A Canadian Road Trip: Vancouver to Kamloops

0830: It is Day 1 of our road trip through the Canadian Rockies. We picked up our hire car from Vancouver and started to head out of the city.  We needed to find Highway 1 East to get to Kamloops. This was more difficult than anticipated as there were a number of closures due to road works.  Thankfully we had a SatNav, so we managed to (eventually) get on to Highway 1.

The mountains and waterfalls shrouded in mist started to appear as soon as we were out of the Vancouver suburbs, although they were nothing compared to what we would see in the next few days.

Our first taste of mountains and waterfalls

1030: Arrived in Hope – a little town just before you hit the mountains.


On this sleepy Sunday, most of the town was closed, but we found the Blue Moose Cafe for a coffee and a cake. They had “London Fog” on the drinks menu, which I just had to try – it turned out to be a very frothy and milky tea. I loved it. Blue Moose Cafe has a very nice and cosy atmosphere and the staff were really friendly.


After enjoying our tea break,  we wandered around the town for a bit. There wasn’t a lot to see and the town was really quiet, partly because it was the start of the season and partly because it was Sunday (and the cafe staff told us that the prom for the local school was the night before, so most people were sleeping it off 🙂



According to a tourist brochure we picked up “In 1848, this area was described by the Hudson’s Bay Company employees as the “best hope” for finding an inland trade route that by passed the Fraser Canyon”. Hence the name “Hope”. The Hudson Bay Company set up Fort Hope in 1848, to facilitate gold mining in the area.

Hope is also the Coquihalla river meets the Fraser river. Although the day was gloomy and overcast, it was still beautiful by the riverside.


Before the arrival of European settlers, this area was inhabited for a thousands of years by the Sto:lo people. Their history in this area goes back 9000 years. However, with the arrival of 30,000 gold miners by 1858, the area changed forever. The information board by the river tells the story of the Sto:lo people and their first contact with Europeans.


Although it seemed really quiet today, apparently in the peak season the town gets really busy, as everyone heading to the mountains stop here to stock up.

1115: After the tea, it was time to hit the road again. There are two ways to get to Kamloops from Hope. Highway 5 via Merrit, or (the smaller) Highway 1 via Hell’s Gate. We wanted to see Hell’s gate, so we opted for the latter.

From this point on, the mountains get bigger, the gorges get narrower and the climb gets steeper.

Mountains on Highway 1, after Hope
Tunnel on the way to Hell’s gate
View from foot bridge across the road at Hell’s gate

1200:  Arrived at Hell’s Gate. I’ve written a seperate post about our time at Hell’s gate.

1330: Back on the road, and we are heading towards Cache Creek. The morning rain and mist has now cleared and it was turning to be a bright day. The Fraser river and the railway runs parallel to the road for most of the way, crossing each other every now and again.

Road to Kamloops
Road to Kamloops – the Fraser River Runs parallel to the road a lot of the way
Highway 1 stretching out to the distance

There’s not much to see along the way, although if you are spending a few days in the area, there are many hiking trails, campsites and parks.

1515: We were getting quite hungry by this point, so we stopped in Cache Creek for lunch at the Bear Claw Lodge. Although it was the back end of the lunch hour, they were very kind and in no time we had two huge club sandwiches in front of us (No photos as I was too busy eating!).

Lunch at Bear Claw Lodge

We also found a little bit of home, so far away!

Mug – Made in Stoke-on-Trent, England!

1600: Back on the road again.

15 minutes later, we had somehow ended on Highway 97 heading North towards Clinton rather than staying on Highway 1 heading east. The SatNav re-calculated the route, and all of a sudden, our total distance remaining had increased by 40 miles!

Little bit of checking revealed that in all its wisdom, the SatNav decided to send us 20 miles to the next town of Clinton, only to turn around there and come back, rather than say “make a U-turn when possible”.  I never thought I’d say this, but the “make a U-turn when possible is a good feature that no SatNav should be without”. Lesson here: follow the SatNav, but use your brain. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we ignored the SatNav, did a U-turn a couple of miles up the road  (at the entrance to a farm) and soon we were back on Highway 1.

