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There are a lot of great summer road trips in Canada, but one of the most iconic is the beautiful stretch of meandering road between Vancouver and Calgary along stretches of the Crowsnest Highway. This trip takes you past some incredible spots in the Okanagan Valley and beyond, boasting rolling mountains and forests, provincial parks, BC fruit stands, wine orchards, warm lakes and more.
If you’re travelling between Calgary and Vancouver, or just looking for a weekend roadie, our list of the best stops on a southern BC road trip can ensure you do it right:
The Othello Tunnels are a classic stop near Hope, B.C. This decommissioned railway is an incredible walking trail that eventually leads to the Coquihalla Pass. The five tunnels and series of bridges are lined with interesting rock cliffs and unique views.
Rainbow bridge sunrise at Manning parks lightning lake in the summertime (yes it's still raining in Vancouver) #tbt #rainbowbridge #lightninglake #manningpark #explorebc #explorecanada #ilovebc #imagesofcanada #igs_can #loves_canada #pocket_canada #hellobc #discoverbc #bcparks #bcroadtrip #damgooddays #damgoodtrips #beautifulbc #beautifulbritishcolumbia #pacificnorthwest #pnw #pnwonderland
If you’re leaving from Vancouver, Manning Provincial Park will be the first place you’ll really want to stretch your legs. This incredible park offers some great hiking and lakeside beaches in the summer, as well as some downhill and cross country skiing in the winter. If you didn’t pack a lunch, the park’s lodge serves some great food. If you have the time, hike through the wildflowers in the park’s alpine meadows and spend the night in one of the park’s cabins.
This tiny provincial park is an amazing rest stop. The rock bluff along the river is gorgeous and well treed. There are campsites here and good hiking that provides a view of the Similkameen Valley. Tubing from here to Stemwinder Provincial Park is also a great option if you’ve got a couple vehicles with you.
For those who grew up in urban Canada, fruit stands are a novelty. Keremeos is known as the “fruit stand capital of Canada.” The highway is lined with great places to stop and pick fresh (often organic) Okanagan fruit for nibbling along your drive. Take the time to grab a basket and pick the fruit yourself for a more authentic experience.
A short detour off the highway leads to the beautiful city of Penticton. Small beaches and lakes are ideal for stretching out and swimming, reading your favourite book, or if you’re after some adrenaline, windsurfing and kiteboarding. Take the short drive along the lake to Naramata Bench and stock up on wine.
Osoyoos has one of the warmest lakes in the province and is another amazing spot to stop for a dip. This region also has the dry grasslands and bald hills of the Sonoran Desert that runs as far south as Mexico and stretches north as Canada’s only arid desert. Check out Nk’mip Winery, the Osoyoos Desert Centre and its 1.5 km boardwalk, stop at the top of Anarchist Mountain for an amazing view, and take some photos of the very weird, and very cool, Spotted Lake.
Grand Forks looks like a lot of other nice little towns along your drive, but offers something a little different: Borscht. This town is steeped in Russian lineage and is a great spot to grab a bowl of soup.
Many people end their road trips at Christina Lake, which is said to be the warmest tree-lined lake in Canada. The south end of the lake has a great little provincial park where you can BBQ.
The Okanagen is certainly iconic for its vineyards and wine, but one of the largest and most successful breweries is also located along the Crowsnest Highway, Columbia Brewing Company. Take a tour and grab some icy cold Kokanee to celebrate wherever may be your final stop on your road trip.
Fernie is likely the last stop on your West-East road trip along the Crowsnest. Everything you’d expect from a mountain town is in Fernie: Mountain biking, hiking, swimming, fishing and skiing. But the real crown jewel is an ice cream from The Happy Cow.
Check out each stop we’ve listed on our interactive Google map: