January is midwinter in British Columbia and is typically the coldest month of the year. As British Columbia is a vast province, there's a lot of variation in climate from north to south and from the coast to mountains: northern, inland, and mountainous regions are typically colder than the milder, wetter coastal areas. January in British Columbia ranges from cool and damp on the southern coast to bitterly cold in northern and mountainous areas.
Vancouver, on the southwestern coast, is relatively mild in January, with a minimum temperature of 36°F (2°C) and a maximum of 43°F (6°C). The further inland you go, the colder the temperatures. For example, Kelowna, in inland southern British Columbia, has a minimum of 25°F (-4°C) and a maximum of 34°F (1°C). Meanwhile, northern areas are very cold. For example, Fort Nelson, in northeastern British Columbia and at roughly the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska, has a low of -7°F (-22°C) and a high of 7°F (-14°C). Wherever you find yourself this month, pack layers and a warm, waterproof jacket.
Crowds & Costs
January is the peak season for skiing and other snow sports in resort towns in the mountains of southern and southeastern British Columbia, particularly the Rockies and Kootenays and in the Vancouver area. In popular resorts—such as Whistler, Revelstoke, and Kicking Horse—it's essential to book accommodation in advance, especially if you're traveling early in the month when many people will still be on winter vacation from work and school. Expect to pay high prices for accommodation and transport to such areas.
Beyond these popular mountain resorts, January is the low season for travel to British Columbia. As a big city with a milder climate, Vancouver will have few visitors, and you may find a low-season deal on accommodation. Smaller towns inland and up the coast may have limited off-season facilities.
Where to Go
Vancouver is a natural choice for travel to the western coast of Canada in January: the climate is mild (albeit damp), so you can get around the city, between museums and restaurants, in relative comfort. The Vancouver Museum of Art and the Museum of Anthropology are must-visit destinations to learn more about local First Nations people. The city is also one of Canada's most ethnically diverse and has an exciting dining scene, which is ideal for midwinter travel.
If you want more than a city break, Vancouver is a short drive from many excellent ski resorts in the mountains. Spend a few days in Vancouver and then head north or east for skiing, snowboarding, or other winter activities. Whistler, Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, and Squamish offer easy access to excellent skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing adventures this month.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
What to Do
Active travelers will want to get outdoors in January, but you don't have to be into downhill skiing to do this. Why not try snowshoeing or tubing instead? Northwest of Vancouver, Howe Sound is home to the Sea to Sky Gondola. Ride the gondola for beautiful fjord and mountain views, and then head out on snowshoes on some of the deepest snow in North America. Alternatively, rent an inflated inner tube at Tube Park and enjoy sliding down the hill.
To appreciate the awe-inspiring power of nature without throwing yourself out in the snow, head to Tofino, on the wind-swept western shores of Vancouver Island, for a more unusual winter activity: storm watching. Marvel at the giant ocean swells and rain squalls from the comfort of a cozy beachfront lodge with picture windows and a warm fire (and perhaps even a glass of local British Columbia wine).
Events in January
Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet, Salmon Arm. The small town of Salmon Arm, roughly halfway between Vancouver and Calgary, hosts one of Canada's largest cross-country skiing races in late January.
Traveling to British Columbia in January? Check out this great itinerary
Kootenay Rockies: Hot Springs Circle Route - 9 Days. Starting with a few days in the Canadian Rockies, venture south through the peaceful communities and impressive landscapes of the Kootenays. After long days in the outdoors, head to local hot spring resorts or backcountry pools where you can soak away the fatigue.