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British Columbia

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Travel Guide North America Canada British Columbia

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Introduction

British Columbia

British Columbia

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British Columbia's motto, Splendor sine occasu ("Splendour without diminishment") says it all. The natural beauty of the Rockie Mountains, the rugged coast along the Pacific Ocean, the history of Victoria or the big city vibe of Vancouver make British Columbia a big draw for travellers.

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Geography

British Columbia is the western most province in Canada, bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west, Alberta on the east, by the American state of Alaska on its northwest, and to the north by the Yukon and the Northwest Territories, on and on the south by the US states of Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

British Columbia's coastline stretches for more than 27,000 kilometres, including deep, mountainous fjords and about 6,000 islands, most of which are uninhabited. The Coast Mountains and Canadian Rockies run the length of the province.
More than three quarters of the province is considered mountainous; the Rocky Mountains run its length, flanked by a series of companion ranges. These are the Columbia, Monashee, Cariboo, Selkirk, Purcell, Cassiar, Omineca and Skeena ranges

Vancouver Island, the largest island off the west coast of British Columbia encompasses 31,284 square kilometres (12,076 square miles of land, approximately 29 times the size of Hong Kong.

As well as being the home of British Columbia's capital city, Victoria, the island boasts has one of the world's most diverse ecosystems, consisting of rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes all of which provide homes for multitudes of wildlife species. Nestled between Georgia Strait and the mainland are the Gulf Islands of British Columbia. Each island has its own distinctive geography, ranging from pastorial, farmland and orchards, sandy beaches to rocky beaches and rugged cliffs.

British Columbia's large size and diverse geography means the climate can vary greatly from area to area. This creates wide variations in average hours of sunshine, rainfall, snowfall and temperatures, sometimes over very short distances. There is no "one size fits all" when discussing the geography and climate of British Columbia. British Columbia's geography ranges from temperate rain forest to the rugged and vast wilderness in northern areas of the province. From rain forest to lush agricultural areas, orchards, vineyards, grain fields, desert like areas of sand and rock formations with cacti and sagebrush, deep river valleys and tumbling waterfalls, towering mountains, glaciers, vast forests, rolling grasslands, and alpine tundra.

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Cities and Towns

  • Vancouver - largest city in British Columbia.
  • Victoria - capital of the province located at the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island.
  • Kamloops - tournament Capital of British Columbia located 4 hours from Vancouver, in the Thompson Valley of the Southern Interior.
  • Whistler - co-host of the 2010 Olympics, the ski resort of Whistler-Blackcomb is consistently ranked in the top 10 of ski-resorts world-wide, and the village of Whistler provides excellent apres-ski opportunities.
  • Kaslo - a small town located along the western shore of Kootenay Lake. The population is mostly comprised of tight knit locals and, in the summer, grudgingly necessary tourists. It is also near a few "off the grid" communities. They are definitely worth a visit, if you can convice someone to let you know where they are.
  • Prince George - a crossroads of Northern BC and home to the University of Northern British Columbia.
  • Prince Rupert -
  • Bella Coola - a remote community on the mid coast of British Columbia.
  • Fernie - a true ski town in the east Kootenays.
  • Revelstoke - a colourful mountain town in the interior of British Columbia. It is along the Trans-Canada Highway about halfway between Vancouver and Calgary. In the winter, it is ski town, in the summer a great jumping off point to the close by Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks.
  • Village of Queen Charlotte - A small town located on Haida Gwaii (Canada's most remote archipelago).
  • Kelowna - The largest town in the interior of BC, Kelowna is at the heart of the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan is famous for summer sports along the 135-kilometre long Okanagan Lake, and the wineries that fill the warm, dry valley.
  • Rossland - This home to the famous ski resort Red Mountain turns into a mountain biker's paradise during the summer. Rossland is home to the Seven Summits Trail - considered one of the best mountain biking trails in the world.
  • Ucluelet - A small town located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. A popular destination for whale watching.

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Sights

Rocky Mountaineer

The http://www.rockymountaineer.com|Rocky Mountaineer]] is two-day tour through the Canadian part of the Rocky Mountains. The train travels during the day, so you can enjoy the magnificent landscapes in the western part of this country, including canyons, rivers, valleys and glacial lakes. There are several trips possible, including the First Passage to the West route from Vancouver, British Columbia via Kamloops to Banff or Calgary in Alberta. Another one is the Journey through the Clouds route from Vancouver via Kamloops to Jasper, also in Alberta. The Rocky Mountaineer company also offers less popular but also spectacular trips to Whistler and Prince George, north of Vancouver, on the Rainforest to Gold Rush route (travelling via Prince George to Jasper) and Whistler Sea to Sky Climb, the latter being a daytrip from Vancouver.

