Top 5 Places to Experience the Rainforest in BC

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British Columbia is home to close to 25% of the world’s temperate rainforest. This unique eco-system covers vast tracts of BC’s coastal areas and islands, and is a rich habitat for thousands of species of flora and fauna. It is also an incredible place to connect with nature. We asked our Facebook fans to name their favourite places to experience BC’s rainforest, and the results ranged from locations on Vancouver Island all the way to Northern BC.

Here are the top five, plus an an honourable mention:

5. Sooke

Two deer navigate the terrain at East Sooke Regional Park.

East Sooke Regional Park. Photo: Jeff Gunn via Flickr

Sooke is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This ruggedly scenic area is a 45-minute drive from Victoria, and it offers spectacular beaches backed by thick rainforest. Not to be missed is East Sooke Regional Park. Walk along the dramatic, rocky coast, or hike forested trails that lead to quiet, sheltered coves.

4. Bella Coola

Sun beams sparkle as the catch the lush Bella Coola Valley.

The Bella Coola Valley. Photo: Wallace Howe via Flickr

The remote Bella Coola Valley sits along BC’s central coast. Hike a seemingly endless number of rainforest trails, many of which lead to cascading waterfalls, or search for local wildlife. Black and grizzly bears are common in these parts, and bear viewing tours are available. Visit the estuary to see birds and marine mammals.

3. Cathedral Grove

A man stops to stare up at an impossibly tall tree.

Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park. Photo: SYinc

MacMillan Provincial Park‘s Cathedral Grove is located off Highway 4, between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni on Vancouver Island (en route from Vancouver to Tofino). It is one of the most accessible places in BC to view ancient stands of Douglas fir trees, some as many as 800 years old. Don’t forget the obligatory photo of someone in your group trying to wrap their arms around a massive tree trunk.

2. Terrace

A river terrain surrounded by dense vegetation.

Terrace. Photo: Dave Bezaire & Susi Havens-Bezaire’s photostream via Flickr

Terrace, in Northern BC, sits near the bottom of the Alaska Panhandle. It is home to the mighty Skeena River, a spot known to host some of the world’s best steelhead fishing. Dense rainforest covers much of the landscape, and opportunities for hiking are everywhere you look. If you are extremely lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the elusive Kermode (Spirit) bear, a rare black bear with white fur found only on BC’s north and central coast.

1. Pacific Rim (Tofino/Ucluelet)

A wooden walkway winds through an area of dense vegetation.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Photo: Imagea.org via Flickr

And our fans’ top place to explore BC’s rainforest is the stunning Pacific Rim, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This area boasts sandy beaches that stretch on for kilometres, fringed by thick, lush rainforests perfect for hiking. Between hikes, explore the nearby towns of Tofino and Ucluelet, take a surf lesson, or just gaze out at the wild, open Pacific Ocean. Visit in the winter for dramatic storm watching.

Honourable mention: Haida Gwaii

A hiker stops to take in the magic of the overgrown Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii. Photo: JF Bergeron

An honourable mention goes to the mystical Haida Gwaii. This ancient archipelago off the coast of Northern BC is covered in pristine rainforest, much of it protected jointly by Parks Canada and the local Haida First Nation, whose rich cultural heritage you can experience here. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site is wild and remote, and it is home to the UNESCO World Heritage site of SGang Gwaay. Haida Gwaii was chosen as one of National Geographic’s 20 Best Trips 2015.