February 2010The Big Trip: British Columbia

True Northwest

The Winter Games are going to make British Columbia a superstar. Here's our guide to the Canadian province's top outdoor adventures.

Text by Robert Earle Howells
Photograph by Mike Tittel

Today the Olympics begin in Vancouver, but in one contest Canada already has the U.S. beat. As an outdoors outpost, British Columbia outscores the American West across the board. The Pacific-hugging province is as big as California, Oregon, and Washington combined. But with only four million residents (Cali alone has 36 million), BC’s rugged mountain miles are far less developed. Still, for all its immensity, the province has a knack for condensing its wonders into accessible packages. Fly into Vancouver and within two hours you can be hiking Whistler backcountry or paddling the coast of the Great Bear Rainforest. And these days, as the host city primps and preps for the Winter Games, consider tacking on a few days’ stay: Catch Canada’s best speed skaters running drills at the freshly renovated Richmond Olympic Oval, or go all out Canuck and cheer on the home country’s hockey team as it practices in the Burnaby 8 Rinks. After a week in BC, you might be tempted to switch allegiance.

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