Note: This story was originally published in 2020.
Experience BC’s diverse scenery—from dense forests and rich farmland to desert landscapes and awe-inspiring mountains—on a road trip from the Interior to the West Kootenays. Travel in the footsteps of Sechelt-based photographer Nathaniel Atakora Martin as he makes his way from the city of Kamloops to the mountain peaks and towns of Revelstoke, Nelson, and Rossland.
Set on the confluence of the North and South Thompson rivers, sunny Kamloops is the Interior’s second largest city. Surrounded by an otherworldly desert-like landscape of sagebrush and sandstone, Kamloops is the gateway to discovering the lunar-looking hoodoos (rock formations) and the hundred or so lakes that can be found within easy reach of the city. Take a self-guided tour of the city’s cool murals or enjoy a beverage from craft breweries such as Noble Pig and Bright Eye Brewing.
Leaving the lunar landscape behind, the drive east to the Kootenay Rockies takes you through the dry river valley towards the Shuswap region, where lakes are home to clusters of cottages and the houseboats that notoriously dot the waters here. Stop at Salmon Arm for a bite to eat or check out Crazy Creek Resort. Heading into Revelstoke the scenery becomes even more enticing as the highway hugs the southern shoreline of Three Valley Lake.
Experience the small-town charm of Revelstoke, tucked between the huge Monashee and Selkirk mountain ranges. This is also the ideal place to hike Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park, and then rejuvenate tired muscles with a soak in a nearby hot springs.
Heading south from Revelstoke to Nelson there’s the option to take Highway 6 or Highway 31A, with the latter route including free car ferries. There are also opportunities to stop at viewpoints such as lone Falls, and cute and quirky towns like Kaslo, which is home to the historic S.S. Moyie, an old paddle steamer boat that worked on the lake as far back as 1898. Nelson’s picturesque downtown is home to 350 heritage buildings, most of which date back to the late 1800s Gold Rush era, but the artsy town is also home to a thriving culture scene and claims to have more restaurants per capita than Manhattan or San Francisco. Burn off some calories kayaking on Kootenay Lake or hike up to Pulpit Rock for a bird’s-eye-view.
Just a short hop from Nelson is Canada’s mountain biking capital, where bikers can ride along old whiskey running routes, miners’ trails, and old railway beds. Hikers and runners have more than 200 km of trails to explore. Rossland comes alive in summer and fall with wildflowers springing up along the hikeable ridges of the old glacial valleys that make up the Kootenay Rockies.
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