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posted on October 22, 2021

If you want to totally immerse yourself in the natural beauty that Canada is famous for, British Columbia is the place to be. Whether you’re local to the province or planning a trip out west, visiting British Columbia national parks and provincial parks is an eye-opening adventure that reveals the vast beauty this country is known for, and is bound to tick a few world-class sights off your bucket list.

From magnificent mountain ranges and crystal clear lakes to the rugged coastline of the Pacific, the best national parks in BC boast scenery that rivals the better-known tourist hotspots of Jasper and Banff, minus the crowds. Many BC parks are open year-round and offer outstanding destinations for camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, and more. 

Whether you’re starting from Vancouver, Victoria or elsewhere, here’s a breakdown of our favourite BC parks to inspire your next adventure:

Whether you’re seeking world-class skiing opportunities or postcard-perfect views of the Rocky Mountains, you won’t be disappointed by British Columbia’s national and provincial parks. Taking off to explore some of the best places to visit in BC is simply a matter of jumping behind the wheel. 

Best provincial parks in British Columbia

Mount Robson Provincial Park

Easily accessible as a day trip from Jasper, Mount Robson is the second-oldest provincial park in BC and is home to the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Prepare to be awed by the raw beauty of nature and unparalleled mountain panoramas that attract hikers, photographers, and casual visitors alike. If you’re looking for things to do in BC, outdoor activities at this park include horseback riding, caving, canoeing, and climbing, all set against the scenic backdrop of the magnificent snow-capped peaks.

Distance from Vancouver: 7 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Victoria: 10 hours

Entrance fee: Free for day use

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas within Mount Robson Provincial Park. Valemount is the nearest town for shops, restaurants, and local accommodation. Frontcountry and backcountry camping is available. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Wells Gray Provincial Park

Roaring rivers and torrential waterfalls dominate this provincial park, truly showcasing the power of nature. Shaped by ancient glaciers and volcanoes, Wells Gray is best known for its 41 waterfalls, with its deep forests and soaring peaks providing the perfect escape from the noise and distractions of daily life. Visit the mighty Helmcken Falls or embark on a rafting excursion on the Clearwater River to experience the thrills of this natural wonderland firsthand. Prefer to stay behind the wheel? The Wells Gray Corridor is a sublime scenic drive that captures the beauty of this impressive provincial park.

Distance from Vancouver: 5 hours 20 minutes

Distance from Victoria: 7 hours 40 minutes

Entrance fee: Free for day use

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas within Wells Gray Provincial Park. Visitors can access food, shopping, and the park’s visitor centre in the nearby town of Clearwater. Frontcountry and backcountry camping is available. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Joffre Lakes Provincial Park

Head to this park for some of the most Instagram-worthy and best hiking in BC. Visitors flock to the Joffre Lakes Trail for a challenging climb that promises spectacular views of jagged mountain peaks, sprawling icefields, and the three glacier-fed lakes that give it its name — each a more vibrant turquoise than the last. The park also offers opportunities for camping, mountaineering, fishing, and observing the region’s wildlife.

Distance from Vancouver: 2 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Victoria: approx. 6 hours

Entrance fee: Free for day use

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas within Joffre Lakes Provincial Park. Visitors can access food, shopping, and other amenities in the nearby town of Pemberton. Backcountry camping is available from June to November. Domestic animals are not allowed in the park.

Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park

Located in the remote northern regions and away from the packed tourist attractions of BC, this provincial park is a popular stop that tempts weary road-trippers with a luxurious soak off the Alaska Highway. Open year-round, the hot springs are the second largest in Canada, surrounded by boreal forest which takes on a tropical look in the summer. The park offers outdoor activities including hiking and cycling, and is a prime spot for observing wood bison herds as well as moose. 

Distance from Vancouver: 21.5 hours

Distance from Victoria: 24 hours

Entrance fee: Free for day use

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas within Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park. Liard Hot Springs Lodge, just across the highway from the park, is a go-to option for local accommodation. Head 45 minutes south to Muncho Lake, a highway services community for basic shops, restaurants, and tourist information. Frontcountry and winter camping is available. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Garibaldi Provincial Park

Garibaldi is one of the most accessible provincial parks BC visitors can enjoy from Vancouver, and is a favourite stop on the renowned Sea to Sky Highway. From snow-capped peaks to ancient volcanic fields, the park is a natural marvel rich in biodiversity and photo-worthy views only a quick day trip from Vancouver. Outdoor enthusiasts from near and far come here to experience world-class hiking and climbing opportunities, as well as backcountry ski touring in the winter. 

Distance from Vancouver: 1 hour 20 minutes

Distance from Victoria: 4.5 hours

Entrance fee: Free for day use

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas within Garibaldi Provincial Park. Squamish and Whistler are the nearest towns for shops, restaurants, and local accommodation. Backcountry campsites as well as year-round cabins and huts are available. Domestic animals are not allowed in the park.

Best national parks in British Columbia

Kootenay National Park

Venture into the heart of the Rockies to discover this small but captivating national park. From soaring summits to yawning chasms, the landscape of the Kootenays is a dazzling contrast of natural phenomena. Keep your eyes open for elk and bighorn sheep, and relax with a visit to the hot springs after a day of hiking to experience the full impact of this unique park. In the mood for a scenic drive? Take off down the Banff-Windermere highway for gorgeous views and top picnic spots.

Distance from Vancouver: approx. 9 hours

Distance from Victoria: approx. 11 hours

Entrance fee: $10.00

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Kootenay National Park. Radium Hot Springs and Banff are the nearest full service towns for shops, restaurants, and local accommodation. Backcountry, frontcountry, and oTENTik campsites are available. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Pacific Rim National Park

Witness the power of nature from the perfect vantage point: the pristine shores of Vancouver Island. If you’re looking for a national park near Vancouver or Victoria, Pacific Rim does not disappoint. Characterized by a lush temperate rainforest and ancient shoreline, this park is a favourite for surfing and hiking, and is credited with originating the concept of storm-watching. Daytrippers can catch a wave at Long Beach, while hardy hikers can take on the multi-day West Coast Trail, its wild coastline strewn with shipwrecks and rich in history.  

Distance from Vancouver: approx. 5 hours

Distance from Victoria: approx. 4 hours

Entrance fee: $10.00

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Pacific Rim National Park. Ucluelet and Tofino are ideal bases for visitors staying near Long Beach for restaurants, shopping, and local accommodation. Deeper into the park, basic shops and food can be found in Bamfield as well. Frontcountry and backcountry camping is available. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Yoho National Park

One of the most stunning destinations along the Alberta-BC border, Yoho offers countless things to see and do year-round. Highlights include the Burgess Shale fossil fields, the crystal-clear reflections of Emerald Lake, and Takakkaw Falls — one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. Embark on a hike along one of the park’s many trails for incredible mountain views and fossils dating back 500 million years, or indulge in activities such as canoeing, mountain biking, and rock climbing to make the most of your visit.

Distance from Vancouver: 8 hours 25 minutes

Distance from Victoria: 10 hours 45 minutes

Entrance fee: $10.00

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Yoho National Park. Cilantro Café on Emerald lake offers coffee, craft beers, and quick bites like pizza and burgers. Field and Golden are the nearest towns for groceries, restaurants, and local accommodation. Frontcountry and backcountry camping is available. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Glacier National Park

Sculpted by more than 400 glaciers, the spectacular landscape of BC’s first national park is open year-round for casual visitors and professional climbers alike. Considered the birthplace of mountaineering in North America, Glacier National Park is defined by the rugged range of the Selkirk Mountains and is brimming with wildlife and fascinating landscapes. Immerse yourself in the alpine scenery with a trek along the Mount Sir Donald Trail, or wander the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk Trail for a more relaxed and family-friendly stroll.

Distance from Vancouver: approx. 7 hours

Distance from Victoria: 9 hours 20 minutes

Entrance fee: $10.00

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Glacier National Park. There are no food concessions in the park, so head to Golden or Revelstoke for groceries and restaurants, or for local accommodation. If you’ve always wanted to go camping in BC, huts and cabins are available in addition to frontcountry and backcountry sites. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Mount Revelstoke National Park

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Nestled within reach of Glacier and Yoho National Parks, Mount Revelstoke is an alpine wonderland of picturesque wildflower meadows set against staggering mountain views. A popular winter getaway, the park has a history as the site of several world records in ski jumping and offers a variety of activities through the seasons including camping, hiking, cross-country ski touring, and tobogganing. 

Distance from Vancouver: 6 hours 20 minutes

Distance from Victoria: 8 hours 45 minutes

Entrance fee: $10.00

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Mount Revelstoke National Park. Restaurants, shops, and local accommodation can be found in the nearby town of Revelstoke. Frontcountry camping is available from May to October, and backcountry sites from July to September. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

The mountains are calling and with Turo you can book the perfect car to conquer the great outdoors and explore all the best BC attractions. Choose from local hosts who offer extras like camping gear, bike and ski racks, and park passes to cut down on your packing list and take your British Columbia parks experience to the next level. Pet-friendly rides are also available if you plan on travelling with your cat or dog.

Hoping to get a glimpse of autumn colours during your trip? Check out our top scenic drives for fall colours in BC before you go.

Vancouver featured hosts:

  1. Intrepid explorers can take on rougher terrain with Roeland’s 4×4 Nissan Xterra. This 5-star host offers plenty of camping gear so you can customize your BC parks trip and be prepared for anything.
  2. Get ready to hit the lakes in Remzi’s pet-friendly and affordable Pontiac G3. This host offers convenient extras for outdoors enthusiasts including camping gear, surfboards, canoes, kayaks, and more to take advantage of BC’s beautiful parks.

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