A Prescription for Nature

News flash: Getting outside is good for our health and ultimately good for the planet.

British Columbia doctors can now prescribe a national park pass to patients facing physical or mental health issues. The program is being spearhead by PaRx, a nature prescription program led by Vancouver family physician Dr. Melissa Lem. Through a partnership with Parks Canada, health-care professionals registered with PaRx can provide a free annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass to patients.

“We have a standard recommendation, based on the latest research, that patients spend at least two hours a week in nature and at least 20 minutes each time,” said Dr Lem in a recent Global News story. “So, this is all about breaking down those barriers to access to nature.”

You’d think in a country like Canada outdoor activity would be a fact of life for everybody. But it’s not. For some people, there’s a financial barrier. Others might have been raised in a family that considered a trip to the shopping mall a form of recreation. It could also be a function of too much time in front of a gaming console or other electronic device. Many patients would rather walk out of the doctor’s office with a prescription for drugs rather than make any substantive lifestyle changes. And more than a few physicians have been happy to oblige this dependence on pharmaceuticals like, for example, Ritalin, widely prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD.)

That’s why this program is a positive step forward in terms of how we view health care and value time in the outdoors. Despite the fact that it applies to only national parks, seven of which are in BC, it sends an important message. 

There’s a growing body of research showing how time in nature can reduce the onset of ailments like diabetes and heart disease, as well as benefits for people suffering form depression and ADHD. For example, a 2008 ADHD study conducted by the University of Illinois found that a 20-minute walk in a park can improve concentration scores in kids suffering from this condition. A regular stroll in the woods can also reduce levels of anxiety. 

This is old news in Japan where doctors have been prescribing time outdoors for decades. In 1982 the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries coined the term shinrin-yoku, which means literally “forest bathing.” It has since spawned a global forest bathing movement. There are even shinrin-yoku guides. Forest bathing, despite how it sounds, is far from a flakey, new age fad. There’s real science behind it. Trees – especially evergreens like pine, cedar and spruce – release phytoncides, natural oils with anti-fungal and anti-bacteria properties. Phytoncides linger in the air. When we breath them in, we can receive a host of health benefits. A study of forest bathing published in a 2016 edition of the journal, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, showed that a walk in the woods can result in reduced pulse rates, anxiety, depression, and fatigue, among other benefits. 

Research into the other health benefits of getting outside, such as greater creativity and sharper cognition, is still not well understood. But if you’re like me, you’ve experienced ah ha moments of clarity while doing something outside. That’s no accident. 

 It’s not exactly a revelation that exercising in the outdoors is good for you. Who doesn’t experience an overall sense of well being after a hike, ski tour, or rambling ascent up an alpine ridge?

There are considerable social benefits as well. Children and adults who spend time outdoors are more likely to become champions for conservation and environmental stewardship, according to a recent study from the University of Plymouth. The planet needs people like that more than ever. 

So, bravo to the National Park prescription program – it’s a small but significant step.

Have You Heard Mountain Escapes?

Mountain Escapes | A Backcountry Podcast

Did you know we recently launched a podcast? We’ve got six binge-worthy episodes so far and will be launching one every month for your listening pleasure!

What It’s All About

Mountain Escapes is a podcast that aims to connect backcountry enthusiasts with the owners and operators of BLBCA member lodges throughout BC, Canada. In each episode we highlight a unique lodge through conversation with an owner. We will also feature guest appearances by other influential backcountry enthusiasts and industry experts.

Already a fan of the podcast, want to help us continue to grow? Our quick how-to video takes you through the easy steps of engaging with our pod.

Find us on your favourite podcast provider, subscribe to get new episodes when they drop and then let us know what you think by rating and reviewing!

Rate, Review & Subscribe!

Our Latest Episode

The Mountain Escapes Podcast is back! In this episode, Brad talks to the owners/operators/guides of Mt. Assiniboine Lodge, Andre Renner and Claude Duchesne.

To say that Mt. Assiniboine is both iconic and historic would be a major understatement. In many ways Mt. Assiniboine is the cradle of mountaineering, skiing and backcountry travel in the Canadian Rockies. Andre and Claude will provide us with a glimpse into Mt. Assiniboine Lodge both now and back then, way back then. We will hear stories about legendary characters such as Lizzie Rommel, Erling Strom and Andre’s father, Sepp Renner. Thanks for tuning in!

Episode List

Where to Listen

The podcast is on all major platforms, search and find us on whatever platform you listen to podcasts. See a full list of Where to Listen.

Listen to Mountain Escapes on YouTube

Prefer to listen via YouTube while at home or on the go? We’ve got you covered! Each episode of the podcast is also added to our BLBCA YouTube channel.

Enter our Epic BMFF Contest!

We’re celebrating the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival with Our Biggest Contest Yet!

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is underway and we’re thrilled to be a part of it again this year. These nine days are filled with awe-inspiring and evocative films and stories of adventure and exploration from around the world.

We’re honoured to once again sponsor the Best Short Mountain Film Award this year, which our very own Lynea Neilsen will be virtually presenting at the Awards Presentation on November 4.  Be sure to check out the Banff Centre’s website for the full list of winning films following the Awards Presentation, including the award we were excited to present.

Along with sponsoring and presenting the Best Short Mountain Film Award, we’re also a part of the Festival Marketplace, which features the latest and greatest from the BLBCA and other Festival Partners. If you haven’t already, come check out our virtual booth here.

And now onto the big news… We might even call it “mountain-sized” news…

We’re hosting an EPIC photo and video contest throughout the Banff Mountain Film Festival giving you and a friend the chance to win a one-week stay at your choice of any of our 32 BLBCA member lodges!

Imagine seven days of backcountry adventure, beautiful landscapes, unspoiled alpine views, home comforts, legendary cuisine, and likeminded souls. With 32 BLBCA member lodges to choose from, there is no shortage of idyllic hideaways for this getaway. Our member lodges are nestled deep within the four major mountain ranges across British Columbia: The Rockies, Columbia Mountains, Cariboo Chilcotins, and Coast Range, meaning you can experience some of the most pristine, untouched mountains in North America.

This contest is open to BLBCA Affiliate Members only. If you’re not already a member, you can purchase an Affiliate Membership directly on the contest page, then submit a photo or video from one of the three contest categories for your chance to win this epic backcountry trip to a BLBCA Member Lodge next summer.

What are you waiting for?! Head over to the contest and enter today; we can’t wait to see your submissions!

The Rewind: Mountain Biking–In The Mountains

Welcome to our series, “The Rewind”, where we share some of our older, most-loved community content–because great stories deserve a second telling! In our latest edition of The Rewind, we’re kicking it back to Mountain Biking–In The Mountains, a blog originally posted in September 2018. We hope you enjoy!

Mountain biking should take place in well, the mountains, and there’s something special about sharing that experience with friends and family. Unique vistas, with layers of unadulterated peaks definitely will help you put down that phone and capture real moments in time.

True mountain biking has long been a coveted experience for the sports elitist. What I mean by this is that, as a rider you used to flip over a magazine cover and dream of being that pro, somewhere high in the mountains, exploring alpine terrain and returning to a remote lodge with scrumptious food, tasty beverages and clean, crisp sheets. These trails were often hard to find, local secrets, that took a massive amount of fitness to explore. Over the last 5 years, this scene has changed, from heli-biking to the growth of easily accessible alpine single-track, and here in Beautiful British Columbia, we’re leading the charge.

The Backcountry Lodges of BC Association has a number of lodges that provide quick and easy access to the alpine, true mountainside access, all situated around riding hand-built single-track. In this article we’ll be highlighting Sol Mountain Lodge throughout our imagery and point-of-view video footage.

Celebrate Tourism Week

The Backcountry Lodges of British Columbia Association is joining communities, cities and regions around British Columbia to recognize National Tourism Week—May 28 to June 3, 2017. 

