British Columbia

Places to go and things to do in B.C. this fall

The foliage is coming into its full colourful bloom and, across British Columbia, nearly everyone has a favourite fall destination — from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan to the Rockies.

Recommendations of top B.C. destinations from a tourism magazine editor

Fall is the perfect season to explore the province, Janice Fraser says, and to take in the sights of the changing season. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The foliage is coming into its full colourful bloom and, across British Columbia, nearly everyone has a favourite fall destination — from Vancouver Island to the Okanagan to the Rockies.

Janice Fraser, managing editor at Destination B.C., said she thinks fall is the perfect season to explore the province because the weather is cool and crisp, the views of autumn are spectacular and the summer crowds of tourists have dissipated.

Fraser has a long list of the best places to go, attractions to see and activities to do at this time of year that she shared with CBC's guest host of B.C. Almanac, Dan Burritt.

Best colourful views

"Right now the colours really are changing in the Kootenays and in the Rookies and the Purcells," Fraser said.

"As you get up into the alpine, you've got the golden larches which are starting to change colour into the really golden, almost fiery look."

Other particularly good spots to enjoy the views include:

  • The drive between Penticton and Fernie.
  • Pacific Rim National Park.
  • Enderby Cliffs Provincial Park.
  • Lake O'Hara region.
A bald eagle soars along the Squamish River in Brackendale, B.C. (Richard Lam/Canadian Press)

Wildlife spotting

Foliage isn't the only fall feature Fraser recommends chasing after. 

"Fall is one of the best times for so many different animals because it is when they are migrating from either feeding grounds or further afield," Fraser said.

Birds are one of the most common animals to see and there are 14 different kinds of raptors that pass through B.C. during this time of year, she said.

Other wildlife abundant at this time of year includes:

  • Bald eagles, often spotted by riversides in places like Goldstream in Victoria and the Squamish River.
  • Bighorn sheep, banging their horns together, common near Kootenay Rockies and Radium Hot Springs.
  • Salmon in the Fraser River or hatcheries across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Wine and food

The Okanagan Valley is always popular for its many wineries, Fraser said, but the fall harvest season is an especially great time to visit.

"They are just in the midst, or towards the tail end, of their harvest season, so bringing in all those juicy berries to turn into wine," she said.

"With 170 wineries through the Okanagan and the tasting rooms that accompany them, that's a great way to tour some of the province right now."

Fraser also recommended food and drink festivals, like next month's Cornucopia festival in Whistler, as a way to get a taste of the province. 

A path runs through Othello Tunnels, located near Hope. (Courtesy Helen Kennedy/Hope Visitor Centre)

Activities and adventures

It's not too cold and wet to go outside, Fraser said, so don't put away the bikes, hiking boots and tents just yet. 

"Mountain bikers will probably tell you that this is their favourite time of year," she said. "The trails are tacky, a little bit damp maybe, but not too dry and dusty."

In addition to biking, she recommended:

  • Exploring the Othello Tunnels and Kettle Valley Railway trails.
  • Camping at Alice Lake, outside of Squamish.
  • Basking in the Liard River Hot Springs, in northern B.C.
  • Fishing at one of the lodges along Highway 24.

You can find more information about tourism across the province at Destination B.C., where Fraser is the managing editor.

To hear more, listen to the B.C. Almanac podcast below:

With files from B.C. Almanac.

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