This covers a lot of territory, and the
interior of BC is extremely diverse from desert to rain forest.
There is something about the Canadian Wilderness that can't be
duplicated anywhere else. Those who have sat in a boat on an
Alpine Lake early in the morning, fishing rod in hand, mist
rising off the water, with the haunting sound of the loon in the
distance, will know what I mean.
From Vancouver, there are 2 routes to the
Interior. You can go up Highway 99 through Squamish, Whistler ,
Pemberton and join Highway 1 at Lytton in the Fraser Canyon.
Alternatively, you can take Highway 1 to Hope. From here you have
3 choices. Avoid Highway 5, this route is not as scenic as the
others, although the tolls were removed form it in October, 2008. This leaves you 2 choices,
Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon or Highway 3. Both are scenic
in different ways. If you do decide on the Fraser Canyon route,
take a 10 km side trip along Highway 3 first, to see the Hope
Slide (see link under Hope, BC in the table below for a picture).
The Fraser Canyon route follows the Fraser River and then the
Thompson. From Hope to Cache Creek, the landscape changes from
West Coast rain forest to desert. The Thompson river is also a
favourite location for white water rafting. Its not as exciting as
the Zambezi, but well worth the $100 it costs for a one day trip.
See links below for companies. Continuing north of Cache Creek,
you enter the Cariboo region. This is a large ranching region of
rolling hills. Its possible find guest ranches, horseback riding
etc. Alternatively from Cache Creek, you can head east to
Kamloops and then south into the Okanagan or east to Banff.
The other route from Hope, is Highway 3 to
Princeton. Other than the Coquihalla Toll Highway, this is the
fastest route to the Okanagan valley described in the next
paragraph. My favourite spot along this highway is Lightning
Lakes. The turnoff is to the right, just past the Manning Park
Lodge about 60 km from Hope. These are a series of 4 very
picturesque lakes that are probably the closest to your image of
Canadian Alpine Lakes you will find. There is a government
campsite here and one at nearby Coldspring. Note: You need to make reservations
to get into Lightning lake campground in July & August. It is possible to
hike up the lakes, and its a good one for families, since there
is little altitude gain. If your headed to the Okanagan Valley,
you have another choice of routes at Princeton. Highway 5A north
of Princeton Intercepts 97C which then joins the main Okanagan
Highway at Peachland. I am particularly fond of Highway 5A. It
has several very pretty lakes along its route. Unfortunately 97C
is very dull. The other alternative is to continue on Highway 3
to either Ossoyoos or Keremeos and head north into the Okanagan
or east into the Kootenays.
Lake, Manning Park , 60 Km E. of Hope on Hwy. 3
Those who like warm, sunny weather, lakes and
good wine won't be able to do much better than the Okanagan
Region. This is a semi-arid area, stretching from Ossoyoos at the
U.S. Border to Kamloops, and is one of favourite areas of the
Province. There are over 40 Wineries in this area and most have
tours. (see links below) BC wines are a major success story. 20
years ago they were only good for cleaning paintbrushes, now they
are recognized as being some of the best in the world. The
Okanagan is also known for its large clean lakes, which offer a
contrast to the almost desert landscape. There are many
campgrounds in the area, but this area is very popular and it can
be difficult to find a vacant one in July-August. The area is
also noted for its high temperatures in summer, usually in the
mid to high 30's C and sometimes exceeding 40 C. (90 to 105 F)
Okanagan Lake itself is interesting , as it is home to Ogopogo,
a lake monster that supposedly lives in the lake. Evidence for this particular
creature is quite strong. Hundreds of sightings have occurred over the
last 100 years. There have been many sightings by more than one individual at
the same time, which makes this particular monster somewhat more believable. The
largest occurred in September 1926 when 30 carloads of people simultaneously
watched it. The creature was well known to the natives of the area who had a
healthy respect for it. The lake is over 100 miles long and is over 1000 ft deep
in many areas, so its certainly possible it contains something other than fish.
A friend of my parents saw it, when water skiing a few years back ,and never
went in the lake again. There is actually a 2 million dollar reward to anyone
who can come up with indisputable proof of its existence. Here is a link to
extensive information on the creature, if you are interested: http://sunnyokanagan.com/ogopogo/
Camping has become very tight along Okanagan lake, high land values have caused many cmapsites to be developed into Condo's. A good bet is the forestry site on the west side of the lake between Kelowna & Vernon. It is on the very narrow & curvey, West Lakeshore Road, north of Fintry Provincial Park, closer to the Vernon end than the Kelowna end. It is not well known. Look for the green sign on the lakeshore side of the road. There is a steep descent to it.
Massive forest fires in the Kelowna area in August 2003 have destroyed much
of the forested areas to the south & east of the city (including many
subdivisions in the city itself)
The Okanagan is the site of the Kettle
Valley Railway. This Railroad was an incredible feat of
construction which used to run from the Okanagan Valley to
Vancouver. The Railway became uneconomical in the 60's and was
abandoned. The tracks were removed, leaving just the right-of-way
and an incredible number of trestles and tunnels. These were restored as bike
paths. Unfortunately nearly all of them were destroyed by the massive forest
fire of August 2003, including the most impressive 18, located in Myra canyon
near Kelowna. This fire also destroyed hundreds of homes in t the Kelowna area.
They may eventually be rebuilt, but of course the historic significance of the
originals is lost forever. A short section of the railway
complete with tunnels has been turned into a tourist attraction
near the town of Hope, 160 km east of Vancouver at the junction
of Hwy's #1, #3 and #5. (See links in Table under Kettle Valley
To the northeast of the Okanagan is the Shuswap
area centered around Shuswap Lake which is located east of
Kamloops. This area is less arid than the Okanagan and Shuswap
lake is beautiful lake with many camping opportunities around its
shores. A popular summer pastime is to rent a houseboat on this
lake for a week or two. This is also the area of the famous Adams
River salmon run in late fall where you can view thousands of
spawning salmon. There are two links to sites specializing in the Shuswap
area in the table below.
If you have always had an urge to try the
western lifestyle, and being on a horse is your idea of a good
time, you won't do much better than the Douglas Lake Ranch near
Merritt (Junction of the Coquihalla Hwy and 97A). This is a 3
hour drive from Vancouver. Accommodation here ranges from cheap
bring your own tent camping (about $15), to lodge accommodation
(about $140). You can horseback ride, boat, or experience some of
the best fly fishing around. See the link in the table below for
details, or if you live in North America, phone toll free at
Campsite at Okanagan Lake 30
km north of Penticton on Hwy. 97.
A little further north is the Kamloops region.
It is possible to rent a houseboat on Shuswap Lake, east of the
city. To the north along Highway 5, there is Wells Grey Park,
near Clearwater. This park boosts some spectacular waterfalls.
Heading south of the Okanagan and east along
Highway 3 will take you into the Kootenay region. This area has
many lakes, campgrounds and areas of historical interest.
There are several Hostels in Southern BC, both those run by Hostelling
International & others. There are links to them in the table below.
Helmekin Falls in Wells Gray Park near Clearwater.