4 Ways to Experience Summer

4 Ways to Experience BC’s Backcountry Lodges in Summer
Explore BC blog
March 8, 2017

It’s been an incredible winter season in BC, and before long, the snow will melt and thoughts will shift from winter to summer. That doesn’t mean BC’s backcountry lodges should be forgotten. There are plenty of other ways to experience these alpine retreats in summer.

1. Mountain Bike From Your Doorstep
A mountain biker enjoys pristine alpine singletrack right out the door of the lodge at Sol Mountain Lodge in the Monashee mountains near Revelstoke, British Columbia.

Nestled in the Monashee Mountains, 2.5 hours south of Revelstoke, there is a growing network of alpine single-track trails right out the door of Sol Mountain Lodge. Primarily operating as a ski touring lodge since 2005, Sol has expanded its summer offerings. There are 20 kilometres (12 miles) of flowy, single-track trails that run through meadows and forests, along alpine ridges, and over rock slabs that wind in and out of Monashee Provincial Park. The lodge opens in August for mountain biking, with options to book an overnight stay or just a day trip. Access to the lodge and terrain is via the 1.9-kilometre (1.1-mile) “Park N Ride” trail from the parking lot.

Another lodge just outside Revelstoke is also offering mountain biking this summer. Marty Schaffer, owner and guide at Blanket Glacier Chalet, explored the terrain surrounding the lodge last summer and found a biking paradise. Plans are in the works to offer 3- and 4-day mountain biking trips with access by helicopter. Keep an eye on the Blanket Glacier Chalet website for upcoming details on new summer operations.

BLBCA-Blog-Alpine Mountain Biking-Mar 12, 2017

2. Standup Paddleboard on Alpine Lakes

BLBCA-Blog-Stand-Up Paddle Boarding-Mar 12, 2017A family-run lodge sits above the treeline in the Valhalla Range of the Selkirk Mountains, just outside Nelson. Ice Creek Lodge is accessed via the eight-km (five-mile) Ice Creek Trail, or by 20-km (12-mi) Drinnon Pass through Valhalla Provincial Park. Standup paddleboard packages are available in summer, where guided, self-guided, and “choose your own adventure” options cater to all abilities and interests. These alpine paddleboard excursions offer full use of the main lodge and sauna, and can include paddleboard rentals so you don’t have to lug your own. Porter and guiding services are available to deliver gear and lead guests around this alpine paradise.

3. Take a Hike and Stretch it Out

BLBCA-Blog-Hiking-Mar 12, 2017Many of BC’s backcountry lodges offer hiking adventures in the summer months. Experiences can range from fully guided and catered multi-day trips, to self-guided and self-catered excursions. These give flexibility to groups of friends, families, or couples to choose how they experience the lodges and backcountry hiking opportunities in BC. Custom packages include themed getaways focusing on wildlife viewing, family experiences, artist retreats, and hut-to-hut adventures. 

After all that hiking, stretching is a must. A few backcountry lodges in BC are beginning to offer special yoga retreats. At Sol Mountain Lodge, daily hiking, yoga classes, vegetarian meals, and interactive workshops are all offered over four days this August. The program is hosted by Beth Purser, an ACMG (Association of Certified Mountain Guides) guide, natural health practitioner, and registered yoga instructor. Beth is also hosting a yoga retreat at Purcell Mountain Lodge, which will include a helicopter transfer to the lodge, accommodation, and meals. More details on that experience to follow on the lodge’s website.

4. Sneak In One More Ski Trip

BLBCA-Blog-Icefall Lodge-Mar 12, 2017By the time late March and April roll around, most of us are thinking about summer. But this also happens to be a great time to book a backcountry ski trip. Many of the lodges in BC still have availability come spring, so you can take a few more turns in the sunshine before packing in the gear for the season.

Learn more about BC’s backcountry lodges and find the an alpine retreat that offers your favourite summer and winter activities.

Article written by Destination British Columbia with collaboration from the BLBCA.


More from the BLBCA:

>>Find a Lodge

>>Winter Gallery

>>Lodge Gallery

>>About the BLBCA

A Peek at Purcell

It was another gorgeous summer at Purcell Mountain Lodge, filled with long hikes and stunning backcountry. There’s over 3,000 acres of rolling alpine meadows, endless fields of wildflowers and countless peaks and ridges, set against a backdrop of tumbling glaciers and alpine vistas.