From this point, the landscape again changes, and instead of rugged mountains, you get flat lands and even some farms.



As you get closer to Kamloops, you get the beautiful blue Kamloops lake accompanying you.


Kamloops Lake
Kamloops town in the distance

1715: Arrived in Kamloops. We are staying in the Thompson hotel and conference centre, in the centre of town.

1900: Dinner at the Nobel Pig restaurant which is next to the hotel. Great food and great atmosphere. Can’t beat a beer flight and a cocktail after a long day of driving.

Apart from the minor  mishap with the SatNav, the first day of our journey through the Canadian Rockies was a success. We saw some great scenery and I loved stopping in Hope and Hell’s Gate. We were impressed by what we had seen, but little did we know that what awaited us over the next 4 days would completely take our breath away. (Posts coming up on those – Read about Day 2 – Kamloops to Jasper here).

Trip Summary

  • Drive  from  Vancouver to Kamloops is ~430 km, and takes about 5 hours non-stop (The route is shorter if you go via Merritt).
  • Services: No large service stations, but plenty of small villages and communities along the way – although be weary if you are travelling on a Sunday or in off-season, as many places will be closed.
  • Wildlife spotting count: 1 Marmot (on the side of the road, near a farm)
  • Things to see and do on the way:
    • Hell’s Gate
    • Numerous outdoor activities (hiking, kayaking, camping, mountain biking etc) all the way along in the Gold Country. Also plenty of Heritage, arts and culture attractions.

Finally, a  little map of our route on day 1:


I’m linking this to #wanderfulwednesday with Lauren of Lauren on Location, Van of Snow in Tromso, Isabel of The Sunny Side of This and Marcella of What a Wonderful World

Button WW2.jpg


  1. Just a quick question. Is 5 days enough to go from Kamloops, Lake Louise/Banff, Jasper and return? I’m planning to go end of May. 1 day in Lake Louise, 2 days in Jasper. I’m also planning on driving from Kamloops to Lake Louise via Hwy 1, and on the return through Jasper (reverse of what you did). Hope the return is just a scenic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Patrizia, sorry for the delay in replying. Yes, 5 days to cover those is sufficient (but take more time if you want to go on day hikes etc.). I’m sure the icefields parkway os just as beautiful on reverse. Infact, I hope to just that if I go again. Just a note about going at the end of May – depending on the weather, some seasonal cafes/restaurants may be closed. We went in the first week of June and some places we visited had only just opened a day or two before.


  2. I am planning a solo road trip from Kamloops to Jasper in May 2020 and stumbling upon your blog was no coincidence. I’m from Canada and have never been out west. Way overdue. Your diary was very helpful. I have it bookmarked. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jessica, Hope you have a great trip. It is such a fantastic part of the world. I’ve got a post coming up in a few days about our day in Jasper National Park – hope you will like it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.


  3. We made this same drive “spontaneously” on our honeymoon and stayed the night in Kamloops – it was absolutely beautiful!! “Spontaneously” because my new husband didn’t have the right documents to enter Canada by air, so we had to get off our plane in Seattle and drive the rest of the way to Banff… 😀 It all worked out, and we got to see much more of Canada this way! #WanderfulWednesday

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, if you were going to have to do a road trip, you couldn’t have picked a better one 🙂 Hope you had a great Honeymoon. (Our trip continued to Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff, so more posts coming up. ) Thanks for stopping by.


    1. If you love mountains, the Rockies are a must :). I’ve got a few more posts coming up on the same trip, hopefully you will like them 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.


    1. Thanks Bianca. It was a great trip, I must admit. More posts coming up. I hope you have A great roadtrip to Scotland this year. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. Thank you for sharing the timeline of your roadtrip with us, I found this most helpful and informative 🙂 I do plan to do a roadtrip one day, I think it could be fun and a new way to travel, and the Rockies are on our list! #TheWeeklyPostcard


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s