Things to Do in British Columbia - page 5
Located in the Callaghan Valley, the 141-foot Alexander Falls make for a beautiful day trip destination from Whistler Village. Just be sure to bring a picnic, as it’s a favorite lunch spot for locals and visitors alike. Picnic tables are surrounded by thick forest, and the crashing waterfall adds atmosphere to this wilderness setting that makes it easy to forget it’s only 30 minutes back to the hustle of a major tourist resort.
Alexander Falls is only minutes from Whistler Olympic Park and its cross-country ski trails, built for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, which are open throughout the winter. In the summer, the trails double as walking paths and bike trails. Hiking trails that lead further into Callaghan Valley Provincial Park offer access to more pristine nature, while campsites at Callaghan and Madeley Lake provide a beautiful– and absolutely free–place to spend the night.
The Callaghan Valley access road is one of the best places to spot wildlife in the Whistler area, too, including both black and grizzly bears.
Fitzsimmons Creek flows in the valley that separates Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. It also runs between Whistler and Blackcomb villages, but most people spot it from above. The Peak-to-Peak Gondola, which spans a record-breaking 2.7 miles (4.4 km) from Whistler’s Roundhouse to Blackcomb’s Rendezvous day lodges in only 11 minutes, soars 1,400 feet (436 m) above Fitzsimmons Creek.
Close to town, the creek creates a natural green space, and Rebagliati Park, named after 1998 Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Ross Rebagliati, sits smack dab in the center of it on a small island. The Valley Trail creates a loop, which follows both sides of Fitzsimmons Creek, while a nearby BMX park with dirt jumps rounds out the recreation options found within a few minutes walk of town.
Fitzsimmons Creek also flows into Whistler Village at the trailhead for several backcountry hikes. The Singing Pass trail (7 miles/11.5 km, one way) takes a full day to complete; however, the pass is really just the gateway for multi-day trips in Garibaldi Provincial Park that bring hikers closer to Fitzsimmons Glacier and the eye-popping scenery of the Garibaldi Ranges.
Full of ancient forest and surrounded by Pacific Coastal mountains 56 miles (90 km) north of Vancouver, Callaghan Valley is real BC backcountry. In summer, the valley is home to backpackers and hikers looking for a wilderness experience, while in winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing is popular, with over 45 miles (70 km) of cross-country trails and six miles (10 km) of snowshoe trails to explore.
Home to the 2010 Winter Olympics’ Nordic events, the wall of mountains that surrounds the valley creates a unique climate that sees some of the deepest snowfall in the whole of Canada. The ski season is often 150 days long, running right into mid-April.
In spring and summer, Callaghan Valley is all wildflower meadows and wetlands, where you can go lakeside camping, canoeing, boating, fishing and hiking. The 6,590-acre (2,667-hectare) park is also prime wildlife-spotting territory. Look out for bobcats and squirrels, black-tailed deer and moose, black and grizzly bears.
Situated on Grouse Mountain, this wildlife refuge has a pair of very famous residents: two orphaned grizzly bears named Grinder and Coola. Additionally, the sanctuary also houses birds of prey, including resident owls, plus a hummingbird feeding station, where researchers monitor the tiny feathered fliers in spring.
Dotted around the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the British Columbia mainland, are the laid-back Gulf Islands. Come to browse farmers markets, visit artist studios, and experience nature—from woodland trails to pebbled beaches—all of which draw Vancouverites fleeing the city.
It goes without saying that Whistler Olympic Park is a world-class athletic training facility. One third of the medals given at the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver were awarded here. There are more than 130 kilometers of alpine wilderness trails, weaving through mountain scenery and perfect for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter months. It was the first Olympic Nordic sports venue to include all three events (cross-country, biathlon and ski jumping) at the same site. Visitors now can enjoy a wide variety of winter activities, including tobogganing, ski jumping, biathlon and base-boarding. There is also a public cross-country and back country skiing area in the park.
For non-skiers, the extensive Day Lodge has all the indoor facilities one would need. In the summer months, the ski areas become scenic hiking trails for all to enjoy.
