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Golden, BC is such a cute mountain town. So really, it isn’t a surprise that you want to visit. But what you need to know is that there are some epic places to check out along the drive from Vancouver to Golden too.
In fact, you could easily turn this drive into quite the adventure with a multi-day road trip.
I’ve personally driven this exact route countless times, each time exploring a new attraction along the way. Which is why I’ve written this blog – to help you know where to stop and spend some more time!
So, if you’re ready to road trip from Vancouver to Golden, here’s everything you need to know about the drive including the most worthwhile stops en route.
Note: The road trip itinerary also works in reverse when driving from Golden to Vancouver.
About the Drive from Vancouver to Golden (or Golden to Vancouver)
The road from Vancouver to Golden is 710 km long (441 miles.) This is the most direct route which goes through Hope, Kamloops, and Revelstoke. Without stopping, this drive would take around 9 hours.
But why rush it? In fact, if you have a few days to spare then you’ll enjoy this road trip even more! Some of the towns you’ll pass when driving from Vancouver to Golden are super fun and worth exploring for a couple of days.
If you’re short on time, no need to worry, there are also some awesome quick stops you can enjoy too!
One thing to know is that this blog is about the best stops on the most direct route from Vancouver to Golden (via Highway 5 and 1.) You can also choose to drive a longer route that passes through Whistler. If you do this, check out my blog about driving from Vancouver to Whistler and then Whistler to Banff for all of the best stops on this particular route.
15 BEST Stops on the Drive from Vancouver to Golden
Before we get into the best stops between Vancouver and Golden, don’t forget to check out Vancouver and discover the amazing things to do there. To help you, be sure to check out all our Vancouver blogs. These include the best easy hikes in Vancouver, things to do in Vancouver for free, where to stay in Vancouver, the best things to do in Stanley Park and so much more!
1. Golden Ears Provincial Park
This is a slight detour off the main highway, but less than an hour from downtown Vancouver, and is one of the largest parks in British Columbia. Golden Ears Provincial Park is an excellent spot for hiking with various trails to suit all levels. Keep an eye out for wildlife here including deer and beavers!
Try the Lower Gold Creek Falls Trail for a nice walk through the forest with mountain views and two different spots to see the stunning waterfall here. The park is really popular in the summer, especially on weekends and holidays, so make sure to arrive early as the parking lots will temporarily close when they reach capacity, typically from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Alouette Lake is a beautiful place to relax and has a large beach with a swimming area and a place to rent canoes and kayaks on the weekend. The views from the lake with the mountains surrounding it are stunning, so bring your lunch and have a picnic on the giant lawn in front of the beach.
2. Harrison Hot Springs
Harrison Hot Springs is a town, named after some of the most famous hot springs in BC. It’s only a short 20-minute detour off the highway to visit. But in my opinion, the detour is worth it because Harrison Hot Springs has plenty of fun activities to offer. You’ll find lots of cafes and restaurants, as well as a beach area, a kid’s waterpark, and plenty of unique shops selling work from local artisans.
A great place to spend a night is at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort. This way, you can try out the famous hot springs for free as a hotel guest and join other well-known past guests like Clark Gable, John Wayne, Michael Bublé, and Liam Neeson.
There are five different hot mineral springs pools including indoor and outdoor pools. The water here has among the highest concentrations of dissolved mineral solids of any mineral spring!
There is also a public hot springs pool in town you can visit for a couple of hours if you don’t want to stay at the resort. The Harrison Lake lakefront is another great place you’ll find water at. The beach itself is small but clean and has areas for swimming, playgrounds, and lots of other water activities.
Finish the stay here with a meal of authentic German food at The Black Forest Restaurant. My favorite place to dine here is out on the large balcony overlooking the lake and don’t miss out on trying one of their famous Schnitzel dishes!
