While on any road trip, it’s always useful to know where to stop for a short rest – whether it’s for a much-needed bathroom break, to stretch your legs or to simply enjoy an impromptu snack or lunch while enjoying the fresh outdoors and some spectacular scenery.
Travelling along the Crowsnest Highway – one of BC’s major throughways, also referred to as the Interprovincial, Southern Trans-Provincial and Highway 3 (and, more locally, as the Hope-Princeton Highway) – you’ll find plenty of places to refresh and rest up as you head east towards Osoyoos (or beyond).
Considered a core highway in Canada’s National Highway System, this east to west route is more than 1,150 kilometres (or more than 720 miles) in length and travels through the southern section of British Columbia and Alberta – and offers the shortest option between BC’s Lower Mainland and south-eastern Alberta.
Officially created and named in 1932, the Crownest Highway is now nearly a century old and gets its name from the Crownest Pass – the point or “Continental Divide” where British Columbia and Alberta cross each other.
While road tripping along this route, there are a number of picturesque stops to stop and take a break along the way:
- Manning Park: Popular all year long (especially in the summer), this provincial park is about three hours east of Vancouver and makes for a pretty lunchtime stop on your road trip from the Lower Mainland to BC’s interior (or vice versa, of course). Road trip veterans of this area – including those with children – know the best place to stop for lunch is the Manning Park Resort. Here, you’ll find curious prairie dogs (also known as marmots) and plenty of opportunities to share your picnic with flighty whiskey jacks (otherwise known as grey jays and Canada jays). Better still, 2016 marks the park’s 75th anniversary with all sorts of planned events. Visit BC Parks for more information. (Pit and flush toilets, and wheelchair accessible in areas.)
- Bromley Rock Provincial Park: This small provincial park about 20 kilometres east of Princeton includes a pleasant swimming hole formed in the Similkameen River. Here, you’ll find picnic tables and bathroom facilities (pit toilets only). In summer, the water level can become quite low, along with the current, which makes this a cool spot to beat the heat on a hot summer drive. A gravel beach also forms alongside a pool in the river, but note that no lifeguards are on duty so take care to watch smaller children. (Wheelchair accessible in areas.)
- Hedley: As the source of inspiration for the band of the same name, this charming town sits at the bottom of Nickel Plate Mountain and brims with interesting facts and history. In the early 1900s, the town was a bustling city, as well as the Similkameen’s mining and business centre – and considered one of BC’s richest mining areas. Nowadays, Hedley is more known for its quaint streets, unique attractions and friendly eateries. Pop into Doug’s Homestead, home of the “Wold Famous Pepperoni and Beef Jerky,” plus guess the price of your pepperoni and it’s free! Visit the Hedley Museum or the Mascot Mine Snaza ‘íst Discovery Centre. Pick up some supplies at the Country Market or grab a bite at the Hitching Post Restaurant, one of the town’s first permanent structures built in 1903.
- Keremeos: This self-titled “fruit stand capital of Canada” is mostly known for its agriculture, horticulture, ranching and winemaking. The area’s warm and dry climate make it ideal for growing all manner of fruit and vegetables, including apples, cherries and peaches. Stop at any one of the colourful fruit stands along the Crowsnest Highway to pick up some fresh produce and other goods for a quick break and a tasty picnic. Along the highway (known as 7th Avenue in Keremeos), pop into the Visitor Centre – a pretty replica of the historic CN Railway Station that offers washrooms, picnic tables and a playground with water park… perfect for picnicking and short breaks (especially with young children in tow).
The Crowsnest Highway has plenty of scenic places to rest up, take a break and experience the local culture and tasty offerings as you make your way from the Lower Mainland to destinations such as Osoyoos and beyond (or vice versa). All you have to do is enjoy the drive… and be ready to pull over to take in the beautiful vistas and interesting stops along the way.
Driving the Sea to Sky Highway soon? Click here for some ideas on scenic stops and rest areas between Vancouver and Whistler.