Category: golden

BC Road Trip: Coast to the Rockies by RV

Travelling by RV allows you to bring the comforts of home into the wild nature of BC, thanks to camping options that range from full-service glamping sites to rustic, natural retreats. Here are some ideas to help you plan an RVing adventure from BC’s Coast to the Rocky Mountains.

Pick your route.

Trans-Canada Highway (Vancouver, Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden, Banff)
Rogers Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Rogers Pass on the Trans-Canada Highway. Photo: @_miss.mandy_ via instagram

The Trans-Canada (also referred to as Highway 1) is a direct and well-travelled RV route. If you’re not comfortable with mountain driving, exit the Trans-Canada at Hope for the Coquihalla Highway. Connect back to the Trans-Canada in Kamploops, or continue through the Okanagan Valley via Kelowna and Vernon and reconnect in Sicamous.  Spend time in the mountain parks; locomotive fans will want to check out the railway museum in Revelstoke and the Spiral Tunnels in Yoho National Park.

For a change in scenery, consider taking Highway 8 off the Trans-Canada at Spences Bridge, which traces the Fraser Canyon along the Nicola River.

Highway 99 to Highway 5 (Vancouver, Whistler, Lillooet, Clearwater, Valemount, Jasper)
Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99).

Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99). Photo: Destination BC

This route travels BC’s coastline with breathtaking views of the ocean on one side and jutting rock on the other. Be aware that the road can be narrow and twisty, with sharp corners and some steep areas (especially the Duffy Lake section).

A more direct option is to take the Trans-Canada route, and then connect to Highway 5 in Kamloops.

Highway 3 and the Kootenays (Manning Park, Osoyoos, West Kootenays, Banff)
Sinclair Canyon, the entrance to Kootenay National Park and Radium BC.

Sinclair Canyon, the entrance to Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs.  Photo: Kari Medig

The Highway 3 route from Hope and on through the Kootenays is a spectacular drive, passing through parks, small towns, and mountain ranges. Be aware, Allison Pass through Manning Park has some steep grades. 

Consider these stops:

 

Make the time to take your time.

Depending on your route, driving from Vancouver to the Rockies is approximately 800 km (500 mi) —equaling eight to 10 hours driving time—up and over several mountain passes. Routes go from coastal waters, through rainforest, desert, wine and orchard country, mountain ranges, small towns, parks, and historic railway and gold rush sites. Give yourself time to stop, stay, and explore along the way.

Renting an RV? Make it a one-way trip.

Many RV rental companies allow you to pick up your rental in Vancouver and drop it off in Calgary (and vice versa). Click here for more tips on renting an RV in BC.

Where to camp with an RV. 

San Juan River on BC's coast.

San Juan River on BC’s coast. Photo: @theworldinwhich via instagram

Find RV-friendly campsites here. After a long drive, avoid having to back in by calling ahead and reserving a site with a pull-through spot.

Parks on the way.

No matter the route you choose, you’ll pass through both provincial and national parks. Here are just a few to visit:

  • Garibaldi Park off Highway 99. Hike to Garibaldi Lake for stunning views of the park.
  • Wells Gray Park off Highway 5. This is one of BC’s larger parks, at 541,516 hectares (1,338,115 acres), and it’s full of natural wonders like volcanoes, waterfalls, mineral springs, and glaciers.
  • Mount Robson Park off Highway 16 (from Highway 5). Here you’ll see the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies, and the view of Mount Robson does not disappoint.
  • Glacier National Park off the Trans-Canada Highway. Home to glaciers, old-growth forest, alpine meadows, and Rogers Pass, the final link in Canada’s national railway.
  • Yoho National Park off the Trans-Canada Highway on the western slopes of the Canadian Rockies.
  • Whiteswan Lake Park off Highway 93 (from Highway 3). On your way in, keep an eye out for Lussier Hot Springs, a natural spring set in the forest beside the Lussier River.  
  • Manning Park off Highway 3. In the heart of the Cascade Mountains, Manning is an all-season recreation destination.
  • Gladstone Park off Highway 3. A short hike to Christina lake, one of the warmest and clearest lakes in Canada.
  • Kootenay National Park on Highway 93 is home to Radium Hot Springs.

