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Western Mountains

Pacific Coast Mountains


It is from the land we get our strength, from the sea we get our energy.
Diane Brown (Kwakanat)
Haida Community Health Worker


The biggest trees, the most rainfall, the longest and deepest fiords...this region is known for Canadian superlatives. A distinctive climate and lofty mountains make this natural region stand alone, like an island, with unique plant and animal communities and living conditions.

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Long Beach,
Pacific Rim National Park

In few other natural regions of Canada can one swim or walk through such a diversity of habitats, or experience such a variety of life, in so short a distance - from undersea kelp forests through lush rain forests to arctic conditions on mountain-top glaciers.

The Coast Mountains cover most of the region, rising steeply from the fiords and channels. Mount Waddington, the highest mountain in British Columbia, is over 4,000 metres.Glaciers and snowfields cap the tallest ranges. The mountains of Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlottes, although not high, make up in ruggedness what they lack in elevation. The Estevan Coastal Plain, a long narrow strip of rocky coastline, indented, wave-battered and wind-scoured, separates the mountains from the sea along the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The most striking feature of this region is the maze of fiords and channels that dissect the coastline from Vancouver to Alaska. These are classic fiords, some of the world's longest and deepest. They slash inland, up to 190 kilometres, with sheer sides plunging over 2,000 metres.

   West Coast Trail, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
West Coast Trail,
Pacific Rim National
Park Reserve

The deepest fiord in the world is Findlayson Channel, with soundings of over 418 fathoms (795 metres).

The region lies within the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of high volcanic and earthquake activity caused by the movement of crustal plates. Hot springs that beckon backcountry explorers bear testimony to crustal "hot spots" found throughout this region.


National Parks System Plan, 3 rd Edition

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