Take a peek at the past summer season

Summer Days at VMT

It was a beauty-filled summer in the backcountry at Valhalla Mountain Touring.

In summer, guests can stroll on paths and trails to access flower filled ridges with big mountain views, peaks and alpine lakes. It’s perfect for hikers, photographers, wildlife and wildflower viewing. 

Hiking the Summer Away

Summer is always a beautiful time of year at Selkirk Mountain Experience.

Featuring amazing hikes, wildlife, swimming, beautiful sunsets and more, there’s something for everyone.

It’s Worth The Wait

Riding BC’s alpine singletrack is the coveted jewel of all mountain riding – but its not great all of the time.

Views From Talus Lodge

The fine folks at Talus Lodge have been busy this spring and summer.

It’s Why We Do This

Gain insight into the story of Canadian Adventure Company in this great look at Mallard Mountain Lodge.

It’s Wildflower Season

Wildflowers are in full bloom at Sorcerer Lodge!

Hiking All Summer Long

The saying that a day in the mountains isn’t counted on your life’s timeline must be true because where did the time go?

Up at Valkyr Adventures, they have had some great hiking trips so far this summer, and they are not done yet.

Hard Work at Mt. Carlyle

Mount Carlyle Lodge has been doing a lot of work at this summer!

They’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on their remote campsites. Beautiful cedar tent platforms and outdoor-kitchen platforms, plus more trail building (over 15km so far this year). Whew! Just wait until you see what they have planned next!

Dezaiko Lodge Turns 30

Happy 30th birthday Dezaiko Lodge!

Check out their gallery of archival images as they go back in time to celebrate.

Climbing at Selkirk Lodge

Our friends at Selkirk Lodge have been doing some amazing climbing this summer.

First they climbed the amazing summit of Mt. Moloch via its South Face – East Ridge route last week. During the climb they observed a huge rock slide, more likely from June 2015, that covered the entire Moloch Glacier below the failed Mt. Moloch East Face. Start zone 2850 m. elev, lowest point of avalanche deposit 1900 m. elev, distance ran 2.6 km, width of avalanche deposit 650 m. (entire glacier).

Spectacular Summer So Far

Summer 2015 has been spectacular so far at Canadian Adventure Company’s Mallard Mountain Lodge. The scenery has been dazzling for guests.

Summer at Mistaya Lodge

A few beautiful images of the recent summertime at Mistaya Lodge.

Multi-Use Trail Now Open

Update to original post:

Trail Update — Monashee Provincial Park – New Alpine Singletrack

Deep in the Monashee Mountains, south of Revelstoke, BC sits one of the fastest growing alpine singletrack hotspots in North America.

Discover Summer Hiking

Discover summer hiking around Mistaya Lodge in the Rocky Mountains by Golden, BC.

My first real test with my Glidecam out backcountry hiking at Mistaya Lodge in the Rocky Mountains by Golden, BC. Shot on a Canon EOS 650D (Rebel T4i), with a Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L-series lens, mounted on a Glidecam XR-1000.

Summer At Sorcerer Lodge

Summer is in full swing and the folks at Sorcerer Lodge are taking full advantage of the breathtakingly rugged Selkirk Mountains.

If you’re a strong mountaineer or hiker looking for a unique lodge-based adventure this is the place for you.

SUP Expeditions at Ice Creek

Ice Creek Lodge on Facebook
~July 25~

Ice Creek Lodge just completed their first annual ladies-only SUP expedition through Valhalla Provincial Park!

Laying Fresh Singletrack

Sol Mountain Lodge on Facebook
~July 23 ·
The crew is laying fresh singletrack – top of the Bunny Slope. It’s a fun place to ride bikes.

Summer Season is Upon Us

A new season is upon us at the BLBCA. Both in terms of the weather and our website.

The summer season is nearly here and our BLBCA lodges offering summer amenities are getting ready for another great year.