Hallmark Channel has renewed the network’s original, primetime drama series When Calls the Heart for a tenth season
When Calls the Heart is a popular television series set in the early 20th century Canadian West. The show follows the story of Elizabeth Thatcher, a young teacher from a wealthy Eastern family who moves to Coal Valley (now known as Hope Valley) to start her new life.
As viewers follow Elizabeth on her journey, they are also taken on a virtual tour of some of the most beautiful and historic locations found in Canada. From breathtaking mountain views to quaint town squares, the series’s filming locations provide an unforgettable backdrop for the show.
In this article, I will explore the various filming locations used in When Calls the Heart including both interior and exterior locations as well as uncover some of the hidden secrets behind these beautiful places.
When Calls the Heart returns for a season 10
Back in June 2022, fans of the Hallmark show When Calls the Heart were thrilled to hear the news that the long-running series inspired by Janette Oke’s book of the same name is officially returning for a season 10.
No specific date has been confirmed for the release of season 10 but according to Deadline fans can expect to see more of Hope Valley sometime in the middle of 2023. That said, filming kicked off this past July and recently wrapped up in November, so When Calls the Heart season 10 could arrive in February, similar to previous installments.
No other significant changes have been announced scheduling-wise so it is safe to assume that fans can still expect new episodes to be released every Sunday at 8 pm. ET on the Hallmark Channel and like in seasons past, it will probably be 12 episodes-long—one of which will be the 100th episode!
Comparing the exterior and interior filming locations of When Calls the Heart
The exterior filming locations for When Calls the Heart are all located in Canada. The series primarily shoots in Vancouver, British Columbia although other locations have been used including Langley and Victoria. The breathtaking mountain views and lush forests featured in the show are all real-life locations found throughout Western Canada.
Interior filming locations, on the other hand, are chosen based on the specific needs of each episode. The production team looks for locations that are large enough to accommodate the cast and crew as well as having the necessary amenities such as dressing rooms and bathrooms. Most of the interior locations used in the show are sound stages located in Vancouver. However, other interior locations have been used including a schoolhouse in Langley and a homestead in Abbotsford.
Exploring the picturesque Canadian towns that serve as the backdrop for When Calls the Heart
The small towns featured in When Calls the Heart are all based on real-life Canadian towns. The main setting of the show is Coal Valley which is based on the real-life town of Hope, British Columbia. Other towns featured in the show include Fort Langley and Langley City. All these towns offer stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests as well as a glimpse into the past. Each town has its own unique charm, with cozy cafes, charming boutiques, and historic buildings.
Touring the on-location sites of When Calls the Heart
In addition to the towns featured in the show, When Calls the Heart also visits a variety of on-location sites. These locations range from mountain trails to homesteads and even a farm. One of the most iconic sites visited in the show is the Fraser River Railway Bridge which was built in 1884 and is still standing today. This bridge is featured in many episodes of the show and provides a stunning backdrop for the scenes.
Uncovering the real-life history behind the When Calls the Heart filming locations
The filming locations used in When Calls the Heart not only provide a picturesque backdrop for the show but they also tell the story of the people who lived there before. The towns featured in the show were once bustling communities filled with miners, farmers, and merchants. The buildings and landmarks seen in the show are reminders of a bygone era and serve to bring the stories of these forgotten people to life.
The show has also had an impact on the real-life towns featured in it. Tourists from all over the world come to visit these locations hoping to get a glimpse into the world of When Calls the Heart. Many of the businesses in the towns have benefited from the influx of tourists and the towns themselves have become more popular destinations.
Revealing the secrets of the When Calls the Heart filming locations
The production team behind When Calls the Heart takes great care to ensure that the sets look authentic. Every detail is meticulously planned out from the costumes to the props. For example, the show has recreated an old-fashioned saloon, complete with vintage furniture and décor. Even the food served in the saloon is made according to recipes from the era.
The attention to detail can also be seen in the exterior locations used in the show. The Fraser River Railway Bridge, for example, is decorated with old-fashioned lanterns and signs to give it an authentic look. The production team also took great care to recreate the town of Coal Valley, building a replica of the original town hall and other buildings.
Examining how the filming locations of When Calls the Heart enhance the story
The various filming locations used in When Calls the Heart help to bring the show to life. The stunning mountain views and quaint towns provide a beautiful backdrop for the characters’ stories while the meticulous attention to detail brings a sense of realism to the show. The show also transports viewers back to the early 20th century providing a glimpse into the lives of the people who lived there at the time.
When Calls the Heart is a beloved television series that takes viewers on an unforgettable journey to some of the most beautiful and historic locations in Canada. From the breathtaking mountain views to the charming towns and sites, the show’s filming locations provide an immersive experience. The show also pays homage to the history of these locations bringing the stories of the people who lived there to life. All of these elements combine to create an unforgettable viewing experience that showcases the beauty of Western Canada.
Being in this fairytale town is like being the main character in a cozy romantic comedy
I’m not, nor have I ever been, a Gilmore Girls fan but the one thing that always stuck with me was the cozy village vibes where the girls lived. Something about it—the cordial neighbors, the movie-set appearance of the store-fronts, the small-town charm. Mmmmm yes, warm me up in that blanket.
Located an hour’s drive east of Vancouver, Fort Langley is that blanket. This is the place! Not literally, of course—Gilmore Girls was filmed in Burbank—but it has that same feeling like you’re walking around a movie set. It has antique shops and ice cream and a restaurant in an old cabin and an excellent book store on the corner of an old building that, again, feels like a movie set. Then, walk a few minutes east of there and you have the original settlement of Fort Langley, a national historic site reminiscent of another movie set, The Witch, with (I assume) far less horror.
Best of all are the parks bordering the village including Derby Reach which includes an easy hiking trail that takes about an hour to complete ending up at an old farmhouse and barn, if you’re into that kinda thing.
Tracing its origins to the beginning of settling British Columbia, Fort Langley was a trading and military outpost, one of the Hudson Bay’s fur trading posts. Additionally, it also acted as a gateway to the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush in 1858.
It is one of the oldest settlements in British Columbia—even before Vancouver itself. If you take a stroll in the Fort Langley community, it is very different from the ruggedness of just a few generations prior.
Easily accessible via the Trans-Canada Highway and Glover Road, today Fort Langley is a popular tourism attraction destination that continuously draws visitors from around the world.
Fort Langley’s historic area is home to the Langley Centennial Museum, Fort Langley Community Hall, CN Station, and many beautifully restored vintage buildings that are rich in heritage and value.
The commercial and retail area of Fort Langley is referred to as the village by area residents. Both residents and visitors alike are attracted to its selection of high-end boutiques and quaint shops. Art galleries, bistros and brew-tasting houses, vintage antique shops, restaurants and cafes are all a part of what draws in daily tourists, shoppers and explorers.
Countless recreational activities are available in and around Fort Langley. From parks and camping to the Fort-to-Fort Trail, from golf courses to rowing on the Fraser River, from the outdoor pool to festivals, Fort Langley is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts. Festivals and events are held year-round in Fort Langley including the popular Cranberry Festival, Food Truck Festival, May Day Parade, Canada Day, Jazz & Arts Festival, Fort International Film Festival, and Fort Beer & Food Festival just to name a few.
Fort Langley’s beautiful streets, artfully appointed boutiques and charming, village-like atmosphere seem to have been tailor-made for a feel-good romance tale or festive comedy caper. That’s why many producers of made-for-TV features return to Langley, year after year.
Part of Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas line-up, Five More Minutes: Moments Like These is a romantic movie set against the backdrop of the holiday season. Directed by Kevin Fair, the film revolves around a young widow whose Christmas wish unexpectedly comes true. Kaitlyn relocates to Los Angeles with her young son Adam in hopes of a new beginning after losing her husband unexpectedly one Christmas Eve. As a single mother, Kaitlyn worries about her son, Adam, who is becoming more reclusive and wishes he could have just five more minutes with his dad.
Kaitlyn meets Matthew, a contractor and their feelings for one another begin to grow. The film ticks all the boxes of being the perfect heartwarming Christmas film with kids, families, and the holiday spirit. Additionally, the settings and backdrop elevate the festive spirit of Christmas, a colorful time that heals your heart and brings people closer.
Five More Minutes: Moments Like These was filmed in and around Fort Langley. The region is well known for its dynamic culture and active way of life which add to the holiday and festive feel of the holiday movie. The film’s story is set during winter while filming took place in October 2022. The crew had to create artificial snow in different ways like snow blankets, fire retardant foams, and other techniques. To film interior and outdoor sequences against suitable backdrops, it appears that the cast and crew traveled around the village.
Several other Christmas movies including A Kindhearted Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, The Nine Lives of Christmas, Christmas Getaway, When Christmas Was Young, Christmas Bridesmaid, and others, have also been shot in Fort Langley because of its beautiful neighborhood.
