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Best of the Pacific Northwest:
British Columbia
Oregon, Washington, and a good chunk of British Columbia—the Pacific
Northwest is not one adventure. It's three. We scoured the region to find the wildest trips, cushiest lodges, freshest fare, and smartest intel. Your only
decision is where to go first.
   Text by Christian Debenedetti


Oregon  |  Washington  |  British Columbia

BC's Top Action Plans

Day Trip: A River Runs Through It pegged Montana as the spiritual home of fly-fishing. Perhaps it should have been filmed in BC. Book a day with Vancouver-based BC Sportfishing Group, which will deliver you (via jet boat!) to some of North America's most pristine trout, salmon, and sturgeon waters, only 45 minutes from the city. Once there, throw on your waders and follow the area's best guides to their secret holes. A catch isn't guaranteed, but you're sure hedging your bets ($718 for two; bcsportfishinggroup.com).
 
Weekender: In the continual evolution that is the mountain bike ferment of coastal BC (the same place that gave us bike parks, and ridable ladders and seesaws), something new has been born: heli-biking. With Endless Biking, skilled riders are ferried to any number of mountaintops—Disneyland is a popular area—dropped off, and left to find their way down thousands of vertical feet of deep-woods trails. You'll never look at a climb the same way again ($250; endlessbiking.com).
 
Epic: No activity is more quintessentially BC than sea kayaking—the region's indigenous peoples perfected the craft after all—and no area is more predisposed to it than the Broken Group Islands, an archipelago of over a hundred sheltered islets off Vancouver Island's Pacific coast. You can mount your own expedition in a landscape alive with sea lions and gray whales, but it's not for the inexperienced. Consider a luxurious long-weekend trip with Majestic Ocean Kayaking instead ($999; oceankayaking.com).
 
Base Camp Outpost at Bedwell River
Situated at the edge of Clayoquot Sound, a UNESCO biosphere reserve on Vancouver Island, the Outpost at Bedwell River single-handedly redefines tent camps. This is no Boy Scout affair. Imagine instead 23 canvas-sided, woodstove-heated, kerosene-lamp-lit wigwams equipped with antique beds and Turkish rugs and linked by rambling cedar boardwalks. In daylight hours, visitors are whisked off to fish, mountain bike, horseback ride, whale-watch, or hike, while at night they gather in log cabin lodges for local cuisine and top-shelf libations that literally never run dry ($9,000 a week; wildretreat.com).
 
Locals Only
For all the Queen Charlotte Islands have to offer—temperate rain forest and Haida totem poles poking from isolated coves—the archipelago northwest of Vancouver Island is darn hard to reach.
That's where the Duen comes in. The 72-foot (22-meter) Norwegian ketch is outfitted with an "acoustic underwater hydrophone"—for listening to whales—along with other amenities, such as a natural history library and four kayaks. On a nine-day trip from the Natural Coast, guests explore the islets, channels, and hot springs by day, then return to the ship for sunset barbecues ($3,530; thenaturalcoast.com).
 
What's So Good About Vancouver Prawns
The richest fisheries in all the Northwest lie just off the coast of British Columbia. And though all manner of sea creature lands on Vancouver's docks, nothing revs up locals like the BC spot prawn, caught only in May and June. Chefs scramble to get their hands on them. A celebration—the BC Spot Prawn Festival—is thrown. And everyone gorges on the tender white meat until it's gone. Take our advice: You should too.


The Impassioned Case for...BC's Coasts

"A neighbor of mine told me that as a child he could hear the salmon jumping a mile (2 kilometers) away. Today we're seeing glaciers retreat and water temperatures skyrocket. With rising temps come rising CO2 concentrations and then acidification. God knows what that will do to the food chain. Sadly, [to change direction,] it's going to take the kind of crisis when people say, 'Holy sh*t, there's only jellyfish left.' And I think we're almost there. But we forget."
 
Pocket Guide Whistler 2010
The Pacific Northwest's favorite mountain resort is getting a makeover for the 2010 winter Olympics—and you don't have to vie for a medal to take advantage of the improvements. You just have to know where to look.
 
Sea-to-Sky Highway
The 65-mile (105-kilometer) speedway connecting Vancouver and the mountain town of Whistler was a white-knuckler for decades. No longer. A $600 million effort will add passing lanes, signage, and wider shoulders and will straighten out many of its worst sections (seatoskyimprovements.ca).

Peak-to-Peak Gonola
Getting from the mile-high top of Whistler to its sister peak, Blackcomb, used to involve a long traverse and a bus ride down in the parking lots. This winter the two summits will be joined by a 2.7-mile (4.3-kilometer) gondola that soars up to 1,361 feet (415 meters) over the valley floor (www.whistlerblackcomb.com).

Nita Lake Lodge
The new haute-rustic Nita Lake Lodge—a few hundred yards from the downhill finish line—has 77 units, complete with heated stone floors, geothermal heat/AC, an on-site spa and fitness center, and a train depot for guests arriving by rail, an option from May through October (from $234; nitalakelodge.com).

Symphony Bowl
With the addition of the high-speed Symphony Express Chair last season, Whistler lift-served the legendary backcountry of the Musical Bumps, a thousand acres of steeps surrounded on three sides by Garibaldi Provincial Park (www.whistlerblackcomb.com).

The Whistler Olympic Park
Medal mania might envelop Whistler's three temporary 12,000-capacity stadiums, but when the crowds are gone, eight miles (thirteen kilometers) of new competition trails (for the cross-country, ski jumping, and biathlon events) and 15 miles (24 kilometers) of recreational trails will remain (www.vancouver2010.com).

Oregon  |  Washington  |  British Columbia

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