Trip Ideas

Family-Friendly Parks in BC

Get the family together, pack a picnic or book a campsite, and head to any of almost a thousand provincial parks in BC. Discover ocean beaches, freshwater lakes, ancient forests and alpine meadows, plus pretty picnic sites, scenic campgrounds and some fascinating historic sights.


49.064306,-120.78151|49.792292,-115.736725|48.776668,-123.899531| 49.370414,-121.369836

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MAP LEGEND
  1. E.C. Manning Provincial Park
  2. Wasa Lake Provincial Park
  3. Cowichan River Provincial Park
  4. Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park

Cowichan River Provincial Park

Enjoy a day on the water at Cowichan River Provincial Park, about an hour north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. One of BC’s top fishing rivers, the Cowichan is also a wonderful spot for swimming, boating, tubing and just cooling off on a hot summer’s day.

Bring along a fly rod, as Cowichan River trout and salmon make impressive catches. In BC, a fishing license is required but kids 16 and under fish for free. From late summer through fall, watch for spawning salmon migrating upstream past Skutz Falls.

If you still have more energy take a stroll along the 20 km/12 mi-long Cowichan River Footpath. Or hike or bike across the spectacular 66-Mile Trestle, a former railway bridge and part of the Trans Canada Trail.

Fraser Valley Provincial Parks

Fraser Valley. Photo Credit: Claude Robidoux/All Canada Photos

East of Vancouver, three Fraser Valley parks make great family getaways. Choose from Golden Ears Provincial Park near Maple Ridge, Cultus Lake Provincial Park near Chilliwack, and Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park near Hope.

Explore a park from lake floor to mountain top at Golden Ears, one of BC's largest provincial parks. Set up camp at one of three campgrounds, hike rugged mountain trails, then cool off in scenic Alouette Lake. Swim, paddle, fish, waterski or try your hand at windsurfing.

Cool down by making a splash at Cultus Lake. Book a campsite or come for the day; swim in the park's namesake lake, or rent a boat and head out on the water. More entertainment abounds nearby, with a waterslide park, mini-golf course and go-cart track in the area.
 
Further east, explore the Othello Tunnels, five railway tunnels in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park (open April to October). The tunnels, built into the canyon walls and linked by a series of bridges spanning the gorge, are part of the most expensive mile of rail bed ever built in North America. The Kettle Valley Railway is long gone, and the trails and bridges are now part of a hiking path through the park. On the way back through the town of Hope, stop at the Hope Visitor Centre and Museum to learn about the town’s history, from Aboriginal culture to Hollywood stars (the movie Rambo was filmed in Hope and in the tunnels). 

Wasa Lake Provincial Park

Fort Steele Heritage Town. Photo Credit: David Gluns

Splash around in one of the Kootenay Rockies’ warmest swimming lakes, with towering mountain peaks for a backdrop: Wasa Lake Provincial Park is near Cranbrook in BC’s Kootenay Rockies region. Beaches, picnic sites, RV-friendly campsites, and an adventure playground make this a popular spot for families.

Swim, boat, relax, or take a stroll around the lake on the 8-km/5-mi bike and wheelchair-accessible Wasa Lions Way path.

For a fun and educational day out, take a walk down memory lane at Fort Steele Heritage Town. Restored buildings and actors in period costume bring the 1860s to life at this gold-rush-era town about 20km/12mi from Wasa Lake. Check out the school house, catch a show at the Wild Horse Theatre, pan for gold, and meet a team of giant Clydesdale horses. Street theatre, like the Gossip Tours, will immerse you in the 19th century daily life.

E.C. Manning Provincial Park

E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Photo Credit: Marlene Ford

For easy access to alpine meadows and mountain peaks, head to E.C. Manning Provincial Park, three hours east of Vancouver between Hope and Princeton.

From the Lightning Lake campground, drive 13km/8mi uphill to Cascade Lookout. Park at nearby Blackwall Peak, and head into the alpine meadows along Paintbrush Trail; in July and August the meadows are bright with wildflowers. Try spotting North Cascade peaks like Frosty Mountain, and scramble up a fire-spotting tower for an eagle’s-eye view into Washington State.