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Canadian Jewel: Carmanah Valley, British Columbia

Canada—a country larger than the United States—offers travelers a spectacular variety of scenic destinations. In an interview aired on the television news show National Geographic Today, National Geographic Traveler editor Keith Bellows talks to Susan Roesgen about Carmanah Valley in British Columbia.

Carmanah Valley

Carmanah Valley in British Columbia.

Photogrraph by Gunter Marx/Corbis

You singled out a place in British Columbia that is really special. Where is it?

Carmanah Valley. It's southwestern Vancouver Island. If you fly into Vancouver and take a ferry over, you're right there.

And this place is so lush, your magazine features some beautiful photographs this month.

This is a place that really is not very well known. It's a typical rain forest, with dense, dense, brush, cougars, black bears and high rainfall—about 118 inches (300 centimeters) of rain a year. This is a real retreat of solitude.

Your writer describes it as one of his and the magazine's places of a lifetime.

We were lucky because Douglas Coupland is a Canadian but also wrote the book Generation X and he really was passionate about this place. He had visited it a long time ago when it was pristine wilderness and then it became threatened by paper concerns. As he writes here, and I'll read it.

"The thought of all this life being chewed up and turned into paper towels was like the punch line to a cruel joke."

It was really a sad situation and it galvanized the local community. They really tried to fight the paper companies. He describes how it has been chewed up. And there's a happy ending. This is a place that has a Sitka spruce, the tallest tree in Canada at 312 feet (95 meters). It probably was headed for the pulp factory. The happy ending is that they made Carmanah into a provincial park in 1995 and now it is preserved for us all.

Canada in general is just a terrific place to go that some people don't consider when they are planning travel.

They don't, and I think that's a mistake.

I'm telling a lot of people that this summer is the time to go because it gives you a huge advantage. It's going to be expensive traveling in the states if we look at gas prices going up. In Canada you've got a 40 to 50 percent discount on the Canadian dollar built in so you get a real bargain vacation no matter what happens.

Something to start planning right now.

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