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Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mount Revelstoke

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in British Columbia

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.

Parks Canada has 148 National Parks, Historic Sites, and Marine Conservation Areas in the country. Of these 148 sites, nineteen are in British Columbia, which gives us plenty to explore!

Here are a few highlights to whet your appetite!

Hiking in Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Hiking in Yoho National Park, British Columbia | Kim Campbell-Walker

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, Mount Revelstoke
Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mount Revelstoke | Kim Campbell-Walker

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 | Kim Campbell-Walker

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, BC | B. Rossman

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

blacksmith-at-fort-langley-nationaBlacksmith at Fort Langley National Historic Park. Photo: Parks Canada/M. Boland
Blacksmith at Fort Langley National Historic Park | 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

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc, #ExploreBC

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Glacier National Park is a Spectacular BC Destination

Bear Creek Falls, Glacier National Park

Bear Creek Falls, Glacier National Park

If you type Glacier National Park into your web browser, many of the search results reference Montana’s large national park of the same name. If you dig a little deeper, you will uncover one of BC’s most spectacular and challenging destinations, which covers almost 1400km2 of BC’s Selkirk and Purcell Mountains.

Glacier National Park, in BC’s Kootenay region, is the first national park established in British Columbia and is one of the most interesting parks I have visited, as the spectacular views from the highway are juxtaposed with the challenges of accessibility.

For much of the year, Glacier National Park is blanketed in up to 10 metres (yes, metres!) of snow, making the park inaccessible to all but the most experienced backcountry travellers. While the Trans Canada Highway cuts directly through the park, Rogers Pass can be one of the most treacherous sections of highway in the province with over 130 avalanche paths affecting the highway. By the time the snow melts away in the summer months, the Grizzly Bears have emerged from their winter slumber and many of the hiking trails in the park have restricted access, requiring groups of four people over the age of 12 to hike within three metres of each other.

Backcountry travel in Glacier National Park is not for the faint of heart! Fortunately, Parks Canada has established numerous points of interest within the park that don’t require quite as much dedication and make the park a perfect place to stretch your legs, camp for a few days, and experience some of what the park has to offer.

What to Do

Glacier House, Glacier National Park

Glacier House, Glacier National Park

Highlights in Glacier National Park include:

  • Bear Creek Falls: A short but steep downhill walk brings you from the highway down to a spectacular waterfall. In the summer, enjoy the cooler temperatures the gorge offers by packing a picnic to enjoy along the creek.
  • Glacier House: A luxury destination in the mountains from the early 1900s, the Glacier House hotel was established by the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the railway was re-routed through the 9 kilometre long Connaught Tunnel in 1917, visitors to Glacier House dramatically decreased and the resort was closed and eventually dismantled. Today, you can explore the ruins of the resort near the Illecillewaet Campground.
  • Rogers Pass Discovery Centre: A National Historic Site in its own right, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is the only part of Glacier National Park that is accessible year-round. An excellent interpretive centre tells the history of the area and the nearby Rogers Pass Summit site offers spectacular views and informative outdoor displays.

    Rock Garden, Glacier National Park

    Rock Garden, Glacier National Park

  • Rock Garden: This walk only takes about 20 minutes, but take your time and explore the moss and lichen covered boulders deposited during the last ice age. The trail consists of a jaunt through the forest, numerous rock staircases, and a trail through large boulders, so bring appropriate footwear.
  • Loop Brook: Loop Brook is one of my favourite destinations in Glacier National Park. The trail starts at the Loop Brook Campground and travels just over a kilometre and a half through the forest along sections of the old railway grade. The highlights of the hike are definitely the enormous stone pillars that once carried the railway in a loop through the valley in order to reduce the grade of the railway. Excellent interpretive signage along the trail adds to the experience.
  • High-Elevation Hiking: Undeniably, one of the best ways to experience Glacier National Park is to take a hike in the high country. There are numerous trails in the park and the information desk at the Illecillewaet Campground – where many of the most popular hikes depart – has a sign-up sheet for those people wanting to join up with others to form groups of 4.

Loop Brook, Glacier National Park

Loop Brook, Glacier National Park

In the Area

While in the area, consider visiting Mount Revelstoke National Park and Yoho National Park. Take a day trip to Golden or Revelstoke to experience life in a mountain town. Both offer many opportunities for eating, drinking, and recreation. Plan for a meal at the Wolf’s Den in Golden for one of the best burgers you will ever eat. In Revelstoke, stop by the Monashee Spirits Distillery to sample locally made liqueurs.

Where to Stay

Glacier National Park offers three campgrounds: Illecillewaet, Loop Brook, and Mount Sir Donald. All campgrounds are first come first served and offer a place to stay right in the heart of the park.

Glacier National Park is a dream destination for many backcountry and mountaineering enthusiasts, but it also has much to offer the casual visitor. There is a huge variety of hiking trails, from casual walks to demanding backcountry excursions. I have been to the park several times, but I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what Glacier National Park has to offer and it is one of those destinations that keeps calling me back over and over again.

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, BC is a Great Place to Visit in the Off-Season

Kayaking the Broken Group Isands

Kayaking the Broken Group Isands

One of the best parts of living in British Columbia is being close to both the mountains and the sea. BC has a lot of mountain-based national parks, but it also is blessed with a spectacular coastline – and none more spectacular than what you find in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is made up of three units spread along the west coast of Vancouver Island. Long Beach, the unit furthest north is the most accessible and arguably the best known. It is named after the 16-kilometre long stretch of sand lining Wickaninnish Bay and offers abundant opportunities for beach-combing, storm-watching, and surfing. Further south, the Broken Group Islands section is made up of over 100 small islands and is a dream destination for beginner and advanced kayakers alike. Further south still, the West Coast Trail is a challenging 75-kilometre backpacking route not to be taken lightly.

Storm Watching near Amphitrite Lighthouse, Ucluelet. Photo: DBC/Boomer Jerritt

Storm Watching near Amphitrite Lighthouse, Ucluelet. Photo: DBC/Boomer Jerritt

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a popular summertime destination, but it should not be overlooked for an “off-season” getaway. In the winter, the Pacific Ocean is whipped in to a frenzy and the storm watching is second to none. No matter which season you plan your visit, you will find many things to see and do while you are there.

What to do

Highlights in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve include:

  • Beachcombing: One of the best things to do in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is beachcombing. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day wandering the shores of Long Beach. Bring your dog, too. Long Beach is one of the only dog-friendly protected areas in Canada, however dogs must be on-leash at all times.
  • Kayaking: With some advanced planning, kayaking the Broken Group is an adventure you will never forget. The Broken Group is rich in wildlife, including sea lions, whales, and bears. It is also home to unique coastal features including sea arches and sea caves.

    Surfing Pacific Rim

    Surfing Pacific Rim

  • Kwisitis Visitor Centre: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is on the traditional lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth people. At the Kwisitis Visitor Centre you can take in the spectacular views from the deck before heading inside to learn about the area through a variety of exhibits. After your time at the Visitor Centre, head out for a self-guided walk on the Nuu-chah-nulth Trail.
  • Surfing: Numerous licensed operators work in Pacific Rim and without too much trouble you should be able to find someone who can hook you up with rentals and lessons. Don’t forget a wetsuit, the water is cold even on the warmest summer day.
  • Storm Watching: Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is not only a summertime destination. In fact, from November to March the park comes into its own as a winter storm watching destination and is known worldwide for its huge waves.

    Amphitrite Lighthouse

    Amphitrite Lighthouse

In the Area

Tofino and Ucluelet have capitalized on their coastal location and proximity to Pacific Rim National Park and both offer a variety of activities and attractions. In Ucluelet, check out the Wild Pacific Trail for an easy coastal walk. My favourite section of the trail is the 2.5 kilometre Lighthouse Loop that takes you out to the 102-year old Amphitrite Lighthouse. In Tofino, consider joining a tour or hiring a charter and heading to Hot Springs Cove, a series of natural hot pools accessible only by boat or float plane.

Long Beach near Tofino. Photo: Destination BC

Long Beach near Tofino. Photo: Destination BC

Where to Stay

Camping in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve can be a bit tricky as there is only one campground within the Long Beach unit. The Green Point Campground offers 94 drive-in sites and an additional 20 walk-in sites. During the summer season, advanced reservations are a must if you want to stay in the park itself. A handful of private campgrounds are available in both Tofino and Ucluelet, but just like in the National Park, make a reservation ahead of time if you are travelling during the busy summer season.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers a huge range of opportunities for exploration. From highly accessible and popular options in the Long Beach Unit to the extreme backcountry of the West Coast Trail, you are guaranteed to find something to suit whatever your heart desires. Keep in mind this park’s popularity when planning your trip. It can sometimes be a challenge to find accommodation on busy summer weekends and you will be greatly rewarded if you book your trip in advance. Don’t worry, though, with 16 kilometres of sandy beaches in the Long Beach Unit, you are sure to find a place that feels as though it is meant just for you.

If this area interests you, check out our drive:
From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island: Vancouver to Tofino

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mount Revelstoke

Meadows in the Sky Parkway, Mount Revelstoke

While travelling to the larger and typically more popular mountain parks of Banff and Jasper in Alberta, visitors who take the Trans Canada Highway will pass through Mount Revelstoke National Park; however, this park is not to be overlooked as a destination all of its own.

Mount Revelstoke National Park is small by National Park standards, covering only 260 square kilometres, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in diversity. The park begins in the valley bottom at 470 metres above sea level and then rises to over 1,800 metres – all accessible by paved road. Summer, however, is a short season in Mount Revelstoke, and the summit is often snow-covered until July. But in August the vibrant colours of the wildflowers grace the roadside and along with the stunning views offered along the way you will have to stop for a photo or two.

Mount Revelstoke National Park is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from the community of Revelstoke. In less than an hour you can go from standing on the mountaintop to having a bite to eat in the city centre.

What to Do

Highlights in Mount Revelstoke National Park include:

  • Meadows in the Sky Parkway: The crown jewel of Mount Revelstoke is the Meadows in the Sky Parkway – a 26 kilometre aptly named paved road allowing easy access to the subalpine meadows and its picture perfect carpet of vibrant flowers. Once you reach the end of the parkway, take the Summit Shuttle to the very top and bask in the awe-inspiring views.

    Geocaching in Mt. Revelstoke National Park

    Geocaching in Mt. Revelstoke National Park

  • Geocaching: Print your Geocaching Passport from the Parks Canada website before you leave home, then set out on the Soren Sorensen trail. Find five or more of the eight hidden caches, answer the questions in your passport, and then redeem your completed passport for a limited edition Mount Revelstoke National Park geocoin at the Revelstoke Parks office.
  • Flowers and Fires: Time your trip for mid-August and take in the short but sweet summer season at the summit. Take a stroll along the short Firetower Trail to the Summit Fire Lookout, originally built in 1927, and imagine what it would have been like to be stationed here, keeping your eyes peeled for signs of smoke on the horizon.

    Jade Pass Trail, Mt. Revelstoke

    Jade Pass Trail, Mt. Revelstoke

  • Valley Bottom Walks: For a change of pace, check out the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail or the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk in the valley bottom and get a sense of just how diverse this National Park truly is.
  • Hiking: Mount Revelstoke really comes into its own when it comes to longer hikes. Eva Lake, Miller Lake, and Jade Lake are all spectacular day hikes (a long 19-kilometre day, in the case of Jade Lake) that have the benefit of starting at the top of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, thus greatly reducing the amount of vertical you need to tackle on foot!

    Nels Knickers, Mt. Revelstoke National Park

  • Nels Nelsen Ski Jump: Hike up Mount Revelstoke’s newest trail and back in history to the Nels Nelsen Ski Jump – last used over 40 years ago!

In the Area

While you are visiting Mount Revelstoke National Park, consider exploring some other sites in the area. BC Hydro’s Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre allows visitors to get close and personal with hydro generated power in British Columbia with either a self-guided or guided tour. For a true mountain town experience, cap off your time in Revelstoke with a visit to Revelstoke’s own Mt. Begbie Brewing Co. offering one hour guided tours and tastings.

Revelstoke Dam

Revelstoke Dam

Where to Stay

There is a new (2020) frontcountry campground in Mount Revelstoke National Park – Snowforest Campground which also includes three MicrOcube units that you can rent. There are also lots of other options nearby. Try one of the three campgrounds in nearby Glacier National Park, one of the private campgrounds in Revelstoke proper, or one of the nearby Provincial Parks. My personal favourite is Martha Creek Provincial Park 20 minutes north of Revelstoke. This Provincial Park is lovely – right on the water and far enough out of the community to feel remote while being close enough to pop into town for supplies or entertainment.

Mount Revelstoke National Park can be easy to miss if you are in a hurry to get somewhere else. Plan an extra day or two in your vacation to explore the park – you won’t be disappointed!

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Continental Divide, Kootenay National Park

Continental Divide, Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park, an often-overlooked neighbour to Alberta’s more popular Rocky Mountain Parks of Banff and Jasper, makes the perfect daytrip when exploring the region. It also offers enough to keep you busy for a weekend all on its own if you like stunning vistas, great hiking, and interesting history.

An added bonus to Kootenay National Park is that, unlike it’s BC neighbour, Glacier National Park, it offers things to see and do year-round.  We visited Kootenay National Park at Easter during a particularly snowy year and still found ample things to do and see – just make sure you pack appropriately for the weather and check in at the Parks Canada visitor centre in Radium Hot Springs to make sure you don’t accidentally tread into avalanche territory if you are planning a winter visit.

What to Do

Kootenay National Park is a relatively narrow corridor stretching from Radium Hot Springs in BC to near Banff in Alberta. Established in 1920, the park provides road access to the Rocky Mountains from the Kootenays and protects a wide variety of environments including steep canyons, grassy meadows, steamy hot springs, roaring rivers, and fascinating ochre beds.

Viewpoint, Kootenay National Park

Viewpoint, Kootenay National Park

One of the best ways to explore Kootenay National Park is to use the Parks Canada Explora Kootenay App to take a GPS-guided driving tour of the 94-kilometre Banff-Windermere highway. Simply download the app, select if your travels are starting at the Radium Hot Springs end or the Banff end, and use Bluetooth to connect the app to your car stereo system. As you drive, the app will detect your location and provide you with suggestions for stopping points, interesting interviews with Parks staff about flora, fauna, and history, and the perfect amount of silence to help you simply enjoy the views.

Paint Pots Trail, Kootenay National Park

Paint Pots Trail, Kootenay National Park

When we visited, we actually did the driving tour twice – once listening to the app’s stories, history, and information while making only short stops, and once to visit the locations that required more time. At the Radium Hot Springs end of the road, there are a lot of stops close together and I found it a bit overwhelming at first, so doing it twice really helped to cut down on the feeling of having to do everything in a rush.

Here are a few highlights of what you can see and do in Kootenay National Park:

  • Sinclair Canyon: As you enter Kootenay Park from the Radium end you will be immediately impressed as you drive through Sinclair Canyon. Park just past the canyon and walk back through it – you will feel tiny as the walls tower above you.

    Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park

    Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park

  • Radium Hot Springs Pools: Bring your bathing suit and soak your cares away in the hot pool or get your exercise swimming laps in the cool pool.
  • Kootenay Valley Viewpoint: Make sure you stop for a photo at this stunning location overlooking the Kootenay River.
  • Dog Lake Trail: A less busy but completely worthwhile walk crossing the Kootenay River via suspension bridge and carrying on to Dog Lake. If you are short on time, turn around at the second bridge.
  • Paint Pots: Take a walk back in history to orange ochre beds used by local First Nations and later European miners. Keep your eyes out for the mining equipment left behind.

    Dog Lake Trail, Kootenay National Park

    Dog Lake Trail, Kootenay National Park

  • Marble Canyon: One of the most popular sites in Kootenay Park is this deep and narrow gorge where you can cross and re-cross the canyon on walking bridges.
  • Lightning Alley: As you drive through the park, you will notice the landscape of wildfire over and over again. Use the Explora App to hear an interview with firefighters and Parks staff about this unique corridor.
  • Continental Divide: Stand with one foot in BC and one in Alberta – and perhaps more interestingly, stand with one foot where all water runs to the Pacific Ocean and one foot where all water runs to the Atlantic Ocean.

    Sinclair Canyon, Kootenay National Park

    Sinclair Canyon, Kootenay National Park

In the Area

One of the benefits of visiting Kootenay National Park is the close proximity to so many other things to see and do. In the area, plan a visit to Invermere for the perfect afternoon treat at Gerry’s Gelato followed up by sampling a flight at the very funky Arrowhead Brewing.

Continue south and take a hike in the Hoodoos Trail near Fairmont Hot Springs for spectacular views – just stay away from the edge! If you still have time, carry on to visit Fort Steele Heritage Town near Cranbrook. On your way back, stop by Lussiar Hot Springs – a natural spring that bubbles out near the edge of the Lussiar River in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park.

Where to Stay

Kootenay National Park offers a number of frontcountry and backcountry camping options. The Redstreak Campground near Radium is the largest and accepts reservations, but first-come first-served camping is also available at Marble Canyon and McLead Meadows during the summer months. For backcountry excursions, plan a multi-day hike along the 55-kilometre Rockwall Trail – just make sure to make your reservations in advance for this classic Rocky Mountain trek.

Kootenay National Park provides an excellent reprieve from the hustle and bustle common in Banff and Jasper without losing anything in terms of scenery or things to do. It is definitely one of my favourite parks to visit in the Canadian Rockies.

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past: Here are 3 to Explore

Overlooking Loopbrook Trail in Glacier National Park. Photo: J. Bolingbroke.jpg

On Loop Brook Trail in Glacier National Park. Photo: J. Bolingbroke

British Columbia has a rich and fascinating history and Parks Canada National Historic Sites highlight pieces of this history. BC’s National Historic Sites are spread throughout the province, from East to West and from North to South. Several of the sites are within an easy day trip of the Fraser Valley. Others will require more planning and commitment. All are worth visiting.

Previously, we published a blog that highlighted two National Historic Sites that are easy day trips from Metro Vancouver. Today, we are talking about three National Historic Sites, Ford Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse, Rogers Pass, and Fort St. James, that are spread throughout the province and would make a great part of any summer vacation.

A common thread through many of Canada’s National Historic Sites is the Xplorers Program for the young and young at heart. This program includes a booklet highlighting activities at each site. As children complete the activities, they work their way toward earning a certificate and souvenir. The program is a great way to keep kids engaged and learning, and offers a lot of fun opportunities.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Sites

Hiking-Fisgard-Lighthouse-National-Historic Site Victoria Photo: destination BC/Reuben Krabbe

Hiking Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, Victoria. Photo: DBC/Reuben Krabbe

As the lone National Historic Site on Vancouver Island, Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse does not disappoint. Fort Rodd Hill is an artillery fort complete with underground bunkers, guardhouses, and gun batteries. Fisgard Lighthouse makes history as the first permanent lighthouse on the west coast of Canada.

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse offer a variety of activities to keep the whole family entertained – from wildlife and bird watching to camping in one of Parks Canada’s oTENTik tents. There are also special events happening all summer, including a two-day event all about women on the home front and Victoria’s largest squirt gun battle!

Victoria has tons of other things to see while you are in the area. Consider stopping for a delicious fish and chips lunch at Red Fish Blue Fish in the Inner Harbour or taking a tour of the BC Parliament Buildings. If you head further west, stop for a walk at Witty’s Lagoon in Metchosin or a swim at the Sooke Potholes.

Rogers Pass National Historic Site

On the Trans Canada Highway in Glacier National Park. Photo: B. Pavey

On the Trans Canada Highway in Glacier National Park. Photo: B. Pavey

Rogers Pass National Historic Site can be found within Glacier National Park, making it the perfect weekend getaway. The Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is a replica railway showshed that tells the history of the immense difficulties in navigating Rogers Pass. This is the centrepiece of the National Historic Site, and the only portion of Glacier National Park that is open year-round.

Rogers Pass is crucial in Canadian history. It was through this area that the Canadian Pacific Railway linked British Columbia with the rest of Canada, bringing Sir John A. Macdonald’s promise of a railway from coast to coast to fruition. Running a railway through such rugged terrain was extremely difficult – especially due to the enormous amounts of snow Rogers Pass receives each year and the extreme avalanche danger. After only 30 years of operation, the Canadian Pacific Railway abandoned the Rogers Pass route and opted to build a 9-kilometre long tunnel through Mount Macdonald, alleviating some of the dangers associated with the railway. Today you can step back in time at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and see just how difficult early navigation was in British Columbia.

Plan your visit for the summer to make the most of Glacier National Park. In the winter, the park is inaccessible to all but the most experienced backcountry travellers. In the summer, however, Glacier National Park offers excellent hiking. Check out the Loop Brook trail for an easy walk along the old railway route. The trail passes by huge stone pillars that in a previous life suspended the railway above the valley floor.

Fort St. James National Historic Site

Fort St. James National Historic Site, BC

Fort St. James National Historic Site, BC

For a more northern experience, Fort St. James National Historic Site takes you back to the fur trade days of 1896. Each of the fort’s restored wooden buildings houses a unique display. At the Fur Warehouse, you can see and feel the pelts that made the fur trade profitable. At the Trade Store, you can trade one of your pelts in for the goods you need to survive. Personally, my favourite experience was the Officers’ House, where you can pop into the yard to take part in the Chicken Races!

One of the experiences unique to Fort St. James is the ability to stay overnight in the fort. Spending the night at the Murray House gives you the opportunity to live like it was 1896. From dinner at the Old Fort Café to a moonlight exploration of the fort, spending the night in this restored heritage building is an experience like none other.

In the area, consider stretching both your lungs and your legs on the Mt. Pope hiking trail located within the Mount Pope Provincial Park to get unbeatable views of Stuart Lake. When you get back, stop for a well-deserved ice cream cone at Little Jimmy Fry’s.

BC has some of the best National Historic Sites in the country. Our diversity of mountain and ocean sites guarantees that you will find something to suit your interests – all while learning about BC’s fascinating history.

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites & Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

British Columbia has a rich and fascinating history and Parks Canada National Historic Sites highlight pieces of this history. BC’s National Historic Sites are spread out through the province, from East to West and from North to South. Several of the sites are within an easy day trip of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. Others will require more planning and commitment. All are worth visiting.

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Today we are highlighting two National Historic Sites, Fort Langley and Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Both are easily accessible day trips from Metro Vancouver, and in our next blog we will be talking about three National Historic Sites that are spread throughout the province and would make a great part of any summer vacation.

A common thread through many of Canada’s National Historic Sites (and Parks) is the Xplorers Program for the young and young at heart. This program includes a booklet highlighting activities at each site. As children complete the activities, they work their way toward earning a certificate and souvenir. The program is a great way to keep kids engaged and learning, and offers a lot of fun opportunities.

Explore Life in the Early Days at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Barrel Workshop at Fort Langley National Historic Site

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Growing up in Hope, Fort Langley National Historic Site is the one I have been to the most often. A popular location for school field trips, Sunday strolls, and taking out of town visitors, Fort Langley continues to expand its offerings to ensure that there is something new to experience every time you visit. Recently, Fort Langley became one of 20 participating locations in the new Club Parka Program – a learning opportunity complete with singing, dancing, and activity pages. There is also a fun photo scavenger hunt you can complete while visiting the fort.

Fort Langley is a great place to explore. There are replica and original buildings, costumed interpreters, and live demonstrations throughout the day. Visit the blacksmith shop, the barrel workshop, and the garden to get a glimpse of what daily life looked like at Fort Langley in 1827. After you work up an appetite, visit the Lelam’ Café inside the fort for a bowl of salmon chowder or elk stew complete with herb bannock. For a longer excursion, consider booking an oTENTik tent and staying the night inside the fort.

The community of Fort Langley is worth a visit while you are in the area. Pop down the street to browse in one of the many antique shops and make sure you stop in at Wendel’s Bookstore & Café for an afternoon treat. If you still have time, pay a visit to the nearby Fort Wine Co. and sample some of their grape-free wines or enjoy a pitcher of sangria with friends.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site

Fishing on the West Coast comes alive at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston. The cannery, built in 1894, operated until 1979 when it was closed. The building sat abandoned until Parks Canada purchased it in 1984, and then was officially opened as a National Historic Site in 1994.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Gulf of Georgia Cannery

While visiting the cannery, join in on one of the free, guided tours – they are well worth it. Just keep in mind that inside the cannery is two or three degrees cooler than whatever the weather is outside and the tour takes about 45 minutes. Bring a coat! After your tour, take a few minutes to soak up the sunshine (hopefully!) in the red Adirondack chairs overlooking the Steveston Harbour and the Salish Sea. Snap a photo and #sharethechair to commemorate your visit.

Inside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Inside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery

Once you are done at the Cannery, take a stroll along the waterfront. Head down to the docks, and you may be lucky enough to see one of the sea lions that call the harbour home. Sample amazing fish and chips or other seafood delights for lunch, and then head inland a block or two and you will suddenly find yourself transported to Storybrooke, Maine – the setting of ABC’s Once Upon A Time – where you can visit some of the most recognizable filming locations from the show.

BC has some of the best National Historic Sites in the country. Our diversity of mountain and ocean sites guarantees that you will find something to suit your interests – all while learning about BC’s fascinating history.

If this area interests you, check out our drives:
Coast Mountain Circle Route (Vancouver Round Trip via Lytton, Lillooet & Whistler)
Side Trips from Vancouver Offer Plenty To Do in the Winter

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Alberta often gets the credit for the Canadian Rockies, but BC plays host to a spectacular Rocky Mountain parks of its own – Yoho National Park. This park can be visited as a trip of its own, or it can be part of a larger circle tour through the Canadian Rockies. Either way, spectacular mountain peaks, alpine flowers, and shimmering lakes await you in Yoho National Park.

Yoho is the slightly western counterpart of the better-known Banff National Park. Covering 1,310 square kilometres, the park makes up a portion of UNESCO’s Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Yoho offers a bountiful range of both easily accessible and more challenging terrain, guaranteeing that you will find something to suit your interests no matter which direction you choose to explore.

Takakkaw Falls Campground, Yoho National Park

Takakkaw Falls Campground, Yoho National Park

What To Do in Yoho National Park

Highlights include:

  • Takakkaw Falls: A 254-metre waterfall with an easy walking trail that gets you close enough to the base to feel the spray. If you choose to stay at the Takakkaw Falls campground, the sound of the rushing water will sing you to sleep each night.
  • Emerald Lake: An aptly named lake that provides stunning scenery and amazing opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding. Hungry? Check out Cilantro on the Lake, the bistro-style dining option at the Emerald Lake Lodge offering great food and even greater views.

    Hiking Lake O'Hara, Yoho National Park

    Hiking Lake O’Hara, Yoho National Park

  • Natural Bridge: A short walk to see how the mighty Kicking Horse River has eroded a spectacular gorge.
  • Lake O’Hara: Backcountry at it’s finest! Lake O’Hara is accessible only by reservation, as the area must be accessed by the Lake O’Hara shuttle bus. Both day trips and overnight excursions are available. Check at the Visitor Centre in Field as last-minute spots sometimes come available, but to guarantee your spot make your reservation well in advance.
  • Burgess Shale: An ancient sea in the sky? Accessible only by guided hike, the Burgess Shale is known world-wide as one of the most significant fossil beds in the world.

    Fossil Found at Walcott Quarry, Yoho National Park. Photo: Aaron Purdy

    Fossil Found at Walcott Quarry, Yoho National Park. Photo: Aaron Purdy

In the Area

While you are visiting Yoho National Park, consider taking a day-trip to Golden where you can walk across Canada’s longest freestanding timber frame pedestrian bridge, take a gondola ride to 7,700 feet at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, and hit the links at the Golden Golf Club. There are many more things to do in and around Yoho National Park.

Closest Community

Field, located within Yoho National Park, is the closest place offering any sort of services. This vacation town has numerous restaurants and shops, but if you are looking to do any major resupplying you may need to consider going further afield – no pun intended! Golden is about half an hour west, while Lake Louise is half an hour east.

Natural Bridge, Yoho National Park

Natural Bridge, Yoho National Park

Where to Stay

Yoho has four first-come-first served “front country” campsites. The largest of these is Kicking Horse, which offers showers, flush toilets, and a sani-dump. For a more unique experience, consider staying at the walk-in Takakkaw Falls campground. Don’t let the campground’s walk-in name deter you – Parks Canada provides wheelbarrows to transport your belongings the short distance to the campground and bear boxes to store your food and other scented belongings.

Yoho National Park is one of my favourite places to visit. The combination of alpine scenery and easy accessibility makes it a great option for people of all levels of physical fitness and offers endless opportunities for exploration. Whether you are young or young at heart, Yoho has something up its sleeve to keep you entertained for a day, a week, or beyond.

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Published: April 13th, 2017

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