 

When should you go?

Spring, summer, and fall months are the best times to be on the road, but high-elevation areas are known to have snowstorms in April, May, and October.

Plan ahead.

Reserve your Provincial park campsite here.

Plan your Trans-Canada Highway route here.

For up to the minute BC road conditions visit Drive BC.

Explore other BC road trip routes.

Featured Image: Driving along Highway 3 next to the Kootenay River. Photo: Keri Medig.

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Mountain Towns: Golden

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, in the Rocky Mountains near Golden.

Amazing powder at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: RCR-Trent Bona

There was a time when Golden was barely on the ski map. Up until the end of 2000, the mountainous terrain around this railroad town was served exclusively by a small, weekend-only ski area named Whitetooth. It operated since 1986, and people had been backcountry skiing here for decades, but the name “Golden” was not on many skiers tongues outside the immediate area. Not until the Kicking Horse busted the town’s reputation wide open.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden.

Eagle’s Eye Restaurant boasts an amazing view. Photo: RCR-Dave Best

When Kicking Horse Mountain Resort opened in 2000, the ski and snowboard world noticed. They had to. With some of the steepest sustained fall lines, gnarly chutes, and some good old-fashioned powder bowl skiing, Kicking Horse came on like a wild animal. People now flock to the resort for serene panoramic vistas followed by rowdy, leg-burning descents. Of course, it’s not all hardcore. As with any ski resort in North America, there are options for families with kids, especially in the lower terrain grandfathered in from Whitetooth. And there’s also an easy, 10-kilometre (6 mile) run that goes all the way from the peak to base, so beginners aren’t restricted to the lower sections. In short, everyone’s welcome, but experts will fall in love a whole lot faster.

The resort is made up of 1,133 hectares (2,800 acres), four bowls, countless chutes, and a bunch of ridgelines. The big three ridges for skiing cool lines are named CPR, Terminator, and Redemption. There are only four lifts, so getting around is easy. It’s an explorer’s mountain. Get up there and root around. Everyone finds something.

Backcountry Skiing in Golden

Beautiful skies over Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden.

Beautiful skies over Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: RCR

One of the qualities that makes Golden’s mountain town status shine so bright is its access to backcountry. Arguably, it’s the nexus of cat, heli and human-powered backcountry skiing and riding. With three heliskiing companies and one catskiing operation, the area knows how to make good use of the numerous ranges that come together here. Indeed, the first heli-skiing in the world went down in the nearby Bugaboo Range. Rogers Pass, an easy drive from town, also offers world-class backcountry.

Food and Drink

Dogs at the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Enjoying some mountain-top downtime. Photo: RCR

When the shredding’s done, the celebration begins. The Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at the top of the gondola is worth spending extra cash. Enjoy a drawn-out cocktail complete with as-far-as-the-eye-can-see mountain views, or splurge on a dinner. It’s an experience mostly found in European ski destinations. The town of Golden has a recent influx of great spots to stop for a drink and a bite to eat after a day of testing what you thought were strong legs.

In the morning, Purcell Coffee in town or the Double Black Café on the mountain are your best choices to get caffeinated. For lunch or dinner, the Cedar House is known for upscale urban fare, and Eleven22 is a relatively affordable local’s favourite that does dinner right. Don’t miss it. As for après, the Riverhouse Tavern is a pub that some might call a dive bar, and others might call perfect. The Golden Taps is another simple, cozy pub with good beer. Drink the local stuff. It’s better. Also, be sure to open up to the locals. They love their little ski town and are proud to talk about it. They should be.