3. Bridal Veil Falls
One of my very favorite stops on the drive from Vancouver to Revelstoke is Bridal Veil Falls. This huge 60-meter tall waterfall (197 feet) cascades over a large rock face, creating an appearance like a bridal veil. It’s beautiful and impressive. In fact, it is the 6th largest waterfall in all of Canada!
This is the perfect place to pull off the highway and go for a hike to a spectacular waterfall. From the parking lot, it’s a short hike of only 15 minutes on a relatively easy path to reach the Bridal Veil Falls waterfall.
While you’re here, plan to stay a bit to enjoy the park. Bridal Veil Falls is located within a provincial park. There’s a great area here for a picnic, so bring lunch!
Note: The falls are only open during the summer months
Hope is a small town on the route with some neat things to do or is a good place to spend a night on the drive. As you drive around town, you’ll notice all the wooden sculptures throughout thanks to an International Chainsaw Carving Competition that takes place here every year. It’s why Hope is called the Chainsaw Capital of the World!
Kawkawa Lake is a nice spot with a beach, picnic area, dock, and a large parking lot. It’s a popular spot for waterskiing and stand-up paddleboarding and is easy to get to because it’s right off the highway. It’s also warm enough to comfortably swim in during the summer (unlike some other glacier lakes), so take advantage of a stop here on a warm day!
Another way to cool off is with a drink at Mountainview Brewing Co. It’s the first craft beer brewery in town! Grab a pint along with the yummy snacks and sandwiches they serve and enjoy the view. All the beer is brewed right in Hope with fresh mountain water! Try “The Dark Side of Town” with classic dark German lager or “Main Squeeze” a sour ale brewed with organic peaches and plums.
Where to Stay in Hope
If you want to spend a night here, Hope has some really great beds and breakfasts, and hotels to stay at. Set up on Thacker Mountain, the High Hopes Bed and Breakfast has private balconies with every guest room so you can enjoy the view of the mountains, the town itself, and the nearby Coquihalla and Fraser Rivers. Plus the homemade breakfast is superb!
5. Othello Tunnels
While going from Vancouver to Kelowna, a stop at the Othello Tunnels is a must! They are located east of Hope in Coquihalla Provincial Park.
These abandoned train tunnels and bridges were built by blasting through solid granite in 1914. The Canadian Pacific Railway needed a route to connect the Kootenay Region with the coast of B.C. and built the railway over three mountain ranges. It’s considered one of the world’s greatest engineering feats for the time.
It’s free to explore the tunnels and is a fun adventure for the whole family. The tunnels start only 10 minutes from the parking lot and it takes about 20 minutes to walk through all five of them. It does get quite dark in some parts, so bring a flashlight (or your phone) as you wander through.
The scenery around the tunnels on the trail is beautiful too with the Coquihalla River, so make sure to have your camera on hand. This area has even appeared in several movies – look for the cliff above Tunnel #2 where the cliff jump scene was filmed for Rambo: First Blood.
6. Falls Lake Trail
If you’re looking for a place to stretch your legs and go for a hike, then Falls Lake Trail is the perfect place to stop. From the parking lot, you’ll hike for about 30 minutes until you reach Falls Lake. Here, you’ll see the stunning lake surrounded by towering mountain peaks. You’ll see Nak Peak on the left and Zoa Peak on the right.
The lake is a good spot for a swim on a hot day, a nice place to have lunch or a snack, or just relax and enjoy the view.
Merritt is a small community off the highway that is a great place to stop for food or fuel on the drive from Vancouver to Golden.
Merritt’s known as the “Country Music Capital of Canada” and you can easily see why while wandering through the town. There are murals of country music legends throughout the town, including many that are tributes to artists who have performed here including Keith Urban, Leeann Rimes, Johnny Reid, and Aaron Pritchett.
If you’re in a hurry, there are a variety of fast-food restaurants here to choose from. If you have a bit more time, visit Kekuli Café. They serve yummy Indigenous food in a coffee shop environment. The fresh, handmade Bannock (including Bannock sandwiches) is raved about by locals and tourists alike!
