National and Provincial Parks of BC
When it comes to beautiful parks, British Columbia is the place to visit. Whether you are looking for natural parks in the mountains, the desert, the rainforest, or by the ocean, you will be amazed at what you can find within the borders of this Canadian province.
British Columbia (BC) has one of the largest parks systems in Canada, second only to the National Parks of Canada. There are seven national parks in BC, and hundreds of provincial parks. Each park offers the chance for adventure with opportunities for water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, surfing and windsurfing, and land based activities like hiking, backpacking, and camping.
See also Parks in BC
British Columbia Mainland
The national parks in BC vary by location, but all share the same beauty and experience unique to the parks in British Columbia. On the mainland of BC, you can explore four national parks. The Glacier National Park of Canada, with its steep mountains and warm climate, is located in the Kootenays Region, otherwise known as the interior wet belt of BC. You can also find Mount Revelstoke National Park in this area, a park that offers spectacular mountain views and the rare chance to drive into a sub alpine meadow. Kootenay National Park is found in the main and Western ranges of the Rocky Mountains. From the mountain peaks in the north to the desert, cactus bearing hills in the south, this national park provides vast landscape differences. Yoho National Park borders BC and Alberta, and is famous for its resource of marine fossil deposits, and its incredible Takakkaw Falls. BC is recognized as a world leader in protecting the natural environment, and in 2009 the Kootenay and Yoho National Parks were jointly ranked as first in North America by the National Geographic Traveler’s survey.
The Glacier National Park of Canada, Mount Revelstoke National Park, Kootenay National Park, and the Yoho National Park are located in the Kootenay Rockies region known as British Columbia’s mountain playground.
The Islands Of British Columbia
Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands) are home to three of BC’s national parks. The Pacific Rim National Park is found along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island, stretching between Port Renfrew and Tofino. This park is comprised of three distinct geographical areas: Long Beach, Broken Group Islands and the famously challenging 75 km West Coast Trail. The long sandy beaches and temperate rainforests are natural wonders, attracting travelers from around the world. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada is one of the newest and smallest national parks, protecting the BC’s Southern Gulf Islands. There are 15 islands, and you can explore the more populated ones or the remote areas. The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site is a collection of 138 islands in the southern part of what were formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands. It is the ancestral home of the Haida – the West Coast First Nations, and part of it is designated a World Heritage Site for having the largest collection of standing totem poles in their original location.
While the collection of national parks in British Columbia is impressive, so too is the profound beauty found in BC’s provincial parks. From Tweedsmuir Park in Chilcotin (989,616 hectares), to Memory Island in Shawnigan Lake (1 hectare), each individual park has a great deal to offer to every visitor.
Oldest Provincial Parks Of British Columbia
Strathcona Park is BC’s oldest provincial park, and is home to one of Canada’s highest waterfalls (Della Falls – 440 m). This park is located in the center of Vancouver Island, and is known for its high mountain peaks and deep shaded valleys. Strathcona Park is home to many species of wildlife, such as the currently endangered Vancouver Island marmot, and like most other parks in BC, is a conservation area for vegetation unique to the area. It also has a rich history of geological wonder, so if you have an interest in geology, this is a park you must make a point of visiting. Also on Vancouver Island, is Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park, home to some of the world’s largest and oldest spruce and cedar trees. There are various hiking trails through the park that ensure each traveler has access to the natural wonders within.
Park Adventures Of British Columbia
Located only 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver is Mount Seymour Provincial Park. This park is known for its mountain biking and hiking trails, as well as skiing and snowshoeing in the winter. There are several lakes in the park, and it is home to a variety of wildlife – including BC’s official bird, the Stellar’s Jay. In North Thompson, BC, you can find one of the largest and most spectacular parks, Wells Gray Provincial Park. There are five major lakes within the park, so it is a favourite spot for boaters and campers. Further North, on the Alaska Highway, is the perfect place to relax and unwind after traveling. The Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park has natural water temperatures around 40C. As a result of the hot springs, there is a unique microclimate that provides excellent opportunities to study the plant life. The Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park is located in Northern British Columbia about three hours drive from the town of Fort Nelson.
The incredible provincial parks of British Columbia are too numerous to name, but each park has an individual attraction and provides travelers with options to explore, discover, be active or to just relax by the fire while staying at one of the many campgrounds. Whether you like to hike, canoe, cycle, fish, surf, or go whale watching, there is a park in BC just waiting for you to experience it.
By Jessica Paul
Photo credits: Horn Lake in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region courtesy Tourism BC, Albert Normandin; Bluff Lake in the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Region courtesy Tourism BC, Albert Normandin; Bugaboo Provincial Park courtesy Tourism BC, Albert Normandin; Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site courtesy Joël Lagassé, Kingfisher Wilderness Adventures.
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