Things To Do
BC’s Coolest Ski Towns
The case for skiing north of the border, written by an American
Multi-coloured wildflowers carpet alpine meadows, brooks bubble with sweet mountain water, and snow-covered peaks are all around when you sleep in BC’s backcountry cabins and lodges. It’s not just the thinner air at altitude that makes hearts race, it’s also hiking and biking in spectacular settings, wildlife sightings, and the fact that you can overnight in remote areas surrounded by 360 degrees of wilderness.
Get back to nature at rustic outposts by hiking on a self-guided adventure into a backcountry cabin or bunk-bed lodge with your own sleeping bag and food to cook in a communal kitchen. BC Parks has a number of backcountry cabins open to the public, each with a varying level of amenities and capacity. Most backcountry huts require registration and only experienced backcountry hikers and campers should hike to these rustic outposts.
Other options include heading to places like Dave Henry Lodge, on the boundary of Mount Robson Provincial Park, and a member of the Backcountry Lodges of BC Association. Sitting at 1,828 m (6,000 ft), this lodge can accommodate up to 10 people and there are options to enjoy this lodge by renting the whole place out, booking a guided but self-catered experience, or opting for a fully catered and fully guided hut to hut hiking experience over seven nights.
The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) also operates one of North America’s biggest network of backcountry huts, everything from family-friendly retreats in alpine meadows to remote climbers’ refuges. Five huts are within BC Parks including Bugaboo Provincial Park’s Conrad Kain Hut. Perched at 2,230 m (7,315 ft), this comfortable modern hut is reached via a steep 3-4 hour hike and is a magnet for international mountaineering and alpine rock climbers drawn to the Purcell Mountains’ spectacular granite spires
For a more guided experience with a dash of pampering, take one step up in comfort and confidence at a catered cabin or lodge. The Backcountry Lodges of British Columbia Association makes finding a place to suit your needs easy. You can find a lodge based your preferences—guided or unguided, catered or self-catered, hike or helicopter access, Wi-Fi or sauna.
Places like Sol Mountain Lodge offer catered options with guided hiking and biking experiences, while Boulder Hut Adventures offers single day and multi-day helicopter access and guided adventures. Cathedral Lakes Lodge is one of Canada’s loftiest full service hiking and fishing wilderness lodge with bungalows and cabins reached via an exciting hour-long 4WD ride to 2,000 m (6,800 ft) in the Southern Okanagan’s Cathedral Provincial Park. Hike over 60 km (40 mi) of maintained trails, visit nearby lakes, and tackle the popular Cathedral Rim Trail for views of the Coast Range and North Cascades. These high up accommodations offer an alpine wonderland cushioned with luxuries.
Hop in a helicopter and touch down in alpine paradise on a 3-or 6-day Canadian Mountain Holidays’ guided heli-hiking experience. Spend long summer days hiking untouched mountain ridges and meadows and return to the lap of luxury at the Bobbie Burns, Bugaboos, or Cariboos lodges. Purcell Mountain Lodge and Mistaya Lodge also offer fly-in experiences with freshly prepared gourmet meals by lodge chefs and comfortable private rooms, or option to book a private chalet.
Kicking Horse Mountain Resort near Golden is crowned by the Eagle’s Eye – Canada’s highest five-star dining experience in the ski resort’s 2,347-metre (7,700- foot) summit lodge. Alongside is a luxurious Eagle’s Eye Suite, complete with a butler and private chef. Spend the day hiking or mountain biking, then own the peak after the gondola shuts down, enjoying a fully-stocked bar, a grand rock fireplace, and the solitude of being the only people sleeping on the mountain.
Mix up rustic with luxury by soaring to 1,726 m (5,662 ft) on southeastern BC’s Fernie Alpine Resort’s unique chairlift-accessed glamping experience, complete with a guided hike and s’mores by the campfire. This overnight outing also comes with champagne and a raclette dinner at the Lost Boys Café at the summit. In the morning, after a night in a tent under a star-spangled sky, there’s breakfast with a view before hitting the trails again.
No matter where you go, make sure you are well prepared for your trip into BC’s alpine environment. Even fully-catered and guided experiences still require you to respect the terrain, environment, and other backcountry users and adhere to thethree T’s—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials.
AdventureSmart is a great resource to get informed before heading outdoors.
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