It may be cheesy and it may have totally tanked at the box office but there’s just something about I’ll Be Home for Christmas that brings that ’90s magic during the holidays. In case you missed it, I’ll Be Home for Christmas follows a California college student named Jake who winds up stranded in the desert a few days before Christmas. When everything seems to go wrong, Jake embarks on a cross-country road trip trying to make it home in time for Christmas. Especially since winning his father’s 1957 Porsche is on the line.
Production took place all over Metro Vancouver including Fort Langley, Port Coquitlam, and North Vancouver which stood in for the towns Jake travels through. Filming for the Santa Claus marathon scene was shot in Fort Langley. Fort Langley truly captures the Christmas spirit making the township one of the best places to shoot a holiday film.
Talking about it, Erinn Kredba, Executive Director at Tourism Langley, said, “Made-for-TV holiday movies herald the start of the festive season for many people. For me personally, it’s always exciting to spot Township-based businesses in these films. With our beautiful backdrops and charming businesses, including farms, restaurants and wineries, it feels like Langley was made for the movies!”
Kredba added, “We wanted to create a fun way for people to feel like they’re in a holiday movie by visiting these spots during this festive time of year.” She added, “Our hope is that by visiting some of the locations where these feel-good holiday movies have been featured, it will ignite the holiday spirit.”
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
If you’re dreaming of where to travel to experience it all, here are my picks for the best places to RV in December
A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
—Proverbs 17:22, KJV Bible
This analogy from the Bible’s Book of Proverbs points out the link between emotional and physical well-being: Joy is a powerful emotion as beneficial for an ailing soul as medical treatments are for a sick or injured body. This passage from Proverbs 17:22 suggests that if we possess good cheer, our confidence, laughter, and trust are likely to radiate to those we encounter. Sharing kindness—be it through gifts, singing, rituals, or visiting loved ones—is a worthy and healthy practice this holiday season, and beyond.
Planning an RV trip for a different time of year? Check out my monthly travel recommendations for the best places to travel in October and November. Also, check out my recommendations from December 2021 and January 2022.
Barrio Viejo, meaning old neighborhood in Spanish, is an area near downtown Tucson that is an important, historical part of the community. This picturesque destination just south of the Tucson Convention Center lies between I-10 and Stone Avenue with Meyer and Main Avenues passing through the center.
The original Barrio neighborhood built between 1880 and 1920 was home to a diverse working class including Spanish, Mexican, Asian, and Hispanic. Using traditional Mexican Village architecture, houses were built of thick-walled adobe with a flat roof, wood beams, and ocotillo, or saguaro cactus ribs, coverings.
Begin your tour of Barrio Veijo at Five Points, the corner of Stone and 18th Streets. Over many decades the houses have been painted bold bright colors with doors/windows becoming works of art. Public buildings also have been treated with the same effect. The Barrio has become a major tourist attraction constantly drawing photographers, artists, and tour groups. In 1978, the Barrio was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Fort Langley, British Columbia
Go for a festive stroll through this charming village in the Township of Langley to experience the best the holiday season has to offer. The picturesque village is often used as a backdrop for many Hallmark Christmas movies, so you’ll definitely feel like you’re a part of one. With twinkling lights brightening up the historic village, it’s like it was made specifically for the small screen.
An Art Deco World Wonder
Hoover Dam, once known as Boulder Dam, is a concrete arch-gravity dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River on the border between Arizona and Nevada. It was constructed between 1931 and 1936 during the Great Depression and was dedicated on September 30, 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. Its construction was the result of a massive effort involving thousands of workers and cost over one hundred lives. The dam was controversially named in honor of President Herbert Hoover.
Since about 1900, the Black Canyon and nearby Boulder Canyon had been investigated for their potential to support a dam that would control floods, provide irrigation water, and produce hydroelectric power. In 1928, Congress authorized the project. The winning bid to build the dam was submitted by a consortium called Six Companies, Inc. which began construction on the dam in early 1931. Such a large concrete structure had never been built before and some of the techniques were unproven. The torrid summer weather and the lack of facilities near the site also presented difficulties. Nevertheless, Six Companies turned over the dam to the federal government on March 1, 1936, more than two years ahead of schedule.
Hoover Dam impounds Lake Mead and is located near Boulder City, Nevada, a municipality originally constructed for workers on the construction project about 25 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The dam’s generators provide power for public and private utilities in Nevada, Arizona, and California. Hoover Dam is a major tourist attraction with nearly a million people touring the dam each year. Heavily travelled U.S. 93 ran along the dam’s crest until October 2010 when the Hoover Dam Bypass opened.
Visitors are invited to enjoy a FREE drive through the Live Oak forest to see campsites decorated in lights and join the park rangers at Santa’s Village at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.
Campers who agree to decorate their campsite will CAMP FOR FREE! Reservations for participating sites are available only by contacting the park via email at GooseIslandSP@tpwd.texas.gov. Participating campers may begin arriving on December 16 and are eligible for waived fees on December 16 and 17. Community groups are encouraged to decorate a dark spot.
A Peach of a Water Tower
The Peachoid is a 135 feet tall water tower in Gaffney that resembles a peach. The water tower holds one million gallons of water and is located off Peachoid Road by Interstate 85 between exits 90 and 92 (near the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway). Usually referred to by locals as The Peach and by passing motorists as Mr. Peach or The Moon over Gaffney, the water tank is visible for several miles around these exits. An example of novelty architecture, the Peachoid is one of the most recognizable landmarks for travelers along I-85 between Charlotte, North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia.
According to official literature, the Peachoid boldly “sets the record straight about which state is the biggest peach producer in the South. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT Georgia.” Without a doubt, the best-known, most photographed water tank in America. It is painted to match the kind of peaches grown in the area using 20 colors and 50 gallons of paint.
The Heart and Soul of San Antonio
The San Antonio River Walk, or Paseo del Rio, is a public park, open 365 days a year. It is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River one story beneath approximately 15 miles of downtown San Antonio. Explore by foot along the river’s walking path or jump aboard a river barge for a ride and guided tour. Lined by bars, shops, and restaurants the River Walk is an important part of the city’s urban fabric and a tourist attraction in its own right.
The River Walk winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks, lined with restaurants, shops, hotels, and more. It connects the major tourist draws from the Alamo to Rivercenter Mall, Arneson River Theatre and La Villita, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Pearl Brewery.
Or, shop local favorites along the river’s Museum Reach at the historic Pearl. While at Pearl, dine and drink al fresco at The Food Hall at Bottling Department. Further south, immerse yourself in history at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park along the Mission Reach.
Holiday Fun and Festivities at Bernheim
At 15,625 acres, Bernheim boasts the largest protected natural area in Kentucky. Bernheim contains a 600-acre arboretum with over 8,000 unique varieties of trees.
With the holidays just around the corner, the Bernheim calendar is full of events to celebrate with nature this December. Except for Christmas Day, Bernheim is open the entire month with activities for every age.
Bernheim’s Holiday Open House takes place on Saturday, December 4 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Visitor Center. Enjoy a festive day shopping in the forest. Browse the selection of gifts, locally-made crafts, Kentucky Proud and Giants merchandise, and other unique gifts for the nature lover in your life. Get in the holiday spirit with hot mulled cider and refreshments, hourly door prize drawings, holiday specials, and a 30 percent discount for Bernheim members.
Gnomes are known the world over. Legend has it they travel and live in the forest freely, seldom seen by humans. Add some seasonal magic to your home this season by joining the Bernheim staff at one of two Forest Gnome Workshops to create this mythical forest character on Saturday, December 4 from 9:30 to 11 a.m., or from 1 to 2:30 p.m. while enjoying some hot cider, treats, and hot chocolate. Make this a family activity and enjoy building your gnome together. Children 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult.
Heaven on Earth
When it comes to standing in awe of nature’s magnificence, it’s hard to beat the Grand Circle Tour—especially the northern arc that carves across southern Utah and encompasses Zion National Park at the western edge and Arches National Park to the east. Of them all, it is Zion that offers outdoor enthusiasts the most varied, seemingly otherworldly terrain. At just under 230 square miles, Zion is relatively small by national park standards, and the park’s most memorable features are found in easily accessible Zion Canyon.
Zion was carved out of the Markagunt Plateau by the Virgin River which carved down a half-mile into the sandstone as it rushed to meet up with the Colorado River exposing rock layers from the middle periods of the earth’s geological history.
The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is accessible by shuttle bus only from March 15 to October 25 and on weekends in November. Take time to drive the beautiful Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. This 10-mile length of scenic highway sports a series of switchbacks and the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel en route to Checkerboard Mesa and the park’s eastern entrance.
