Located along the western coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, Pacific Rim National Park is a scenic nature reserve of rugged Pacific Ocean coast and temperate rainforests. The 511 square kilometre (197 square miles) park is divided into three areas: the West Coast Trail, the Broken Group Islands and Long Beach.
Among these, the easiest to access is Long Beach, which welcomes more than a million visitors each year.
Long Beach is particularly well known for its stunning scenery, picturesque terrain, and thick, moss-covered forests of Western Hemlock, Western Red Cedar and Pacific Silver Fir trees. Due to its forceful winds and severe rainfall during the winter months, the region is also a popular storm-watching destination.
The area around Long Beach offers a variety of seasonal outdoor activities. Hike through the lush rainforest trails, surf the wild Pacific Ocean waves, kayak among the scenic islands dotting the area, or walk the seemingly never-ending beaches.
Located in the heart of Pacific Rim National Park, the Wickaninnish Interpretive Centre is a great resource for information on the area's rich history and culture - as well as the distinct ecological system of the park. Other nature and sightseeing activities in nearby Tofino and Ucluelet - such as whale watching, hot springs and nature tours - can be arranged through various local businesses.
The thriving rainforest of Pacific Rim National Park offers several different habitats: Spruce Fringe is a result of the ocean's salt spray; the Sitka Spruce can endure and survive despite the area's salty water, wind and sand (and can be found at the edge of the coastline); smaller trees hug the ocean's shoreline, while taller trees can be found in areas that are less exposed to the rough ocean waves and winds.
Cedar-Hemlock makes up the typical leafy rainforest, composed mainly of Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock trees with ferns and moss delicately hanging from their branches. The Rainforest Trail is located within this spectacular forest.
Standing water combined with Sphagnum Moss create bogs with specific vegetation, which you can explore on the Bog Trail. Shorepine trees and muskeg are abundant in this area, which is an unusual blending of the Cedar-Hemlock and the bog. The Bog Trail loops through this unique ecosystem, while the Nuh Chah Nulth trail also winds its way through the bog.
Hike the South Beach Trail and discover the area's incredible coastal sand dunes behind Wickanninish Beach, where the wind has been known to lift the sand and blow it onshore, forming the most extensive sand dune complex on Vancouver Island. The South Beach Trail starts at the Wickanninish Interpretive Centre.
With its extensive system of trails, rugged coastline and remarkable scenery, Pacific Rim National Park is a natural playground. Hike the trails to discover and explore the area's diverse ecosystems, beautiful rainforests, striking sand dunes and much, much more.