British Columbia’s Top 5 Wilderness Adventures
Between the province’s long coastline, vast forests, rivers and rugged mountains, British Columbia is bursting with things to do this time of year. If you find yourself needing some adventure this summer, or just want to connect with nature, check out one (or all!) of these quintessential outdoor activities.
1) Kayaking in Johnstone Strait
If you’re keen to get up close and personal with the best of B.C.’s marine wildlife this summer, Johnstone Strait is a great place to go. Located along Vancouver Island’s east coast, Johnstone Strait is a critical habitat for many of the region’s most iconic marine species, including Humpback, Minke and Grey Whales, Pacific White-sided Dolphins, Porpoises, Harbor Seals, Sea Lions and, of course, Killer Whales. With over 200 Northern Resident Orcas entering the narrow passage each summer, and with its generally calm, sheltered waters, Johnstone Strait is the ideal place to grab a kayak and see Orcas up close. Companies based in Campbell River, Quadra Island, Port McNeill and Telegraph Cove offer multiple options for paddlers of all abilities, including guided expeditions ranging two to seven days and kayak rentals for more experienced paddlers.
2) Grizzly Bear Tours
With the arrival of thousands of salmon into B.C.’s coastal waterways, August through October is the perfect time of year to spot Grizzly Bears as they gorge themselves on fish in preparation for hibernation. The best (and safest) way to experience grizzlies in the wild is to join one of many Grizzly Bear watching tours along the mainland coast. A short floatplane or ferry ride from Vancouver Island can take visitors to a number of remote lodges within the Great Bear Rainforest – many which offer single and multi-day bear watching tours. Apart from grizzlies, sightseers may also see Bald Eagles, Mule Deer, Sea Wolves and the elusive Kermode Bear, or spirit bear.
3) Hiking in Glacier National Park
About two hours from the Alberta border, Glacier National Park is one of the more accessible and scenic parks in the B.C. Rocky Mountains. Surrounded by the Selkirk Mountains, Glacier National Park features stunning alpine scenery, deep valleys, lush forests, glaciers and mountain streams. With plenty of hikes to choose from, ranging from family-friendly self-guided trails, gruelling day hikes with more than 1,000 m elevation gain and the remote, four day Bald Mountain Wilderness Hiking Route, there’s something for everyone. The Illecillewaet Campground is perfectly positioned at the base of the Illecillewaet and Asulkan valleys, where most of the trails start.
4) Sea to Sky Gondola
If the idea of huge reward for minimal effort appeals to you, check out the impressive Sea to Sky Gondola, located less than an hour’s drive north of Vancouver along the Sea to Sky highway. In only 10 minutes, the gondola carries you 885m above sea level along massive granite cliffs, while offering incredible views of Howe Sound and Stawamus Chief Mountain through its floor-to-ceiling windows. On arriving at the Summit Lodge, you’re treated with spectacular views of the fjord below and Tantalus Mountain range on one side and the magnificent, snow-capped peaks of Sky Pilot, Ledge and Co-Pilot Mountains on the other. Complete with multiple viewing platforms, a 100m-long suspension bridge and plenty of hiking, back country and rock climbing options, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the views.
5) White Water Rafting
If it’s an adrenaline rush you’re after, try heading inland and hitting the rapids on the Thompson, Nahatlatch, Stein or Fraser Rivers. There are several rafting companies to choose from along the Trans Canada Highway between Hope and Lytton, about a three hour drive from Vancouver. Each offers a range of options from half day to multi-day rafting adventures that cater to beginners through to experienced paddlers. Depending on which river you choose, you’ll tackle some powerful rapids while cruising through lush forest, deep quiet canyons or desert-like badlands, complete with Ponderosa pines, sagebrush and prickly pear cactus.