Tips for British Columbia Travelers

British Columbia, the most Western province of Canada, has an incredible draw to tourists and travelers. As one of the most rugged and naturally dramatic provinces in Canada, British Columbia attracts outdoor enthusiasts of every variety, from kayakers to hikers to skydivers. The scenic beauty, opportunities for adventure and laid back charm of British Columbia bring people back again and again to experience all that it has to offer. Below are some travel tips for those planning to vacation in British Columbia to help optimize their experience.

  • British Columbia vacations are largely about natural wonders and appeal to outdoor enthusiasts far more than city people. British Columbia has its share of large cities and night life as well, but the primary vacation landmarks in British Columbia are its mountains, waterfalls and ocean side. A vacation in British Columbia will be most rewarding to mountain climbers, hikers, mountain bikers, surfers, kayakers, white water rafters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Because British Columbia is such a vast region, it is more logical to tour it in several trips rather than just one. The two main sections of British Columbia that one can take in are its interior and its exterior. The interior of British Columbia is mountainous and rugged, ranging from the dry, sparse environment of the Okanagan Valley to the dense pine forest of the Stikine region and Northern Rockies. The exterior is oceanic and has rainy, moist environmental conditions. Both offer immense beauty, breath taking views and numerous opportunities for adventure.
  • When exploring British Columbia, it is very important to consider safety and travel prepared. The land is very wild and untamed through much of the region and can prove very dangerous to those who are unprepared. British Columbia contains the most dense bear population of anywhere in North America, as well as substantial populations of wolves and mountain lions. Never go into the wilderness without wild animal pepper spray. The wilderness areas of British Columbia are vast, and it does not take much to become lost or disoriented within them. Weather can change quickly in mountainous areas, so explore the wilderness equipped with all basic survival essentials, such as water, clothing layers, a compass, food and a fire starter.

Traveling the British Columbia Coast

The coastline of British Columbia is a spectacular thing to behold. British Columbia makes up the entire Western coastline of Canada, and its scenery is dramatic and diverse. There is a great deal of camping and adventuring that a person can take in, as well as plenty of relaxation and downtime. Anyone who travels the coast of British Columbia would not be disappointed by all that it has to offer.

The most well known area of the British Columbia coastline is the southernmost section of it where the city of Vancouver and Vancouver Island touch the same waterway. Vancouver is one of Canada’s largest cities and is a cultural and economical mecca. Located on the mainland, the Greater Vancouver area is a sprawling urban center that is comprised of several city jurisdictions. It is one of the most populated areas in Canada, and offers the culture, nightlife and entertainment of a large city while still being situated on a stunningly beautiful waterfront. There are many who are incredibly loyal to everything this city has to offer and have something of a Vancouver addiction.

Vancouver Island is a large island located directly across from the city of Vancouver, separated from it by several straits. It is, in fact, the largest island in the Pacific Ocean east of New Zealand. There are many well known regions of Vancouver Island, including the beauty of its largest city, Victoria, as well as the expansive beaches of Tofino and Nanaimo. Vancouver Island is home to the largest surfer presence in Canada, offering some of the larger waves and beaches within the country. On the whole, Vancouver Island is one of the most popular vacation destinations within Canada. Vancouver Island is also home to Della Falls, the tallest waterfall in Canada.

The rest of the British Columbia coast stretches north to Alaska in a complicated network of inlets, cities, waterways and ports. Because the coastline above Vancouver is rocky and divided unevenly between land and water, there is not a coastal highway that goes up the length of it like there is on the Pacific coast of the United States. There are limited areas where one can access the coastal towns and sites. Much of the British Columbia coast is qualified as temperate rain forest and receives rain or snow through much of the year.

Traveling the British Columbia Interior

The interior of British Columbia is a very diverse and dramatic region to explore. The interior stretches all the way from the United States border up to the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska. It is almost entirely wooded with pine forest and contains some of the most dramatic mountain scenery in North America. The interior of British Columbia is home to more bears than anywhere else in North America, as well as large numbers of wolves, mountain lions and other indigenous species. If you are traveling through the interior, you are in for a treat. The interior of British Columbia offers as beautiful a mountainous environment as anywhere else in North America and offers incredible adventure opportunities to outdoor enthusiasts. Some of the activities you can enjoy in the interior are:

  • Camping. The British Columbia interior contains a number of national, provincial, private and free campgrounds for those who want to stay overnight in the great outdoors. Come prepared to rough it as a majority of the campgrounds in British Columbia are remote and located within vast wilderness areas. Nowhere else can you discover as pristine a camping experience as within the British Columbia interior.
  • Hiking. As one of the most basic and well enjoyed outdoor traditions, hiking opportunities can be found in abundance in the British Columbia interior. There are more mountains, rivers, waterfalls and meadows in the British Columbia interior than can be counted, and they are accompanied by just as many trails to accommodate hikers.
  • Mountain climbing. Within the British Columbia interior, there are world class climbing mountains that professional mountain climbers have been using for years to train for mountain climbs such as Mt. Rainier and Denali. They provide excellent opportunities for challenging mountain climbing experiences.
  • Kayaking and Canoeing. Because British Columbia is the province with the most fresh water, there are endless water sport opportunities for kayakers, canoers and white water rafters. Cross a placid lake, explore any number of channels or get your adrenaline pumping on some white water rapids.
  • Mountain Biking. Lastly, mountain biking is a well loved activity in the interior of British Columbia. There are endless opportunities for mountain biking within the trail systems of the interior.

A Tourist in British Columbia

British Columbia is a stunningly beautiful Canadian province with a huge tourist draw. A unique, one-of-a-kind place, British Columbia has experiences to offer a traveler that they cannot find anywhere else. For example, the bear population in British Columbia exceeds that of anywhere else in North America and makes for excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. British Columbia is also home to more fresh water than anywhere else in North America, making it an ideal place to bring kayaks or white water rafts. Anyone who vacations in British Columbia will remember it for a lifetime.

The main reason people visit British Columbia is for its natural beauty. The scenery of British Columbia is breathtaking, offering sites and experiences that one cannot have anywhere else. The mountain ranges of British Columbia are high, jagged and snow capped. There are a number of record setting tall mountains in British Columbia that are popular targets for mountain climbers. Similarly, hikers have a huge range of options for hiking opportunities through British Columbia’s peaks and valleys. For those who prefer water sports, British Columbia has an abundance of flowing and standing water which creates recreation for kayakers, canoers, white water rafters, boaters and jet skiers. Those who are passionate about winter sports will find excellent ski hills and Nordic trails within British Columbia. Wildlife viewing is also a popular activity, as British Columbia is home to bear, deer, elk, caribou, wolves, cougars, lynx, coyotes and a number of other species.

However, just because a large majority of British Columbia is rugged wilderness does not mean that the province is void of urban living. Large cities, such as Vancouver and Kelowna, are known for their vibrant social, cultural and economic atmospheres. Vancouver is the metropolis of Western Canada, offering world class shopping, dining, overnight accommodations and entertainment. With all the features of a major city, Vancouver is routinely voted one of the most livable cities in Canada. Kelowna is east of Vancouver past a mountain range. Kelowna is the biggest city in the Okanagan Valley and one of the biggest in the interior and is the wealthiest city per capita in British Columbia. It is a popular tourist and retirement destination. Medical tourism is another common draw to the area, bringing in travelers from around the world for advice from specialists, BC drug rehabilitation and quality Canadian surgeons.