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.
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
Golden Ears Provincial Park has Lots of Camping Options
Out for one last trip with my camping buddies and every year we choose Golden Ears Provincial Park as our end of “summer” camping trip not just because it’s close to home for the group, but it’s also quiet and serene. If you just sit with your eyes closed you will hear the birds – chickadees, robins and the occasional raven as well as see some sweet little Chipmunks.
We have stayed in Alouette and Gold Creek campgrounds numerous times over the years. Golden Ears is one of the busiest Provincial Parks run by BC Parks and it is less than a two hour drive from downtown Vancouver (approximately 48 kms). Golden Ears is located 18 kilometres north of Maple Ridge and covers 55,000 hectares. The park was named after the twin peaks which are referred to as “Golden Ears”.
There are three main campgrounds as well as a walk-in Campground at Alder Flats on the West Canyon Trail. There is a sanidump for the RVers and don’t worry if you don’t have the coins – you can pay at the ticket booth. There is a boat launch, a highly popular day use area that has canoe rentals. The lake has a roped off area for swimming and water fun and is large enough for water skiing.
Alouette Campground – the largest campground has 205 back in well treed campsites, a great playground for the children and also has lighted flush washrooms with showers as well as pit toilets strategically placed throughout the campsite. Its main camping season runs from the middle of June to the beginning of September.
To go to North Beach Campground you will need to check in at the ticket booth and they will give you directions to get to this little unknown part of paradise that has 54 campsites including some great pull-through campsites that are great for RVs, but be forewarned, there is no running water and pit toilets are the only washrooms available, so this could mean a short drive down to one of the other two campgrounds that have water taps. It does operate from the middle of June to the beginning of September. Gold Creek Campground which has 149 sites that can accommodate tents, tent trailers, travel trailers and I’ve seen a few big rigs and it operates from March to the beginning of October and also has winter camping starting the first week of October which runs until the end of March. There are also two group sites available year-round that can accommodate 15-30 people.
Are you wanting to get in touch with nature? There are quite a few trails around with different levels from beginner to novice. You have to check the posted signs because not all trails allow bicycles and are meant for foot traffic only. Some of the trails are Menzies Trail, East Canyon and West Canyon as well as a switchback trail and the Eric Dunning Trail. The ticket booth has a great Trail map for purchase. There’s also a lower and upper falls trail. And if you get really adventurous, there’s even horse trails. Now that’s not all, there’s a store on site that carries the basics, so if you forget something it’s right there for you. But remember it is only open during the summer months.
For more info on the park visit Golden Ears Park.
For places to camp in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.
Post your BC travel and camping photos using the hashtag #CampinBC
Published: August 31st, 2018
Connect With Us