You don’t need to wait until summer to get outside and tackle your outdoor adventure bucket list. The spring shoulder season, which welcomes far less tourists than the peak summer period, offers a much-appreciated calm and quiet.
Whether it’s jagged mountain vistas or rich green rainforests, Vancouverites know that when it comes to diverse geography, British Columbia can’t be beat. If you’re seeking new and adrenaline-pumping ways to take in all that this remarkable province has to offer, here are eight adventures in the Kootenay Rockies, Thompson Okanagan, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, and Northern B.C. regions to add to your list.
Explore the Cody Caves
If you’ve ever had the desire to go spelunking, the Kootenay Rockies region offers a unique opportunity. The Cody Caves, an intricate network of caves in the Selkirk Mountains shaped by glacier-fed waters, are open for tours year-round. Whether you choose an easy afternoon excursion or a 12-hour adventure complete with a helicopter ride, you can rest your weary bones at the end with a dip in the nearby Ainsworth Hot Springs.
Hike around Emerald Lake
The clear green waters of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park are a sight to behold. Nestled among the Rocky Mountains, right along the B.C.-Alberta border, this iconic park can be explored on snowshoes in the winter or on foot in the summer. An easy trip year-round is Emerald Lake and Wapta Falls; the gorgeous Natural Bridge, a rock formation that stretches across the Kicking Horse River west of Field, B.C., is just a short stroll from the parking area.
Wildlife spotting in Kootenay National Park
Kootenay National Park hugs the base of the Rockies and boasts an incredibly diverse geography. Its mix of wetland, valley, and canyon make it the perfect home for bighorn sheep—so it’s no wonder that a herd of approximately 140 of these noble creatures can be spotted roaming throughout Radium Hot Springs, located on the edge of the park. Visit in the spring to spot adult sheep trotting freely past the local visitor center, or in the summer months to catch a glimpse of their adorable lambs. Other local residents include deer, elk, bald eagles, grouse, wild turkeys, and at higher elevations, mountain goats.
Travel back in time in Barkerville
Time stands still in the historic gold rush town of Barkerville, which is made up of over 125 heritage buildings, period displays, satellite museums, restaurants, and shops. Named for William “Billy” Barker— whose legendary gold strike on Williams Creek launched a multi-billion-dollar revolution that made B.C. what it is today—this extraordinary town is brought to life in the spring and winter months with outdoor activities such as tubing, skating, and snowshoeing.
Experience the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in Kelowna
Originally built in 1915, the Kettle Valley Rail Trail spans 650 kilometres of decommissioned tracks that have been converted into hiking, bike, and snowshoe trails. One of the best places to access the trail is Myra Canyon, just outside Kelowna. With 18 trestle bridges and two tunnels, it’s easily one of the best stretches of the trail for sightseeing. Choose your transportation method of choice (weather permitting, of course) and explore this gorgeous piece of history.
Saddle up in Kamloops
Rain, snow or shine, the Thompson Okanagan is one of the best places to take part in some good old-fashioned cowboy fun. Campbell Hills Guest Ranch provides the horses, the tack, and the accommodations, so all you need to do is kick back and take in the scenery. Plus, if you’ve gotten your fill of horseback riding, the ranch also offers activities like archery, hiking, and mountain biking.
Hunt for dinosaur bones in Tumbler Ridge
The dino tracks and trackways, combined with the various bones and fossils excavated over the years, have made Tumbler Ridge the site of B.C.’s only dinosaur museum. There are plenty more natural gems to discover in Tumbler Ridge, though, including several impressive hiking trails and the Murray River, which has falls even higher than Niagara.
Soak in Liard River Hot Springs
Seeking an adventure with a big reward at the end? Look no further than Liard River Hot Springs, which is accessed by walking (or biking) down a boardwalk that winds through a stretch of swampland and boreal forest. Open year-round, these rustic hot springs offer an opportunity to take in unique flora and fauna and soak in natural mineral water reaching temperatures of up to 52°C.
No matter what outdoor activity you’re planning, be prepared for possibly hazardous winter conditions. AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed about natural phenomena like avalanches before heading outdoors. Follow the three Ts — trip planning, training, and taking the essentials — to keep you and your family safe and happy this season.
Take advantage of shoulder season to seek out a cool new experience—and recharge your batteries while you’re at it.More