1. Rock Climb in the Bugaboos
Conrad Kain Hut in Bugaboo Provincial Park. Photo: Kari Medig
In BC’s Purcell Mountains, a series of glacier-sculpted granite spires make up Bugaboo Provincial Park. This place has long held a certain mystique for climbers and mountaineers around the globe. Sleep in Conrad Kain Hut—named after the renowned climber who visited the area in 1910—or at Applebee Dome wilderness camping area. There is a steep but relatively short (3-4 hour) hike into this area of the park. Once here, it’s a climber’s paradise.
Where else? Climb the Stawamus Chief in Squamish, the Skaha Bluffs in Penticton, or the Boulder Gardens in Tumbler Ridge.
2. Raft the Tatshenshini-Alsek Rivers
Confluence of the Tatshenshini Alsek rivers. Photo: Bruce Kirkby
In BC’s northwest corner, this river system is considered to be one of the most incredible on earth, cutting through some of the highest peaks in North America. Raft past glaciers, floating icebergs, and the grizzlies that inhabit this majestic bio-reserve, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guided trips can last anywhere from 9 to 12 days, starting in the Yukon, continuing through northwest BC, and into Alaska. Some operators offer day trips along the upper stretch of the river. This is one of the most iconic northern experiences you can have.
Where else? Tackle the Kicking Horse River in Golden or the waters of the mighty Fraser River.
3. Hike the Berg Lake Trail
Mount Robson along the Berg Lake Trail. Photo: @beckylynnsim
The 23-kilometre (14-mile) backcountry trek to view Mount Robson—the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies—towering over Berg Lake is a bucket-list hike for trekking enthusiasts. Before reaching the lake, the trail passes through three bio-climatic zones, traces around Mount Robson, and peaks at the Berg Lake campground. Here you can view icebergs that have broken off the Berg Glacier floating in the turquoise water. This is a popular trail, so don’t forget to reserve your spot well in advance.
Where else? Try hiking one of these five alternatives to BC’s iconic hikes.
4. Kayak the Broken Group Islands
More than 100 scattered isles off the west coast of Vancouver Island make up the Broken Group, part of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Paddlers can glide past tide pools full of life and camp on sandy shores, all the while watching for eagles, sea lions, grey whales, and black bears. Outfitters offer experiences from one-day trips to multi-day adventures on the sea. The crystal-clear water close to shore may have you thinking you’ve paddled yourself to the tropics.
Where else? Paddle through Desolation Sound or join a kayak whale-watching trip through the Johnstone Strait.
5. Salmon Fish in Haida Gwaii
Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, fishing in Haida Gwaii. Photo: @canadian.heritage
Despite its remote location, anglers from around the world flock to Haida Gwaii to fish for salmon. The variety and abundance of fish and the small number of competing anglers make this a big draw. Share your time on the water with dolphins, whales, sea lions, eagles, and otters. Upscale fishing lodges located on small, remote islands accessible by flight or boat supply guides, boats, gear, and luxury lodge amenities. It’s worth it to tack on a trip to the world-famous heritage sites in Gwaii Haanas, at the southern end of the archipelago.
Where else? Fish for salmon near Prince Rupert or near Vancouver Island’s Campbell River.
6. Canoe the Turner Lake Chain
This canoe circuit is not easy to get to, and that’s all part of the fun. No road access means you need to charter a floatplane in or hike the 16 km (10 mi) along Hunlen Falls Trail to reach Turner Lake. Once at the lake, canoe rentals are available but should be booked in advance. This 3- to 5-day paddle in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park takes you along seven lakes with linking creeks and portages. Day hikes along route are well worth the canoe tie-up between paddles and camping areas.
Where else? Paddle a traditional dugout canoe in Tofino or try the Powell Forest Canoe Route.
7. Ride Horses Through the Muskwa-Kechika
Riding horses through the Muskwa Kechika. Photo: Bruce Kirkby
Wayne Sawchuk has been leading horseback expeditions into the northern Rocky Mountain backcountry for decades. The Muskwa-Kechika, encompassing 6.4 million hectares (15 million acres) of wilderness, is named for the two great rivers that flow through it. Wayne leads trips, from 15-day expeditions to the more grounded Mayfield Lake Base Camp Experience. Either way, making your way through the bush on horseback to Heaven’s Pass or the Zoo Valley is pure adventure.
Where else? See if one of these guest ranch experiences is for you.
8. Scuba Diving off Northern Vancouver Island
The water clarity and diversity of marine life in BC is arguably unsurpassed in the world. One particular area near Port Hardy is famous for wall dives, reefs, and shipwrecks. Experienced divers come to Browning Pass and the Browning Wall to see Pacific octopus, wolf eels, colourful coral, anemone-carpeted rocks, and moon jellyfish. Dive resorts like Browning Pass Hideaway and God’s Pocket offer diving guests a rustic island cabin experience, with daily dive missions to Browning Pass and surrounding areas.
Where else? Dive the emerald-coloured waters of Powell River or the Emerald Princess in Saltery Bay Provincial Park.
9. Sail Through Desolation Sound
An aerial view of Desolation Sound and the Coast Mountains. Photo: Andrew Strain
Desolation Sound is the largest marine park in BC. This series of islands and inlets has three major anchorages—Prideaux Haven, Tenedoe’s Bay, and Grace Harbour—attracting destination boaters. The warm water makes this a great place for swimming, fishing, and wilderness exploration. Seals, otters, and orcas are common sightings, and camping platforms on rocky points make for perfect land-based overnights. You can join a sailing tour, charter a boat, or bring your own.
Where else? Sail the Great Bear Rainforest or along the shores of Kootenay Lake.
10. Try a Floatplane Mountain Bike Trip
Landing on Lorna Lake in the south Chilcotin Mountains with Tyax Adventures. Photo: @mattiasfredrikssonphotography
In BC’s South Chilcotin Mountains, a five-hour drive north of Whistler, Tyax Adventures will fly you into the backcountry (gear and bike included) and drop you off on a remote lake. And that’s only the beginning of the fun. Navigate your way along singletrack trails for a full-day ride back to Tyax Wilderness Resort & Spa or book a multi-day adventure including overnights in backcountry camps, a guide, and meals.
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