An Adventure-Lover’s Guide To British Columbia’s Great Outdoors
It's tailor-made for spending time in the Great Outdoors.
Experience Canada’s stunning natural scenery, vibrant cities, and warm locals for yourself.
Raging rivers and rugged mountain trails, hidden waterfalls and awe-inspiring national parks… British Columbia is a destination tailor-made for spending time in the Great Outdoors. And, if you’re after an adrenaline-charged adventure, there’s plenty to get your heart racing, too.
From hiking to mountain biking and snowboarding, the sheer volume of mind-blowing, blood-pumping, and eye-opening experiences scattered across Canada’s outdoor capital is staggering. Whether you want to raft down a Class V rapid or feel like James Bond on an epic downhill ski run, you can do it here.
Don’t know where to start? Try some of these adventures on for size.
#1 Tackling The West Coast Trail
When most people think of the “Wild West”, it’s the USA’s version that often comes to mind. But Canada has its very own wild west, too. Specifically, the wild west coast of Vancouver Island.
Towering forests, rocky , unique tidal lakes; it’s a region of immense beauty. And, because Canadians love the great outdoors as much as we do, there’s a 75-kilometre hiking trail that takes in all of the highlights. More than just an amazing trek, The West Coast Trail is a cultural immersion, as it closely follows the historic routes of the region’s Ditidaht First Nation.
Taking five to seven days to complete, it’s a challenging adventure that requires careful planning and preparation. The payoff, however, is some of the most jaw-dropping scenery this part of Canada has to offer.
#2 Kayaking On A Glacier
Every spring, British Columbia’s frozen alpine and glacial lakes begin to thaw along the shore, revealing blue melt water so vibrant it needs to be seen to be believed. Though just viewing this annual phenomenon is awe-inspiring enough, you can also take the experience to the next level (pun intended) by kayaking or paddleboarding through the twists and turns of these stunning waters with Compass Heli Tours in Abbotsford (near Vancouver).
The kayaking experience includes a 60-minute round trip helicopter flight from Abbotsford, four hours on location, a gourmet lunch, and, most importantly, photos to remember the once-in-a-lifetime trip. The vibrant blue water is usually available in late May, all of June, and sometimes early July.
#3 Diving In The Deep Blue
It may surprise you to learn that British Columbia actually offers some of the greatest cold-water diving opportunities in the world. In fact, French explorer and dive pioneer Jacques-Yves Cousteau himself once said that British Columbia has “the best temperate-water diving in the world, and second only to the Red Sea”.
Numerous dive operators across BC offer scuba safaris, with heaps of shore-access dive sites dotted along the coast around Victoria and the Sunshine Coast. Advanced divers can also traverse a circuit of amazing ship wrecks with the BC Wreck Trek Passport.
Sponges, soft corals, and ship wrecks are just the tip of the iceberg — British Columbia is a gold mine for divers.
#4 Zip-Lining Over The Whistler Backcountry
There are zip-lines, and then there’s Super Fly – an epic, 180-metre-high zip-line spanning more than a kilometre across the jaw-dropping Whistler backcountry. We know you’re probably thinking, “Most zip-lines are over before you know it”, but this one just keeps going and going, meaning there’s plenty of time to take in the impressive views as you zip across the treetops at speeds up to 100km per hour.
Plus, because there’s nothing better than sharing the fun with a friend, twin lines have been rigged up to offer a simultaneous rush!
#5 Whitewater Rafting In The Rockies
You only live once, so you may as well have a good time while you’re here by rafting in Yoho National Park. Renowned as the best whitewater rafting in the Rockies, Kicking Horse River boasts rapids suitable for everyone, from beginners through to advanced rafters.
If you have no fear and only the wildest, wettest and most exciting rapids will do, Wild Water Adventures offers a 24-kilometre Maximum Horsepower experience. With 14 rapids ranging from class II up to class IV, it’s guaranteed to push you to the limits.
#6 Cycling The Kettle Valley Railway Trail
Cycling is one of life’s greatest escapes. Scenery, freedom, and adventure; it can offer heart-pumping adrenaline one moment, and then stillness and contemplation the next.
In British Columbia, there’s a host of awe-inspiring cycling routes ready to be explored, but there’s one that absolutely needs to be on your hit list – the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, also known as the KVR Trail. While it’s not the most challenging cycling route, never exceeding a 2.2 per cent gradient, it’s one of the most beautifully diverse trails in all Canada.
Twisting and turning for almost 650km, the KVR Trail passes through lush vineyards and cool mountain forests, crosses trestle bridges that cling precariously to canyon walls, and even diverts through Canada’s only pocket desert. The 80-kilometre stretch from Myra Canyon to Penticton is the most popular and can be easily explored either self-guided or as part of a tour.
(All images: Destination Canada)
British Columbia is a destination of incredible natural beauty and diversity, and we’ve barely scratched the surface for the range of experiences and encounters on offer. If you’re considering a trip to this heart of the wild, don’t forget your sense of adventure!