If you want to spend more time in Merritt exploring I’m putting you on the Too Much Info hiking trail. Located off the 97C highway, there are a couple of great viewpoints of Merritt and the surrounding Swakum Mountain on the climb up. It should only take about 25 minutes each way to complete this trail, and it’s considered an easy hike.
For the whole family, the Tom Lacey Trail is a 7.9 km (5 mi) return trail with a 250-meter (820 feet) elevation gain. It’s an ideal hike if you want to see wildlife like moose, deer, and grouse.
To break up the trip, Merritt has some good hotel options. The Best Western Plus Merritt Hotel is the newest hotel here with 83 rooms, a pool, and a free breakfast. If you stay here, the nearby Nicola Lake is another great area to explore to extend your road trip.
Kamloops is a great place in any season with winter activities like downhill skiing or snowshoeing. Or, take advantage of long summers with nice weather from April to November and go hiking or paddling on the nearby lakes and rivers. The truth is, there are lots of fun things to do in Kamloops!
There are more than 100 lakes within an hour of the city! These are great for a canoe, kayak, or even to try stand-up paddleboarding. Go to the gorgeous Kamloops Lake and see it from out on the water. You’ll see old stone train bridges and tunnels, rock bluffs, and may even spot an eagle’s nest.
The hiking opportunities in Kamloops are endless. You can explore wide-open grasslands, ponderosa pine forests, sandstone canyons, and steep valleys. Try the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park with 40 km (25 miles) of trails. It has breathtaking views of Kamloops and the Thompson Valley and several beaches and picnic areas. Head out at sunset or sunrise for a particularly beautiful view.
Make sure to visit at least one of the wineries while you’re in the Thompson Valley! One of my all-time favorite ways to spend the middle of the day is by sipping on local wine with beautiful views and Monte Creek Winery and Harper’s Trail Estate Winery are just the spots to do so!
At the BC Wildlife Park you can see wild animals up close. It’s a rescue and rehabilitation center and most of the animals here are rescued. There are more than 60 different species including Clover the Spirit Bear, a rare white bear that is the only Kermode Bear in captivity in the world. There’s also a splash park, playground, and mini-train for the kids. Admission to the park is $17.95 CAD for adults.
Where to stay in Kamloops:
As I mentioned, it’s a great idea to spend a few nights in Kamloops if you have time. There are plenty of hotels to choose from here. Personally, I love the Prestige Kamloops Hotel only a couple of minutes from town which is complete with a waterslide and brand new restaurants or if you’re on a budget, the Rodeway Inn & Suites which includes a continental breakfast.
Side trip to Vernon or Kelowna:
From Kamloops, you can go on a bit of a detour if you want to explore the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan is known for beautiful lakes, warm weather, delicious fruit, and most importantly, wine! Head to the cities of Kelowna and Vernon first, then if you want to venture further south you can check out Osoyoos or Peachland.
9. Blind Bay
Blind Bay is located along the Shuswap Lake, making it an excellent location for kayaking, swimming, water skiing, fishing, or any other water activity your heart desires! You may even be lucky enough to catch a world-renowned ‘Kamloops Fighting Trout’ if you give fishing a try.
Even if you visit in the winter, you’ll still be occupied! Blind Bay is a huge snowmobiling destination come winter time, so take one out for a spin.
Shuswap Lake Provincial Park and White Lake Provincial Park are also nearby providing even more to explore. Hike the stunning nature trails of Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, or go fly or ice fishing for rainbow trout at White Lake Provincial Park.
10. Salmon Arm
I actually lived in Salmon Arm for many years. There is so much to do in Salmon Arm, especially if you love the outdoors! Explore stunning natural attractions, or spend a relaxing day at Shuswap Lake right next to town.
