6 Don’t-Miss Parks Within 2 Hours of Vancouver

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Want to spend a day on the lake? Is camping in the forest more your thing? No matter what you’re looking for, there’s a perfect park close to Vancouver. So don’t wait. Grab your camera and your sunscreen, and head out for a remarkable BC Parks experience.

1. Golden Ears Provincial Park

Forested trail in Golden Ears Provincial Park

Golden Ears. Photo: @outboundmedia via Instagram

Golden Ears, one of BC’s largest provincial parks, is nestled into the mountains just outside Maple Ridge. The park’s 62,540 ha (154,540 ac) of second-growth forest are popular with hikers, campers and equestrians. Trails range from an easy, lake-view stroll to a strenuous climb up a mountain. Three campgrounds—Alouette, Gold Creek and North Beach—offer a combined 409 sites; and there are more than 20 km (12.4 mi) of horse trails to explore. At the centre of it all is Alouette Lake, for swimming, fishing, waterskiing and paddling. Boat launch and canoe/kayak rentals are located on the south end of the lake.

2. Alice Lake Provincial Park

Stand-up paddle boarding at Alice Lake Provincial Park near Squamish

Stand-up paddle boarding at Alice Lake Provincial Park. Photo: @rorytucker via Instagram

Alice Lake is a popular camping and day-tripping destination north of Squamish on the stunning Sea-to-Sky Highway. The park’s four lakes—Fawn, Edith, Stump and Alice—offer fishing, swimming and non-motorized boat rentals, as well as stand-up paddle boards. Hiking trails range from the family-friendly Stump Lake Loop to the scenic Four Lakes Trail, which passes all four lakes. Bring a picnic lunch for a day trip, or make camping reservations in advance.

3. E.C. Manning Provincial Park

Canoe and kayak rentals on Lightning Lakes at E.C. Manning Provincial Park between Hope and Princeton

Boat rentals on Lightning Lakes at Manning. Photo: @AnkurSud via Twitter

Halfway between Hope and Princeton, Manning Park sits in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. A year-round destination park, it boasts four vehicle-accessible campgrounds, two group sites and 10 hike-in campgrounds spread out over 70,844 ha (175,059 ac). The largest and most popular is Lightning Lake, with swimming, fishing, and canoe and kayak rentals. Serious anglers head to Poland and Nicomen lakes for rainbow trout. Hikers explore trails ranging from a 20-minute stroll to an overnight trek. Summer brings interpretive programs, feature speakers and evening events.

4. Murrin Provincial Park

Hiking in Murrin Provincial Park south of Squamish

Afternoon hike at Murrin Provincial Park. Photo: @quitthistown via Instagram

This small park, off the Sea-to-Sky Highway south of Squamish, is best known for its rock climbing. Several walls offer some 250 climbing routes that range from beginner to “not for the faint of heart.” Non-climbers can enjoy a stroll around a small lake, accessible for swimmers, paddlers and anglers.

5. Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park

Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park

Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. Photo: @vancitywild via Instagram

Got a fishing license and a love of angling? Head to the Chilliwack River Valley. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Chilliwack Lake is home to dolly varden, kokanee, rainbow and cutthroat trout. The small boat launch is suitable for vessels up to 6 m (20 ft) long. The park features a sandy beach, a campground with 146 sites, and 40 km (24 mi) of hiking trails, some leading into the old-growth Chilliwack River Ecological Reserve.

6. Peace Arch Provincial Park

Peace Arch Provincial Park

Peace Arch Provincial Park. Photo: @_michaelengler via Instagram

Peace Arch Park straddles the border between the United States and Canada at the Douglas Border Crossing in Surrey. The Peace Arch is a giant monument that sits on the 49th parallel, and visitors are free to “travel internationally” within the park (carry documentation in case border security requests it). Embedded in the arch is a box, fashioned from the steel of a captured slave ship, that contains pieces of the British ship the Beaver and the US ship the Mayflower. This tiny, 9-ha (22-ac) park, home to manicured gardens, is popular for summer BBQs.