0830: It’s 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 road 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.
1030: Arrived in Hope – a 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 party because it was Sunday.
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 arrival of 30,000 gold miners by 1858, the area changed for ever. The information board by the river tells the story of te 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 mountain 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. As we wanted to see Hell’s gate, so we opted for the latter.
From this point, the mountains get bigger, the gorges get narrower and the climb gets steeper.
1200: Arrived 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.
There’s not much to see along 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!).
We also found a little bit of home, so far away!
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 has 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.
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 by 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).
- Drive from Kamloops to Jasper is 355 km, and takes about 4 hours non-stop.
- Services: No services in the same sense as UK, 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 close.
- Wildlife spotting count: 1 Marmot (on the side of the road, near a farm)
- Things to see and do on the way:
Finally, a little map of our route on day 1: