Vancouver - Kelowna: Best route?

Feb 17th, 2005, 12:34 PM
  #1  
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Vancouver - Kelowna: Best route?

Hello there! Part of our Sept-Oct holiday to Western Canada includes driving from Vancouver to Kelowna en route to the Rockies. As far as I can see, there are two obvious ways to travel:
Hwy 1 Hope - say, Lytton - Spencers Bridge -Merritt
or Hwy 5 Hope - Merritt
Which is the most scenic/interesting and how long a drive will each take? My guess is that Hwy 1 is more interesting but Hwy 5 is quicker. Is there another alternative?
Thanks in advance.
Gwaihir is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 01:47 PM
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You can also go through Manning Park which would take a little longer than the Coquihalla route (hwy 5) from Hope to Merritt. I can't help with which route is best - I like them all!
April is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 02:52 PM
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That's about it - Hwy 5 is less interesting, but it's quicker. However, it's also a toll highway so you'll be paying to use it just before you reach Merritt.

Hwy 1 is more interesting as it follows the Fraser Canyon, and it's more historical in the way that it's the old Cariboo Trail - the gold rush trail miners used in the 1800's to reach Barkerville and the Yukon. But, it's slower.

If you're really ambitious and have some extra time, I'd take the way that April suggested. When you get to Hope, you can take 3 choices: Hwy 1 (Fraser Canyon), Hwy 5 (Coquihalla) or Hwy 3 (Crowsnest).

Hwy 3 goes east from Hope through the Cascade mountain range into the huge Manning Provincial Park. Lots of great trails, lakes, hiking/camping opportunities, or just even a good place to stretch your legs and have a picnic lunch. It takes a while to drive through Manning Park as you're high up in the mountains and the highway is very curvy. I drove it last August and I remember well those curves!

Once you descend out of the mountains and out of Manning Park, you enter a new climate zone where everything is semi-arid. The first town you enter is Princeton. It's in Princeton (about a 1.5 drive from Hope, approximately?) where you turn north into the city and take the road to Coalmont and then to Tulameen. Coalmont is a trip. You turn the corner and all of a sudden there's this beautiful old hotel from the 1800's, decked out like it's on a movie set from the wild west. And that's exactly what Coalmont used to be - a mining town from the 1800's. The road follows along Tulameen River until you get to the small town of Tulameen, another ex-mining town, now home to 200 or so residents. It's located on Otter Lake, and I actually spent a summer there with my family. It's a beautiful hidden spot.

From Tulameen you would head on the road north through a very isolated stretch of road. When my family drove that road north of Tulameen, we were the only for the most part. You eventually enter rolling farmland with ranches. The road merges onto Hwy 5a (Princeton-Kamloops highway) and into Merritt via Hwy 97C

The entire time you're essentially parallels the Coquihalla, except it's a quiter, more scenic road and you're not in the mountains - you're in the valley to the east.

There is one more alternate road, and that's again, from Princeton, instead of taking the road to Tulameen, you would head up Hwy 5a.
Carmanah is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 02:54 PM
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Oops, pressed "post my reply" before I meant to send it!

I was going to say, from Princeton, instead of taking the road through Coalmont and Tulameen, you can just take Hwy 5a. You don't pass through any towns on this highway, but you do pass by many tiny lakes. I prefer the Tulameen way however, because it's more scenic and varied, however, it's essentially the same way into Merritt.
Carmanah is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 03:07 PM
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And now I feel even sillier... I forgot you were going to Kelowna, not Merritt!

I'd take Hwy 3 all the way through to Kelowna as it's definitely the most scenic. From Hope, Hwy 3 goes through Manning Park to Princeton. From Princeton you'd head east on Hwy 3 to Keremeos, then north along Hwy 3a to Hwy 97 in Penticton. Then, it's another hour north along Okanagan Lake to Kelowna.
Carmanah is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 04:37 PM
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Carmanah, great info! If I didn't have am extremely carsick kid, I'd follow your 5a route. Great suggestions.
BowenLinda is offline  
Feb 17th, 2005, 07:00 PM
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That's really very helpful, thank you! And yes, I can see hwy 3 and 3a on my map. It looks a long way though. How long will it take to drive Vancouver to Hope then Hope to Kelowna on hwy 3 and 3a?
Gwaihir is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2005, 11:50 AM
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I drove to Kelowna last September taking the Coquihalla (Hwy 5) from Hope to Merritt to Kelowna, and that took under 5 hours. We drove straight. However, on the way back we took Hwy 3 from Penticton - Keremeos - Hope. I honestly couldn't tell you how long it would take straight driving, as the beauty of this drive are the stops along the way. There's a great fruit stand in Keremeos called Bears that I usually make a stop at. I usually stop for lunch/dinner in Princeton, Hope or Manning Park... and this normally tacks on extra time.

Mapquest says that the drive from Kelowna to Penticton takes one hour. The drive from Penticton to Keremeos takes just under one hour, and the drive from Keremeos to Hope takes 2 hours and 40 minutes. The drive from Hope to Vancouver takes another 2 hours. This makes the trip around 6-7 hours.
Carmanah is offline  
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