National Parks and Historic Sites in BC

Written by: Cherie Baxter

Happy 150th Birthday Canada! What better year to get out and explore or revisit some of BC’s National Parks and Historic Sites! Parks Canada is making it even easier. To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation with a 2017 Discovery Pass which provides free admission for the entire year to all Parks Canada places from coast to coast.

To help you plan your road trips, here are all of the National Parks and Parks Canada sites in British Columbia.

National Parks In BC

Glacier National Park of Canada

For alpine hiking at its best, head just west of Golden, B.C., to Glacier National Park. The terrain was established as a National Park due to the completion of two major historic transportation routes, the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans Canada Highway. Glacier Park is known for its heavy snowfalls with many hiking trails up through the rugged Columbia Mountains where you can set your destination to one of Canada’s largest cave systems, active glaciers and a variety of local wildlife.

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve of Canada

On the southern coast of B.C. there are a series of islands, bays, islets and more that make up the breathtaking Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. These coastal destinations need to be given time to explore. BC Ferries provide service to Pender Island, Maine Island and Saturna Island and other destinations amongst the Salish Sea require a personal boat or marine charters. From marine life to the lush forest trails on the islands, there is so much to be seen.

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site

Gwaii Haanas means the Islands of Beauty and the land and sea that are held within this protected environment surpass its name. 130 kms off the mainland of B.C.,  south of Haida Gwaii lies the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and the Haida Heritage Site. The 3,400 sq. kms within the National Marine Conservation Area Reserve is a primary feeding habitat of the humpback whale and is one of the only reserves in the world protected right from the ocean floor to the peaks of the mountains. In your travels,  there is the natural beauty of the coast and the forests filled with ancient trees, some of which have lived over a thousand years.

Kootenay National Park of Canada

Check out the rest of the story at 📸@rockymountainscrambler #wildernesspeople #kootenay #national #park #canada

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Near the Alberta border, in the Rocky Mountains, strap on your snowshoes or cross country skis and pick one of the many alpine trails available in Kootenay National Park of Canada. With quite the contrast in land, there are lots of potential for adventure including glacier peaks, steamy hot springs and even dry terrain of the Columbia Valley. Keep your eyes alert for wildlife in the area. Popular attractions in Kootenay National Park are Radium Hot Springs, Olive Lake, Marble Canyon, and Sinclair Canyon.  A unique part of the visit are the Paint Pots, iron-rich mineral springs staining the soil dark red-orange.

Mount Revelstoke National Park of Canada

South East of Revelstoke, set your sights for your next get-away to Mount Revelstoke National Park of Canada founded in 1914. This national park provides safe territory for the woodland caribou, bears, moose, mountain goats and more. Although there is only a brief snow-free season, in the summer there are meadows of wildflower and lush rainforest. For the rest of the year, challenge yourself to hike to the summit of Mount Revelstoke

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada

Stuck between a rock and a rising tide @hippytree #52weeksofnature #explorebc

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For one of the most awe-inspiring, year-round get-ways, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve of Canada is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Made of 3 units which include Long Beach, Broken Group Islands and West Coast Trail. Soak your toes in the sand walking  any part of the 16 kms of the Long Beach Unit. Join a kayaking charter to travel along the Broken Group Islands with the sheltered waters of the plentiful islands in Barkley Sound. Or plan and prepare for a larger endeavour taking the 75km West Coast Trail Unit with its abundant coastal sites.

Yoho National Park of Canada

#happyinternationalmountainday everyone! This is definitely my happy place! Has anyone been here before?

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Located on the Alberta border approximately 58 kms from Golden, B.C. is Yoho National Park of Canada. The Cree word expressing awe and wonder is Yoho and this National Treasure is nothing less than awe inspiring. Created by John A. Macdonald in 1886, the land here is spectacular with massive mountain peaks, Takakkaw Falls with a 254m stretch of tumbling waters and the turquoise waters of Emerald Lake.

National Historic Sites In BC

Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada

A 53 km trail full of history but also full of challenge. The Chilkoot Trail was the main route to the Yukon Gold Fields in the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s. Although there are day options with the less difficulty at historic Bennett Lake and Lindeman City, the full Chilkoot Trail is only suggested for experienced hikers and backpackers. It requires a great deal of preparation due to the rough terrain and extreme weather conditions. Filled with slippery rock and snow, one section of 12.7 kms, “Crossing the Pass” can take on average 12 hrs due to the difficulty of the alpine trail.

Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada

Fisgard Lighthouse was the very first lighthouse on the west coast of Canada. Located in Esquimalt Harbour of Colwood, B.C., this lighthouse served as a beacon for British Royal Naval ships and for the merchant ships heading for Victoria Harbour before Vancouver Island was a part of Canada. First lit in 1860, the building is rich with history and filled with visitor information with exhibits and equipment.

Fort Langley National Historic Site of Canada

Located in Langley, B.C., Fort Langley is considered to many to be the birthplace of British Columbia. Once a trading post for the Hudson’s Bay Company,  it is open 7 days a week, year round. This makes for a great family day trip. Surround yourself in the history of the 1800’s with costumed storytellers in historic buildings filled with information and adventures like learning how to blacksmith or gold pan.

Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site of Canada

Located in Esquimalt Harbour adjacent to the Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site of Canada, Fort Rodd Hill was a coastal artillery fort on active duty from 1895 to 1956. Open year round except for Christmas Day, this makes for a easy day trip along your travels. Explore through 19th century built secret bunkers, command posts, guardhouses and original guns from that period. The picturesque location provides an experience straight out of the history books.

Fort St. James National Historic Site of Canada

Located in the village of Fort St. James, lies the original fort when wealth was based in the natural trades of fur pelts and salmon. Shortly after it was founded in 1806, it came under the management of the Hudson Bay Company and became their administrative headquarters for the New Caledonia District. Located in the original buildings are archeological resources from 1806-1952. Take the opportunity to walk the grounds and step back in time.

Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site of Canada

A fortified village called the Gitwangak Battle Hill National Historic Site is located between New Hazelton and Terrace in Northwestern B.C. This advantageous location gave access up and down the Kitwanga River valley and the adjacent Kitwankul Grease Trail. The Battle Hill was known for the legends of the warrior Nekt in battles for control of the land and the profitable trading trails in the land. Overlooking the river and containing a row of existing totem poles, this national historic site is one to put on your destination to-go list.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site of Canada

Located in Steveston village in Richmond, B.C. the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site preserves West Coast Canadian fishing history. The Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society teaches its hard-working history through informative guides, exhibits and activities in the original Gulf of Georgia Cannery. Visit and learn about the salmon canning line and herring reduction plant.

Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site of Canada

With the high mountain terrain within Yoho and Banff National Parks, the 1627m elevation of the Kicking Horse Pass was a historic main line for the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1962, the Trans Canada Highway was constructed through the pass using a lot of the same route as the railway. Due to the elevation and weather conditions, the building of the railway was dangerous and difficult. Magnificent engineering created Spiral Tunnels made of three quarter circles driven through the valley walls reducing the decent and decreasing the high percentages of accidents and engine replacement. To this day, this proves to be a popular historic destination.

Kootenae House National Historic Site of Canada

Located near Invermere, B.C., the Kootenae House National Historic Site of Canada is the original fur trading post built in 1807. As it was the first trading post in the Columbia Basin and the first to serve the Ktunaxa people, it was named a Canadian historic site in 1934. It led to the contacts and trade with First Nations throughout the region. There is little above ground construction remaining and some surface depressions.

Nan Sdins National Historic Site of Canada

Lined with existing mortuary poles and homes from the First Nations, Nan Sdins National Historic Site of Canada tells tales of an artistic and culturally rich people. Located in Haida Gwaii in the North Coast of B.C., this historic site of Canada was a starting point for trade between the British and the First Nations of otter and other furs. It was short lived due to the introduction of deadly smallpox from the British resulting in the death of a large percentage of the people. With only a few dozen people remaining, the land was abandoned.

Rogers Pass National Historic Site of Canada

Rogers Pass is a true representation of the challenges, innovation, successes and also tragedies in the building of the railway. Located between Revelstoke and Golden, B.C., Rogers Pass was made up of tunnels and snow sheds as an effort to

triumph through the heavy winter snowfalls. Dangerous avalanches in 1899, resulted in the death of 8 people and in 1910 a second major slide killed 62 men. Another tunnel was built to avoid the avalanches leaving Rogers Pass abandoned. It is currently used for cross country skiing and hiking. Considered one of the best
National park museums in Canada, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre has a theatre and many informative exhibits telling the history of Rogers Pass.

Stanley Park National Historic Site of Canada

Located in Vancouver, B.C., Stanley Park Historic Site is a popular destination originating as a First Nations memorial site and later serving as a British Military Reserve. In 1988, this beautiful forest park was designated as a national historic site. Surrounded by ocean on three sides and located so close to the urban centre, this is a spectacular whole day trip or even just for a walk along the trails.

Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site of Canada

Tucked away in Yoho National Park is the Twin Falls Tea House National Historic Site. An 8.5km hike takes you to where the Glacier des Poilus splits into a double waterfall called the Twin Falls. The Twin Falls Tea House is the perfect stop for hikers. Originally associated with the Canadian Pacific Railway with promotions that 5 could sleep in the cabin for a rest in their travels. In 1992, it was designated a national historic site.

One response to “National Parks and Historic Sites in BC”

  1. Campanyam says:

    National parks in British Columbia are amazing. Thanks for your article.

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