Besh Ba Gowah Festival of Lights
The City of Globe, Arizona’s Besh Ba Gowah Archaeological Park and Museum presents the 34th Annual Festival of Lights celebration on Saturday, December 3, from 5 to 9 p.m. The festival delights visitors with a beautiful scene, a festive combination of the Southwest holiday tradition of the luminaria lighting combined with the artistry of American Indian cultural presentations.
This year’s festival will feature 4,000 real candle luminarias illuminating the archaeological park’s partly reconstructed 800-year-old Salado culture ruins. Guests are encouraged to walk among the luminarias and experience the magic of the season. The warm glow of the luminarias creates a dramatic backdrop for cultural presentations by the internationally renowned Yellow Bird Productions.
Yellow Bird is a family dance group under the direction of Ken Duncan, a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. The group specializes in cultural presentations that celebrate the unique spirit of American Indians. Presentations will run periodically throughout the night until the festival concludes at 9 p.m.
The Besh Ba Gowah Museum will be open to visitors for the duration of the event and guests are welcome to view the exhibits and browse the unique items available in the gift store.
The event will also have food trucks offering a variety of delicious treats and local specialty merchandise vendors.
Admission to the event has always been free although non-perishable food donations are encouraged in support of the Gila Community Food Bank.
Since parking for the event fills up fast a free shuttle service is available. The shuttle will run every 15 minutes from 4 p.m. until the last call at 9 p.m. Shuttle parking is located at Globe High School, 437 S. High Street.
Make it a fun-filled weekend by also attending Historic Downtown Globe’s First Friday, December 2. Globe’s First Fridays, from 3 to 7 p.m., have become a hugely popular monthly event that showcases local businesses, restaurants, artists, musicians, makers, bakers and more!
Schmeckenfest is a wassail tasting and Christmas extravaganza in La Grande, Texas. Celebrate 16 years of Schmeckenfest on Thursday, December 1 from 5-8 p.m. A true community event, it also attracts visitors to the Square to sample many different types of wassail (hot cider) made by various business owners and community leaders in which participants hope to win the coveted honor of being named Schmeckenmeister.
This small-town Christmas festival also includes music, delicious treats sold by local nonprofit organizations, a Christmas parade, the lighting of the County Christmas tree on the Courthouse lawn, children’s activities, and a visit from Santa. There are numerous Christmas card-worthy photo opportunities around the Square as well as pictures with Santa.
Always maintain a kind of summer, even in the middle of winter.
Peak foliage season varies by region and by year, depending on the weather so it’s best to check with local sources before you go. Many top destinations to view fall’s splendor have leaf and foliage reports, maps, and trackers so you can follow the local predictions and current conditions—and arrive just in time for the best of the season.
Some of these destinations will be familiar while others are lesser-known locales where you can capture and embrace fall’s beauty. So, pack your jacket and grab your camera for one of nature’s most spectacular spectacles.
As you might expect from the destination that acts as the gateway to the expansive Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg isn’t short on views or things to do—an aerial cable car, a ski resort, and a 407-foot observation tower with park views, to name a few.
The autumn season is well celebrated during the Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival which runs from mid-September to late November encompassing the full spectrum of colors including the peak in mid-to late October.
Stowe is a tiny town with a big reputation—not only for its ski slopes which tempt powder hounds year after year but also for its abundance of sugar maples that come alive in the autumn. With the colors peaking between early September and late October, Stowe makes it easy to hike, bike, or drive through the expanse of fall foliage. If you time it right, you may be able to make the annual Trapp Family Lodge Oktoberfest (September 17, 2022).
Nestled in the heart of Indiana’s Amish Country, Shipshewana is a great place to learn about Amish communities and enjoy fun fall activities. Take a buggy ride with Buggy Lane Tours for a look at the Amish experience while enjoying the beautiful autumn colors or walk the Pumpkinvine Trail, known for its brilliant foliage. The Shipshewana Swap Meets offer locally grown pumpkins, gourds, and more.
Kentucky’s second-oldest city, Bardstown was first settled in 1780. Nearly 200 buildings in the historic downtown district are listed on the National Register of Historic Places including a 1779 stagecoach stop that today is the Old Talbott Tavern, the oldest bourbon bar in the world.
Since the 18th century, bourbon has been central to Bardstown, home of the annual Kentucky Bourbon Festival (September 16-18, 2022). In fact, along with Covington and Frankfort, Bardstown is part of a collaboration called Come Find Bourbon. These quaint towns offer some of the most respected bourbon distilleries in the world as well as restaurants, pubs, diners, boutique hotels, and of course, distillery tours and tastings. Fall weather is mild in this part of Kentucky, but if evenings get a bit brisk, there’s always a glass of bourbon to take away the chill.
On the Rappahannock River on Virginia’s Middle Peninsula, Urbanna (population 442 as of the 2020 census) is about an hour outside of Richmond making it an easy destination for a last-minute fall getaway. When it comes to charm, it doesn’t get much better than historic Urbanna which is home to seven buildings that have been in continuous use since the Colonial period. This tiny tidewater town is notably home to a fall oyster festival (65th annual, November 4-5, 2022) which attracts about 75,000 visitors a year.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
New Hampshire is notably at the forefront of any leaf-peeping conversation and if you want to experience it with a touch of luxury why not head to the Omni Mount Washington, an elegant hideaway in dreamy Bretton Woods? Dating back to 1902, guests came here by train from New York and Boston and then explored the gorgeous surroundings by horse and carriage. Several presidents have stayed here as did Thomas Edison
In addition to the foliage, there are zip lines and a golf course to keep you occupied. And if you should happen to get here after the leaves fall, don’t sweat it, as the Omni is a top ski resort as well!
Nestled in the north Georgia Mountains, Blairsville (population 652) is just a short drive from one of Georgia’s most notable landmarks, Brasstown Bald. Within the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, the Brasstown Bald Recreation Area & Visitor Center is the highest point in Georgia rising 4,784 feet above sea level. It’s an ideal place to take in the stunning fall colors of the mountains around Blairsville. And on a clear day, Brasstown Bald visitors can even get a glimpse of the downtown Atlanta skyline more than 100 miles away.
The small Texas Hill Country town of Fredericksburg located between San Antonio and Austin dates back to 1846 when it was founded by German immigrants. Its German roots are still present today and mix well with the Texas culture. That’s why fall is a great time to visit and experience this heritage at Oktoberfest (42nd annual, September 30-October, 2022). For history buffs, there is the National Museum of the Pacific War, the only museum of its kind in the continental U.S., and Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic National Site. Another park, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, is known for its giant pink granite dome.
One of the most popular small towns in Florida, Mount Dora is beloved for its 19th-century clapboard houses, antique shops, and outdoor cafes that line its historic district. Offering the best of both worlds, you can go shopping for valuable collectibles at Renninger’s Antique Center & Farmer’s Flea Market before soaking up the scenic natural setting around Lake Dora. Go on a fishing excursion, sample local cuisine in the gourmet restaurants, or relax with a glass of vino at The Cellar Door winery.
Fort Langley, British Columbia
This little town in British Columbia seriously looks like it was plucked right out of a Hallmark movie. There are so many small shops to explore and in the fall, you can expect to see pumpkins and other autumn decorations scattered everywhere.
The Fort Langley National Historic Site is home to the Hudson Bay Company’s fur trading post, still standing over 150 years later as a reminder of Langley’s proud heritage. Come watch as costumed interpreters demonstrate the pioneer way of life, where Hudson’s Bay Company fur traders mingled with California gold prospectors, and hear Indigenous interpreters tell century-old tales, feel the blast of the musket fire, and pan for gold dust dreams.
We could all use a break this summer. The last two summer travel seasons have been especially challenging for everyone—travelers, destinations, and small businesses alike. But 2022’s summer could be the biggest one yet for travel within Canada and I’m here to help you experience the absolute best of it.
The best things to do this summer in Western Canada include many hidden gems and unique experiences. You’ll find plenty of tried-and-true staples too. But, I tend to embrace under-the-radar spots as well as famous attractions. You’ll likely find things to do that you didn’t even know existed!
Believing the most authentic recommendations derive from personal experiences, the list highlights the places I’ve discovered and explored on one or more occasions. But, no matter where you plan to travel you’re bound to find something unique and fun to do this summer!
1. Hit all seven of the Rocky Mountain Parks
Renowned for their scenic splendor, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are comprised of Banff, Jasper, and Waterton Lakes national parks in Alberta, Kootenay and Yoho national parks in British Columbia, and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber provincial parks in British Columbia. The seven parks of the Canadian Rockies form a striking mountain landscape. With rugged mountain peaks, icefields and glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes, waterfalls, extensive karst cave systems, and deeply carved canyons, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks possess an exceptional natural beauty that attracts millions of visitors annually.
2. Snap postcard-worthy photos of Banff National Park
Explore pine forests, glacier-carved valleys, and snow-capped peaks in Alberta’s Banff National Park.
If you Google “Canada nature,” you’ll see pictures of Banff National Park in the Rockies—and for good reason. Canada’s oldest and most popular national park is Mother Nature’s best. Anywhere you look, there are jagged peaks sprinkled with fluffy powder, bluer than blue glacial lakes, and majestic wildlife including bears (black and grizzly), elk, wolves, big horn sheep, and foxes.
Despite being busy year-round, Banff is big enough that you can find something to do without being shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists (well, except perhaps if you’re waiting for that photo of Lake Louise).
Banff National Park is a hiker’s playground with more than 1,000 miles of trails. Following these trails up ridges leads to impressive viewpoints of craggy peaks, surprise waterfalls, and massive glaciers. The higher you go, the more you’ll see of the 1.6 million acres that make up the park.
3. Immerse yourself in nature at Jasper National Park
Jasper has been named one of the 30 best national parks across the globe. Outside, an online publication has included the picturesque spot on its list of must-see destinations. Jasper is the only Canadian entry.
Jasper can sometimes be overshadowed by its cousin to the south, Banff, but the park is the definition of “wild and scenic.” It’s the largest park in the Canadian Rockies as it has one million-plus more acres than Banff.
Jasper is also host to a robust population of wildlife including black and grizzly bears, elk and moose, and big horn sheep and Rocky Mountain goats, making it a popular tourist destination for travellers to explore.
4. A scenic drive of a lifetime
Linking Lake Louise with Jasper is one of the most beautiful journeys on the planet—the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93). Rated as one of the top drives in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, the Icefield Parkway is a 145 mile stretch of double-lane highway winding along the Continental Divide through soaring rocky mountain peaks, icefields, and vast sweeping valleys
The Icefields Parkway is dotted with more than 100 ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, dramatic rock spires, and emerald lakes set in huge valleys of thick pine and larch forests.
Just as the name implies these glaciers or “fields of ice” is the largest south of the Arctic Circle. They are 90,000 acres in area and 100 to 360 feet in depth and receive up to 7 feet of snowfall per year.
Glacier Sky Walk, opened in May 2014, is a unique experience that puts you on a glass-floored observation platform 280 feet over the Sunwapta Valley. The entire experience starts with a walk along the Discovery Trail. If you are not into heights, you can still view the Sunwapta Valley from a look-out point nearby.
5. Reach new peaks at Mount Robson Provincial Park
“On every side the snowy heads of mighty hills crowded round, whilst, immediately behind us, a giant among giants, and immeasurably supreme, rose Robson’s Peak.”
—Milton and Cheadle, 1865
Mount Robson Provincial Park, the second oldest park in British Columbia’s park system, is truly one of the Canada’s crown jewels. The mountain for which the park is named guards the park’s western entrance. At 12,972 feet, Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, towers over the lesser surrounding peaks; this is one of the finest views in the Rocky Mountains. Just as the early trappers, hunters, and explorers felt in awe at the mountain’s magnificence, travelers today experience the same feelings.
With Alberta’s Jasper National Park as its easterly neighbor, Mount Robson Provincial Park comprises a portion of one of the world’s largest blocks of protected areas. Designated as a part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1990, Mount Robson provides everything from developed, vehicle-accessible camping to remote valleys that seldom see a human footprint. Mount Robson Provincial Park also protects the headwaters of the Fraser River.
First attempted in 1907, it was not until 1913 that humans finally stood on the summit of Mount Robson. On that clear, cold day guide Conrad Kain, W.W. Foster and A.H. McCarthy beheld a view no person had ever seen before.
6. Stand in the spot where BC began
Experience the excitement of the early West Coast fur trade at Fort Langley and stand in the spot where British Columbia was proclaimed a British colony in 1858. Explore the scenic fort—built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1827—where fur traders once exchanged furs, salmon, and cranberries with Indigenous communities.
Fort Langley National Historic Site offers interactive displays and activities. Watch blacksmithing, barrel-making, or historic weapons demonstrations, take a guided tour and pan for gold. Additional experiences include overnight stays in a furnished oTENTik, audio tours available in seven languages, and Sxwimelə Boutique and Gifts. There is also free parking on-site for visitors.
Special events take place throughout the year such as Grave Tales walking tours, Brigade Days, Canada Day, the Cranberry Festival, Christmas events, and Vive les Voyageurs Winter Festival in January.
The Fort Langley National Historic Site is within walking distance of the Fort Langley Village where you can explore locally-owned shops, cafes, restaurants, museums, and beautiful walking trails along the Fraser River.
