre and it is highly advisable to see what programs are being offered while you are there.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Boat Launch & Wharf | Kim Walker

One of the reasons Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is so popular is that it provides access to more than a kilometre of sandy beaches. There is a boat launch and wharf and watersports including swimming, paddling, waterskiing, and windsurfing are popular.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park Canyon Trail | Kim Walker

When we visited, we spent most of our time at the park exploring some of the 9.5 kilometres of hiking and walking trails. We started our hike at the nature centre and set out to explore the spawning channel. Lots of interesting interpretive signage teaches about Kokanee – landlocked Sockeye Salmon. It is interesting to read about how human impacts such as mining in nearby Kimberley and the construction of the Duncan Dam have impacted Kokanee over the years and lead to hatcheries and spawning channels being built. After leaving the spawning channel area we headed uphill along the Canyon Trail to the Canyon Lookout. This is a beautiful trail following the creek with a viewing platform at the end. From there, we took the previously mentioned Historic Busk Estate Trail (no luck finding the swimming pool for us!) all the way back down to Kootenay Lake near the edge of the park. We found the dog beach, then followed a trail along the lakeshore past the Friends Campground, past the Sandspit Campground, and then connected with the Grassland Trail where we found a beautiful and much less busy sandy beach, before completing our loop and re-emerging back at the nature centre for an ice cold drink at their coffee shop. This loop was about 5.5 kilometres long and took us approximately an hour and a half to hike.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is a West Kootenay favourite – and for good reason. With lovely campsites, great services, and lots to explore, this certainly won’t be our last trip to Kokanee Creek.

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For other camping and RV accommodations in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos at hashtag #CampinBC, #exploreBC

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Take a Trip through the Canadian Rockies, British Columbia’s Cowboy Country & into the Coast Mountains

Are you ready to take a British Columbia trip across this amazing province from the Rockies to the Pacific Ocean? This is a road trip of a lifetime with breathtaking scenery infused with rich Canadian history as you drive from Calgary, Alberta to Vancouver, British Columbia. Wind your way through breathtaking snow-capped alpine peaks and around iridescent aquamarine lakes. Witness the highest mountain peak in Canada (Mount Robson 3,954 m / 12,972 ft.) and discover limestone formations.

Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park | Destination BC/Megan McLellan

The main driving route from Calgary to Vancouver is via the Trans Canada Hwy 1 across BC through Banff, Golden, Revelstoke and Kamloops. Alternatively, you can travel south and west along the Crowsnest Hwy 3 through Cranbrook, Castlegar and Osoyoos. This Calgary to Vancouver trip will travel north through Banff and Jasper National Parks then south and west to Clearwater, along the Fishing Hwy 24 and to the ski resort of Whistler. Each route is uniquely different. Whichever one you take, be ready to discover the hidden gems along the way! This is just one of those routes for you to explore.

Calgary to Banff & Jasper

To start this trip get yourself to Calgary, Alberta, whether doing a fly/drive or hopping in your own RV. Head west to Banff National Park for a night or two. There are plenty of hiking trails to explore but also check out Banff Park Museum which is Western Canada’s oldest natural history museum with interpretive programs and exhibits. Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada is a commemoration site that marks the birthplace of Canada’s National Park System. Since 1883, visitors have been coming to enjoy the warm mineral pools. Today, the site still engages visitors of all ages with many interactive displays and exhibits focusing on the history of the mineral pools.

Leaving Banff follow signs to Jasper National Park. The Jasper Skytram  is a 7 minute alpine ride that takes you to an altitude of over 2,277 m (7,472 ft) all the time with an awe-inspiring view. Take a boat tour or go for a paddle on Maligne Lake, the Canadian Rockies largest glacial lake. Sip your afternoon tea at the beautiful chalet while savouring the world famous views. There is also a UNESCO heritage site here which includes: Mystery Rock, the Two Brothers Totem Pole, and the 6015 Rail Engine.

Mount Robson | Mary Putnam, Tourism Valemount

Jasper to Mt. Robson Provincial Park & Valemount

Heading into British Columbia, follow Yellowhead Hwy 16W and look for signs to Valemount/Kamloops. A short drive from Valemount is Mount Robson Provincial Park where you can experience the expansive natural outdoors by hiking a variety of networking trails. For a gentler activity, paddle or fish Kinbasket Lake or try Whitewater Rafting on the Fraser River.