Salt Spring Island is the biggest, most populated of the Gulf Islands. Blessed with the best climate in Canada – or so they say – and only half the rainfall of Vancouver, Salt Spring Island is a charming destination regardless of the season. The island is well known as a retreat for artists and many painters, photographers, musicians and writers have come here to find a serene workplace in the midst of a peaceful island setting. Thus, a number of galleries, studios and even simple roadside exhibits have sprouted up everywhere and the island is a dream for artists and art lovers alike.
The island has an idyllic landscape and rustic character and apart from visiting one of the many art exhibits, popular activities include camping, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, bird watching and other outdoor activities. Salt Spring Island offers both Ruckle Provincial Park and Mt. Maxwell Provincial Park, as well as plenty of beaches and trails where one can enjoy solitude and impressive views. The largest village on the island is Ganges, where you can find amenities such as stores, banks and restaurant. Regular market days are held here as well, where local products, such as homemade bread, soaps and jams, wooden handicrafts and pottery, are sold.
Victoria BC is known as a wildlife viewing paradise, but no tour is complete without a trip to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve.
Race Rocks Ecological Reserve is Canada’s first Marine Protected Area and is home to an abundance of marine life including California sea lions, harbor seals and elephant seals. Orcas and humpback whales have also been observed from Race Rocks.
The Race Rocks Ecological Reserve was established in 1980 thanks to the work and commitment of teachers and students from Lester B. Pearson College. The college monitors and conducts research in cooperation with other organizations. Thanks to an agreement with BC Parks, it also operates the former Race Rocks light station facilities as an education center.
Three cameras webcast 24 hours a day from Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. One from the top of the lighthouse tower, another from the north side of the island and a third fixed underwater camera is mounted off the docks below the water.
Canadian modernists, Asian art, and works by Emily Carr anchor the impressive collections at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, where holdings go from fiber art to sculpture and oil paintings. The art gallery is housed in the historic Spencer Mansion, whose manicured gardens are a tranquil setting for a Japanese Shinto shrine.
Nestled at the foot of Blackcomb Mountain in the Upper Village at Whistler, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler offers ski-in ski-out access to the slopes in the winter and an on-site championship golf course in the summer. A favorite of celebrities, this luxury hotel has 528 rooms, fine dining, and a full range of amenities.
More Things to Do in British Columbia
British Columbia’s Callaghan Valley is a noted backcountry recreation area, so much so that it was home to the 2010 Winter Olympics for biathlon, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic skiing. Though the provincial park is famous mainly for winter sports (the average annual snowpack can yield up to 150 days of skiing), the area is just as gorgeous in the summertime. Callaghan Lake is one of the most beautiful and convenient places to camp near Whistler, and the relatively undisturbed wilderness and rugged mountain terrain provide a stunning backdrop to outdoor adventures at any time of the year. Hanging valleys, talus slopes, and waterfalls are just some of the natural sights the park has to offer.
Canoeing, fishing, boating, and hunting go hand-in-hand with rustic lakeside camping and hiking around the numerous wetlands and small lakes found throughout the park (especially in the southern and eastern areas). The main camping area at Callaghan Lake is quite nice, but for a really spectacular place to pitch your tent, try checking out one of the little islands in the lake that can only be accessed by canoe or boat. Boat launches, campfires, picnic areas, toilets, and vehicle-accessible camping are all available at the park.
Explore the artwork of British Columbia from the 18th century to the present day at Audain Art Museum. Head to Whistler to see the museum's permanent collection of works from some of Canada’s most celebrated artists, including First Nations artists, as well as visiting exhibitions from around the world.
Built to host the 2010 Winter Olympics’ long-track speed skating competitions, the Richmond Olympic Oval is a premier sporting venue for elite and amateur athletes from Canada and beyond. Visitors can watch events or participate in sports at the arena’s two ice rinks, 4-story climbing wall, ice tracks, and fitness center.
Experience the adrenaline rush that comes from speeding down an Olympic bobsledding course or paddling through white water rapids in the virtual sports simulators at the Richmond Olympic Experience (ROX). This interactive museum chronicles the history of the Olympics and lets visitors feel what it would be like to take part in the games.
Vancouver Cruise Port serves as the home port for Alaska-bound cruise ships, as well as for vessels traveling south to locations along the Pacific Coast and Hawaii. Located on the Vancouver Harbour waterfront, the Canada Place Cruise Terminal is right in the heart of the city, providing easy access to downtown and to the North Shore Mountains.
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