Summer is one of the best times of year (if not the best) to get outdoors and explore BC’s beautiful provincial parks. And fortunately, BC Parks is having an official Parks Day this month to highlight all of the breathtaking natural features you can check out.
Parks Day will be celebrated on the third Saturday of July (July 15th) to showcase BC’s natural beauty, plethora of outdoor recreation activities, and conservation values. Whether it’s a rigorous hike, a picnic at the beach, or an evening of stargazing, visitors are encouraged to check out their favourite park or pick a new one to explore.
A classic lake day destination near Squamish, Alice Lake is bus-able from Vancouver, making it a great spot for last-minute plans. The picturesque lake is surrounded by towering trees, offering beachgoers plenty of shade for when they’ve had enough of the direct sun. Explore the hiking trails, swim in the refreshing waters, or simply enjoy a peaceful lakeside picnic.
Spanning 62,539 hectares, Golden Ears 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! Campers can enjoy over 400 front and backcountry campsites at Alouette Lake, Gold Creek, and North Beach.
Likewise, hikers can take in panoramic views of the valleys and alpine meadows, as well as the iconic peaks that give the park its name.
Cultus Lake Park offers one of the most accessible lake days near Vancouver, just an hour and a half’s drive from the city. With crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, and almost 300 front-country campsites to choose from, the only hard time you’ll have is choosing where to prioritize.
Where: Chilliwack, BC
Wells Gray Park has plenty of natural wonders for visitors to check out, from some of the most famous waterfalls in the province (including Helmcken and Dawson Falls) to a range of refreshing mineral pools, extinct volcanoes and lava beds, and glaciers. Those with a canoe can access the largest canoe-only lake in North America, or swim in two adjoining lakes – Clearwater and Azure Marine.
Where: Clearwater, 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
Fancy a cool dip in Wedgemount Lake after a rigorous hike through the mountains? Parkbus has you covered with a day pass to over 90 kilometres of established trails to explore. Garibaldi is famed around the world for its turquoise waters, towering glaciers, and lush forests. A must-visit park if there ever was one!
Where: 19 km south of Whistler
Another popular Parkbus destination, Joffre Lakes is known for its vibrant turquoise blue water, which makes for the perfect place to cool off with a dip after a hike to the lakes themselves. As with Garibaldi, a bus ticket gets you a free day pass, and passengers are picked up from downtown Vancouver at 1025 Dunsmuir Street.
Where: Pemberton, BC
Looking for an Island escape? With its expansive sandy shores, old-growth forests, and captivating tide pools, Rathtrevor Beach Park is the ultimate getaway from the city. Central location on the Island, picnicking areas, and over 250 campsites that are all within a five-minute walk to the beach. The perfect day trip destination, if you ask us!
Park visitors can also participate in the BC Parks iNaturalist project by snapping a pic of the interesting plants and wildlife they come across, thus documenting our parks’ biodiversity.
And for those interested in more interactive, educational programming (for adults and children), consider going on a guided nature walk at one of these parks through the Discover Parks Ambassador Program:
- Alice Lake
- Golden Ears
- Cultus Lake
- Lac Le Jeune
- Wasa Lake
- Wells Gray
- Rathtrevor Beach
So there you have it, BC! Time to get out there and explore.