7. Drink in the wine and sunshine in the Okanagan
Imagine a valley floor filled with a 120-mile-long lake, wildlife including bighorn sheep, cougars, and rattlesnakes, rainfall of fewer than 12 inches a year but with the greatest concentration of wineries and orchards, you can imagine. The Okanagan Valley is the heart of British Columbia’s grape-growing region and boasts more than 130 licensed wineries. An ever-changing panorama, the valley stretches over 150 miles, across distinct sub-regions, each with different soil and climate conditions suited to a range of varietals.
Add to this the Okanagan’s natural beauty (it’s a hallowed summer-vacation spot for Western Canadians), its wide range of non-wine-related things for the whole family to do—from riding the century-old Kettle Valley Steam Railway and swimming in those pristine lakes to biking and hiking, and its lush orchards selling juicy peaches and cherries on the roadside—and you’ve got a wine-country experience like no other.
8. Travel off the beaten path in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park
As you dig your toes into warm, soft sand and watch the setting sun reflect off the glassy surface of the lake, you may feel like you are far away in some tropical locale. At nearly 450 sq mi, it isn’t hard to mistake Lesser Slave Lake for an ocean. Its white sand beaches are some of the finest in Alberta and when the west wind blows across the vast waters, you can get wave action big enough to surf on—though most people choose to ride the big breakers in kayaks.
The unique microclimate that encompasses the lake and rich habitat of the surrounding boreal forest has created a haven for nesting and migratory birds—particularly songbirds—which is why the area has been dubbed the continent’s bird nursery. Built to study them, the Lesser Slave Lake Bird Observatory and Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation are fascinating to visit. You’ll learn that nearly half of all North American bird species nest and raise their young here and billions of birds pass through during the spring and fall migrations. Tour the Boreal Centre and take a walk along the Songbird Trail pausing in the middle to stand quietly and listen to the natural symphony created by songbirds in the towering aspen-poplar forest.
9. Travel back in time to Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park
The unusual landforms of Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi resulted from the dynamic interaction of geology, climate, and time. In a dramatic landscape of steep-sided canyons and coulees, sandstone cliffs, and eroded sandstone formations called hoodoos, Indigenous peoples created rock art in what is today Southern Alberta. Thousands of petroglyphs and pictographs at more than 138 rock art sites graphically represent the powers of the spirit world that resonate in this sacred landscape and chronicle phases of human history in North America including when Indigenous peoples first came into contact with Europeans.
10. Search for Well Gray’s breathtaking waterfalls
Wells Gray is not as highly acclaimed as Mount Robson or the national parks in the Canadian Rockies. And having been there, I have no idea why. I mean… this place is awesome!
Wells Gray has something to offer every outdoor interest: lush alpine meadows, excellent birding and wildlife viewing opportunities, hiking, boating, canoeing, and kayaking. Guiding businesses offer horseback riding, canoeing, whitewater rafting, fishing, and hiking. The history enthusiast can learn about the early homesteaders, trappers, and prospectors, or about the natural forces that produced Wells Gray’s many volcanoes, waterfalls, mineral springs, and glaciers.
Many people head to Wells Gray for the lakes, but there are also over 40 named waterfalls in the park. Many of them are in remote corners of the park, but eight of them are easy to reach from Clearwater Valley Road.
So you might be wondering: Why are there so many waterfalls in the same small area? And how did they form? It turns out the waterfalls in Wells Gray use the same secret formula as another favorite waterfall destination, Iceland: volcanoes + glaciers = waterfall magic.
11. Explore the natural wonders at Elk Island National Park
Elk Island National Park played an important part in the conservation of the plains bison. This “island of conservation” is 30 miles east of Edmonton along the Yellowhead Highway which goes through the park. Watch for wood bison to the south and plains bison to the north.
Explore the park by foot, bike, or car, and be on the lookout for wildlife. Bison and other mammals are most active at dawn and dusk when females travel with their young. Beyond bison be ready to glimpse deer, elk, coyotes, and the countless birds that call Elk Island National Park home. Many animals shelter in the trees during the warmest parts of the day.
Elk Island has several trails of varying lengths winding through the different habitats found within the park. Since the park is not mountainous, the trails have very few steep inclines. Each trail contains many wildlife viewing opportunities from two different subspecies of bison to a multitude of songbirds. Whether you’re out for a leisurely hike or a longer adventure, make your trip a safe one by checking the latest conditions.