It’s said that families who play together, grow together. If that’s true, then the wilderness of British Columbia — from the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast through to the Kootenay Rockies, the lush forests of Northern BC, and the sprawling valleys of the Thompson Okanagan — is the perfect place to get away from it all and reconnect with your loved ones. It’s also a great place to enjoy some classic winter activities.
These regions offer bountiful opportunities for cozying up in a rustic cabin with books and board games. Or, better yet, get the family active with adventurous activities amid the powdery snow. From ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing to snowmobiling and horseback riding, here are five ways to bring the whole gang together in the wilderness.
Get your family’s adrenaline pumping with some energetic snowshoeing. Bring your own to explore snow-sprinkled forests while staying somewhere such as Wettstone Ranch in the Cariboo or Mistaya Lodge in the Kootenay Rockies. Or, visit Sun Peaks Resort in the Thompson Okanagan, where you can rent snowshoes to explore the trails at your leisure. For beginners, there are also a lot of incredible snowshoeing trails around Prince George in Northern BC. Visit the Ancient Forest to cut a path through towering cedar trees sparkling with hoar frost.
Snowmobiling is an exciting way to see BC’s diverse landscape on a high-octane adventure. Explore the Gold Rush Snowmobile Trail in the Cariboo, which stretches from 70 Mile House up north to Horsefly. Make a stop at Sheridan Lake Resort in the same region to explore a nearby network of snowmobile trails that follow old logging roads and range in ability from easy to difficult. If you’re exploring the Kootenay Rockies, try White n’ Wild Snowmobile Tours for a fuller picture of the province’s outdoorsy side. If you’re planning to hit the deep powder of the Rainbow Mountains, the deluxe cabins at the Waterfront Resort Motel and Cabins at Nimpo Lake are less than an hour’s drive away and boast awe-inspiring views of the Coast Mountain range.
Home to Highway 24 (The Fishing Highway), the Cariboo region is a well-known spot for ice fishing. Enjoy the tranquil peace of sitting around a hole in the ice waiting to catch one of the many kokanee fish swimming below the surface. Even the kids will enjoy warming up by the fire and taking in the snowy surroundings. Take a guided expedition from Loon Bay Resort on Sheridan Lake, where you and your family will be carted out on a half-day trip to a frozen lake with all the equipment you need to enjoy the winter wonderland around you.
Home to a nearly endless supply of cross-country ski trails, BC is a popular destination for families looking for a winter activity that lets them ski together without losing the opportunity for conversation. Spend an afternoon on groomed cross-country trails at the Cariboo region’s 100 Mile Nordics Day Lodge, which offers rentals and is close to Fawn Lake Resort, where your family can stay in either a modern or rustic-style cabin.
If you already have your own skis, then the cross-country trails at Tweedsmuir Park are only a 30-minute drive from Eagle’s Nest Resort at Anahim Lake. Return after your adventure to enjoy a delicious meal in the lakeside dining room — you’ll love the gourmet dishes on offer, and the kids will get a kick out of the incredible view of the water.
Travelling with teens? Embark on a multi-day, hut-to-hut cross-country skiing odyssey with White Gold Adventures through the beautifully desolate Bowron Lake chain. Traipse over snowy portages and frozen lakes, pointing out stars and constellations to your children as you go, then marvel at the Northern Lights from the comfort of your rental cabin. You can also explore Northern BC’s Otway Nordic Centre in Prince George or the Overlander Ski Club or Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre in the Thompson Okanagan to get a taste of the province’s Nordic skiing options.
Wrap up warmly and make the most of the dry, cold climate with an adventurous horseback ride through the snow. The Cariboo’s Kayanara Guest Ranch has 4.3 miles of bridle trails for experienced riders and a special area for youngsters or other beginners to learn how to ride during a two-hour session.
If you want a little powder with your pony rides, the Thompson Okanagan is home to Wildhorse Mountain Guest Ranch, whose ranch-to-hill shuttle will carry and yours straight to nearby ski resorts between horseback riding adventures.
No matter what outdoor activity you’re planning, be prepared for possibly hazardous winter conditions. If you’re travelling through avalanche terrain, you and everyone in your group must be self-sufficient — carrying all the proper gear (transceiver, shovel, and probe) and given proper avalanche training. AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors. Follow the three Ts — trip planning, training, and taking the essentials — to keep you and your family safe and happy in British Columbia’s wild outdoors this winter.