While long summer days are now behind us, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still go on some beautiful road trips this season. After all, BC is home to over 600 provincial parks (and 10,700 vehicle-accessible campsites), and many of them offer visitors the chance to witness some breathtaking fall colours and landscapes. So whether you’re planning your next day trip or looking for a picturesque spot to pitch your tent this upcoming season, here are 10 provincial parks to explore in BC this fall.
First off, we’ll start with Wells Gray Park, which is undoubtedly gorgeous year-round – but offers visitors an array of dazzling colours surrounding its famous waterfalls (including Helmcken and Dawson Falls). Couple that with the park’s fascinating mineral pools, extinct volcanoes, and two adjoining lakes, and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect fall road trip.
Where: Clearwater, BC
Spanning a total of 250,000 hectares, Strathcona Park offers nature enthusiasts and adventurers plenty of rugged mountains, ancient forests, alpine meadows, and crystal-clear lakes to explore. Hikers can backpack through an extensive network of trails along riverside paths, or challenge themselves at summit ascents, like Golden Hinde. The latter offers the most daring explorers stunning panoramic views from its summit.
Where: Westmin Road, Comox-Strathcona D, BC
Goldstream Park boasts majestic 600-year-old trees, powerful waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers, and a river that meets the sea – and that’s just for starters. Hikers can explore an extensive network of trails that cater to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts, from wheelchair-accessible hikes to more challenging adventures along creeks and up past abandoned gold-digging sites.
Where: 16 km northwest of Victoria
Now, for a classic pick. You might not be taking a dip into Wedgemount Lake after your hike in the fall, but you will definitely be surrounded by stunning fall foliage on your journey – which encompasses 90 km of established hiking trails.
Where: 19 km south of Whistler
As the first Tribal Park in BC, Big Tree Trail holds special significance in our province. The trail was originally created by Tofino artist Adrian Dorst and his friends back in 1984 in an effort to prevent Meares Island from being logged.
Now, the trail is under the stewardship of the Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks Guardians, who have ensured that the island’s ancient red-cedar forests remain protected. Along the 3 km trail, hikers will find towering red cedars dating back 1,500 years, as well as the famed Hanging Garden Tree, which measures over 18 metres in circumference.
Where: Meares Island
Spanning 62,539 hectares, Golden Ears is a wildly popular choice for day trippers heading from Vancouver, and for good reason. The park offers visitors a diverse range of outdoor activities and wildlife to observe. And its proximity to the city certainly doesn’t hurt when it comes to making last-minute plans!
Where: Maple Ridge
Take a quick walk out past Whistler to see one of the most interesting falls in the area. Nairn Falls are around 60 meters tall and feature two amazing falls. The cool part about these falls is there is no visible connection between the second and third falls. Why? Well, because later in the season the water travels underneath a natural rock wall!
Where: Nairn Falls Provincial Park, Whistler
Situated on the charming Salt Spring Island, Ruckle Park is one of the most scenic parks in the southern Gulf Islands area – if not the most. With seven kilometres of shoreline and hidden coves and bays to explore, you’ll definitely keep yourself busy with a stay here. Plus, with 78 walk-in campsites, you won’t have to make a reservation to enjoy the rich, vibrant tide pools.
Where: Salt Spring Island
And we’re capping off this list with another classic pick – Joffre Lakes. The stunning provincial park is home to some of the most beautiful mountain vistas and crystal blue lakes in the country, and it’s well within a day trip’s distance to Vancouver. Combine that with the beautiful reds, golds, and oranges of fall, and you’ve got one heck of a picture.
Where: Off of Highway 99 east of Pemberton
And that’s a wrap on some beautiful BC parks to explore this fall. Happy adventuring!
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