Whistler-based photographer Mirae Campbell explores BC’s vineyards, valleys, and lakes, from the Shuswap and the communities of Vernon and Kelowna to her hometown of Maple Ridge. Lush vineyards to glacial lakes, we follow Mirae’s journey below, sharing insights she discovered along the way.
Travelling north from Whistler, you pass turquoise Pavillion Lake, expansive Kamloops Lake, and the Shuswap region’s charming cottage country, where Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is the centrepiece. Quaaout Lodge, located on Little Shuswap Lake, is owned by the Shuswap Indian Band of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation. Take a cultural tour to learn about Indigenous history, see community-built canoes, visit a pit house and sweat lodge, and find out more about medicinal uses for local plants.
Surrounded by four lakes—Okanagan, Kalamalka, Swan, and Wood—Vernon is a water-lover’s paradise. Work up an appetite on the water with your pick of stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or other boating options before heading into town to check out the Charcuterie Trail. Enjoy local cheese, meat, bread, and other picnic favourites. Mirae stopped at Kalavida Surf Shop to get set up for paddleboarding on Kalamalka Lake, where the warm water takes on a hue of teal, cyan, or indigo, depending on the time of the year. You can paddle over to the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary to find out more about feathered locals.
Home to more than 40 wineries within a 20-minute drive, Kelowna is known for its grape experiences but there are also plenty of places to pump up the adrenaline. Rent e-bikes and ride the Okanagan Rail Trail that connects Kelowna to Vernon. The trail follows 50 km of the original CN Rail line that was constructed in 1925 to bring Okanagan Valley produce and lumber to markets across Canada. Lakefronts, creeks, and natural habitat cover 24 km of the trail. Kekuli Bay offers incredible views as you ride along Kalamalka Lake, and you can jump in for a cooling dip if needed.
Known as the “Scenic 7,” the Lougheed Highway (aka Highway 7) connects Hope and Vancouver north of the Fraser River, passing through Agassiz (close to Harrison Hot Springs), Mission, Maple Ridge, and Coquitlam. Driving from Kelowna, take Highway 97C to Merritt and then head south on Highway 5 towards Hope to connect to Highway 7.
One final stop: Mirae’s hometown of Maple Ridge, set between Golden Ears Mountain and the Fraser River. This forested community is rich in growler-friendly craft breweries; it’s home, as well, to the Maple Ridge Ale Trail. A couple of worthy stops? Kingfishers Waterfront Bar & Grill, on the banks of the Fraser River, and the Billy Miner Alehouse and Cafe, named for the “Gentleman Bandit” who notoriously stole his fortune along the railway that runs past the cafe’s front door.
With smaller capacities and safety protocols in place, it’s best to book ahead if you want to visit a popular bar or restaurant, and don’t forget to pack your mask and hand sanitizer. We asked Mirae how she prepared for the trip.
“I packed my reusable face mask and put a hand sanitizer bottle along with disinfectant wipes in the car. We pre-packed a few breakfast essentials and snacks for the road and shopped at our local grocery store in Whistler to avoid having to stop in grocery stores in local towns, eliminating contact points on our trip. We checked in advance what the COVID policies were at the businesses we intended to visit so we knew how to be prepared.”
Travelling this route? Share your experiences with # explorebc.
This road trip was created specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2020. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability.
What's open and how to travel in BC.Travel Updates
Find accommodations, experience providers, and special offers.Book Now
Check provincial campgrounds and park closures.Check for Updates
Always check trail conditions before you head out, and no matter what outdoor activity you are planning, be prepared.Plan Your Route
BCAA tips and everything you need before you set off on a BC road trip.Learn More
Partner offers and travel deals to save on your next BC getaway.Learn more