Aside from the outdoor activities, there is also plenty of amazing food (lots of fresh produce!) and even delicious wine. On the off chance I haven’t quite sold you yet, check out some of the top things to do in Salmon Arm:
- Go hiking – This region has some pretty stellar hikes if you’re ready to get outside and get active. One of my favorites is Mt. Ida, which is a large 1,564-meter (5,131 feet) mountain south of Salmon Arm. There are a few routes to take up the mountain, but if you are up for a challenge, try the Mount Ida Loop. It’s a 33 km (21 mi) loop with 1,598 meters (5,213 feet) of elevation gain – quite the trek, but so worth it. If you are looking for a more low-key hike, try out Raven Trail or Shuswap North Rail Trail, both of which are fairly easy, and go around Shuswap Lake.
- Visit the most Northern winery in BC – Larch Hills – You absolutely cannot visit this region of BC without trying out some local wines. Larch Hills offers some of the most delicious wines, and you can try them out during a free cellar-door tasting. Once you’ve learned a little about the wine, how it’s made, and what your favorite is, you can go to the tasting room, enjoy a glass and take in the stunning views from their property.
- Walk the largest wooden Wharf in North America – I bet you didn’t think going to Salmon Arm meant visiting a record-setting wharf! As the longest wooden wharf in North America, it’s got a pretty interesting history. You can enjoy walking on the wharf year-round, taking in the scenery of Shuswap Lake. If you’re around during the summer, you’ve got to go and enjoy some live music and meal from food trucks! It’s got a fun, community feel to it, so make sure to get in on the action.
Where to stay in Salmon Arm:
If you feel like you want more time in this area (totally understandable!), stay overnight at one of Salmon Arm’s hotels. The Hilltop Inn is a popular choice, especially with the larger rooms that can fit small families. This hotel also has a pool, free parking, and breakfast included.
If you’re traveling with your significant other or are after a luxury stay The Inn at the Ninth Hole Bed & Breakfast is really the only option. The rooms here are beautiful and surprisingly cheap. Of course, this place includes an exceptional breakfast and is in a beautiful area outside Salmon Arm.
11. The Enchanted Forest
Right on the Trans Canada Highway about halfway between Sicamous and Revelstoke is The Enchanted Forest. This is a fun stop, especially for kids, where you can climb the tallest treehouse in BC, paddle a rowboat in real beaver ponds or take a nature walk through the forest.
There are cute little figurines from fairy tales and nursery rhymes throughout the property along with a castle and very regal-looking 800-year-old cedar trees. Admission is $14 CAD and includes a variety of activities on the property.
For more fun, the Skytrek Adventure Park is located right next door. It has zip lines, a treetop obstacle course, climbing walls, and jungle gyms for the little ones. Both of these parks are open seasonally from May until October.
Revelstoke is a small town between the Selkirk and Monashee mountains and is located on the Trans Canada Highway on the drive from Vancouver to Golden. It’s a nice spot all year, but Revelstoke in the winter truly transforms into a winter paradise. The town holds the record for the most snowfall in Canada in a single winter with 80 feet (24 meters) of snow!
The Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a must-visit and is literally right in town, so it’s easy to get to. The skiing is fantastic and the ski hills aren’t too busy when compared to other hills in Canada.
If you haven’t yet learned how to downhill ski or aren’t great at it you can still enjoy cross-country skiing which is much easier and still gives you the chance to explore some snow-covered trails.
At Revelstoke Mountain Resort, they also have a gondola ride up to the top of the resort to give you an amazing view. Make sure to take both gondolas to see a panoramic view of the valley – it’s incredible!
If you’re here in the summer, the ski hills transform into downhill mountain biking courses. You can rent bikes right from the resort for a fun activity in Revelstoke. Also, try out the Pipe Mountain Coaster – a cool gravity-fed roller coaster that flies down the hill. It feels like a real roller coaster and was super fun!
There will also be an opportunity to book a thrilling whitewater rafting adventure or a more gentle river float tour. Either way, the abundance of natural scenery mixed with the cool glacier water is sure to make you feel alive!