Valemount to Clearwater

On the road to Clearwater stop in Blue River for a River Safari and experience gliding down the river through Grizzly Mountain Valley. This is one of the world’s only inland temperate rainforests with an abundance of wildlife. There are also some great hiking trails in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Kayaking on Clearwater Lake | Kim Walker

Clearwater to Bridge Lake Provincial Park

Continuing south on Hwy 5 to Little Fort, turn off onto Interlakes Hwy/Little Fort Hwy 24W. Also known as the Fishing Highway fly fishing is very popular in this region due to the abundance of beautiful lakes offering a variety of species. There are several tour companies in the area that assist with equipment, guides and fly-fishing lessons.

Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing

Also renowned for its Cowboy landscape with endless rolling hills, vast hay fields and resident cattle on dude ranches you can get up close and personal with this landscape by taking a guided horseback ride.

Check out the blog Coast Along BC’s Famed Fishing Highway 24 in the Cariboo

Bridge Lake to Lillooet

Continue heading west and turn south onto Cariboo Hwy 97, then onto Hwy 99S to Lillooet.

Explore Marble Canyon Provincial Park which offers lots of opportunities to see wildlife. Try rock climbing, scuba diving and more. View the sheer limestone rock formations carved out of the Pavilion Mountain range and brilliant colours of the sparkling Turquoise, Crown and Pavilion Lakes. The groundwater spring that feeds Pavilion Lake is slightly alkaline, producing an intense crystal-clear turquoise coloured water and Stromatolites (a rare prehistoric life organism).

Horses are a Frequent Sight in Lillooet | Trish C.

Whilst in this area go back in time at Hat Creek Ranch and learn about the Gold Rush days via local interpreters. Explore original buildings and a Native village of the Shuswap Nation.

Lillooet to Whistler

Continue south on Hwy 99, also known as the Duffey Lake Road, towards Pemberton and follow signs to Whistler. A year-round resort, Whistler is as much fun in the summer as the winter. There are plenty of trails for hiking and biking. The Peak to Peak Gondola is open to experience amazing views, or go ziplining, bungee jumping or take a helicopter/float plane sightseeing tour.

Peak to Peak Gondola, Whistler. Photo: Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson
Peak to Peak Gondola, Whistler | Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

Whistler to Vancouver

In Squamish, the Sea to Sky Gondola whisks you up 885 m (2,800 ft) to viewing platforms with stunning views over Howe Sound and the surrounding mountains. There are interpretive walks and a restaurant that serves local food at the top. Close by is Britannia Mine Museum, a National Historic Site depicting mining life from the Gold Rush days. You can take a train ride in an underground mine and experience the life of a miner in the early 1900s. A must for kids and adults alike.

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With your British Columbia trip nearing an end, head to Vancouver. Nestled on the shore of Georgia Strait and the Salish Sea, Vancouver offers all the sights and sounds of a cosmopolitan city. Beyond is Vancouver Island and the stunning Pacific Ocean.

To read this recommended tour go to Canadian Rockies, Cowboy Country to Coast Mountains.

For camping and RV accommodations in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos at hashtag #CampinBC

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Where to Go Camping and RVing in British Columbia

British Columbia offers breathtaking natural scenery, diverse wildlife, and numerous outdoor activities and cultural events including hiking, fishing, cycling, and attending farmers markets or museums.

Cabana Beach Campground, Osoyoos

For a first-time camper, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in nature, disconnect from technology, and experience the serenity of the wilderness but also enjoy some culture.

There are four types of camping experiences to choose from and they offer a mix of frontcountry and backcountry access. Frontcountry means an area within 1 km of a park road or a highway. Frontcountry campgrounds are accessible by vehicle, and they offer a range of amenities not available in more remote locations.  Backcountry campgrounds are still mainly vehicle accessible (some are hike in only) but usually on gravel or forestry roads and are more remote with limited facilities.

Choosing the right campsite and doing the research, you must consider factors such as location, amenities, scenery, and activities available. The map located on campingrvbc.com allows users to search and locate over 1,700 campgrounds offering unique camping experiences. Here is an overview of the opportunities.

Private RV Parks

In British Columbia, you can enjoy a variety of amenities at more than 400 of BC’s private sector RV parks/campgrounds that are well-maintained, accessible, and enjoyable for all levels of campers. 