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Explore BC’s Wildlife with @johnemarriott

Discover BC through the eyes of its locals! Each week we #exploreBC through a different Instagrammer who share their favourite local spots and experiences.

This week, we’re featuring @johnemarriott, one of Canada’s premier wildlife photographers. This week, he will be sharing some of his favourite wildlife shots from throughout the province.

The silhouette of a wood bison against a gray sky in Northern British Columbia by @johnemarriott.

“It’s always a thrill to travel the roads in Northern British Columbia and watch for these big behemoths along the right-of-ways. Despite the fact I grew up in Salmon Arm in the interior of BC, I had no idea that our province had wild bison until my first trip up the Alaska Highway in 2002. Watch for this guys around Liard Hot Springs, in particular.”

A white-coated Kermode bear walking across a creek in the Great Bear Rainforest, with mossy rocks and trees surrounding him.

“There are few experiences quite like watching one of the world’s rarest mammals, the kermode bear (a black bear with a double recessive gene that makes 1 in 10 white), fish for salmon in the lush Great Bear Rainforest south of Prince Rupert. There are fewer than 400 kermode bears in the world, all found only in British Columbia, so I feel privileged that I’ve gotten to spend time photographing them every year since 2008.”

A Grizzly bear looking curious amongst the grass at Mussel Inlet in the Great Bear Rainforest.

“I was leading a photo tour into a remote inlet in coastal British Columbia in late October 2013 and we hadn’t had much luck finding grizzly bears. On our final day, in the pouring rain, we came across this gorgeous bear that sat and posed for us just meters in front of our zodiac. It was a magical experience with a beautiful animal that I won’t soon forget.”

Mountain goat sleeping on a mountain cliff under one sole tree near Golden

“I was driving the Trans-Canada Highway near Golden, British Columbia last spring when I suddenly noticed this guy laying on a cliff up above the highway to my right. From a photographer’s perspective, it was a stunning scene, with the one lone tree providing company (and contrast) to this big billy goat taking a break from a life of wandering these harrowing mountainsides.”

Bull moose with big antlers poking is head through the shrubs with skinny trees in the background in Kootenay National Park's Marble Canyon by @johnemarriott

Kootenay National Park in the Canadian Rockies is one of Canada’s most scenic national parks, but it also comes with a healthy population of wildlife. I spent a week following this big bull and a buddy of his through the regenerating forests near Marble Canyon, which where burnt to a crisp during a massive forest fire in 2003. While the fire temporarily created a stark barren landscape, today its lush new growth attracts all sorts of animals, big and small.”

Humpback whale breaching with water spraying off its body, mountains in the background and blue sky above near Bella Bella

“You’ve got to be kidding me! I think I must have said those words a hundred times off the north coast of Vancouver Island on the glorious sunny day that my photo group came across this playful humpback whale, which thundered in and out of the water over and over and over again for almost two hours one summer afternoon. We never did figure out what it was doing (showing off for the photographers?), but we were definitely grateful for the experience.”

A close up of a wild gray wolf and its piercing yellow eyes near Prince George

“Few animals in British Columbia are harder to photograph than wild wolves. I’ve spent years tracking and following certain packs in Alberta and British Columbia and every once in a while run in to incredible situations with wolves that defy all stereotypes. This particular wolf near Prince George early one spring morning (4:55 am!) was incredibly inquisitive and nosed all around me, but wandered off when a pack mate howled in the distance.”

About @johnemarriott 

John E. Marriott grew up in British Columbia and credits long summer days fishing the creeks of the Shuswap with his Dad for giving him a passion for the outdoors that has led to a 20-year career as one of Canada’s premier wildlife photographers. You will have seen his images on the covers of Canadian Geographic, Canadian Wildlife, and British Columbia Magazine. For more of John’s wildlife photography, visit his website.

Looking for more BC experiences and destinations? Follow us on Instagram at @hellobc.  

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