Where to stay in Revelstoke
Stoke Hotel is a very good budget option that includes breakfast. It’s located right in town and has really good reviews!
Another option is Coast Hillcrest Hotel is a highly rated hotel that offers guests a comfortable stay at a reasonable price. They have an onsite fitness center, sauna, hot tub, as well as a restaurant. The location is central and the large selection of room types means there is something suitable for everyone including families.
For more ideas on where to stay you can check out our blog on the best places to stay in Revelstoke.
13. Glacier National Park/Rogers Pass
This road trip takes you right through the middle of Glacier National Park as you drive out of Revelstoke and make your way toward Golden. The road through Glacier National Park is called “Rogers Pass” as you climb through the mountain pass. On this stretch of road, you may observe plenty of wildlife including bears and mountain goats in beautiful ancient forests with old cedars and alpine meadows which really set the scene.
The park is accessed by the trans-Canada highway (between Revelstoke and Golden) and all the hiking trails and campsites are located in parking lots just off the road. There is a range of hiking trails in the park and the area is well-known as a great place to spot bears and other wildlife.
From Revelstoke, it takes around 20 minutes to reach the entrance of the park and another 30 minutes or so to drive through the park.
Make a point of visiting the park’s Rogers Pass National Historic Site. Hike along Canada’s first coast-to-coast railway route, which is now decommissioned. The visitor center has a plethora of historical information about the area as well as the wildlife you can find in the area.
You’ll also have the opportunity to check out some amazing hikes like the Hemlock Grove Boardwalk, which is a series of boardwalks through the forest, or Bear Creek Falls which provides lovely waterfall views.
Bear Creek Falls only takes around 15-20 minutes so it’s the perfect short hike on your road trip from Vancouver to Lake Louise!
Note: If you plan on stopping in Glacier National Park you’ll need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. There are various types of passes you can buy that range from $10 to $140 CAD depending on the number of parks, people, and amount of time the pass covers.
14. Northern Lights Wolf Centre
The most unique activity I did on the drive from Vancouver to Golden was visiting the wolves at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Center, a short drive from town.
The center is privately owned and was set up to educate and change public opinion of wolves. They are also advocating against wild poisons used in Canada that kill wolves.
There’s a 25-minute tour (no reservations required for this) which includes an interpretive talk about the wolves here and their daily lives. You will have the chance to take photos of the wolves so be sure to bring your camera! There are also lots of information boards to read and learn about the wolves and Canadian wilderness.
If you want a more memorable experience you can actually walk with the wolves (for an extra charge.) On this bucket-list-worthy activity, you will join the wolf pack on a hike through the Rockies. This is a unique opportunity to see the wolves in their natural habitat.
The Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Center is located at 1745 Short Road. Tickets cost $15 CAD for adults, $12 for youths, $9 for children, and $40 for a family of 4.
Golden, British Columbia is a small town of just around 4,000 people in the Canadian Rockies. But what it lacks by way of population, it absolutely makes up for in terms of epic things to do! This small town is surrounded by a bunch of national parks and mountain ranges, so there are endless outdoor activities to enjoy.
The town of Golden also has some amazing restaurants, shops, bars, and cultural attractions to offer.
- Walk the Golden Skybridge – Why not start off with Golden’s newest attraction? The Golden Skybridge is Canada’s highest suspension bridge and it only just opened in the summer of 2021! At 130 meters (426 feet) above the canyon, you’ll experience such a thrill walking over it and taking in all the amazing views of the Columbia Valley. If walking along a suspension bridge is not enough for you, there is also a zipline experience, ropes course, and a canyon swing that can fit two people for an epic ride!
- Go whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse – The best way to experience the river is to go whitewater rafting! Whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River is such an adrenaline rush. With grade 3-4 rapids, it’s one of the best rivers in Canada to go rafting. There are a number of tour groups that you can join, such as this full-day tour. For $112 CAD, you will get a 5-hour experience out on the river. All equipment is included, along with a buffet lunch! You will also have an expert guide leading the way and keeping you safe.
