Geography

British Columbia is a rugged. Only 3% of its 364,764 square miles is classified as tillable, making 97% too wild to deal with! Mountain ranges, an extensive coast and insular region, and large swaths of preserved land off the beaten path mean that nature is always going to remain the supreme owner of BC.

The vast expanses contained by BCs borders do include striking diversity in ecological presentation. A rain forest, a desert, several unique mountainous zones, as well as intermediate areas of climatology exist as a framework for varied types of life. Plants and animals flourish in British Columbia. Humans are the newcomers to this Canadian province.

Situated on the western edge of Canada, British Columbia remained isolated from the western world for hundreds of years. Only one major metropolitan area, Vancouver, has affected the landscape beyond ancient recognitions. Innumerous possibilities exist to explore nature's offerings from sea level to some of the highest peaks Canada has to offer!

British Columbia Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

Steep and wet, British Columbia's westernmost edge is a carved out structure with striking features. Islands and inlets number so many that the 600 mile stretch of land between the Washington state and Alaskan borders holds nearly 16,000 miles of coastline. The World Wildlife Fund defines the BC coastal region as Pacific temperate rain forest.

Vancouver Island, the Queen Charlotte Islands, and the Gulf Islands are but a few that make up the 40,000 insular outcroppings in the province of British Columbia. Mountains covered by lush greenery dominate the islands. Bear, deer, insects, and a plethora of animals in between call these islands home. Whales and nearly countless varieties of marine life live in the waters that touch their shores.

Fjords line the mainland coast. It would take nearly a lifetime to explore all of the ins and outs of these craggy waterways that rise directly out of the depths into the Coast Mountains. Evergreen forests are thick here as precipitation coming from offshore storms dumps its payload along meeting the resistance of this range. A few of British Columbia's fjords work themselves into river inlets, aiding in the dominant returns of salmon to the region.

Just a few miles inland, mountain peaks rise above the forests. Mount Waddington is the highest in British Columbia at 13,186 feet of elevation; it lies across Vancouver Island's northern coast, near Knight Inlet. Weather in its surrounding Waddington Range is especially unpredictable, featuring some of the highest precipitation levels in BC.

Snow and glaciers are the dominant features at high elevations in the Coast Mountains. Along with the Monarch and Ha-Iltzuk icefields, the Franklin, Parallel, Scimitar, and other glaciers rest in the peaks. Very few places around the world allow a person to experience the majesty of the ocean and the power of alpine elevations within such close proximity to each other!

British Columbia Mountains and Valleys

Mountains and Valleys

Inland British Columbia is a mixture of various mountain ranges connecting an expanse of wilderness nearly unrivaled around the world. The Rocky Mountains line the eastern edge of BC with high peaks. Mount Robson, elevation of 12,972 feet, is the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. Just west of this range is the Rocky Mountain Trench, out of which the headwaters of the Columbia and Fraser Rivers flow.

At extremely high elevation, evergreen forests of pine and fir give way to exposed rock and snow. Sub-alpine regions are dominated by grassy meadows. The steepness of these regions, often with minor plateau areas big enough to promote wildlife but not human proliferation, make for striking visuals. Big game animals can often be seen perusing above the tree line with snowy peaks in the background.

Most of British Columbia's rain falls in the Coast Mountains, but there is a wetbelt at the leading edge of the Rockies. Floral diversity is greater in this area than anywhere else in British Columbia. Hemlock, Cedar, Pine, and Fir trees are the tips of the proverbial iceberg here.

The Interior Plateau is a misleading name for the central region of BC. There is no flat expanse, but constant rolling hills and less extreme mountains than others. Lake and river gorges also exist through this vast expanse of bumpy ground. Northern reaches of the Interior Plateau are rimmed by the Interior Mountains. It is comprised of several named pieces that all describe the Interior Plateau as a whole: the Fraser Plateau, the Chilcotin Plateau, the Cariboo Plateau, the Bonaparte Plateau, the McGregor Plateau, the Thompson Plateau, and the Nechako Plateau.

South-central British Columbia is highlighted by the dry Okanogan Valley. Desert flora and fauna line the banks of several lakes that bisect the region. Winters are cold, but not frigid. Summers are very warm but not scorching. Low precipitation due to being on the protected side of the Cascade Mountains is the main reason for this semi arid landscape.

North British Columbia is mostly covered with the Interior Mountains. Icefields and glaciers feature heavily above the less dense forests than those of Southern BC. In the North East corner of the province lies a portion of the Yukon Plateau. Both of these regions are largely uninhabited.