Cross a few items off your bucket list this year with these three unique outdoor experiences in western Canada. These great new adventures highlight the dramatic beauty of the region where the mountains meet the sea.
Head for the hills to heli-hike
Take your hiking game to new heights this summer with a brand-new outdoor adventure in British Columbia’s Cariboo Mountains, just west of Alberta’s Jasper National Park. After a 10-year hiatus, Canadian Mountain Holidays, the granddaddy of the West Coast’s helicopter adventure companies, is once again offering three-day heli-hiking packages in this remote region of eastern B.C.
Whether you start your trip in Vancouver or Calgary (CMH staff can help sort out your travel options), here’s what a heli-hiking day in the Cariboos looks like: After a hearty breakfast at the lodge, you’ll board the waiting helicopter with fellow hikers and your guide to lift off into the mountains.
You might explore the dramatic ice formations of the North Canoe Glacier, scramble over the smooth marbled rocks of Zillmer Canyon or take in the views from Milk Punch Ridge where, on a clear day, you can spot Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.
The helicopter picks you up and drops you off at different points, so you can explore far more terrain than you could on foot alone.
You’ll be back at the lodge in time for cocktails, a soak in the hot tub and a leisurely dinner. You might even wrap up your night with a welcome massage or a few songs around the campfire. Summer camp was never this cool.
Go gourmet on a Rocky Mountain rail tour
This year, the deluxe Rocky Mountaineer train is adding some new culinary experiences to its flagship Vancouver-to-the-Rockies route. The First Passage to the West Culinary Exploration tour, a 10-day excursion between Vancouver and Calgary, not only takes you through some of western Canada’s most gorgeous scenery — with excursions to Lake Louise, the Icefields Parkway and Banff National Park — but you’ll also embark on several food-focused adventures along the way.
In Vancouver, choose either a “Made in BC” tour of Granville Island with a local chef or food writer as your guide, or take a “Wok Around Chinatown,” exploring the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Gardens (an authentically manicured spot where even the pebbles were shipped in from China) and the surrounding streets, shops and dim sum parlors of this diverse quarter of the city.
But even with all those delicious perks, the major wow of this classic Canadian adventure is the bucket-list-worthy helicopter tour over the Rocky Mountains.
Fly to the mountains, sleep in the city
If you’re looking to combine a rugged West Coast adventure with a luxurious stay in urban environs, book a summer getaway at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver.
The downtown hotel’s new West Coast Wilderness Adventure Package, available June through September, pairs accommodations at the 119-room boutique lodging with travel by floatplane over the Gulf Islands through the stunning Sea-to-Sky region to Whistler.
When you land, you’ll have time to explore pedestrian-friendly Whistler Village. Consider checking out the Canadian exhibits at the Audain Art Museum or touring the First Nations-run Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre before sitting down to an early lunch.
In the afternoon, you’ll set off on a leisurely canoe excursion along Whistler’s “River of Golden Dreams,” an easy scenic paddle that takes you between Alta and Green lakes.
At the end of the day, your floatplane will be waiting to cap off your brief but breathtaking adventure with a flight back to Vancouver.