- Explore downtown Golden – You’ll be pretty busy with all the different outdoor recreation activities around Golden, but don’t forget the town itself! Downtown Golden is a quaint, historic-looking town with a bunch of things to do! A good place to start your exploration is 9th Avenue, which has a lot of shops, cafes, and restaurants to explore. You can learn more about the city at the Visitor Centre or Golden Museum.
- Hit the slopes at Kicking Horse Resort – Golden’s Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a very popular ski resort in Canada, and for good reason! It’s known for the huge amounts of annual snowfall and expert terrain that will challenge even the most experienced riders. It’s a must-visit if you’re in Golden in the winter months.
- Go Skydiving– Skydiving is the ultimate bucket list activity and Golden is the perfect place to check it off of your list! It can’t really get better than skydiving over the Canadian Rockies! Extreme Yeti will take you up over 3,050 meters (10,000 feet) above the Rockies and Kicking Horse River! You will then free fall at 193 miles per hour before opening up that parachute and gliding back to earth. A tandem skydive costs $349 CAD, it’s pricey but
Where to Stay in Golden, BC
There are plenty of places to stay in Golden, and when compared to nearby towns like Revelstoke and Banff, Golden hotels are generally more affordable.
Here are some of the best places to stay in Golden for every budget:
Located outside of Golden surrounded by nature, this lodge is the perfect luxury escape for anybody looking fo a little R&R. The rooms are best suited for couples, with king suites with private kitchenettes, a balcony, and a spa bath. There is an onsite sauna here too and hiking trails start from the property.
This is the perfect place to stay if you’re visiting Golden for a ski or snowboard holiday. This hotel is located only 50 meters from Kicking Horse Mountain resort’s chairlift – how convenient! Besides that, all rooms have mountain views and there is an onsite sauna to enjoy after a day of hitting the slopes.
This is a great choice if you’re looking for something in town. This hotel is clean and comfortable and has everything you could want including an indoor pool and an included breakfast. The reviews are great and the price is modest.
Those on a budget can’t pass on the Travelodge. With a central location, indoor pool with a waterslide and hot tub, as well as an included breakfast, this hotel is a steal! they even have pet-friendly rooms and an outdoor picnic area with a BBQ.
Tips for Driving from Vancouver to Golden
- Get a Parks Pass – If you plan on stopping in Mount Revelstoke National Park or Glacier National Park (and you should!) then you’re going to need a parks pass. You can pay either $10 per person/day or $20 per vehicle, or buy the more expensive year pass called the Discovery Pass. This pass is also useful in other national parks like Banff, so it’s worth it if you’re exploring more.
- Be prepared in the winter – During the winter the roads can be slippery. You must have winter tires, not having them could risk you getting a fine. Also, allow a little more time in winter.
- In the summer, you should prepare for traffic through some of the more popular summer destinations. Also, parking can sometimes be a problem at attractions. To avoid this, get moving early in the morning and use patience.
Renting a Car in British Columbia
If you’re arriving in British Columbia via plane, then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. British Columbia is a large province and traveling between the best places to visit in BC requires transport. Although you can use public transport on some occasions, this means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Car rental in Canada isn’t relatively cheap, but it’s not that expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with a pick-up and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though, depending on the time of year. For car rentals, I use the website Discover Cars. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used Discover Cars all over the world, including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic, you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $10.50 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.00 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $21.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $72.25 CAD
- Senior (64+) – $61.75 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $145.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Thanks for reading!
As you can see, there are some really nice places to check out on the drive from Vancouver to Golden. I hope that this blog inspires you slow down and enjoy this epic BC road trip – I’m certain you’ll enjoy it!
Be sure to check out some of my other informative blogs about traveling BC, including: