There is nothing like escaping to remote, undeveloped wilderness to relieve the stress of our fast-paced daily routines—and Western Canada has pristine wilderness in spades. Consider a vacation to two stunningly beautiful areas of British Columbia: Yoho National Park (near Field) and the Cariboo region (around Clinton), which offer activities for everyone from adventurers to gourmands and athletes to fishermen.
Yoho National Park, Field
West of Calgary, Banff and the Alberta-B.C. border, Yoho National Park has 300 miles of hiking trails providing access to more than 500 square miles of towering rock walls, turquoise lakes, spectacular waterfalls and 28 peaks more than 10,000 feet in height. Near the Great Divide on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Yoho is home to unique plants, animals and breathtaking scenery.
Designated a World Heritage Site in 1981, the Burgess Shale is one of the world's most important fossil discoveries, with the remains of more than 120 marine animal species—many of which were previously undiscovered—dating back 515 million years. To protect such a globally important scientific resource, access to Walcott's Quarry and the Trilobite Beds is by guided hike only, offered from early July through mid-September, as trail conditions permit. Be forewarned: both hikes, though incredibly rewarding, are long and strenuous.
Ask your travel agent to book a snowcoach glacier tour, an ice-field helicopter tour or a heli-hiking excursion to wide-open alpine meadows, streams and glaciers nestled among majestic peaks. Other popular activities include canoeing on glacier-fed lakes, guided nature tours, river rafting, horseback riding, kayaking, fly-fishing, souvenir shopping in the town of Banff or Lake Louise, canyon jet tours, golf, exploring caverns (spelunking), soaking in natural hot springs and mountain biking.
Cariboo, Clinton, 100 Mile House
The Cariboo region is in the central interior of British Columbia, northeast of Vancouver and south of Prince George. The region is covered by hundreds of lakes of various sizes, wetlands and rivers, mossy forests, open grasslands and high mountain peaks. The diverse geography was formed by ancient glaciers and volcanoes, their remnants scattered across the immense plateau between mountain ranges and river valleys carved over the course of many centuries. Here, wildlife roam free and untamed; resident species include deer, moose, grizzly and black bears, cougars, wolves, caribou and elk.
Cariboo's historic roots go back to the fur trading days before the gold strike, when more than 100,000 people traveled the Cariboo Wagon Road from Lillooet, making their way north into Cariboo country. Clinton and 100 Mile House, two of the region's principal communities, were originally stopping points along the gold rush trail. Try goldpanning for yourself in a local creek.
Cariboo offers plenty of year-round recreational activities for single adventurers, couples or the whole family, including fishing, sporting events such as rodeos, horseback trips and trail rides, hunting, hiking, biking, golfing and bird watching. The region's visitor centers provide information about various tours, including Ranchlands and Rivers, Lakes and Trails and Coast Cariboo. Explore waterways by canoe and kayak; many larger lakes are perfect for jet skis and motorboats. In winter, favorite pastimes include snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding, dogsledding, icefishing, skating, snowmobiling and sleigh rides. There are also many opportunities for culture, including galleries, art shows, weekly farmers markets and the Clinton Annual Ball, held in May of each year.
The Cariboo region features some of B.C.'s best fresh-water sport fishing, as it is known for its large trout. A good place to start is Highway 24, "The Fishing Highway," which provides access to 100-plus lakes known as the Interlakes; the four main destination lakes are Fawn, Sheridan, Bridge and Lac Des Roches.