BC Road Trip: Merritt to Squamish via Duffey Lake Road

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There’s no shortage of incredible views, wildlife and adventure when taking a road trip through BC, and the journey from Merritt to Squamish via Duffey Lake Road is no exception. This route takes you through the gorgeous interior of BC and offers endless photo opportunities featuring breathtaking scenery. You’ll drive through many charming communities, perfect stops for a bite to eat and a conversation with the friendly locals. From Merritt, there are two options to reach the beginning of Duffey Lake Road in Lillooet. Below are your route options:

1. Duffey Lake Road via Lytton

A river winds through a mountainous landscape.

Confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers. Photo: sarboo via Flickr

One popular route from Merritt to Lillooet is through Lytton. Travel northwest from Merritt, taking in the views from Highway 8 as it winds along the river. Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, as they are frequently spotted in the area. After 65 km (40 mi), you will reach the community of Spence’s Bridge, a vibrant small town that hosts spectacular musical performances throughout the summer months. From Spence’s Bridge, a left turn onto the Trans-Canada Highway will take you 35 km (22 mi) to Lytton. Lytton is located at the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson rivers, and is one of the few places in the world where you can clearly view the merging of two major waterways. From Lytton, skirt the edge of Stein Valley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park, a beautiful and historic wilderness park, as you travel north along Highway 12. Sixty kilometres (37 miles) later is the beginning of the Duffey Lake portion of your trip, which will take you all the way to Squamish.

2. Duffey Lake Road via Cache Creek

A lush park dotted with picnic tables.

Heritage Park in Ashcroft. Photo: Kiera Wilkinson

The alternate route to reach the beginning of Duffey Lake Road is through the community of Cache Creek. From Merritt, follow Highway 97C for 41 kilometres (25 miles) north to Logan Lake. This friendly community is known for its fishing, boating, ATVing and golfing opportunities, and the friendly locals make you feel right at home. From Logan Lake, your journey takes you further north through Ashcroft. A gorgeous town with a thriving arts community, Ashcroft offers the opportunity to pick up one-of-a-kind handmade items and fresh local fruits and vegetables, with their Art Walk running all through July and August. From Ashcroft, it’s a mere 10 kilometres (6 miles) to Cache Creek. This ranching community offers year-round activities as well as the opportunity to stay at the historic Hat Creek Ranch. North of Cache Creek, turn onto Highway 99 for the last leg of the journey to Lillooet, where the Duffey Lake Road section begins.

Lillooet to Squamish via Duffey Lake Road

A massive lake nestled between mountain ranges.

Seton Lake, found along Duffey Lake Road. Photo: coreyburger via Flickr

Lillooet is home to BC’s newest wine region, with their first winery, Fort Berens Estate Winery, opening in 2011. The town is situated along the Fraser River, and its varied terrain makes it a perfect area for outdoor activities such as biking, fishing, hiking and canoeing. From Lillooet, the Duffey Lake Road portion of your journey begins as you turn west onto Highway 99. This incredible, 188 kilometre (116 mile) trip takes you through mountains and forests, offering sublime lake and river views as you drive past gorgeous flowers and plant life. This is a fantastic place to spot wildlife as you drive, as bears and deer are often seen along the highway.  As you near Squamish, you will be treated to outstanding views of the Coast Mountains. If your goal while visiting BC is to get a one-of-a-kind experience and glorious photographs, the Duffey Lake Road route from Merritt to Squamish is the one for you. 

Header image photo: gerrythomasen via Flickr