Summer is behind us, the days are getting shorter and winter is upon us. It’s time to start planning your next vacation! And what better place to visit after a long, cold winter than Western Canada. Nature celebrates as the sun begins to shine, animals come out of hibernation, flowers bloom and trees turn green.
The spring equinox on March 21 marks the official start of the season. However, since Canada is so big, the time it arrives may differ slightly in some parts of the country. The province of British Columbia is tempered by the Pacific Ocean, which means winters are mild and spring is in full bloom in April and May. On the other hand, the Rocky Mountains in Alberta take a little longer to warm up and spring really sets in in May and June.
No matter where you go in Western Canada, spring is a beautiful and awe-inspiring time to do so. Not only is it quieter, but there are countless opportunities to stretch your legs, get off the beaten path and fully relax on the vacation of your life. Below are seven invigorating reasons why spring in Western Canada will leave you in awe!
1. It’s maple syrup season
Canada is known for its maple syrup and provides the world with 80% of its supply. The touch of spring warmth means the trees have turned their stored starch into sugar – and they’re ready to be tapped. Festivals are held across the country to celebrate this harvest. Taste unique maple foods like maple taffy, made by pouring boiling maple syrup over snow, making it immediately gooey and delicious. Learn the First Nations traditions of making maple syrup. Watch sugar-making demonstrations, take a wagon ride through the woods, and more. You don’t want to miss this Canadian tradition that will satisfy your taste buds and fill your stomach.
2. You can still ski
Yes, you read that right! The mountains of Canada are generally snow-capped year-round, and most ski resorts in the west are open until May. Perfect for a day or two of spring skiing that will give you blue skies, soft, forgiving snow and pure bliss. Not only are there amazing deals on passes and accommodations, but you’ll find quieter runs and shorter lift lines. Or why not skip the queues and try heliskiing?
The temperatures are warmer and the days longer, which means you can enjoy a drink in the sun after a day on the slopes. If you feel like it, join the “Slush Cup”: Canadian ski seasons usually end with this contest where participants put on a costume and ski directly into a pool of icy water.
3. Canadian wildlife really comes to life
As you may or may not know, spring is the season for love! Canadian wildlife has woken up from a long hibernation and countless birds, wolves, moose, bears and more, are ready to find a mate, care for or care for their young. Baby birds hatch, young Canadian geese follow their mothers in tow, and baby deer, elk and moose learn to take their first steps on wobbly legs. A visit to Banff National Park at this time of year is well worth the trip!
Spring is also a great time for whale watching. Tours are less crowded and there are fewer boats on the water. Don’t forget to bundle up, it’s much colder on the ocean than on land! Tofino, British Columbia has an incredible whale watching season and is known for the Gray Whale Migration, where 20,000 whales swim along the coasts of British Columbia en route to Alaska.
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4. Go hunting for amazing waterfalls
As the snow melts, raging rivers create powerful, thundering waterfalls. They are a sight to behold and spring is the best time to hunt them! Peak runoff times may vary from location to location, but always coincide with the height of spring in the area. In British Columbia, water levels rise in late March and well into April and May. Snow on the Rocky Mountains takes a little longer to melt, so you’ll find the best waterfalls here in June. Be sure to take safety precautions as you head to the door of your adventure. Waterfalls and high water levels cause fog, which makes the terrain very slippery. Choose shoes with good grip, watch your steps and avoid the edge over a waterfall. No climbing!
5. The flowers are in full bloom
The first bud of spring is eagerly awaited in Canada, especially in Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia. Tulips, magnolias and daffodils are spread over 22 hectares in Victoria’s famous Butchart Gardens. Spend an afternoon strolling among the flowers, visiting the fountains and taking a ride on the historic carousel. Closer to downtown Victoria is Beacon Park Hill, a perfect spot for a picnic! Here you will find purple crocuses and pink cherry blossoms in full display.
In the 1930s, the city of Vancouver received 500 cherry trees from Japan as a thank you for the service of Japanese Canadians during the First World War. Today, the city is home to more than 40,000! You’ll find them scattered from residential neighborhoods to downtown parks, bursting the city with pink and white blooms each spring. There’s even an annual cherry blossom festival to celebrate!
6. Hiking season is back
If you are an outdoor enthusiast, spring is the signal for the return of hiking season in Canada! The western provinces have warmed up, the snow has melted, and you’re ready to put on your boots and get off the beaten path. Canada’s national parks offer an abundance of nature and endless trails for all abilities. In particular, Banff National Park in Alberta has over 2,500 kilometers of well-maintained and easily accessible trails. Jasper National Park has over 990 kilometers of hiking trails, originally created by wildlife, early travelers, explorers and fur traders. You will find an adventure at every step!
7. Okanagan Valley Wine Tour
If your idea of being outdoors is enjoying a nice glass of wine on a sunny patio, you’ll love the Okanagan Valley. About 200 kilometers long and 20 kilometers wide, it lies between the Columbia and Cascade mountain ranges in the province of British Columbia. With over 200 wineries, it’s Canada’s second-largest wine region (and BC’s first!). The vineyards mainly grow vitis vinifera, with the best grapes planted being chardonnay, merlot, pinot gris and pinot noir. The Okanagan Valley is especially beautiful in the spring. You’ll enjoy sunny days, quiet tasting rooms, and freshly released vintages when you visit.
Andrew Morten is the founder of Little America. Little America creates bespoke, tailored trips to the United States and Canada.
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