From Vernon, head 117 km (73 mi) westbound toward Kamloops. You’ll drive through the charming communities of Falkland and Monte Creek before arriving in Kamloops, BC’s first bee city. Be sure to visit Clover, the Kermode Bear, at BC Wildlife Park, or step back in time at Historic O’Keefe Ranch. If you have time to explore, take a stroll through the Lac du Bois Grasslands Protected Area where you’ll find canyons and secret ponds.
As you continue west along Route 97 (also the Trans-Canada Highway throughout this section), you’ll drive through the semi-arid landscape of this area. As you head toward Savona, pull into a viewing area for a look at Kamloops Lake. When you reach Cache Creek, be sure to check out the Historic Hat Creek Ranch, where you can experience life as it was during the Gold Rush days.
Take Highway 1 south toward Spences Bridge, then head east on Highway 8 toward Merritt. If you have time, explore Gold Country’s ranching history while hunting for treasure. Geocaching combines outdoor adventure with a unique learning environment as you discover details about each site. With 142 caches in Gold Country alone, there are countless hours of exploratory fun for the family.
Located approximately 20 minutes east of Merritt is the historic Quilchena Hotel. This turn-of-the-century boutique hotel was built in 1908 by a group of brothers who moved to the area to ranch. Enjoy a locally-sourced meal in an authentic saloon, a little golf, or stay in the unique accommodation. Famous first-class bandit Billy Miner is said to have been captured in the area, and the cowboy atmosphere will take you back in time.
From Merritt, head north along Highway 5A for a scenic route back to Kamloops. At 97.5 km (60.5 mi), it’s a slightly longer journey than Highway 5, but as it winds by several lakes and ranchland, the view will be worth it.