Off-the-Beaten-Track Adventures in British Columbia

No other place can compete against wilderness adventures in British Columbia. Whether you're looking for the most wicked landscapes to climb, show-shoe traverses, or landscapes to admire, BC has you covered.


Photo © iStock/stockstudioX

Endless opportunities exist for adventurous travelers to get lost in British Columbia. Our local adventurer, Nomad Jase gives us his top picks to help inspire your next trip:

Water Adventures in British Columbia

Go rafting on the Elaho River in Squamish/Whistler, the Kicking Horse River near Golden, the Thompson River in Lytton, and the Clearwater River in Wells Grey Provincial Park.

These are all guided day-trips, however it’s also possible to do multi-day camping/rafting trips – search around to find the right tour operator for you.

You can surf in Tofino, canoe the legendary Bowron Lake circuit, learn how to kite surf in Squamish, sea kayak out to Gabriola Island, or go scuba diving on the Sunshine Coast in Powell River – one of the world’s best cold-water diving destinations!

Sunset surf at Tofino. Photo credit: iStock

Finding Off-the-beaten-track Hiking Trails in British Columbia

Looking for quieter trails? Hiking both Lake Lovely Water or Echo Lake near Squamish will require river crossings, and are quite strenuous. It’s a good idea to do these as overnight trips, which means you’ll need to pack all the right gear.

The hike up to Panorama Ridge will take 11 hours, as will the scramble up to Black Tusk. Both of these difficult hikes will reward you with unreal views of Garibaldi Lake below. There are designated camping areas available along the trail for overnight stays.

In Bugaboo Provincial Park, take the drive up the logging roads to where the tradition of Heli Skiing began in Canada! Hike to Applebee Camp and view the towering rock spires launching out of the glaciers.

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Road-tripping Around British Columbia

If you really want to see the best of British Columbia, start by renting a truck to drive yourself around. Check out Tumbler Ridge, where you should go hiking in Monkman Park or take a jet boat up to Kinuseo Falls, then continue onto the Alaska Highway.

Driving along the Stewart Cassiar highway is adventurous and remote, but there are a few awesome places to pop in along the way: Check out Hell’s Gate on the Fraser river, where an impressive canyon has been carved by the ferocious water.

Take a BC Ferry from Port Hardy to Bella Coola and step into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest – don’t forget to stop in at Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, close to the community of Bella Coola!

It's possible to do a ‘Grizzly Safari’ near Bella Coola, or head up towards Valemont to see Mt. Robson – the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Or, go mountain biking in the Elk Valley near Fernie, explore the Chilcotin by horseback, or go fly fishing on the Skeena River.

Climbing and Mountaineering in British Columbia

If those hikes weren’t enough for you, and you’re still itching to explore your boundaries, here are a few more extreme ideas. It’s important to note for these routes that unless you are a climber, you will need a guide, and be sure yours is licensed by the ACMG.

Scramble up the North-East Ridge of Mt. Sir Donald – one of the 50 most classic climbs in North America. Climb up the West Ridge of Pidgeon Spire in the Bugaboo’s, for mind-blowing views. Or head to the summit of Mt. Assiniboine, Canada’s Matterhorn, with a certified guide.

World Nomads Travel Insurance doesn’t cover this activity, but don’t let that stop you – just be aware of the risks that come with climbing mountains.

Climbing in Bugaboo Provincial Park. Photo credit: iStock

Make the Most of Winter Activities in BC

Looking for other winter adventures aside from the obvious choice of skiing or snowboarding? You can do snowmobile tours in Revelstoke, Golden, Whistler, or Fernie.

Plus, there are many great snowshoe trips in Garibaldi Park, go to the Elfin Lake Hut, do the Garibaldi Neve Traverse, or the Howe Sound Crest Trail in late spring.

Snowshoeing in Garibaldi Park. Photo credit: iStock

Kootenay National Park

Check out Marble Canyon, or do a multi-day hike to catch views of Mt. Assiniboine from the incredible Sunburst Lake. Kootenay National Park is undoubtedly one of Canada’s most scenic parks, so be sure to stop by for a few days.

Yoho National Park

This park is home to some of Canada’s most dramatic scenery. You can canoe on Emerald Lake, check out Wapta Falls and Takakkaw Falls, or hike to the Yukness Ledges trail for views of Lake O’Hara.

Takakkaw Falls at sunset. Photo credit: iStock
Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.

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