Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Travel tips from Tourism British Columbia, Winter edition

(News Release)

Here is a captivating collection of Fresh Story Ideas from Tourism British Columbia. If you require additional information on these or other BC stories, please contact Carla Mont at

Tourism BC is on Twitter. Find us @TourismBC.

Northern BC: Powder King Promises New Trails for the Snowshoe Set: In Northern BC, powder is king — both on the slopes and along the trails. And this season, there's even more reason to revel in the white stuff as the region's aptly named Powder King, a favourite draw for the ski and snowboard set north of Prince George, unveils three brand-new snowshoe trails. To start? Stash the skis and boards and break out the snowshoes for short journeys along Powder King's easiest trek, The Wanderer, a 0.75-kilometre (0.46-mile) stretch that winds through the region's pines; this scenic jaunt is ideal for little ones eager to make short work of their time in the Great Outdoors. For the more intrepid travellers, make tracks along The Explorer, a mid-level 2.1-kilometre (1.3-mile) excursion that rewards a crunch through the trees with picture-pretty views of McMurray Mountain. To get the blood pumping, take on The Challenger, a 10- to 12-kilometre (six- to seven-mile) journey that explores the meadows and forests of Northern BC's Pine Pass (tip: you'll want to bring the camera along as this outing is sure to showcase critters of all shapes and sizes). No matter which path you choose, one thing remains certain: in BC's north, powder rules.

To read more story ideas from the Northern British Columbia region, visit

Thompson Okanagan: Urban Distillery Celebrates the Spirit Bear: The masters of the still at Kelowna-based Urban Distillery are known for their small-batch premium gins, vodkas, rums and whiskies. And now, they're making a name for themselves by linking their signature pours to BC's wild side, namely the province's Spirit bear. Noted as a distinct subspecies of the black bear, these creatures, also called Kermode bears, boast a cream-coloured coat, thanks to a single recessive gene that must be inherited from both parents. It's a rarity to spot these magnificent beasts in BC's wild environs, and it is that same rare quality that Urban Distillery hopes will define its latest pours: the handcrafted, triple-distilled, ultra-premium Spirit Bear Vodka; the full-bodied lavender and apple Spirit Bear Gin; and the Spirit Bear Espresso Infused Vodka, which marries locally roasted espresso from Kelowna's Cherry Hill Coffee with gentle notes of chocolate and vanilla. Each are crafted in the same manner as all other Urban offerings — the old-fashioned way, with premium grains and meticulously filtered spring water blended in a copper still. Drop by the tasting bar to sample for yourself, or sign on for a daily tour that will take you through the history of the distillery and its production process, complete with a flight of "spirited" gin and vodka sips.

To read more story ideas from the Thompson Okanagan region, visit

Vancouver, Coast & Mountains: Take a Dip with Alpha Dive and Kayak: For a first-hand peek at some of BC's best dive sites — from Saltery Bay to Desolation Sound along the province's Sunshine Coast — suit up with the team at Alpha Dive and Kayak. An outing with this Powell River-based adventure operator promises to illuminate BC's underwater world with startling clarity: winter proves superlative for unobstructed viewing, prompting adventurers to slip into fins for flutters along colourful wall dives, natural wreck, deep and tech dips, and intriguing shore and sightseeing plunges. Day trips with Alpha Dive include views of the oft-photographed Emerald Princess, a signature Saltery Bay (a.k.a. Mermaid Cove) plunge that showcases the Simon Morris bronze mermaid sculpture alongside giant Pacific octopi, lingcod, sponges and more. The crew's Malahat shore dive will leave you equally wide-eyed, thanks to an up-close look at the wolf eels and schools of rock fish that glide through the World War I-era schooner submerged near Powell River's historic townsite. Looking for more advanced exploration? Alpha Dive can arrange boat charters to farther-flung Vivian Island and Rebecca Rock, a journey that promises sweet rewards — and incredible views — just below the surface.

To read more story ideas from the Vancouver, Coast & Mountains region, visit

Cariboo Chilcotin Coast: NorthernStar Kennels Promotes (Dog) Teamwork: Should you wish to bond with man's best friend, look no further than NorthernStar Kennels in the province's Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. Here, north of Quesnel, the Palfrey family promises plenty of face time with their crew of Alaskan huskies, thanks to one-on-one tutelage aimed to increase skill on the sled: newbies will be drawn to the short-and-sweet 1.5-hour traverse of the trail, while those with a keen interest in the basic building blocks of the sport will hook up the team for Mushing 101, a full-day excursion that delves into the history of the sport, deep in the remote Cariboo countryside. Should you require even more challenge, sign on for an overnight or pack your gear for multi-day excursions, complete with campfire-friendly menus and tenting in the wild. In all, you'll care for, feed and run a team of Alaskan huskies — all under the watchful eye of some of the best mushers in the business.

To read more story ideas from the Cariboo Chilcotin region, visit

Vancouver Island: Parksville Uncorked: For a celebration of wine, brews and the best of local Vancouver Island cuisine, it's time to come uncorked in Parksville. February 21 – 24 marks the fifth annual Parksville Uncorked Wine & Food Festival, a mid-winter fete that pairs the province's fine wines and craft beers with tasty menus from the Island's restaurants, resorts and specialty food purveyors. Parksville Untapped at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort kicks off the revelry by matching frothy craft beers and bold ciders with sweet and savoury morsels, while the Swirl Gala promises an opportunity to kick up your heels at The Beach Club Resort, where 28 wineries will be represented alongside gourmet bites and delectable nibbles. Should you prefer to sit while you sip, two winemakers' dinners will break out the good china: Tigh-Na-Mara's Executive Chef Eric Edwards will skillfully serve five courses to complement Road 13 vintages while The Beach Club's Executive Chef Rick Davidson will join forces with Burrowing Owl's Chris Wyse to pair local offerings with the winery's notable reds and whites. To wrap the multi-day fest — which adds more fun to the roster every year — you can raise your glass during the decadent Tigh-Na-Mara Sunday Bubble Brunch before heading out for enlightening tours to local farms, cheesemakers and even The Deep Bay Marine Field Station.

To read more story ideas from the Vancouver Island region, visit

Kootenay Rockies: Buckle up for a Snowshoe Safari in Fernie: For winter snowshoe tours that crunch through the wild, slide into your boot straps and head out with the pros at Wild Nature Tours. Leading intrepid adventurers into BC's picture-pretty Kootenay Rockies, these folks are all about the journey — three journeys, to be exact. There's the FAR Out Snowshoe Safari, which promises winter wilderness landscapes interlaced with fun Fernie facts; during this exploration you'll meander through the forest that stretches alongside Fernie Alpine Resort for views of local wildlife. The Park Paradise Snowshoe Safari guides those who are game into one of the wildest, and snowiest, places on the planet, thanks to a Rocky Mountain tour that departs from Mount Fernie Provincial Park, and tramps along powder-packed meadows and winding mountain creeks, delving deeper into the area's cool-climate ecology. The final Fernie outing, dubbed the Sleeping Bear Snowshoe Safari, showcases the spectacular Cedar Valley Old Growth Reserve at Island lake Lodge, illuminating why the region's grizzly bears favour this spot for their yearly slumber. As an added bonus, all tours, which include hot beverages and a homemade snack, are led by a local naturalist, each a member of Wildsight, which works to protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable communities in Canada's southern Rocky Mountain region.

To read more story ideas from the Kootenay Rockies region, visit:

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