British Columbia’s independently owned and operated campgrounds provide services and facilities to suit every lifestyle and budget. Whether you prefer a full-service site with electrical, water and sewer hook-up, a limited-service site with just electrical and/or water, or perhaps a basic site for your tent or tent-trailer, you will find lots to choose from throughout all regions of BC and within all the terrains that this stunning province has to offer. Camp by a lake, on a river, at the foot of a mountain, or under a canopy of tall trees in the forest, it’s all here in BC.

Williamson Lake Campground, Revelstoke

Glamping

Don’t have your own home away from home?  That is not a problem, as quite a few campgrounds offer “Glamping” – the opportunity to drive up in your own vehicle and rent an RV, Yurt or Cabin, or as some call it, “Ready to Camp units.”  Reservations are always recommended as this type of vacation is popular. Most private sector businesses offer online reservation capability and many allow bookings up to 12 months in advance.

Parks Canada (National Campgrounds)

Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. They operate seven national parks in British Columbia that offer camping, of which four have glamping oTENTiks.

oTENTik Parks Canada

A great option for beginners, frontcountry campgrounds may include:

  • washrooms with showers
  • kitchen shelters
  • electrical
  • water hookups
  • Wi-Fi access zones

Check first.

Parks Canada operates a reservation service that opens early in the new year but also has a selection of first-come-first-served campsites. Reservations are recommended as the demand is high in peak periods. National parks include: Kootenay National Park, Pacific Rim National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park.

Camping at Emerald Bay in Green Lake Provincial Park | Kim Walker

BC Parks (Provincial Campgrounds)

If it’s more wilderness that you seek, then BC Parks, which has over 640 Provincial Parks with more than 10,000 Frontcountry campsites and approximately 2,000 walk-in or backcountry campsites, as well as 39 group campgrounds. (If you’re venturing into BC’s backcountry, ensure you camp safely and responsibly and refer to a backcountry guide for more information).

Rustic Recreational Sites

For a more rustic feel, then you will want to visit Recreational Sites & Trails BC (RSTBC) who provide public recreation opportunities through the development, maintenance and management of a network of recreation sites and trails throughout British Columbia. The BC Ministry of Tourism Culture and the Arts maintains more than 1,200 recreation campsites under this program.

Campertunity

Other Camping Opportunities

Campertunity is an online marketplace that showcases campsites for you to rent on private land throughout BC. There are also  opportunities to rent trailers, domes, yurts, and cabins.

Know the Camper’s Code

All campground operators have rules and a behaviour etiquette, but the industry has endorsed the Camper’s Code as an approach to develop a friendly camping culture.

The camper’s code has 9 rules that are really easy to follow.  When all campers follow them, camping is enjoyable for all, nature stays pristine, fellow campers become friends and animals stay wild and free. www.camperscode.com

Whatever you have for a first-time experience, take the time to sit and see the wildlife and listen to the sounds of camping, because “It’s always a great day to #CampinBC”.

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To find camping accommodations throughout British Columbia go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/

Share your BC camping and travel photos at hashtag #campinbc

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Following the Gold Rush Trail through British Columbia’s Cariboo & Beyond

Follow the trail of the first prospectors who flocked to British Columbia in the mid-1800s in search of gold and riches. Travel through rugged mountains, steep canyons and past raging rivers of the Fraser Canyon and into the dry plateaus and rolling hills of the Thompson Okanagan and Cariboo regions. Continue north to Prince George, called the Northern Capital of BC, then east and south towards the stunning BC Rockies returning to Hope in Fraser Country.

Horses are a Frequent Sight in Lillooet | Trish C.

A Sampling of Things To See and Do Along the Way

The Fraser Canyon offers up plenty to see. Yale Historic Site was an original Gold Rush boomtown where the steamers stopped as the waters of the Fraser River were too rough beyond this point for boats to navigate. It is known as the official start of the Gold Rush Trail although mile zero is actually in Lillooet.

Hell’s Gate Airtram offers a ride over the thundering waters where 200 million gallons of water cascade through the narrow passage of the gorge every minute.

Historic Hat Creek Ranch near Cache Creek | Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

Entering the drier climate of the Cariboo you will find Historic Hat Creek Ranch. Dating back to 1861 you can relive the history through interpreters dressed in period clothing, take a stagecoach ride and pan for gold.

Continuing on to Clinton, check out this Wild West town! Antique shops, many with original storefronts, are full of treasures and an 1892 museum are reasons to take a break here. Then on to Williams Lake home to cowboys and the popular annual Williams Lake Stampede (July 1st). Do some gold panning in Quesnel, home to the world’s largest gold pan and check out Mandy the haunted doll at the Quesnel & District Museum.

Bowron Actors, Barkerville

A side trip to Barkerville is well worth the one-hour drive each way. This thriving historic town is a tribute to the gold rush era that made BC’s gold industry famous. 125 plus heritage buildings, displays, a theatre, events, activities and more showcase the life of Barkerville’s colourful past. Designated a Historic Site of Canada and a Provincial Heritage Property it is the largest living-history museum in western North America.

Known as the capital of Northern BC, the city of Prince George is a bustling community where arts and culture, events and outdoor adventure awaits. Visit the Exploration Place Museum & Science Centre with dinosaurs, fossils, hands-on experiences for kids and adults alike. The Central British Columbia Railway and Forestry Museum features original buildings and rolling stock and is home to one of the largest vintage rail collections in BC.

Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park. Photo: Destination BC/Megan McLellan
Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park | Photo: Destination BC/Megan McLellan

Situated at the foot of Canoe Mountain in the Robson Valley is the village of Valemount and the closest community to Mount Robson Provincial Park and Jasper National Park. Explore some of the many hiking trails for stunning views of snow-capped mountains, spectacular waterfalls and create lasting memories.

Along the way stop at Blue River and experience a boat ride down the river through Grizzly Mountain Valley and the world’s only inland temperate rainforest where you may be lucky enough to see bears, moose, osprey, eagles and other BC wildlife.

Outdoor adventurers will want to stop at Wells Gray Provincial Park to see and experience some of nature at its very best. A wide array of paths offer trails for different hiking levels plus stunning waterfalls provide many viewing opportunities, including Helmcken Falls, the fourth highest falls in Canada. Bring your kayaks and bikes and get ready to experience this amazing park.

Mountain Biking in Kenna Cartwright Park
Mountain Biking in Kenna Cartwright Park, Kamloops | Destination BC/Andrew Strain

Kamloops is one of the major cities in the Okanagan with great restaurants, shopping, entertainment, arts and culture, sports and outdoor activities. Stop in at a winery or a local brewery. Visit BC Wildlife Park and experience wildlife up close.

Amazing white and yellow cliff formations are located in Castle Rock Hoodoos Provincial Park in Deadman Valley. Hiking is not permitted as the landscape is very fragile but stunning scenery provides an opportunity to take home some great photographic memories.

Spences Bridge lies at the confluence of the Thompson and Nicola Rivers and is a prime location for excellent fishing. River rafting, swimming, canoeing, kayaking or fishing are all close by.

This circle route has much to offer. Spend a few days, a week or more, exploring some or all of the communities and attractions along this route.

For a ‘guided’ tour read our suggested trip along the Gold Rush Trail.

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For places to camp in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc

Haida Gwaii Adventures, British Columbia

Although I have travelled BC, especially between Vancouver and Prince George, more times than I can count, when my husband and I bought an RV we slowed down; really began to see this amazing province we call home.  In this blog I am sharing one of our many BC explorations.

Route from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii and up to Masset

We had heard much about Haida Gwaii, the mystical secluded archipelago made up of a cluster of islands off the northern coast of BC.  We were eager to discover it for ourselves.  It’s sparsely populated and not easy to get to.  Most of the inhabitants are indigenous and live in villages located almost exclusively on Graham Island.

There is an expression about remote communities that there are only three ways to access them, by water, by air or by birth.  We chose water taking the ferry that is part of BC’s provincial ferry system from Prince Rupert to Skidegate on Haida Gwaii.  Reserve early as it fills up fast particularly during the busy season.  We encountered others who had not been so attentive in their planning.  They were stuck on the island until they could secure another sailing.  Not always easy with an RV. 

Sailing from Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii, BC | M. Moulton

A curious fact about the ferry to Haida Gwaii, not only does it take eight hours, but oversized vehicles need to be backed onboard. “Excuse me, as in backing up all the way down the ramp and onto the ferry?”  Of course, if you need assistance the ferry workers have you covered.  They have professional drivers that will do it for you if you prefer.  As I do all the driving, I looked at my husband, “you got this,” he said.  And I did, but it’s a long ramp and a technical drive not for the faint of heart. 

Port Clements Pier on Haida Gwaii, BC | M. Moulton

Once on the island our first campsite was on the ocean surrounded by serene ancient forest just outside Daajing Giids (a more appropriate culturally representative name than the former Queen Charlotte City).  It was quintessential west coast.  A light rain fell, the kind that doesn’t really get you wet, but causes mist to form drifting across the beach and through the trees draped with moss. 

Sea Asparagus on Haida Gwaii

We walked the rugged beach, and to our delight came across wild sea asparagus which we harvested for our dinner.  In fact, wild harvest is a common practice.  You won’t find any fancy high-priced touristy seafood restaurants here.  The locals acquire and trade amongst themselves the abundance from the land and sea rather than marketing to visitors. 

First Nations Building and Art in Old Masset on Haida Gwaii | M. Moulton

Next, we drove to Masset on the northern end of Graham Island.  Along the way were many deer grazing beside the roadway, a local phenomenon.  We rode our bicycles around Old Masset enjoying the authentic aboriginal village, oceanfront, and a quick bite at one of several food trucks that serve as “eating out” Masset style.  You may also wish to trek just a bit further to Tow Hill to take in the vast Pacific Ocean vistas. 

Our RV parked at Halibut Bite on Haida Gwaii, BC | M. Moulton

Heading back south to catch our ferry off island we explored Port Clements mingling with the locals as they fished off the pier in the heart of town.  We also stopped for photos at area attractions Halibut Bite and Balance Rock.

Balance Rock on Haida Gwaii, BC | M. Moulton

The ferry between Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert runs during the day, or you can take it overnight.  Staterooms are available so you can get some rest as Transport Canada doesn’t allow you to stay in your vehicle below deck for safety reasons.  Hecate Strait is renowned for its turbulent seas.  We chose a daytime crossing on our way over to Haida Gwaii to take in the sights and an overnight on the way back to Prince Rupert (with a stateroom).  The overnight ferry from Haida Gwaii aligned perfectly with our intent to board yet another ferry, this time from Prince Rupert to Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island.  This route might be known to those who have traversed the inside passage on an Alaskan cruise.  The scenery and the wildlife are spectacular! 

BC Ferry Stateroom

We recommend Haida Gwaii to the more adventurous.  Its natural beauty is stunning but it’s short on amenities so prepare accordingly.  The towns on Haida Gwaii are small.  Ideally take your own accommodation (we had our RV), your own food (groceries are limited) and fuel can be very expensive as it must be barged in so fill up before you come.  The number of eateries, coffee shops, stores and accommodations are sparse compared to mainland standards and the residents aren’t particularly fussed about catering to off-island interests so don’t expect much other than to supplement what you brought. 

In short, this is no tourist mecca.  You don’t come to Haida Gwaii for the modern-day amenities or atmosphere.  You come to appreciate the simplicity, the unspoiled First Nations culture and wild natural wonder of the west coast.

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For RVing and camping accommodations in British Columbia go the camping map.

Share your BC travel and camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc #exploreBC

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Winter Activities On British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast for Snowbird RVers

From the artistic community of Gibsons to the harbour village of Lund, mountains meet the sea along the Sunshine Coast, a mainland area uniquely only accessible by ferry, boat or plane. Winters are typically mild and range from 2 to 10ºC (20 to 50°F) during the day. In lower elevations, rains keep the flora and forests lush, while higher areas see snow.

There’s plenty to do both inside and out if you’re RVing here in the winter. Make sure to get out on the water and head up some slopes. You will be rewarded with majestic views and an excellent chance of seeing animals in their natural environment.

Beach walks and beachcombing make for enjoyable outings in the off-season | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Arts, Shops and Spas

This scenic and inspiring region boasts a thriving art community with more artists per capita than any other area in Canada. The Purple Banner Tour is a self-directed studio and gallery tour. Purple flags along the Sunshine Coast Highway and local streets from Langdale to Lund indicate galleries or artists’ studios, many of which are open to the public. (Visitation appointments may be necessary.) There are also many eclectic shops and boutiques to explore that sell locally produced and handmade items.

