Last updated: 04:23 PM ET, Fri March 17 2023
Aerial View of Kelowna, British Columbia, just after sunset on Knox Mountain, Canada. (Photo via ronniechua / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

British Columbia

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The provincial motto of British Columbia (BC), “Splendor without Diminishment,” is more than just a virtuous environmental concept. Containing more than 1,000 provincial parks and protected areas, as well as seven Canadian National Parks, British Columbia is more than 14 percent protected land (a whopping 33 million acres) -- splendid indeed. While those numbers are commendable, the nature of that protected land is the marvel that draws millions of visitors to the province every year. The landscape practically dares eco-tourists and outdoor travelers to be unimpressed. Sportsmen and women of all mountain disciplines, winter and summer, will find exemplary, challenging terrain to tackle. The landscape and lush outdoor beauty of the providence are its primary draws. However, even the most urbane traveler will find a destination in British Columbia’s Vancouver -- or Hollywood North as it is sometimes known.

With the third-largest film industry in North America (outmatched only by Los Angeles and New York) cosmopolitan Vancouver has become a trendy tourist destination and weekend getaway for Americans from the Pacific Northwest. Vancouver is also a great place to rest up before exploring the great BC beyond.

The Coast Mountains and the Western Ranges of the Canadian Rockies are home to some of the world’s greatest ski resorts. The incomparable Whistler Blackcomb is a quick drive from Vancouver (and not an extensive trek from Seattle) while “boutique” mountains like Panorama and Kicking Horse on the eastern edge of British Columbia provide fantastic terrain and are en route to the destination mountain town Banff, just over the border in Alberta. The western edge of BC is made up largely of islands and inlets know as the Inside Passage. While some of the passage is big water traveled by barges and tankers, cruise boats often navigate the channels on their way to Alaska. The Inside Passage is also great water for canoeing and flat-water kayaking. There is too much good fishing and hiking to try and cover here, but rest assured fishers, hikers, mountaineers and rock climbers, British Columbia will not disappoint.

British Columbia can be an intimidating destination for more relaxed travelers, but not every venture into the BC landscape need be an adventure. The Okanagan wine region is a nice alternative to more popular wineries and it's a more affordable option with a few gem wineries to stumble upon -- where bed and breakfasts provide a calming atmosphere.  Relaxed is also the pace in Victoria, British Columbia’s provincial capital and “city of gardens.”

Getting into British Columbia by plane is not difficult. Vancouver’s international airport is large and sees high volume traffic daily, so finding flights is rarely a challenge. To get north, a car will probably be necessary. Though the roads have noticeably improved in the past few decades, much of British Columbia north of Vancouver is accessible only by small provincial highways and local roads. The roads require careful navigation, but the rewards to be discovered in British Columbia are well worth the effort.

In southern parts of the province like Victoria and Vancouver, temperatures can be moderate year round -- colder and wetter in the winter, but comfortable and dry during the summers. Farther north, BC’s climate is extreme, as summers are dry and warm during the days, though rarely hot, and winters are severe.