Planning on heading to the Winter Olympics in a few weeks? Looking for something to do while you’re not busy with the curling match between Switzerland and Denmark? Perhaps you’d enjoy a little outdoor activity of your own while visiting beautiful British Columbia? Then you’re definitely headed to the right place, as Vancouver Island is one of the best adventure travel destinations in the world, no matter what season you go.
For winter adventures, the options are nearly endless. The snow begins falling on Vancouver Island in November and tends to stick around until late March, with the surrounding mountains remaining covered in the white stuff until well into the spring. Once the snow does start flying however, the local ski resorts, Mount Washington and Mount Cain, open for business offering great skiing and snowboarding for the beginner and the experienced snow bum alike. Mount Washington is the larger of the two, and more centrally located, and although Mount Cain is smaller, it is also a bit more remote and often less crowded. Both offer plenty of great runs, but if you’re more in the mood for cross country skiing, then go with Mount Washington, which has more than 34 miles of groomed trails and gets as much as 30 feet of snow annually.
If sliding down (or around) a mountain with skis strapped to your feet isn’t your cup of tea, then head to Vancouver’s West Coast to take in one of the other popular winter activities – storm watching. The raw power of the Pacific Ocean is regularly unleashed on the shoreline, with eight to ten foot waves smashing against the rocks, high winds pounding the cliffs, and copious amounts of snow and and rain blowing in off the water. Fortunately, there are a number of great viewing spots out of the gale force winds. Check out the Snug Harbour Inn or the Pacific Sands Resort for great views of nature’s raw power on full display.Vancouver Island is an incredibly beautiful place with mountain vistas and thick forests that are fun to explore year round. But the best way to visit the backcountry in the winter is on snowshoes, which are not only incredibly fun, but a great workout too. It’s the perfect way to spend the day away from the crowds and noise of the Olympic Village. But for a really amazing snowshoeing adventure, check out the Lantern Light Cross-Country and Snowshoeing tour around Mount Washington. This excursion hits the trail after dark, with a blanket of twinkling stars overhead and nothing but lanterns to light the trail ahead. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
There are plenty of other options for outdoor winter adventures on the island as well. For instance, snowmobiling is a popular pass time, with hundreds of miles of logging roads and backcountry trails open for exploration. Alternatively, consider packing a four-season tent and warm sleeping bag to go camping while you’re there, as there are camp sites open even in the winter months.
These activities are just a taste of what Vancouver Island has to offer, and once you get a chance to experience it all for yourself, you’ll want to book a return trip in the summer. When the snow melts, there is an entirely new set of outdoor activities to entice you to come back. From hiking to sea kayaking to mountain biking, Vancouver is equally intriguing in the summer as it is in the winter.
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