If you’re like us (and most of Vancouver), you love any chance you can get to explore BC’s natural beauty. And if you’re keen on exploring our big, beautiful province one park at a time, consider this list a great place to start – because all of these parks are within three hours of Vancouver! From hidden coastal paradises to dense forests, to lesser-known spots, here are 10 beautiful BC parks to explore this summer.

Ruckle Park 

Situated on the scenic and 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.

The park also has 10 reservable front-country sites, three group sites, and 8 RV-accessible sites.

Salt Spring Island is accessible by a quick flight from Coal Harbour or Richmond via Harbour Air or Seair Seaplanes. Alternatively, you can hop on a ferry to Long Harbour from the Tsawwassen terminal. And if you’re looking for other parks to explore in the area, check out Mount Erksine, Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park, and Mount Maxwell.

Where: Salt Spring Island, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 35-minute flight or 2 hours and 55 minutes by ferry

E.C. Manning Provincial Park 

bc parks near vancouver
Photo via BC Parks

If you’re looking for a beautiful park that has accessibility features, then a trip to E.C. Manning is well worth the trip. Among plenty of picnic tables, slip-resistant trails, and over 800 campsites (450 vehicle-accessible) to choose from, you’ll have no problem carving out your own corner of the park to enjoy for the day or weekend. There are even cabins available for rent at the Manning Park Resort, if you’re more of a glamping person!

Where: 26 km east of Hope, BC
Distance from Vancouver: Two hours and 49 minutes by car

Duffey Lake Park 

Photo via BC Parks

Another lesser-known but worthwhile park to visit is Duffey Lake Park between Pemberton and Lillooet. Established in 1993, the park is centred around the scenic turquoise Duffey Lake, surrounded by the towering Mount Rohr. The park is known for its excellent canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife-viewing options.

While there are no marked trails at this park, backcountry hiking is permitted – just be sure to exercise caution and leave no trace behind!

Where: Duffey Lake Road, BC
Distance from Vancouver: Three hours by car

Callaghan Lake Provincial Park 

Photo via BC Parks

Callaghan Lake is an underrated destination, filled with plenty of year-round activities to enjoy – from canoeing, fishing, and drive-in camping to Nordic skiing and Alpine ski tours in the wintertime.

Note that there are no garbage facilities here, so you’ll need to pack only what you intend to use for the day. Camping is only permitted in the small drive-in campground at the lake.

Where: Callaghan Valley, BC
Distance from Vancouver: 20 km south of Whistler, BC

Golden Ears

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!

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.

Where: Maple Ridge, BC
Distance from Vancouver: One hour and 30 minutes by car or Parkbus

Garibaldi Park

Another spot that likely needs no introduction is the famous Garibaldi Park, which boasts two turquoise lakes that are as challenging to get to as they are picture-worthy. But Wedgemount and Garibaldi Lakes are well worth the hike, and make for the most incredible bucket list story. Even better? Parkbus has you covered with a direct bus route from downtown Vancouver to the postcard-worthy destination, and each ticket comes with a day pass to over 90 kilometres of established hiking trails!

Where: Near Whistler, BC
Distance from Vancouver: One hour and 24 minutes by car or Parkbus

Goldstream Park

Goldstream Park is just over 3 hours from Vancouver by car and ferry – so we’re counting it! The journey is well-worth it, as visitors are greeted by 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.

Located just 16 km from downtown Victoria, this park is a fantastic add-on if you’re visiting anywhere in the southern part of the Island.

Where: 16 km northwest of Victoria
Distance from Vancouver: Three hours and 15 minutes by car and ferry

Bridal Veil Falls Park

Waterfall lovers, this one’s for you. The Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park is located just east of Chilliwack and includes a spectacular 60-metre-high waterfall. The best part? This gorgeous view is only a 15-minute walk away!

Once you’ve enjoyed the falls, you can check out the 32-acre Minter Gardens. Get some quality bird-watching in, or make use of the Bridal Falls Waterpark if you need a little cool-down. Since Chilliwack is just a hop skip and jump away, you might as well venture off into the Cheam Lake area!

Where: Bridal Falls, BC
Distance from Vancouver: One hour and a half by car

Brandywine Falls Park 

bc parks near vancouver
Photo via BC Parks

Another waterfall pick coming your way – the beautiful Brandywine Falls is situated at – you guessed it – Brandywine Falls Park, and it’s a short hike (10 to 20 minutes one-way) to the falls.

The park also offers visitors the chance to see the beautiful crystal-clear Daisy Lake, dip into two other smaller ponds, and take in the views of the surrounding mountains and Black Tusk. So pack your picnic gear and get ready to enjoy a scenic walk and destination – all without breaking too much of a sweat.

Where: Whistler, BC
Distance from Vancouver: One hour and a half by car

Joffre Lakes Park


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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. Better yet, it’s also a Parkbus destination, which means you don’t have to have a car to visit one of the most breathtaking parks in BC.

Where: Off of Highway 99 east of Pemberton
Distance from Vancouver: Two hours and 40 minutes by car

So there you have it, Vancouver. If you’re in need of some last-minute day trip ideas and are ready to hit the road for a bit, the views and outdoor activities will be well worth it here.