“A six-day, 1,200-kilometre, road trip in an RV through some of the most spectacular scenery this province has to offer…”
It’s hard to imagine a better way to experience beautiful British Columbia than to tour its highways and byways in a fully-equipped recreation vehicle.
Recently, yours truly took a six-day, 1,200-kilometre road trip through some of the most spectacular scenery this province has to offer, thanks to the generosity of the promoters of this weekend’s Snowbird RV Show and the help of Destination BC and regional tourist associations.
My job puts me behind the wheel of vehicles of all sizes and power, but I must admit to suffering some anxiety about safely steering the seven-metre long, almost 3.5-metre tall Adventurer 23RB RV over some challenging terrain.
Perhaps the best preparation were the times I have driven large rental trucks during my children’s frequent moves. The major difference would be the superior quality of the furniture housed in the back of the RV!
First stop on Day One was a short hour’s drive from the Fraserway RV rental centre (fraserway.com and 604-527-1102/1-877-747-7947 toll-free) on Annacis Island, to Klahanie Campground and RV Park (klahaniecampground.com and 604-892-3455) at the stunning Shannon Falls, along Highway 99. At 335 metres, the Falls stand taller than the world-renowned Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The short drive was sufficient to get a gentle introduction to the vehicle’s size and manoeuvrability. With a Ford V10 gas engine under the hood, power was never a problem. Getting up to highway speed was a little slower than the sportier Ford Mustang I had driven for the past week.
Once docked by the side of Howe Sound, I got the first real opportunity to survey the accommodation: a comfy double bed, fully equipped kitchen, dining table that folds to offer another bed, biffy with shower and yet another bed above the cab, bringing sleeping room for five.
The start of Day Two found us enjoying the spectacular views from the top of the new Sea to Sky Gondola (seatoskygondola.com and 604-892-2550) – a must visit. There are some wonderful walks around the summit plaza. Fabulous location for breakfast lunch or supper!
Time to head north through Squamish, Whistler and 100-kilometre mountainous stretch that would hone my skills – the Duffey Lake Road from just beyond Pemberton to the gorgeous head of Seton Lake and on to Lillooet. It provides awesome scenery between steep inclines, tight switchbacks and narrow one-lane bridges. The auto transmission’s tow mode smoothed out the climbs, descents and need for hard braking.
A stiff shot of single-malt whisky at the Pemberton Distillery (pembertondistillery.com and 604-894-0222) prepared my drive partner for the breathtaking and scary views deep, down into the valley below. By the time we reached the 38-degree heat of the Fraser Cove Campground (frasercove.com and 250-256-0142/ 1-800-936-2040 Toll-free), by the river at Lillooet, I was ready for a chilled Riesling from the nearby Fort Berens Winery (fortberens.ca and 250-256-7788). The air conditioning worked over time as we tucked into a warm salad – well, it was by the time it was served! Respect for fellow campers, prompted a click of the AC off switch after lights out.
Day Three: Lillooet to Vernon features open highway and the chance to open up the throttle. It’s easy to push the needle to 100 klicks but frankly the higher speed take away from the visual delights displayed on both sides of the road. And as I slowed down, I put myself in the driver’s seat of the car behind and pulled to the side every time I spotted three cars behind in my mirror.
The Cedar Falls Campground (cedarfalls.ca) is a picturesque and tranquil woodland spot by Silver Star Mountain. The howling coyotes were a nice reminder that this is wilderness. A further reminder holding your iPhone in outstretched hand to get a signal from the camp Wi-Fi! We also had mobile Wi-Fi aboard, which worked well on the road.
Day Four was a slow drive through the Okanagan Valley to Kaleden, taking in The Hatch Wines and Mission Hill Estate Winery in West Kelowna and enjoying a barrel tasting at Van Westen Vineyards in Naramata.
The Hatch is a new winery run by a very youthful team with innovative ideas. It features a good variety of wines from small growers and wine makers from up and down the valley and from over into the Similkameen. Also on display in the tasting centre is a fine array of antique shovels!
Mission Hill (missionhillwinery.ca and 250-768-7611) is the mega winery in the Okanagan and a classy place to visit. Great tours, fabulous tasting room and gift shop. Took a slight detour at Penticton and headed up to meet an old friend, Rob Van Westen, at his Van Westen Vineyards. (vanwestenvineyards.com and 250- 496- 0067) on the Naramata Bench. The affable winemaker treats all-comers to a generous tasting and sometimes you get to taste the magic in the barrel. Makes wonderful whites and reds you can stick in the cellar for five years or more.
The skies outside Van Westen darkened with a mix of rain-filled clouds and smoke drifting up the valley from the wildfires around Oliver. A gale howled as we settled for the night at the Camp-Along Tent and Trailer Resort (campalong.com and 250-497-5584/1-800-968-5267 toll –free) rocked to sleep by the buffeting winds.
Day Five was the one that filled me with dread. It was time to empty the discreetly named black water tank. I recalled my colleague Ian Harwood and his embarrassing encounter with the waste pipe the other year. Donned the plastic gloves and got on with it. It all went smoothly, so to speak.
Keremeos opened the door to the Similkameen Valley for us and tempted us with the last of the summer fruit. It soon gave way to more rugged terrain leading to the generously equipped Princeton Municipal Campground (princetonrvpark.ca and 250-295-7355/1-855-295-7355 toll-free).
Day Six would see us climb and journey homebound along the Hope-Princeton Highway, past rushing streams that made mockery of the extended drought most of the province was enduring.
Fresh corn welcomed us home from both sides of the Fraser Valley.
Go to drivewaybc.ca for more about our stops along the way and a gallery of pictures.
Contact the writer at keith [dot] morgan [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca