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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

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

Published: May 11th, 2017

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