As the sun begins to set earlier, Canadians everywhere are trading shorts and Birkenstocks for toques and thermals. Chilly breezes and falling leaves can only mean one thing: winter is coming.
While ski-bunnies and snowboarders rejoice, the rest of the population is likely shivering in fear of the slush and stress to come. But winter in the Kootenay Rockies, the Thompson Okanagan, the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast, and Northern BC is anything but slushy or stressful — in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee while looking out at a glassy lake, snowshoe through champagne snow-covered peaks, marvel at cascading waterfalls, or view the wilderness from the sky; with activities galore, who needs skis to enjoy the winter?
Here are 10 ways to explore the snowy season in BC, whether on foot, from a horse-drawn sleigh, or with a canoe paddle in hand.
1. Moonlight Snowshoe and S’mores at Sun Peaks
S’mores and snowshoeing? Say no more. Take a one-kilometre tour through forest trails that lead to a crackling fire, hot apple cider, and s’mores at Sun Peaks winter camp.
The walk back is equally picturesque as you overlook the village’s sparkling lights. These tours kick off on December 9th and run straight through to April.
2. Flightseeing Tours in Northern BC
See the wilderness from a bird’s-eye view. Coast over mountain peaks and glaciers — and maybe even see a moose or two! From such a height, you can even land on frozen lakes and get into a little ice fishing in true Canadian style.
3. Dogsledding at Revelstoke Mountain Resort
What’s more magical than Revelstoke, BC, you ask? Try experiencing this beautiful mountain destination by dogsled. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed ride or an adventurous romp, these trained teams of dogs are sure to be the best tour guides you’ve ever had. Be sure to bundle up in plenty of layers and bring a thermos of cocoa for the journey.
4. Soaking in the Liard River Hot Springs
Watch the steam rise off your body as you soak in the 107-125°F Alpha Pool at Liard River Hot Springs National Park. Open year-round, this natural cauldron of warm mineral water is located near the BC/Yukon border and is accessible via a boardwalk that takes you through a boreal forest rich with wildlife and unique plants.
5. Ice Climbing in Big White
Think you can make it all the way up a 60-foot ice tower? You’ll be supplied with all the tools you need and helped along the way by trained staff, just in case. Reward yourself with a Belgian waffle and a hot apple cider after all your hard work.
6. Wintertime Yoga Retreat in the Kootenays
Get your zen on before the chaos of the holiday season begins with a peaceful yoga retreat, sure to fuel your mind, body, and soul. Settle into your downward dog beneath snow-covered mountains and nourish your belly with nutritious, organic meals.
7. Winter Wine Tours in the Okanagan Valley
Who knew that winter would be the best time for wine? Avoid the crowds with off-season wine tours in the Okanagan Valley. Some of the wineries even get together and host more intimate seasonal events. Plan a trip and hit up some cozy tasting rooms with festive lights, a few friends, and all the wine to really get into the winter spirit.
8. Sleigh Rides on the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast
Retreat to the sprawling Spring Lake Ranch for a little R&R — ranching and relaxation, that is. Located near 100 Mile House and surrounded by 10,000 acres of forests and trails, Spring Lake offers something for everyone year-round. In winter, strap on a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes and explore the lake on foot. There’s even the opportunity to dash through the snow on a traditional one-horse open sleigh! Remember to dress warmly, and maybe bring a carrot or two along with you.
9. Museum Touring in Nelson
While you wait for your buddies to finish hitting the slopes, check out some of this mountain town’s local museums and galleries. Nelson has the Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History, which features a history museum exhibition, regional archives, two contemporary gallery spaces, and of course, a gift shop.
10. Cave Touring in the Selkirk Mountains
This activity is not for the faint of heart. Accessible by helicopter in and snowshoe out (or by an 18-kilometre snowshoe round-trip) are the Cody Caves, popular for their unique ice formations. Your legs may be tired, but fortunately the Halcyon and Naksup Hot Springs are an hour’s drive away so you can dip in once you return from your adventure.
The winter season also means holiday stress for many of us — making it the perfect time to schedule in a little relaxation. No matter your preferences, winter is the most magical time of the year. With activities like starlit snowshoeing, canoe paddling, and climbing up 60-ft ice towers, there are opportunities around every mountain pass. After all, you don’t need to be an adrenaline junkie or an Olympic skier to enjoy this stunning, snowy season.