Pondering a trip to Canada? Then you must make British Columbia part of your itinerary! In my mind it is the best province to live. Our geographical location is situated with Washington state below us, the Yukon and Alaska above us, the Pacific Ocean to our Western side and Alberta to the East. This means plenty of mountains, culture, history and waterscapes to capture with our cameras and iPhones. BC is one of the most photogenic and instagrammable provinces in all of Canada. Here’s why and where you can capture a bit of BC for yourself with my list of top 20 Instagram worthy spots in British Columbia.
Mount Assiniboine National Park
Mount Assiniboine is located on the BC/Alberta border and is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain UNESCO World Heritage Site. Lakes, towering mountain tops, classic Canadian wildlife and is unspoiled by cars or light pollution making views like the above Instagram post by Nick Fitzhardinge possible. Aside from a camping site you can also rent yurts, cabins and huts available for accommodations but be sure to make reservations. You can keep up to date with any park dangers such as trail closings, landslides or bridge dismantling here with BC Parks.
Mount Assiniboine is an amazing 39,013 hectares and as with any park make sure you have a route and enough supplies to last in case of an emergency.
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Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago with two main islands – Graham Island and Moresby Island – plus 150 smaller islands making it a great spot for kayaking and canoeing. In 2010 it was renamed Haida Gwaii by the Haida Gwaii Reconciliation Act in agreement with British Columbia and the Haida Gwaii people. It is also a popular location for surfing, wildlife and bird observers, photographers and was named as of the best trips to take in 2015 by National Geographic.
Haida Gwaii’s history goes back to the first humans. Archaeologists believe it was part of the route taken when the first humans migrated from the Bering Strait to the Americas. The Haida people have lived here with human habitation going back over 13,000 years. Amazingly, the Haida were a culture run by the women in their society. The Europeans arrived here once by Juan Perez in 1774 and another time by James Cook in 1778. The island has a fascinating history going forward filled with gold, ransoms and sunken ships.
Capilano Suspension Bridge
One of the most popular tourist attractions is the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver. It is best to purchase your tickets online to avoid any lineups and they’ll cost you about $40 for an adult ticket. It might be tough to snag a photo like the one above but patience is key. The bridge itself is 450 feet and the park is 27 acres. However, there are 7 other suspension bridges within the park to snag your own photo opportunity – Good luck!
No matter if it is summer or winter, Whistler is always a good idea. I don’t ski but during the summertime my family has a tradition to visit Whistler for my mom’s birthday in July. For mountain bikers, kayakers, hikers and, sometimes, snowboarders, the summertime is perfect for a visit. The food scene is also a reason to make the trip with Araxi and, my personal favourite, the Bearfoot Bistro for the high end diners and plenty of pubs for stag parties.
Golden Ears Peak
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Photo by BC #guestagrammer @maxzedler: If you’re up for a challenge, Golden Ears Peak will give you one. After the first 3km, you begin a very steep incline for the rest of the hike. We camped overnight near the ridge and saw the best sunset and sunrise I have ever seen in my life. At the summit we witnessed the beaming rays from the sunrise layering the mountains in a bright light. Slightly under exposing the shot allowed me bring out the far away mountains better in post processing. #exploreBC #exploreCanada
Located 6 kms outside of Maple Ridge, a suburb of Vancouver, the Golden Ears trail is 25 kms and and would require a night of camping to complete. However, if you prefer to do a hike in one day and need an easier climb try to reach the southern summit as opposed to the more popular northern summit. As always do your research before venturing out on any hike into the wilderness.
From Granville Island to Chinatown, Stanley Park and the Olympic cauldron, Vancouver is a photogenic city. My favourite places to explore for visual interest is Granville Island because of the art and foodie scene.
You can easily spend a few days exploring Vancouver’s waterfront and city streets as well. It’s a city of glass, concrete and outdoor art. Get lost and discover it for yourself.
Barkerville is about an hour drive from the town of Quesnel. It is a preserved gold mining town from the Cariboo Gold Rush from the 1860s. With over 100 historic buildings, the town’s historic graveyard and active shops/restaurants/accommodations, the city is at its best in the summer months. I used to live in northern BC and this was the most exciting field trip as a kid.
I am very biased when it comes to Kelowna. It’s where I live and I couldn’t imagine swapping the Okanagan wine valley for any other city in Canada. One of my favourite photos from the summer months is the wind surfers as pictured above. When the wind kicks up on a sunny day all the surfers take to Gyro beach. The colourful sails twist and wind in the strong breeze allowing for spectacular flips when the surfers hit a wave.
Kelowna is located in the heart of the Okanagan wine valley at the centre of Okanagan Lake. Vineyards, orchards and beach culture are the highlights during the summer months and is reminiscent of paradise. Eat your heart out!
Tofino was a dream for me to visit. Its sunsets, surfers, rainforests, hidden history and food scene all kept calling me. For my 30th birthday I finally answered the call and it was everything I thought it would be and more! Check out the full story here.
The capital of British Columbia is Victoria. It’s history is very British which reflects in its architecture and historical attractions such as Craighdarroch Castle mansion. If you’re looking for special place to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday in BC you might want to do it in its provincial capital if to capture an image similar to the one displayed above.
Chris Gale, the photographer who photographs under WildNorthPhotos on Instagram, captures some amazing images of the Aurora Borealis in northern British Columbia. I have yet to see this natural phenomenon in person but I doubt I could do what he does – trudging through the deep snow for images like this! Fort Nelson, as with any BC town with the word “Fort” at the helm, used to be a fur trading post and was established by the Northwest Trading Company in 1805.
Keyhole Hot Springs
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Pemberton is home to the gorgeous Keyhole Hot Springs. To get here you drive 100 kms from Whistler on logging roads taking you about 90 minutes. The hike from here is approximately 35 minutes one way depending on the time of year but to properly plan your way there visit WhistlerHaitus.com.
Sandwiched between the southern end of Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake is the city of Penticton. It is special to me because of the neighbouring Naramata Wine Bench, the spectacular views of the Eden-esque valley from the vineyards in the mountains, and Joy Road Catering‘s al fresco dinners on the aptly named God’s Mountain Estate.
Fort St James
As I said about Fort Nelson – a town or historic site that has the word “Fort” at the helm means it was a post for the beaver trade. In Fort St James’ case it was a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post and is perfectly restored as it was. You can rent the cabin with friends and family to gain an insight of what it was like to live without electricity or heat/AC. The salmon drying stations, men’s cabin, storage facilities are all restored to how they were in 1896.
Now more than ever we as Canadians need to invest in our history with sites like these. Try to visit your local historical sites and museums so that we can keep our history funded for the future. I spoke to the manager at Fort St James during my visit in 2014. She expressed her worry for Fort St James and the future of the employees and volunteers than dedicated so much time and effort in keeping the public educated. As Canadians we tend to see ourselves and our history as young and maybe not as worth preserving when compared to Europe or our American neighbours. But it’s quite the opposite. We should value our history and protect it because we are so young when compared to the rest of the world. And yet we are also the oldest in many ways and especially archaeological terms (as is the case with Haida Gwaii). So I urge you to please visit a Canadian historical site or museum this year in celebration of #Canada150.
Bugaboo Provincial Park
Located in the Purcell Mountains and is 77 kms south of the town of Golden. Sheer cliffs jut out of the landscape creating a surreal view reminiscent of Switzerland’s Alps. The park is perfect for hiking, camping and wild life viewing. To plan your trip thoroughly here is a very informative site that has tips on protecting your car tires from porcupine invasions.
Osoyoos is located at the southern end of Oysoos lake and is in Canada’s only desert. You can find Canada’s mildest Winters, cactus, the Okanagan wine valley’s boldest red wines and the unusual Spotted Lake. Spotted Lake is rich in minerals and evaporates during the summertime leaving the minerals within the lake. It has long been a sacred site of healing for the First Nations.
It also contains a stellar wine scene and is next door to Oliver, BC’s wine capital.
Emerald Lake Lodge
Located in Yoho National Park, you can’t leave British Columbia without visiting one of our many lakes. Actually, Canada has the most lakes in the world with over 2 million! The Emerald Lake Lodge is a solid choice for accommodation and is a wedding destination. Truly stunning!
My wife and I recently spent some time in Northern BC, fishing along the Skeena River and canoeing at the mouth of the open ocean. I’ve been wanting to visit that area for years, and getting off the plane and right into the water was a pretty special experience. You can read a bit more about our trip and have a look through some photos on the @greatnorthco Journal – link is on their profile. #explorebc
Prince Rupert is a northern coastal town with fantastic sea food and sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean. I used to vacation there when I was little and my dad would travel there often for work. I remember ordering crab or mussels and walking along the water finding star fish or a woman in a shop who sold sea stars. It is a popular cruise ship port if you cruise from Seattle or Vancouver up to Alaska. The area has lush rainforests yet has the biting cold of the north in winter.
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park
Winning caption: “I told you guys to fix that motor. This is the last time I give you a tow!” – @maxboydness. ? @aaronbaggenstos ?@tweedsmuirparklodge #ExploreCanada Commentaire gagnant : “Je vous ai dit de faire réparer ce moteur les gars. C’est la dernière fois que je vous tire de là!” – @maxboydness ? @aaronbaggenstos ?@tweedsmuirparklodge #ExploreBC
There’s nothing more thrilling than viewing wildlife in Canada. British Columbia is one of the best provinces to explore the wilderness in search of black bear, wolves or even the variety of frogs in our rainforests. I wouldn’t head out without a guide or a group and Tweedsmuir Park Lodge has a fantastic bear viewing guide options for photographers or families.
Nelson is famed for being a quirky town with plenty of culture and a hippie vibe. It hosts the Shambhala Electronic Music Festival, the Nelson Brewing Company, Whitewater Ski Resort and isn’t far from the Ainsworth Hot Springs. It is in the Kootenay region which is worth a road trip itself. Small towns with plenty of unique history and character dot the highway from the Rockies on the Albertan board to the town of Trail. not far from there you’ll also find Christina Lake, one of Canada’s warmest lakes, and Grand Forks – a town that is predominantly of Russian Doukhobour decent and is reflected within the farmers’ market and local cuisine.
Obviously, many more places, small towns and hidden gems are worthy of this list. If you feel something is missing comment below!
A Google map displaying the locations of each Instagram worthy place can be found below.