Trip Ideas

BC Provincial Parks Highlights

In 1911, Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Provincial Park became the first of what are now almost a thousand provincial parks and protected wilderness areas in BC. Combined, they encompass a landmass larger than the states of Washington, Oregon and California rolled into one.

 

From seashore to forests and mountain peaks, the range of park landscapes in BC is matched only by the diversity of outdoor activities available. Go rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, beachcombing, surfing – or just sit in a wildflower meadow and enjoy the view. There are as many ways to enjoy BC parks as there are parks to enjoy.


49.679625,-125.749626|52.923549,-118.798871|53.922538,-131.827126|49.942383,-122.751846

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MAP LEGEND
  1. Strathcona Provincial Park
  2. Mount Robson Provincial Park
  3. Naikoon Provincial Park
  4. Garibaldi Provincial Park

Strathcona Provincial Park

Strathcona Provincial Park, a wilderness park in the mountainous heart of Vancouver Island, is a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike, camp, canoe, rock climb, or watch for wildlife among the park’s lakes and peaks.
 
For an easy day out, walk along the Centennial Trail, a 2-km/1.2-mi wheelchair-accessible stretch of boardwalk and hard-packed gravel that leads through old-growth forest into the park’s Forbidden Plateau region. If you’re ready for a backcountry expedition, hike to Della Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls.

Camp at one of the park’s many drive-in or hike-in sites, or check into Strathcona Park Lodge. Stay in a lakeside room or cabin, and hone your rock-climbing, kayaking, orienteering and other outdoor skills at the lodge’s renowned Outdoor Education Centre.

Next to the park, Mount Washington Alpine Resort offers lift-accessed hiking and biking in summer, and downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, tubing and tobogganing in winter.

Strathcona Park is 16km/10mi from Courtenay-Comox, twin Vancouver Island towns with a friendly, outdoorsy vibe. On the way through, pick up picnic supplies at the Comox Valley Farmer’s Market, or stop at the Atlas Café for a hearty benny before hitting the trails.

Mount Robson Provincial Park

Berg Lake Trail. Photo Credit: © iStockphoto.com/Glowing Earth Photography

Trek the beauty of Mount Robson Provincial Park, home to the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies and the headwaters of the Fraser River. Explore the park’s expansive network of hiking trails, go fishing in pristine lakes, or watch for shooting stars at a backcountry campground.

Follow the Berg Lake Trail for an epic backcountry hiking adventure. This 46-km/28-mi round trip, multi-day trek showcases some of the province’s most stunning scenery, including lush forests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers and views of Mount Robson en route to the spectacular sight of glacier-fed Berg Lake. If you prefer to ride, mountain biking is allowed on the first section of the trail, between the Berg Lake Trailhead and Kinney Lake. Reservations are recommended for campsites along the trail.

While you’re here, book a log cabin at Mountain River Lodge or Mica Mountain Lodge on the park outskirts, or stay in nearby Valemount. Options here include Bearberry Meadows Guest House, in a cozy log home, and the fun Jailhouse B&B, set in a former RCMP building.

Naikoon Provincial Park

Naikoon Provincial Park. Photo Credit: David Nanuk/All Canada Photos

Savour views of the Alaska Panhandle and walk for miles along a wide, beautiful beach at Naikoon Provincial Park on Haida Gwaii. This pristine park lies on the northeast corner of Graham Island, on the remote northern archipelago formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands.

From park headquarters in Tlell, site of the Edge of the World Music Festival in early August, follow spongy trails on foot or by bike along the rainforested banks of the Tlell River. Explore East Beach to find the remains of the shipwrecked Pesuta; it lies about an hour’s walk from Misty Meadows campground. After all the beachcombing, climb Tow Hill for views of Rose Spit, McIntyre Bay and Agate Beach.

In Tlell, settle into a riverside room at Haida House at Tllaal and explore the area with a Haida cultural ambassador. Beach hikes, canoe tours, salmon fishing, and even Haida feasts and helicopter flight-seeing are on the menu. Come evening, savour traditional foods at the restaurant or have a spa treatment arranged.  Before leaving, shop for jewellery and carvings at studios in Masset.

Haida Gwaii is two hours from Vancouver or a short hop from Prince Rupert by air. By sea, travel on BC Ferries’ approximately seven-hour sailing from Prince Rupert to Skidegate. For a grand adventure, take a ferry ride turned wildlife cruise on the Inside Passage: BC Ferries MV Northern Adventure sails from Port Hardy, on Vancouver Island, to Prince Rupert, with possible sighting of eagles, seals and whales en route.

Garibaldi Provincial Park

Garibaldi Provincial Park. Photo Credit: Toshi Kawano

Garibaldi Provincial Park is a vast swathe of wilderness forming the backcountry to Whistler, BC’s famous year-round mountain resort.

The park has five entrances along Highway 99 between Squamish and Pemberton, starting just one hour north of Vancouver, but Whistler, with so many dining and accommodation choices, makes an especially good base.

Fuel up with bacon, eggs and poutine at the Southside Diner in Whistler’s Creekside neighbourhood, grab some trail snacks at the Creekside Market, and head south to Garibaldi Park’s Cheakamus Lake trailhead. Make other plans for Fido (like Whistler’s Alpine Dogs doggy day care) as pets aren’t allowed in the park.

Walk or mountain bike the gentle 3-km/1.8-mi Cheakamus Lake Trail, an easy path meandering through old-growth forest to Cheakamus Lake. Stop for lunch at the lakeside campground, then follow the 4km/2.5-mi path to Singing Creek for views of Whistler Mountain and surrounding peaks. Come Fall, Cheakamus Lake’s colour intensifies to turquoise as silt from the glacial melt accumulates and reflects sunlight.