Quirky wineries, historic railway trails, and fertile orchards are all part of the sweeping landscape you’ll encounter as you drive beyond Hope. Highway 3 (otherwise known as the Crowsnest Highway) leads towards the Similkameen Valley in the Thompson Okanagan region of BC. Here’s what you can see on a three-day trip.
Fuel up with a big breakfast at Blue Moose Coffee House in Hope, then head out on the highway into E.C. Manning Provincial Park. Covering over 83,000 hectares (205,000 acres) of thick coastal rainforest, wildflower-carpeted alpine meadows, lakes, and Cascade Mountains, the park is a recreational hub for all seasons.
Manning Park Resort has winter cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, ski hills, ice skating, tubing, and tobogganing to enjoy. Come summertime, the trails open for hiking and interpretive walks from the resort; the lakes also open for fishing and nonmotorized boating. Spend a day exploring, then cozy up in the resort’s Bear’s Den Pub and listen to live music before bedding down in the lodge, cabins, or under canvas.
Hit the highway and take a trip down memory lane to the historic town of Princeton in the Similkameen Valley. Before the arrival of gold miners, loggers, and fur traders the area was occupied by the Smelqmix (Similkameen) First Nations people. Pick up gold-panning kits from the Visitor Centre and try your luck in the Princeton Reserve, or hike through the valley of the Tulameen River on a portion of the historic Kettle Valley Rail Trail.
Reward yourself with a flaky butter tart or a hearty bowl of homemade soup at Thomasina’s, a bijou bakery and cafe housed in what was Princeton’s silent movie theatre in the 1920s.
Make your way to Hedley to visit the Hedley Heritage Museum or spend a summertime afternoon floating down the Similkameen River—grab a rubber tube from Hedley Country Market if needed.
Join the line-up at Doug’s Homestead to buy smoked meats, jerky, and pepperoni for your picnic. Pick up piles of fresh fruit in Keremeos (the “fruit stand capital of Canada”) where markets line the highway selling cherries, apples, and apricots in season. Look out for the red-roofed Parsons Farm Market, which has been family-run since 1908 and sells delicious tree fruits, squash, and heirloom veggies from the family farm.
Pitch a tent or park your RV at The Grist Mill & Gardens near Keremeos—explore the 1870s working flour mill and take some time to relax in the tea room and enjoy buttery scones and jam with a view of the Victorian-era gardens.
Designate a driver and stop at a few wineries along the way. Orofino Winery in Cawston is Canada’s only “strawbale” winery. (It has two suites built on top of the barrel room if you’re looking for accommodation and camping is not your style.) Continue your wine tour at Seven Stones Winery, where winemaker George Hanson plays classical music to his wine as it ages in the barrel. Enjoy a Chardonnay-based chicken soup at Crowsnest Vineyards, then drive to the top of Mount Koabau for a hike. (Check for forest fire-related road closures before you head out.)
The Similkameen Valley has one last surprise before you reach Osoyoos. Check out the incredible phenomena of the sacred Spotted Lake, a mineral-rich lake that partially evaporates in the summer to leave circular patterns on the lake bed. Known as kłlilx’w, it’s a sacred place for the Okanagan First Nation (Syilx people). The lake is on private land, and you can see it from the highway.
Say cheers to the end of your trip in Osoyoos with a wine-tasting tour of Oliver Osoyoos Wine Country.
Opening image: Nk’Mip Resort in Osoyoos.
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