Posts Tagged ‘Strathcona Park’

#Explore Vancouver Island

Saturday, September 16th, 2017

Relax and take your time when exploring Vancouver Island!  This westernmost part of Canada and the largest island on the west coast of North America, is all about its laid back life style, small communities, artisans, vineyards, wildlife and outdoor pursuits.

Great ocean view of the Sansum Narrows while hiking on Vancouver Island

Southern Vancouver Island south of the town of Ladysmith is located below the 49th parallel, has a temperate to warm climate and is home to one of BC’s newer wine regions.  Not only is the south island home to wineries, but distilleries and many craft breweries have flourished here as well.  The main wine region in the Cowichan Valley, between Victoria and Nanaimo, as well as the Saanich Peninsula and expanding up Island to the Comox Valley have all seen a growth in the wine industry, with small family owned wineries producing award-winning wines.  Specialty food producers and organic farms have embellished the Island’s “foodie” reputation, showcased by festivals such as the Savour Cowichan Festival running from September 29 – October 8, 2017.

As surrounded by the ocean as it is, Vancouver Island is of course a water sports paradise.  Both Campbell River and Port Alberni call themselves “the salmon capital of the world”, attracting avid fishing enthusiasts.  Boating and kayaking opportunities are everywhere and the island’s west coast, especially between Ucluelet and Tofino offers fantastic surfing, while the Cowichan region’s Nitinaht Lake is a unique spot for great wind surfing.

Old growth tree in Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island

Also taking to the waters around the island are numerous whale watching boats.  In spring and fall the grey whale migration from Mexico to Alaska, and back, passes along the west coast, offering wonderful opportunities to see these giant creatures.  During summer and early fall, orcas, both resident pods and transient pods are frequent visitors to Island waters.  In recent years, humpback whales have been increasingly visiting these waters as well.  Aside from whales, you can find seals, sea lions, otters, porpoises, bald eagles and a wide variety of birds on your whale watching trip as well.  Wildlife on land that you may run into include deer, elk, black bear, wolf and cougar.  In fact, the cougar population on Vancouver Island is the highest per capita population in the world.

The island offers fantastic hiking trails at all difficulty levels.  The most famous of these trails is the West Coast Trail, a multi-day wilderness trail on the west coast that is a challenge for even experienced hikers.  Generally taking from 5-7 days, reservations must be made to hike this trail.  Recently a third entrance to the West Coast Trail at Nitinath Lake has opened, allowing for a 2-3 day hike.  On the northern tip of the Island Cape Scott Provincial Park also offers a challenging hike, not to forget Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest provincial park, located mid-Island. Many, many more great trails surrounded by forests and some of the largest trees in the world, or offering spectacular ocean views are found all over the island.  Visit the Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew on the Island’s south west coast to see the largest fir tree in the world and Canada’s “gnarliest tree” and don’t miss Cathedral Grove on the way to Port Alberni for a pocket of old growth forest.

Along the Nanaimo Harbor Walk on Vancouver Island

No visit to the Island is complete without at least a day in Victoria, BC’s capital city on the southern tip of the Island.  Famous Butchart Gardens and the Royal BC Museum are must sees, but wander around the inner harbor and the waterfront to experience the “flavor” that makes Victoria such a great destination.  The Island’s second largest city Nanaimo also offers a wonderful harbor walk with never ending views and funky little eateries on the docks.

Wherever you go, your Vancouver Island B&B hosts are a great resource to point out all the interesting places in their area, so you can fully enjoy a little Island time!

BC Parks celebrates 100 years

Monday, May 30th, 2011

On March 1 of this year, BC Parks celebrated its 100th birthday.  The first provincial park created in British Columbia was Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island back in 1911, and since then BC Parks has grown to be one of the largest park systems in the world.  Throughout 2011, events, contests and celebrations will honor this milestone in our provincial history.

