This short trip explores the alpine zone around Elfin Lakes, Garibaldi National Park, BC. It begins at the head of Diamondback Trail and carries on through the spectacular route to the Lakes. Along the way, catch a glimpse of native flora, and learn about some of the landforms and related physical processes (like physical weathering from frost action!) that characterize the region.


  • Open the tour window, below in full screen by clicking the icon in the top right corner; use “esc” to exit full screen.
  • Some of the scenes are 360 photos. You can explore these with your cursor (up, down, left right) and hunt for…
  • Embedded interactions by clicking the icons in the tour window
    • Circles with “+” signs open high resolution 2D photos and text
    • “raised hand” icons reveal short quiz questions
  • Use the arrows to navigate between the 5 different scenes – The arrows within each window take you forward; the arrows outside the frame top left take you back.

Tour Window:

Reflection Questions

  1. As discussed in the page for Manning Park’s alpine area, BC’s alpine zone is divided into three alpine sub-types:
    • the Coastal Mountain-Heather (CMA) zone, found in Manning and other coastal, maritime-influenced BC ranges
    • the Interior Mountain-Heather (IMA) zone, located East of the Okanagan
    • the Boreal Altai Fescue Mountain-Heather (BAFA) zone, extending north on mountain-lee slopes from the Chilcotins and up toward Arctic tundra in northern BC

    Based on these descriptions, your findings from the tour, and information in the page for Manning Park, including this introductory video, explain which applies to Elfin Lakes.

  2. In the tour, there was mention of the potentially active (though currently quiescent) volcanic system that underlies Mount Garibaldi. This “Canadian Cascade arc” of volcanoes, called the Garibaldi volcanic belt has produced a number of interesting features including the strato-volcano that is Mt. Garibaldi, the cinder cone that is “Golden cone” (see tour) as well as “Black Tusk“, another stratovolcano relict in the region that marks the skyline around Elfin Lakes, and various basaltic lava features visible at the surface in the surrounding region.
    1. Check out this 360 display with photos and information about Columnar Basalts in the Garibaldi range.
    2. Find out more about the volcanic episodes in the Quaternary and local features that were produced in Russell et al. 2007‘s field trip resource.
  3.  Weathering processes break down massive rock in place. They include broad classes of Physical Weathering and Chemical Weathering. Along the tour, evidence of physical weathering from freeze-thaw cycles and/or frost action was shown. After reviewing definitions and individual processes of Physical and Chemical weathering using your course notes or this resource, consider:
    1. Why is Physical weathering particularly important in alpine environments, as compared to warmer, say temperate, environments?
    2. Why is Chemical weathering relatively less important in alpine environments? (consider both a and b; the answers are slightly different!)
  4. And see the interactive quiz questions embedded within the tour!

References and Further Reading:

Russell, JK, C Hickson, GDMAndrews. 2007. Canadian Cascade volcanism: Subglacial to explosive eruptions along the Sea to Sky Corridor, British Columbia. Geological Society of America, Field Guide 9: 1-29. doi: Available online: Research Gate


Undergraduate Project Assistant Holly Denson-Camp, BA,  helped design, record and program tour hotspots, interactive quiz questions, audio clips, and tour scenes.

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Stepan Wood for photographic assistance in the field. Financial support for this project was provided, in part, by UBC Vancouver students via the Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund.

Elfin Lakes Alpine VR Tour (2021) by Hewitt, N. and H. Denson-Camp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Based on a work at

Creative Commons License