Usually when we go back to see J’s family we do the entire drive in one day, stopping only for gas and bathroom breaks. This time we broke the trip down into two days so we would have to time to actually stop and look at things in the mountains. Sightseeing also had the benefit of being able to time Suki’s pee breaks with each stop.
Our first stop was the Othello Tunnels in the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park. Sadly we were only able to see the first tunnel due to a structural failure of the bridge abutment, but nonetheless it was still very cool. I would recommend bringing a flashlight, especially if you’re going to be walking through with your dog. The tunnel was pitch black and I couldn’t tell where Suki was at all. I ended up picking her up the first time through so I wouldn’t have to worry about someone tripping over her in the dark, and on the return walk I clipped a blinking safety light to her harness.
The tunnels were carved in the early 1900’s as part of a railway project to connect the B.C. coast to the Kootenay Region. Right after the first tunnel opens up you can see the river far below. A board near the mouth of the tunnel said they took passenger trains through at night so the people wouldn’t panic when they saw the steep and treacherous drop-offs.
Next we took the scenic route along Kelowna’s section of Lake Okanagan. While it does make for some pretty nice photos, I’m not sure I would go this way again. The road is quite narrow and twisty, so there’s not much opportunity for the driver to actually take in the view. If you have the time for a detour it’s certainly worth trying at least once though, or better yet plan a trip that gives you time to actually explore the area (kayaking in search of the ogopogo, perhaps). Just be aware that there are western rattlesnakes here.
The next stop was Roger’s Pass at Glacier National Park. With an elevation of 1,330 meters (4,360 feet), Roger’s Pass is a shortcut around the “big bend” of the Columbia River.
The view is spectacular, with white-capped mountains on either side. I think of all the stops we made, Roger’s Pass was probably my favourite.
They had plaques around the circle of each province’s crest. Fun fact: Without the pass connecting B.C. to the rest of Canada, we might have become part of the US. If you’d like to do some in-depth reading on Roger’s Pass, follow this link.
The pass gets quite a bit of snow in the winter, and because of the steep mountains around it it’s prone to avalanches. A plaque next to this cannon said they used (use?) it for that purpose. To see it in action, click here.
Next was the Golden Pedestrian Bridge. The bridge is surrounded by a really spectacular garden area, which itself is worth stopping to check out.
Spanning the Kicking Horse River, it’s the longest covered, timber-frame bridge in Canada. We didn’t have much time to spend here, but the bridge connects to a walking trail that circles the town of Golden.
We had plans to do a lot more, but the rest of the trip is through provincial/national parks. I have no problem paying fees to use parks, but because we didn’t have much time to spend at each stop we decided to set the parks aside for their own trip where we can make the most of our time. We didn’t do anything on the return trip because Suki was still recovering from a nasty stomach upset caused by her travel food. I’ll post about that, and the lesson I learned from it, later.
I love traveling through the mountains. I just love the mountains in general. I have nothing against the prairies, and they’re great in their own way, but without those rock monoliths jutting out from the landscape it just doesn’t feel like home.