Spectacular Helmcken Falls

Strathcona Park on central Vancouver Island is more than 250,00 hectares of rugged wilderness dominated by mountain peaks, some of which are snow covered year round.  The landscape is laced with rivers, creeks and streams.  Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau offer visitor-oriented developments.  Hiking, backpacking and trout fishing are enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts.  Della Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada, is located in the southern part of the park and the Golden Hinde, the highest point on Vancouver Island, sits almost in the center of the park, west of Buttle Lake.  Three roadless tracts, including the Comox Glacier, are dedicated preservation areas.  Both our Campbell River Bed & Breakfast Susie’s on the Shore, and  Miracle Beach Bed & Breakfast as well as our Courtenay Bed & Breakfasts are great starting points for exploring the natural wonders of Strathcona Park.

On Salt Spring Island you will find several provincial parks but one of the most beautiful is Ruckle Park.  It has 7 km of shoreline and a mixture of forest, field and shore habitats.  From the rocky cliffs watch BC Ferries exit Active Pass, watch for orcas and sea lions, mink and river otters and tidepools rich in colorful creatures.  Divers visit Ruckle Park as well and enjoy marine life in its underwater caves or on the ocean floor.  Henry Ruckle first homesteaded in the area in 1872, and his descendants still raise sheep at the entrance to the park.   Anchor Point Bed & Breakfast Suite, Anne’s Oceanfront Hideaway and Quarrystone House Bed & Breakfast are close to all the attractions on Salt Spring Island, including Ruckle Park.

Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park is situated in the northern Okanagan region, north of the Shuswap.  1076 hectares large, with 11 km along the Adams River, the park offers hiking and mountain biking in summer and cross-country skiing and snow shoeing in winter, but is most well known for its spectacular sockeye salmon run in early October.  One of the largest salmon runs in the world, every fourth year is a “dominant” year with millions of salmon making their way up stream.  2011 is a “sub-dominant” run, which, while not as big as the dominant run of 2010, is still of considerable size.  The Adams River squeezes through a narrow canyon to create spectacular rapids, much favored by river rafters and kayakers.  Your hosts at Mara Station Bed & Breakfast, A Rover’s Rest in Blind Bay and Artist’s House Heritage Bed & Breakfast in Sicamous will be able to give you all the inside information to get the most out of your visit to the Adams River area.

One of our Guild members is actually located right inside of one of BC’s largest parks, Wells Gray Provincial Park.  Blue Grouse Country Inn, a Clearwater Bed & Breakfast, is your ideal location for exploring the park. A little over an hour away is lakefront Sheridan Lake Bed & Breakfast, also a good starting point for a visit to Wells Gray Park.  There is excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities in the park, hiking for every level of ability, boating, canoeing and kayaking.  There are opportunities for guided horseback riding, river rafting, fishing and hiking, really something for every outdoor interest.  Helmcken Falls on the Murtle River, the fourth highest waterfall in Canada, was the original impetus for the creation of Wells Gray Provincial Park.  A short paved road from the main park road leads to a viewing platform on the rim of the canyon.

Where ever you go in British Columbia, you will find a provincial park not that far away. Near most BC Parks you will also find a British Columbia Bed & Breakfast as the perfect place to stay while exploring our spectacular natural environment.

Strathcona Park Wilderness Hiking

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Whether you are an experienced hiker or a novice beginner, you’ll find a wide variety of guided summer hikes through Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Park, to such pristine alpine destinations as Mt. Albert Edward, Croteau Lake and Lake Helen MacKenzie.  Guided hiking is available Saturdays, Sundays and holiday Mondays through September 12.  Some hikes will pay special attention to the plants and birds of Paradise Meadows, another to insects, and one to exploring lichens.  All programs are presented by the Strathcona Wilderness Institute and begin at its new Wilderness Centre adjacent to Mt. Washington’s Raven Lodge.  A complete list of programs is available at

Strathcona Park was BC’s very first provincial park, (more…)