The town of Gibsons on the shores of Howe Sound has a collection of fine galleries, clothing and giftware shops and bookstores. Molly’s Lane and Marine Drive are some streets to check out, as are the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. The Kube has working artist studios, an art gallery and curated retail. 

In Sechelt the Raven’s Cry Theatre shows movies and hosts events and the shíshálh Nation tems swiya Museum has a large collection of artifacts including cedar baskets and ancient stone tools.

For a different experience visit the collection of yurts in Madeira Park at Fibre Works Studio & Gallery, a creative space for art exhibits and workshops. The Sunshine Coast also has funky thrift and vintage shops and there are craft fairs and year-round and seasonal markets, including the Gibsons Public Market, the Roberts Creek Community Farm Market and Powell River’s Townsite Public Market. Sechelt has a winter market in the pre-Christmas season and the Powell River Community Resource Center hosts the Uptown Winter Market.

There are fun and practical general stores, including one at Roberts Creek and Halfmoon Bay. Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region.

Historic Powell River has an educational forestry museum and, in late winter, hosts the Powell River Film Festival in the classic Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously running cinema. The townsite has over 400 buildings dating to the original 1910 town plan and, in 1995, was designated as a National Historic District of Canada. Stroll around for yourself or book a heritage walking tour. There’s also the unique opportunity to take in an Indigenous experience, such as the Tla’amin Nation Cultural Tours where you can meet skilled craftspeople and learn about traditional practices.

Enjoying the Spa and Serenity Garden at Painted Boat Resort & Marina in Pender Harbour | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Of course, it’s not the West Coast without some zen spa treatments. A few to visit are Painted Boat Resort Spa in Madeira Park, with its Canadian Wilderness Scrub, Seabreeze Spa in Halfmoon Bay, Shades of Jade in Roberts Creek and Beyond Bliss in Powell River.

Click here for the Sunshine Coast Tourism events calendar.

Coffee Culture, Drinks and Dining

A dedicated coffee culture thrives in the Sunshine Coast. For mojo, pastries, brunch and more check out:

Black Bean Cafe, Beachcomber Coffee Company and Wheatberries Bakery in Gibsons
Gumboot Café, Roberts Creek
Basted Baker and Strait Coffee in Sechelt
Skookumchuck Café and Bakery, amongst the trees in Egmont
Base Camp Coffee, 32 Lakes Coffee Roasters and Bakery, River City Coffee Roasters and Edie Rae’s Café at the Old Courthouse Inn, all in Powell River.
Nancy’s Bakery, Lund (popular for its blackberry cinnamon buns).

Tacos and margaritas at Mexican and Latin influenced Costa del Sol in Powell River | Sunshine Coast Tourism/Shayd Johnson

Drinks and dining options range from sustainable restaurants and bistros to distilleries, cideries and breweries. Here are a few to sample:

Tap Works Brewing Company, The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery, Banditry Cider, Persephone Brewing Company and farm and Sunday Cider, all Gibsons area.
Bruinwood Estate Distillery and Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, Roberts Creek

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons Photo: BC Ale Trail
Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons | BC Ale Trail

The Backeddy Pub in Egmont for Pacific Northwest fare with inlet views.
Townsite Brewing for craft beer, Monks on Marine for a steak and Guinness pie and Costa Del Sol for Latin cuisine, all Powell River.
The Bricker Cider Company and TwentyTwo Taphouse in Sechelt. Also, El Segundo for Pacific tropical fusion and Jamar Canteen for Lebanese food and cooking demos. For comfort food try the Wobbly Canoe or the Gourmet Girl.

You can always refer to the BC Ale Trail for self-guided itineraries along the Sunshine Coast. Many establishments are dog friendly.

Outdoor Activities and Tours

When visiting the Sunshine Coast in winter you’ll need waterproof gear and to have extra clothing on hand. Plan any hikes—particularly in the off-season—and respect trail rules and any closures.

Wildlife such as elk, deer and coyotes are active year-round and blue herons and bald eagles can be easily spotted. Along the coast you will see seals and even sea lions, and molluscs and sea anemones in tidal pools. Guided wildlife tours are recommended for safety and best viewing. If you’re in Gibsons on a weekend the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre may be of interest.

