British Columbia is one of the last places in the world where anyone can easily access rugged mountain wilderness, see large mammals like grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, and moose in their natural environment, and do it while camping and drinking crisp glacial water directly from pristine glacier-fed streams.
I have been really impressed by what Tourism Oregon has been doing with their 7 Wonders of Oregon website, so I wanted to write about what I think are the 7 natural wonders of my home, British Columbia.
Let me tell you, it was hard to keep the list down to just 7 places! So, here they are, with extra big pictures to more clearly communicate the awe and wonder these natural wonders inspire when experienced in person.
1. Mount Robson
The highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, Mount Robson can be seen from hundred of kilometres away. It rises a staggering 2 kilometres from the valley floor. Mount Robson's massive glaciers provide the headwaters for the Fraser River that flows nearly 1,375 kilometres from the Continental Divide on the BC/Alberta border to empty into the Pacific Ocean beside Vancouver.
2. Lake O'Hara
On the other side of the Continental Divide from world-renowned Lake Louise is Lake O'Hara, another one of the crown jewels of the Canadian Rockies. Lake O'Hara is a lot harder to access than the other picture-perfect glacial lakes in the Rocky Mountain National Park system, which means it isn't crowded and you can experience nature with peace and quiet.
3. Whistler Blackcomb
The largest ski resort in North America dwarfs its nearest competitors in sheer size, vertical drop and the epic backcountry for heliskiing and trekking. Whistler Blackcomb is a pilgrimage that every skier and snowboarder have to make at least once in their lifetime. If you can't make it there in the winter, then there is even more to do in the warm summer months (and you can still ski or ride on the Blackcomb Glacier).
4. The Carmanah Walbran Valley
The old-growth groves of the Carmanah Walbran valley remain some of most ancient trees in the world. Nearby, you will also find the Nitinat Lake Ecological Reserve, which is the perfect spot for camping and taking advantage of the consistent high winds for kiteboarding and windsurfing. You can also do a spectacular 2-3 day hike back to civilization from Nitinat on the West Coast Trail.
5. Haidi Gwaii
Haidi Gwaii is an archipelago of more than 150 islands on the Northern Coast of British Columbia that time has nearly forgotten. Approximately half of its population is of the indigenous Haida people and much of the old-growth forests, ancient totems, and over 500 archaeological sites are protected in Gwaii Haanas National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
6. Stanley Park
I like to think of Stanley Park as a national park in a city of 2.5 million people. Stanley Park, or the rainforest-covered peninsula the indigenous Coast Salish people call X̱wáýx̱way, has absolutely epic views of the towering North Shore Mountains from nearly every lookout and beach in the park.
7. Mount Assiniboine
Nicknamed the "Matterhorn of the Rockies" for its pyramid-like shape, Mount Assiniboine is an incredible sight. To reach the basecamp you must hike for 8 hours into the backcountry to camp or stay at the Assiniboine Lodge. The enchanted valley below offers sweeping vistas of Mount Assiniboine and the surrounding wildflower meadows and glacial lakes.
These natural wonders of BC are just based on my experiences road tripping and trekking across this spectacular province. Here are a few more of the natural wonders of British Columbia that I would love to see one day:
1. The Sacred Headwaters
2. Della Falls
3. The Stikine Canyon
4. West Coast Trail
5. Jumbo Glacier
6. Mount Waddington
7. Valley of a Thousand Falls