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Activities

Fishing

Looking for a Summer Run Steelhead

Looking for a Summer Run Steelhead

© All Rights Reserved whiterock

British Columbia offers some of the best fishing opportunities in the world for all ages and styles. From the renowned salmon runs of the Fraser River to the superb still water lake fisheries of the British Columbian interior, spectacular Alpine lakes, and the saltwater fishery of the Pacific Coast, the diversity and breathtaking scenery will satisfy the most seasoned angler as well as the first time fisherman/woman.

BC Fishing Resources:

Mountain Biking

It should be no surprise that British Columbians take advantage of the rocky terrain by building mountain bike trails. Major areas for mountain biking include the north shore of Vancouver, Whistler and Revelstoke. One of the world's best mountain bike trails, the Seven Summits Trail, lies just outside the mountain biking paradise of Rossland.

Skiing

Everyone knows about Whistler, but British Columbia is full of great ski areas. Big White, outside Kelowna and Sun Peaks, outside Kamloops are two up and coming mountains. The Kootenays region of British Columbia is also full of small ski towns, most notably Rossland - home of Olympic and World Champion skier Nancy Greene - and Fernie

Kayaking

With over 230,000 kilometres of coastline, it should come as no surprise that water sports are a popular activity in British Columbia. From multi-day sea kayak expeditions around the Haida Gwaii to an afternoon paddle around Deep Cove in North Vancouver to a day tour around Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, opportunities to explore the British Columbia coast from the water abound. Small, quiet and manouverable, kayaks are the perfect vehicle for close encounters with the abundant marine wildlife this province has to offer.

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Weather

Parts of British Columbia have a climate which is more comparable to the UK than to Canada. This is especially true for the southwestern parts where Vancouver is located. Summers here are pleasantly warm, between 20 °C and 23 °C while even winters on average are above zero with occasionally colder nights of around -10 °C. More to the north and especially inland though, winters can be much colder (down to -50 °C has been recorded) and there is often heavy snow in the mountains. The coastline is one of the wetter areas in Canada, with heavy showers year round. Though on the opposite side, some valleys can have very little precipitation througout the year, less than 400 mm in some cases.

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Getting There

By Plane

Vancouver International Airport (international airport code: YVR) is in Richmond, British Columbia, approximately 15 kilometres from downtown Vancouver. The airport has service from a number of international airlines, and an extensive network of flights to Asia and the Pacific.

By Train

Domestic
The Canadian operates by ViaRail travels between Vancouver and Toronto. The Skeena travels from Jasper, Alberta to Prince Rupert along the Pacific Coast of British Columbia.
International
The Amtrak Cascades travels between Vancouver and Seattle, Portland and Eugene in the United States.

By Car

There are numerous boarder crossing from the United States into British Columbia. If coming from Alberta, there are also several entrances. However, since they all come in through the mountains, during the winter any one of the them (or, on occasion, all of them) can be closed. Check out Drive BC for road reports.

By Bus

Check Greyhound for details about services throughout Canada.

By Boat

There are several options of getting to British Columbia from both Alaska and Washington State in the United States:

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Getting Around

By Plane

Most towns of any size are served by an airport. However, flying into smaller towns can be very expensive, as they are normally only serviced by Air Canada - and the lack of competition hurts the prices.

Vancouver, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, Comox and Victoria are all serviced by WestJet as well. The competition flying into these cities is much greater than those that only Air Canada flies to, so you can get much better prices. Prices and frequency between the two major airlines into these cities is similar, so compare if you want the best price.

By Train

The Skeena operates between a number of places in British Columbia before ending in Prince Rupert. The Canadian stops in a few places as well. The Malahat travels across Vancouver Island.

By Car

Some of the options to rent a car include the following companies:

Highways cover British Columbia, so getting around by car is easy. The major routes are Highway #1 (Trans Canada) and #5 running east to west and highway #97 running north/south. During the winter, the highways can be treacherous, due to heavy snowfall. If it is raining in Vancouver, it is snowing in the mountains, and generally unsafe to travel, unless you have winter driving experience. Check out Drive BC for road reports.

By Bus

Greyhound and Pacific Coach Canada offer bus travel in British Columbia.

By Boat

Check Ferries British Columbia for routes, schedules and prices.

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Sleep

Sleeping options in British Columbia range from simple but beautifully located campgrounds and basic hostels to top end 5-star places with personal attention and details, and everything in between of course. For those travelling on a midrange budget, the options are endless as well, and you can choose between simple but decent rooms in chain motels to smallscale bed and breakfasts, which generally offer extremely good value and you can start your day with a great breakfast of course.

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Contributors

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This is version 43. Last edited at 13:57 on Nov 27, 12 by Utrecht. 57 articles link to this page.

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