The winter recreation of Dakota Ridge (max elevation 1,200 m) will have you looking up and out over mountains, islands and inlets | Brayden Hall @braybraywoowoo

Popular hikes and hiking areas include:

Soames Hill Park and “The Knob”, Gibsons, for sea and island views.
Iris Griffith Wetlands Park, Baker Beach Park and Mount Daniel/Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park near Madeira Park.
Pender Hill Park and beachcombing and birdwatching around Pender Harbour.
Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek.
Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park and trails around Halfmoon Bay.
Suncoaster Trail and Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park near Egmont—witness the spectacular tidal changes of the Sechelt Rapids.
Sechelt area: Wakefield Road Beach, Kinnikinnik Park, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and the lush forest of Hidden Groves.
Willingdon Beach Trail, Powell River.
Lund and area. Explore nearby marine parks, including Desolation Sound (by boat) and the Sunshine Coast Trail, Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail.

Creek areas and falls to visit in the winter are: Cliff Gilker ParkLangdale FallsHomesite Creek, Kelly Falls and  David Lam Falls in Blackwater Creek.

Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek | Chris Thorn Photography

Inland from Sechelt, winter recreation fans enjoy the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at Dakota Ridge. (Alpha Adventures organizes tours here.) The ski trails are well groomed and the snowshoe trails vary in difficulty. Just north are the trails in and around Tetrahedron, a wonderful provincial park for backcountry snowshoeing. Powell River is home to Knuckleheads, a sub-alpine area popular for snowmobiling and snowshoeing.

Tours are a great way to get out and about and experience the Sunshine Coast from a local’s perspective. Sunshine Coast Tours has a boating day trip to Princess Louisa Inlet (where you can see Chatterbox Falls); you can also charter a floatplane to view this hidden gem. Harbour Air Seaplanes offers scenic flights from Sechelt. Winter kayak or go on a boat tour of the Halfmoon Bay or Pender Harbour areas; various companies offer rentals and tours. Also, Sunshine Coast Shuttles out of Powell River drives people to/from the Sunshine Coast Trail and offers some supply services.

If you fish the Sunshine Coast is a dream come true, with its inland lakes and streams, meandering coastline and the Salish Sea. The Powell River area is famous for Chinook salmon and a winter fishing charter is an unforgettable adventure. Companies include OTB Charters (Pender Harbour) and Powell River Sportfishing and Coho Point Fishing Charters. All anglers in BC must obtain separate licences to fish in tidal (salt) water and/or freshwater.

NB: Visitor Information Centres across the Sunshine Coast may have shortened business hours in the winter.

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Sunshine Coast Tourism reminds locals and visitors that they’ re on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, Skwxwú7mesh, and Homalco Nations”. Its Know Before You Go webpage has details on safe, responsible and respectful travel.

Share your BC travel and camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc #exploreBC #sunshinecoastbc

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

Winter in Valemount, British Columbia: Where the Mountains Move You

If you want to embrace winter without the crowds, head to Valemount in east-central British Columbia, a village with epic snow-filled adventures and activities. But be prepared, this place takes the white stuff seriously.

Mount Robson | Mary Putnam, Tourism Valemount

Nestled in the Robson Valley, along and east of Highway 5 (Yellowhead Highway) and between the Rocky, Monashee and Cariboo mountains (to the east, south and west), Valemount is the closest town to Jasper, Alberta, which is just over an hour by car. This area gets snow and the locals live for it, with many of them working in the winter tourism industry and eager to show visitors what their playground is all about. There’s even a winter party in Valemount and it’s aptly called Winterfest. Mark your calendars for February 17, 2024.

Skiing and snowboarding

You won’t find a traditional ski mountain in Valemount, which means no lift lines either! Its unofficial hill is Crystal Ridge, Canada’s only sled-assisted ski area, with six semi-cleared runs (670 vertical metres) and a designated up-track for snowmobiles. The access trail is 12 kilometres of stunning mountain views, and the descent has fantastic tree runs and often pure powder.

5 Mile Hill, Valemount BC | Kelly Funk

Just outside of town is Five Mile Road, a logging road which, in the winter, is fantastic for tobogganing, skiing and dog walking. People can ski tour or snowmobile up the logging road and come down in style.

Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating and more

Seasoned cross-country skiers and beginners can enjoy 14 kilometres of track-set trails at Jackman Flats (north of Valemount between the Rocky and Cariboo mountains) and Camp Creek (south of Valemount), both groomed by the non-profit Yellowhead Outdoor Recreation Association (YORA). With various loops to navigate, there are straightaways, curves and hilly stretches to have fun on. Camp Creek allows dogs and has a warming cabin and toboggan area.

Jackman Flats Skiing, Valemount BC | Tourism Valemount

Ungroomed ski trails can be found along the Fraser River at Tête Jaune Cache and overnight Nordic ski and snowshoe trips can be planned to cabins, though some are accessed via helicopter only. The McKirdy Meadow and Clemina Creek cabins are accessible via ski touring and snowmobile and are also maintained by YORA.

McKirdy Meadows, Valemount BC | Tourism Valemount

Overlander Falls Trail is close to town and Mount McKirdy is just minutes away and rewards snowshoers with remarkable lookouts. Snowshoeing and cross-country areas continue north and east of Valemount around the forests of Tête Jaune Cache, Rearguard Falls Provincial Park and Mount Robson Provincial Park, with the famous Mount Robson, the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

For outdoor skating, visit Cranberry Marsh (officially called the Starratt Wildlife Management Area) to glide on the lake, snowshoe or ski the six-kilometre loop, and bird watch while you’re at it. This area is very important for breeding and migration.

Indoor public ice skating takes place at the Canoe Valley Recreation Centre and drop-in curling is at the Valemount Curling Club on Elm Street, while Tourism Valemount has information on winter hiking and a booklet on geocaching.

Cold Fire Creek Dog Sledding | Kelly Funk

If dog sledding is on your bucket list check out Cold Fire Creek Dog Sledding (250-968-6808; 1-877-295-8505). The company offers a range of tours, from 1 hour to overnight excursions.

Moose Lake and Shere Lake are great ice fishing options when conditions allow. A provincial fishing licence is required for all recreational anglers.

Snowmobiling/sledding

Unique to Valemount is its many kilometres of managed sledding (snowmobile) terrain. VARDA, the Valemount & Area Recreation Development Association, oversees four snowmobiling areas. Its website details where the sledding is permitted and lists trail pass information. Passes are required when sledding on VARDA-managed trails.

Expect amazing scenery and powdery snow, but also be prepared for variable conditions. You’re in the mountains after all. Visitors are encouraged to book a guide if new to the region and to always be aware and up to date on avalanche conditions. Snowmobile rentals are available from Alpine Country Tours and avalanche courses can be booked with Frozen Pirate.

Allan Creek, Valemount BC | Throttle Ops Photography

Allan Creek is the first trail to open each season. It has snow bowls, meadows, frozen lakes and steep hills to explore. Clemina Creek offers excellent tree sledding, Chappel Creek boasts elevations from 1,830 m to 2,440 m and generally some of the best snow in the surrounding mountains, while the Westridge Family Loop (22 km) is fantastic for beginners and offers landscape views and a warming hut. Note that backcountry safety equipment is mandatory while at Crystal Ridge sledding hill.

Cat and heli skiing, scenic tours

Treat yourself to a cat skiing adventure with Cariboo Snowcat Skiing, or an unforgettable helicopter ride, guided ski touring or heli-skiing with Robson HeliMagic or CMH Heli-Skiing  It’s recommended to book in advance with these companies, though cancellations do arise.

Mount Robson Helicopter Tour | Kelly Funk

Whatever you get up to in Valemount this winter you will surely be moved by the magic of the mountains.

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All visitors to the area who plan to venture out are strongly encouraged to educate themselves in avalanche awareness. For more information visit the Know Before You Go website, speak with a Tourism Valemount team member and check out the local webcams.

Note: Due to El Nino, the end of 2023 did not start out as a typical snow season in Valemount, and there was little snow in the community and at the lower lying areas such as Jackman Flats at that time. Check before you go regarding the condition of cross-country ski trails and ice conditions on Cranberry Marsh.

Tourism Valemount Visitor Centre

www.visitvalemount.ca; [email protected]
785 Cranberry Lake Rd, Valemount; (250) 566-9893
winter hours: Mon-Fri 8:30 am – 4:30 pm (closed 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm)

For more information on Valemount, read our summer article.

Published: January 4th, 2024

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