Day Tripping: Othello Tunnels


Tuesday, May 13th, 2008 — 10:02am PST
Comments 11

Oodles of glorious sunshine being predicted for this weekend gets me thinking about outdoor activities. Should a Metro Vancouverite feel like a mini-escape, perhaps even a multi-hour adventure in a single day, what are the options? I’ve decided to pull from a pool of childhood Sunday drive memories and highlight a few gems in this new series: Day Tripping.

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Located just over an hour outside of Vancouver, heading East on Hwy 1, you’ll come to the lovely town of Hope (also known as the gateway to holidayland).

Once in Hope you can split off to the Crowsnest Highway, which will take you along Southern BC to the Alberta border, up to the Fraser Canyon along Highway 1 (Trans Canada), or take the 5 along the Coquihalla to Merritt and beyond. More info about regional highways is available at DriveBC. However, there is much benefit to staying in the Hope-land area.

Aside from being a great breakfast spot with amazing mountain views nestled between those evergreen-covered giants, hope is also very historically significant for BC. Located along the Fraser River it was a major pit stop for those gold-rushing up the canyon.

The area I would like to feature is Coquihalla Canyon Park which is more commonly known as the Othello Tunnels. This quintet of railway tunnels, originally part of the Kettle Valley Railway are intertwined with a series of bridges which follow a relatively straight line through a gorge lined with sheer, flat rock cliffs. [TheKettleValleyRailway]

Othello Tunnels

Trains don’t pass through the tunnels anymore but they’re seriously fun to check out – if you can stand damp darkness and the feeling of being rushed back a hundred years. Here’s an excerpt from a great local resource, FindFamilyFun:

If you have a flashlight, bring it. There are puddles inside the tunnels and I stepped right in the middle of one. In between the tunnels are viewing spots where you can see the Coquihalla River. Be careful, it’s a long way down.

Age group: I saw people from all ages going to the tunnels. You may not enjoy it as much if you don’t like walking (because it takes about 15 minutes to get there), or if you’re scared of the dark.

Oh yes, and there are bats… just so you know.

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We used to go trudging through with my dad (while my mom sat in the car) and always enjoyed the adventure. I haven’t been in about 20 years but it looks like the paths are more cleared away and marked, I recalled saying, “are we supposed to be here?” several times thinking a train was going to rush up behind us at any minute.

In grade 12 for my provincial exam in English our essay theme was “Hope” and I wrote purely about our adventures to Hope and the Othello Tunnels. I’m sure they were looking for something more traditionally inspirational, but seeing my score of 90% lead me to believe the board appreciated my spin.

The Othello Tunnels make a great day trip, and I would also recommend stopping in at Rolly’s in Hope for breakfast on your way out there (if you like the vinyl booth + eggs n’ sausage with never-ending coffee breakfasts like we do). Around the corner on Fraser Street there’s also one of those wooden boards with a space cutout to insert your head on Rambo’s body. Good times.

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11 comments

  1. Raul says:

    I’m up for a day trip this weekend if you’re up for it (all we need to do is organize cars and stuff) Although this seems to be one with a specifically targeted location, rather than a day trip around the Lower Mainland like we had previously discussed. At any rate, I *love* the idea and excited about the series!

  2. fotoeins says:

    Tunnels! Rail tunnels! Bats! Cliffs & sheer drops! Eggs & sn’sausage …

    SOLD!

  3. Luc says:

    Day Tripping – great new series!
    By the way, I heard in the news that the gas price is expected to rise just before the long weekend.

  4. Miss604 says:

    @Luc, yes it usually does – carpool FTW!

  5. DaveO says:

    I am thinking of finding some hot springs to visit this weekend – after weeks of meetups, events, blogfest and geek camps, i am ready for tent camping and a stack of pancakes in a small town diner.

  6. Keith says:

    Love the Othello tunnels. Its a great piece of BC history to explore, and a nice short walk. The KVR is a huge part of BC history even though parts of it were severely damaged in the fires a few years ago they’re still worth checking out.

  7. […] The Othello Tunnels were closed but have now reopened after upgrades to trails and public safety related work. […]

  8. Sonia says:

    Yesterday our family was heading out early to go do the Grouse Grind for some exercise, but due to the heavy rain decided to head out the other way for a family adventure. My son and his father has visited the Othello Tunnels, but I have never been there.

    What a spectacular site, the scenery is breathtaking and the engineering of Andrew McCulloch is something to see (when you consider what elements they were working with). I never seen any bats, but yes there is lots of puddles to watch out for. I didn’t have a flashlight, but next time I will be prepared.

    Afterward we went for coffee and steamed milk at the Blue Moose and enjoyed it as we sat in the city park across the street.

  9. rudy kehler says:

    Thanks for writing about Hope, Rebecca! I’m always super-glad when I hear that someone has discovered or rediscovered a Hope activity or feature location.

    thanks again,
    rudy
    http://thesimplifycompany.com

  10. […] vehicle to arrive at most of these destinations, the drive time is less than an hour for each: The Othello Tunnels (near Hope, BC), Chuckanut Drive (just south of the border), Hell’s Gate (take the airtram […]

  11. Dawn says:

    We visited Othello Tunnels just a couple of days ago. Just stunning! Because it’s still early in the year for tourists, we had the place almost to ourselves. Even better, when we arrived, the park ranger told us the parking ticket machine wasn’t working so we didn’t have to pay for parking.

    It was a fantastic day out though, and well worth the journey!

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