Know Before You Go Camping in British Columbia.  Looking to plan your stay - map it today!

Eagles Photo: Province of BC

British Columbia’s Wildlife A Sight to Behold

British Columbia is known for its magnificent mountains, pristine lakes, lush green forests and the Pacific Ocean. It’s therefore not surprising that residing within this bountiful environment are well over 1,000 different species of wildlife including hundreds of birds and fish, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.

Big Horn Sheep
Big Horn Sheep

Wildlife viewing continues to grow in popularity. Viewing platforms have been installed in some of the more popular areas but often you will see wildlife as you drive BC’s highways. In the spring when the grass is sprouting, black bears can be found grazing along the roadside verges and deer have a propensity to dart across any road in every corner of the province, so drivers should beware.

Mountain goats, big horn sheep, elk and caribou are seen in some areas of the province. In remoter regions are plains bison and grizzly bears. Moose can be spotted in the mountains in Manning Park, the Rockies, and Northern British Columbia.  The aptly named Moose Valley Provincial Park near 100 Mile House in the Cariboo and Bowron Lake Provincial Park are well-known for moose viewing. And if you are very lucky you may even glimpse the white spirit bear, also called the Kermode bear, which lives in the coastal mountain ranges.

Heron Photo: Province of BC
Heron | Province of BC

For bird lovers, many species reside in British Columbia, either year-round or during the warmer seasons. In the spring and fall, birders line pathways and fields photographing the thousands of birds on their migration routes. The Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta is a popular viewing area in the south-west area of the province. Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area and the Columbia Wetlands, both in the Kootenay Rockies, offer waterfowl viewing in abundance. There is a bird trail in the Okanagan and many of the lakes in the Cariboo and Northern BC are home to well-known as well as rarely seen bird species.

Eagles and hawks, trumpeter swans, waterfowl, songbirds, herons and cranes, and the well-known Canadian loon with its recognizable call are just a few of the species seen throughout BC. Bald eagles enjoy feasting on salmon and are often found soaring through the skies in coastal areas. One of the most popular places to find bald eagles is on the Sea to Sky Highway between Vancouver and Whistler in Brackendale, near Squamish.

Killer whales (orcas), grey whales and sea lions are just some of the marine life found in and around British Columbia’s Pacific coastline, with popular whale watching tours offering excellent viewing opportunities during April to October.

Mountain Goat Photo: Province of BC
Mountain Goat | Province of BC

Tips on Viewing Wildlife

  • Use a viewing guide
  • Understand when you are most likely to see wild animals – time of day, time of year
  • Be patient and quiet – it could take a while
  • Wear proper clothing and protect your skin from insects and the heat of the sun
  • Stay on designated roads and trails to avoid damaging the vegetation
  • Respect private property

Wildlife Viewing Safety

  • View wildlife from a distance to avoid scaring the animals. These are wild animals and some can be dangerous
  • Don’t approach young animals as their protective mothers will be nearby
  • Control pets
  • Do not feed wildlife
  • Pay attention to posted notices and warnings about wildlife that may be in the area
  • Deer and other wildlife can be found on BC’s roads and highways, so be alert and take care
Black Bear Northern BC 5051
Black Bear

Other Useful Information

Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources is an excellent resource for information on viewing wildlife in BC. They provide brochures of the province’s regions, as well as specific areas within those regions, some communities, bird checklists, and more. You can review and download brochures from Wildlife Viewing Publications.

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

The BC Nature Guide is published by BC Nature Federation of BC Naturalists. It provides viewing maps as well as tips on viewing wildlife in BC.

The BC Parks Bear safety guide offers tips on how to be ‘bear safe’.

Best Places to Spot Wildlife in British Columbia – Travel Blog

Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resources Wildlife Viewing in BC

BC Nature – Federation of BC Naturalists

Read Blogs on the Camping & RV in BC website that include wildlife spotted on visitors’ travels in British Columbia.

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

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

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Snowbirds! Spending Your Winter in the Vancouver Area? Check Out This Side Trip – North Vancouver to Whistler

Recently, we wrote a blog about things to see and do if you are a Snowbird staying in the Vancouver area. We suggested a drive from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs along Highway 7. Here is another drive that follows the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy 99) from North Vancouver to Whistler.

The Sea to Sky Highway hugs the coastline as it winds its way north offering up stunning views across Howe Sound and to the mountains beyond. It then heads inland north of Squamish to the year-round destination of world-famous Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. Mt Seymour, Grouse Mountain, and Cypress Mountain are all popular winter activity destinations, two of which are included in this trip.

Grouse-Mountain-Skating-via-Facebook
Grouse Mountain Skating via Facebook
  • Rent a pair of ice skates and enjoy the exhilarating fresh air atop Grouse Mountain on their 8,000 sq. ft. ice skating pond. The Skyride allows for stunning views across Vancouver, Stanley Park and beyond.
  • Take a self-guided snowshoe tour or go cross-country skiing at the top of Cypress Mountain through a forested winter wonderland. Warm up with a hot drink or bowl of soup.
  • Back on Highway 99 and a further 18 km (11 mi) is the tiny, picturesque village of Lions Bay which hugs the shoreline. A must stop-off is the Lions Bay General Store and Café, located on the east side of the highway (take Lions Bay Avenue exit) and a favourite of those who have travelled this road for decades. You’ll find local products, great coffee, beer, lunch, souvenirs and great views too.
  • Adjacent to the highway is the Britannia Mine Museum, an award-winning national historic site. It was a working copper mine from 1904-1974 and opened in 1975 as the BC Museum of Mining. You’ll be dazzled by the light and sound show as you are transported underground by train.
Britannia-Mine-Museum-via-FBook
Britannia Mine Museum via Facebook
  • Just south of Squamish is the entrance to the Sea to Sky Gondola. Be amazed at the stunning views of snow-capped mountains, old-growth forests and turquoise waters of the Howe Sound stretched out before you.  At the top take in the brisk winter air, try snow-shoeing or tubing and then warm up with a hot drink or visit the Sky Pilot Restaurant where you can enjoy delicious West Coast fare.
  • Like to try local craft beer? Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish produces an abundance of craft beer, from seasonal to year-round brews. Pair their excellent beer with small bites or big bites, all made in-house. It’s located on Cleveland Avenue left off Highway 99, almost at the end of town; you will see the pub on your right.
  • For some eagle spotting, head back to the highway and continue north towards Brackendale and Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, one of North America’s largest congregations of wintering bald eagles. These majestic birds gather in this area from November to January to feast on salmon. There are plenty of lookouts and shelters to view the eagles (the Eagle Run viewing shelter is at 41015 Government Road) and you can take an organized tour or even an eagle viewing float trip. Visit Squamish Tourism’s web page on eagle viewing for more information.
  • Get back on the highway, it’s time to head to Whistler! There is so much to do in this world-renowned resort. In winter the snow is the big attraction with skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and more, but if you want to do something different or your ski legs need a rest there are fabulous restaurants, art galleries, spas, winter events, festivals and more. A must-see is the Whistler Village stroll where you will find fun and sporty shops, bistros and cafes, and the Whistler Olympic Plaza, which is transformed into an outdoor skating rink in winter.
Squamish-LilWat-Cultural-Centre-DBC-Blake-Jorgenson
Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre | Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson
  • To experience First Nations art, history and culture visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler. Hear the stories and songs and admire the traditional regalia, carvings and art. This is a beautiful museum with stunning works and exhibits; guided tours are available.
  • If you are in Whistler on a Sunday evening from December to March check out the free Fire & Ice Show in Whistler Village. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or warm cider and be prepared to be amazed at the spectacle created as expert skiers jump through hoops of fire!
  • Once you have explored Whistler then it’s time to head back, and the views are just as stunning on the return journey! You will pass Furry Creek, known for its golf and country club, and the villages of Lions Bay and Horseshoe Bay, home of the BC Ferries terminal for taking travellers over to Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island. Horseshoe Bay has some shops and eateries and it’s always fun to watch the ferries coming and going.

There is so much more to see in this area, particularly in and around North and West Vancouver. Check out Vancouver’s North Shore Tourism. You could spend a day or two exploring the parks and waterfront walks, Lonsdale Quay Market, with its specialty shops and services, or the historic and growing urban neighbourhood of The Shipyards District.

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

For other drives from Vancouver check out:

Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7
Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway
Explore the Communities South of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

For RV parks and other camping accommodations check out the Winter Camping Map.

Share your camping and BC travel photos using hashtag #CampInBC #ExploreBC #BCNice

Snowbirds! Spending Your Winter in the Vancouver Area? Check Out These Side Trips

If you are spending the winter in the Metro Vancouver area there are many excellent attractions to keep you busy. Some of these include Granville Island, Science World, Planetarium Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery and neighbourhoods such as cool Kitsilano and colourful Chinatown. There are also numerous festivals and events, especially around the Christmas season, as well as Chinese New Year celebrations in February and the Dine Out Vancouver Festival that takes place early in the year.

Saying this, with your RV or vehicle at hand, you may want to explore other options and see what nearby communities have to offer. Below are three suggested itineraries, each with various activities to choose from.

Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7
Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway
Exploring the Communities South of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

This blog takes you from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs. For the other suggested itineraries click on the links above.

Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7

Heading east from Vancouver through the Fraser Valley via scenic Highway 7 to Harrison Hot Springs, cityscapes soon open up into country with stunning views over fields and mountains.

Fraser Valley Eagles near Harrison Mills, BC | Greg Schechter via Flickr
  • Between Mission and Harrison Hot Springs you may spot bald eagles in the area. The Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival takes place in mid-November when they come to feast on the spawning salmon, but there are eagles around from October to February. Viewing can be had at various locations including Kilby Provincial Park and along the rich ecosystem of Nicomen Slough on Highway 7 east of Mission from Dewdney to Deroche. 
  • Shortly past the Sasquatch Mountain turnoff you will come to the sign to Kilby Historic Site in Harrison Mills, a living museum of rural history. This historic museum houses a fascinating display of artifacts from the 1920s and ‘30s, a post office and the Manchester House Hotel; it’s decorated for Christmas too!
Kilby Historic Site
Kilby Historic Site | K. Walker
  • Back on the road and still heading east you will come to a stop light that directs you to turn right to continue on Highway 7; however, go straight on towards Harrison Hot Springs on Highway 9 north. It’s only a short distance away. This resort is very popular in the summer as visitors soak up the small-town ambience, relax on the beach or enjoy the lake. In the winter it is much quieter; enjoy a walk along the waterfront and stop for a hot chocolate or bowl of soup or take a relaxing dip in the hot springs at Harrison’s Public Pool. The hot mineral waters are pumped into the pool from one of the hot springs and cooled to 38°C (100°F). If you are there around the Christmas season, you will be able to experience the twinkling Lights by the Lake, which runs from the end of November to January. 
Golden Ears Cheesecrafters via Facebook
  • Returning from Harrison Hot Springs via the same route visit Golden Ears Cheesecrafters on 128th Ave. in Maple Ridge where they make their own farm cheeses, offer country kitchen lunches and locally made items. Their cheeses are so popular they are incorporated in menus at many of Vancouver’s premier restaurants.
  • Not far away is Hopcott Farms. This family butcher offers sustainable meats and other local produce, and you can enjoy a snack or lunch in their bistro. 
  • Head to the 1.1 km loop trail at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam to stretch your legs and enjoy the stunning Lights at Lafarge, the largest free holiday lights display in the Vancouver area (open throughout December and into early January). If you need to polish up on your golf Eaglequest Golf Course is open year-round (weather permitting).
Lights at Lafarge Lake, Coquitlam | SJ via Flickr
  • Finally, if you are here in December and haven’t experienced the CP Holiday Train, this is the time. The train leaves Montreal at the end of November and completes its journey in Port Coquitlam just before Christmas to raise awareness of hunger, collecting food donations along the route. It features entertainment and is adorned with Christmas lights and stops at Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam – all close to Highway 7.

This is just a sampling of things to see and do east of Vancouver. For more ideas and to read our trips from Vancouver to Whistler and South of Vancouver, check out Winter Things to Do.

For RV parks and other camping accommodations check out the Winter Camping Map.

Share your Camping and travel photos using hashtag #CampInBC #ExploreBC #BCNice

Plan a Memorable Vacation in BC’s Stunning Telegraph Cove and the Broughton Archipelago

Wildlife lovers rejoice! Telegraph Cove and the Broughton Archipelago are an ideal destination if your perfect holiday includes a chance of spotting whales, bears, eagles, and more.

Swimming in the Burdwood Group Islands | Kim Campbell-Walker
Swimming in the Burdwood Group Islands | Kim Campbell-Walker

Broughton Archipelago Provincial Park, sandwiched between Northern Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia, is certainly in contention for one of the most beautiful parts of the province. With towering cliffs, midden beaches, rocky islets, and protected passageways through lushly forested islands, the Broughton Archipelago makes up the largest marine park in British Columbia. The park, established in 1992, is a mecca for boaters, and it is known worldwide as a premier kayaking destination. When we were in the Broughton’s, we spoke with an experienced kayaker who had flown from South Africa, purchased a kayak off Craigslist in Vancouver, rented fishing equipment, and planned to spend five nights (longer if he could stretch his food by catching dinner!) in what he considered one of the world’s best kayaking areas.

The marine park makes up only part of the area considered the Broughton Archipelago. To start our trip, we took an hour-long water taxi from Telegraph Cove to the Burdwood Group – a collection of small islands at the meeting point of Fife Sound, Tribune Channel, and Penphrase Passage. When we landed on the main group site in the Burdwoods, it was like we had been transported to a tropical island. The area was established as a BC Conservancy in 2009 in order to protect both aquatic and forest habitats as well as sites of cultural significance in the traditional territories of the Mamalilikulla-Qwe’Qwa’Sot’Em First Nations, including the shell midden beach on which we landed. (Note: Since this trip the Burdwood Group has been closed for camping and there are now specific sites approved for camping in Mamalilikulla Territory. BC Marine Trails has good information available. Check here for details.)

Echo Bay Marine Park | Kim Campbell-Walker
Echo Bay Marine Park | Kim Campbell-Walker

An afternoon paddle had us marvelling at Deep Sea Bluff – a towering cliff on mainland British Columbia near where Captain George Vancouver reportedly anchored during his exploration of the BC coast in 1793. When we arrived at the bluffs, the tide was low and the barnacle-covered intertidal zone (in this case, entirely vertical) was taller than me. After the mandatory photo “touching the mainland” we headed back to camp. Our two days in the Burdwood Group consisted of circumnavigating small islands, exploring the rather desolate feeling Echo Bay Marine Park – complete with a collapsing community recreation centre and a picturesque but condemned wharf – and visiting the fascinating personal museum collection of Billy Proctor, a lifelong resident of the Broughton Archipelago and passionate beachcomber, fisherman, and logger. Bring your wallet and pick up a copy of one of Billy’s books for a fascinating read about the Broughtons.

Billy Proctor's Museum | Kim Campbell-Walker
Billy Proctor’s Museum | Kim Campbell-Walker

After two days in what can only be described as beachfront paradise, we packed up and headed for the ominously named Insect Island – hoping all the while that the name had nothing to do with mosquitos! After a mostly mosquito-free night in a lovely campground (despite the decidedly uphill hike to the tenting area), we continued our travels by paddling down Misty Passage, past Monday Anchorage, through the Coach Islets, to Sedge Island. At this point, so inspired by the wide-open vistas we had seen for most of the day and not wanting to camp on the rather boxed in Sedge Island campsite, we carried on to the spectacular White Cliff Islets – one of my favourite locations from the entire trip. These tiny rock islets on the edge of Queen Charlotte Strait are nothing short of spectacular. When we visited, the few trees on the islets were filled with keen-eyed eagles and fish darted through the kelp beds below us as we paddled along.

Flower Island | Kim Campbell-Walker
Flower Island | Kim Campbell-Walker

After exploring the islets, we headed for the campsite on nearby Owl Island. Perfectly placed on the island, the campground offers a protected bay with morning sun for launching and a short trail through the trees to a gorgeous sunset viewing beach. A sunset paddle around the aptly named Fire Island was spectacular as the sun sank below the horizon. One of the best parts of kayaking is the connection immediately forged with nature and your campground compatriots.  At the recommendation of some fellow kayakers, the next day we headed for Flower Island where, we were told, we “wouldn’t be able to sleep because of the whales.”

Owl Island Sunset | Kim Campbell-Walker
Owl Island Sunset | Kim Campbell-Walker

The paddle from Owl to Flower was another gorgeous day on the water. Once we passed Bold Head on Swanson Island it became apparent that Blackfish Sound was indeed where the whales congregate. The four-or-so kilometre paddle along Swanson Island was a non-stop show of whale blows, with our heads constantly swivelling to try and catch sight of the whales. Just after arriving at Flower Island we were treated to one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen – a nearly five-minute performance of a humpback whale blowing and slapping its tail (known as tail lobbing) just offshore. The marine activity carried on throughout the evening with appearances from dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, humpback whales, and orcas. It was truly one of the best wildlife experiences of my life.

In the morning we paddled back to Telegraph Cove, completing our journey from the mainland back to Vancouver Island. Telegraph Cove is the perfect launching point for a kayak trip to the Broughtons, and there are numerous tour operators on the North Island who provide guided trips. If kayaking is not your speed, consider a trip with Prince of Whales Whale Watching and Wildlife Adventures or spend a full day observing grizzly bears in Knight Inlet with Tide Rip Grizzly Adventures.

Whale Interpretive Centre | Kim Campbell-Walker
Whale Interpretive Centre | Kim Campbell-Walker

Telegraph Cove is also a great destination in its own right. The community balloons in population during the summer months and as such, it is one of the most tourist-focused destinations on the North Island. Several coffee shops provide drinks and snacks, a pub on the pier offers plenty of choices including BBQ salmon dinners, and the excellent Whale Interpretive Centre is a must-visit for those wanting to know more about the creatures that call the Johnstone Strait home. Telegraph Cove Resort Forest Campground offers camping and moorage.

Telegraph Cove | Kim Campbell-Walker
Telegraph Cove | Kim Campbell-Walker

Telegraph Cove is a first-class destination for those wishing to get in touch with nature. From self-guided trips for experienced kayakers to afternoon whale watching excursions, the Broughton Archipelago is sure to delight your whole family.

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

For places to camp in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.

Share your BC travel and camping photos using the hashtag #CampinBC, #explorebc

It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Published: September 13th, 2018

Connect With Us