Five great, relatively-green winter getaways

Here’s our eco-rated list of great places for close, but not too close, holiday travel from Vancouver, B.C.

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The River’s Edge Hotel & Spa was the first LEED-certified hotel in Portland. More than 60 percent of the hotel’s waste is recycled or composted. Landscaping with native plants eliminated 95 percent of irrigation needs. As a reward, guests who arrive in alternative-fuel vehicles get to park for free. Check out some other green options that work for you.

Eco-Rating: Very Green!

2) Mount Baker (The ‘North Cascades’)

Travel down to the North Cascades to the spot local Native Americans dubbed the “White Mountain.” Mount Baker is one of US's top snowboarding areas. Each winter, Mount Baker receives an average of more than 500 inches of snow. The snow and extreme terrain produce excellent snowboarding and skiing conditions.

While you’re in the area, check out the other impressive mountains of ‘The North Cascades' including Glacier Peak and Mount Shuksan in addition to several National recreation and wilderness areas, Ross and Chelan lakes and the rocky North Cascades National Park.

Photo of Sunset on Copper Ridge, North Cascades National Park by andy porter via Flickr

How to get there:

The popular route to take is the Sumas border crossing in Abbotsford. Follow the road signs as you drive southeast for 45 minutes.

Approximate distance from Vancouver:  141 km

What to do:

There is an extreme amount of recreational activities for the outdoorsy souls at Mt. Baker. You can go hiking, biking, climbing, backpacking, exploring, downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and sledding.

Mt. Baker Ski Area is the most popular spot in the region for alpine skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing. The ski area has 8 chair lifts with a total vertical rise of 455 m.

There are plenty of other winter activities outside of the ‘winter playground’ too. These include snowshoeing and exploring the snow-covered logging roads, visiting the Nooksack falls and hikes along the river, sitting by the river and watching the eagles soar. Also, remember to check out North Cascades National Park, one unit of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. The North Cascades, or the “American Alps,” provide the opportunity to lookout for wolves, lynx, and moose.

Photo of North Cascades Highway from Flickr Commons

Where to stay:

Situate yourself in the foothills of Mount Baker at The Logs at Canyon Creek. You’ll be encouraged to spend time with your loved ones and the sublime nature, because you’ll be off the grid; there is no Internet, telephones or TV (not that you would need them anyway).  Click here to view more lodging options.

Not all the campgrounds on the North Cascades National Park Service Complex are open. Gorge Lake Campground is open all year round, but it’s not for the weak hearted. This primitive campsite has no water or services. Bring water and pack out all trash.

Eco-Rating: Pretty Green.
So maybe the lodge isn’t officially listed as ‘sustainable,’ but the view overlooks nature, and you have to find your own water at the campsite. That counts for something right?

3) Galiano Island

So this one doesn’t require a passport, but the gem of the Gulf Islands will make you feel like you’re far far away. The refreshingly quiet island, with a population of just over one thousand people, is home to a vast number of animals and plants. Galiano has hundreds of bird species reported. Common sights on and offshore includes eagles, great blue heron, owl, hummingbirds, cormorants, resident orca whales, seals, otters, sea lions and many others.

Galiano Island lies between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. The Island stretches 27.5 km long, 6 km at the widest point, and 1.6 km across the narrowest. On the western shore are a series of sandstone caves accessible by sea kayak.

Photo of view from Mount Galiano via Wikimedia commons

How to get there:

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