Got all this free time in the summer, and we wanna see more of BC!!
January 11, 2020 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Me + my dear husb want to spend some time road tripping in British Columbia this summer. We are life long residents of Vancouver Island/Lower Mainland, but haven't ventured much further beyond that save for a couple of trips to the Okanagan to visit family, or else just cruising through on the way to Alberta for whatever reason. Where should we go and what should we do??

We are two fun and adventurous dudes in our mid-30s and want to do a good couple weeks exploring our home province... We roadtrip like this nearly every summer, but usually just head south to Washington and Oregon. We definitely want this to be our BC year... driving around, camping at various cool spots. We want to be out in the wilderness, see some great natural sights, hike some trails, find some really nice swimming holes, maybe a hot spring or two,, but also explore some towns, eat at a few cool restaurants, look in weird shops, see live music and meet some locals maybe. "Atlas Obscura" type stuff too... Basically we just want to see stuff and have fun.

The Kootenays is our initial instinct of which way to head,, but what to do when we get there? Are their some other routes we should consider? Anywhere we should hit up along the way we might not have considered? We love Kentucky/Alleyne Prov. Park, and would likely make that place an aim for the first night after leaving home,, or else hitting it on the way back if we end up starting off in a different direction. We enjoy driving the Fraser Canyon/Nicola Valley route as well. We do have pals in Prince George, but that seems... so far. Thought a lot about getting to Haida Gwaii as well, but that seems like maybe a bit big of a commitment to getting there.

Start and end point is the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island, so mind that we have a ferry boat ride to contend with on either end of the trip. We have a tent trailer, likely to bring it along with us but are also fine to leave it at home and just tent it if it seems like a better option.

Give us some ideas, MF pals!!
posted by wats to Travel & Transportation around British Columbia (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about camping in BC, but last summer rednikki and I drove from Vancouver up to Prince George, then through Jasper to Alberta, (Highway 1 to 97 to PG, then Highway 14 to 16 across to Edmonton) and it was *spectacular*. Especially the drive to Prince George. The scenery was stunning, and there's a wide variety of geographic types and climates along the way. We ended up calling the Rockies the Fluffies, because they were completely socked in with clouds when we went through, but if you can see them they're gorgeous.

It was a long drive to Prince George, but it was so beautiful that it didn't feel long. We just took turns looking out the window and saying "Wowwww!"

We did see a grizzly bear by the side of the highway, I think that was on our way out of PG, but it sounds like you're accomplished campers, just a heads-up.

I wish we had been able to take longer to get up to Prince George, I would have liked to slow down and take it all in more than I was able to.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:33 PM on January 11, 2020

Friend and I drove from Vancouver to Banff by following Highway BC-3 (Hope-Princeton and beyond). This is not the fastest way to get there (1,111km according to Google Maps), because this is the highway closest to the border, but is it ever scenic !!
posted by seawallrunner at 9:04 PM on January 11, 2020

Take 3 to either Creston or Fort Steele depending on time available and then head north till you reach 1. Head east on 1 to Cache Creek; take 99 back to Vancouver.

If you travel in May you can pretty well camp at whim along the way at provincial or forest service sites (get the backroads map book for an over view of available off the main road camping if you like that sort of thing). Also IMO the scenery is the most varied before the height of summer as one ascends and descends in the late spring. In the summer popular spots will need reservations on weekends and likely throughout the week.

There is enough hiking along that route that one could spend several years doing it; narrowing down the plethora of choice is the hard part. Highway 3/31/95 are loaded with small towns and all the tourist trappings that go along with it.

In Manning Park starting when Blackwall road to the sub-alpine opens (phone Manning Park Resort for early season status) and for the next couple months there is a constantly changing display of wild flowers to view. Definitely plan to go there if you traveling in late spring or early summer. The first flowers start blooming even before all the snow has melted. I'm up there every couple weeks in the season. Best viewing time is early morning (like the first couple hours starting at pre-dawn) before the hordes descend. Though I've never done it the hike in camping in the sub alpine is supposed to be very nice. It's only a couple hour hike over fairly flat terrain and is first come first served.

Alternatively you could head north on 99 to 97 to 20 to Bella Coola and then take the ferry back to Port Hardy or vice versa. That's more on the wilderness experience than but still plenty of small towns/wide spots on the road along the way. I'd lean that way if I was road tripping in August because it'll be quite a bit cooler than highway 3.

RE: grizzly bears, they are found in much of the province with the exception of high density areas of the lower mainland, Vancouver Island/ Haida Gwaii and the south central interior. Still there are only 15,000 of them spread around the province and encounters are rare unless you are in a hot spot/are seeking them out.
posted by Mitheral at 10:50 PM on January 11, 2020

Former long time resident and road trip aficionado here, I think that's a fantastic idea. I would think about doing a big loop in the interior so that the driving is split up a bit and both travel legs are exciting. Something like Kamloops, Revelstoke, Golden, Radium, returning through Vernon, Kelowna, or Osoyoos, Penticton.
posted by mikek at 3:08 AM on January 12, 2020

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