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.
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]
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.
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.