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Beyond the Valley: Kootenay Roadtrip

July 8, 2016

To us, there’s nothing more appealing than the classic road trip. It’s built into our cultural DNA!  Back in the day, the car was a symbol of freedom – a chance to escape your everyday life and I still believe this to be true today. Who doesn’t love cruising with the windows down, sunroof open, hair blowing in the wind and tunes cranked?! There is so much to see in our big beautiful country I would rather drive through it then fly over it. You know your destination, but deciding on how to get there and where to stop along the way is all part of the adventure.

Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0732We decided to use an invitation to a wedding as a chance to take a road trip to the Kootenays.

On July 2nd we packed up the car in Westbank and began our adventure!  We had a cooler full of snacks and water, cameras ready to shoot and tunes already playing. It was time to the hit the road!

We had a number of stops planned for this trip:

  1. The Revelstoke Dam
  2. Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk… what is skunk cabbage!?
  3. Giant Cedars Boardwalk
  4. Hiking at Fernie Alpine Resort
  5. Silver Springs Lake
  6. An old CPR tunnel
  7. Sandwiches and ice-cream in Greenwood

I am happy to report we managed to complete 70% of these with a few extra ones thrown in as we saw them.

We didn’t get far before Amber insisted we stop in Armstrong, B.C at The Village Cheese Company for some Squeeky Cheese.

As we continued driving we made a few spontaneous stops.  Our first stop was at The Last Spike (of the CPR) in Craigellachie, B.C. followed by a quick view point stop outside Three Valley Gap.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0731 Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0733We finally hit our first planned stop at The Revelstoke Dam, here you can view informational exhibits, interactive displays, diagrams and photos of both the construction of the dam & interesting facts about modern day water conservation and how to’s on today’s clean energy production for a better tomorrow. Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0734About 30 kms down the road we stopped at Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk followed by the Giant Cedar Trees Boardwalk. At this point the temperature had reached the high 30’s but luckily the Giant Cedar Boardwalk was mostly shade. This was definitely our favourite of the two, although we maybe judging this solely on the shade. After our short stroll through these amazing trees, it was time for lunch, so we busted open our cooler and made PB & J sandwiches!Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0735 Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0736Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetWe hit the road again and made another quick stop at the Rogers Pass Summit and took in the amazing mountain views, while taking turns ringing the bell.  (This bell was installed as a memorial to the people who built the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Trans-Canada Highway and the workers who died in the avalanche of 1910.)  From here we saw some big horn sheep around Invermere and the full moon appear out of the mountains on our way to Cranbrook for the night.
Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0754Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0755Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0738Our first morning in the Kootenays started with finding a Tim Horton’s and a gas station to wash off the windshield of all the dead bugs! After that we drove about 25 kms to the Marysville Falls, just outside of Kimberly B.C.. Walking along this easy path to a beautiful 100 ft waterfall was a great way to start the morning.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0753 We then drove up to the Fernie Alpine resort where we had big plans to go up the chair lift and explore the mountain, sadly the big chair lift that would have taken us to 360 degree mountain view was only open on the weekend. So we altered our plans and headed off to find Silver Springs Lake, or as Kristina calls it, fish pedicure lake! After a short 20 minute drive and a few wrong turns we found the parking area for the lake, changed into our swimsuits, which was stealthy accomplished by hiding behind the car (there are no facilities here) and started the hike up to the lake. The hike up is quite tough, mostly uphill and crawling with mosquito’s, but it is definitely worth it! We spent the afternoon here basking in the sun and having the more PB & J sandwiches.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0740 Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0739 Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0741 Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0742 After an amazing afternoon at the lake, we spent the night in Sparwood, B.C.
Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0748Saturday was the wedding day! It was amazing to see these two people finally tie the knot. The ceremony took place at Birch Meadows B&B followed by the reception at the Fernie Alpine Resort. I have to say the view of the mountains from the ceremony was phenomenal!  What a great backdrop to have for a wedding.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0746In between the ceremony and reception we went and did a little exploring of Historic Fernie. Here are a few photos of the town.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0745Fun Fact: Amber is actually Spiderman……..
Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0730The next morning, Sunday, was the realization that this was our last day of the trip. The day we had to drive home. We packed up our cooler and suitcases into the car and hit the road. The day started off cool but it quickly hit the 30 degree mark, which meant it was time to stop for a swim. We decided Christina Lake, B.C was the place to do that, but turns out Christina Lake is the warmest tree-lined lake in Western Canada and wasn’t the most refreshing swim. We still took this as an opportunity to lay on the beach and enjoy the sun from outside the car before hitting the road again.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0752 About 45 minutes later, just outside Greenwood B.C., we stopped to check out a rather unusual landmark, The Tunnel of Flags.Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0744From here we went into Greenwood, with the hopes of chowing down on some delicious roast beef sandwiches and ice-cream at Motherlode Icecream Bistro & Galleria, only to discover that they were closed! Even though they were closed, we still decided to stop and write on The Wishing Wall.

What a neat idea this is. Here are a few photos. **It appears that Motherlode Ice-cream has closed up shop.  We are hoping something else fantastic will open up and keep this amazing Wishing Wall going.**  Kootney-road-trip-Okanagan-Gals_0749The rest of our trip was filled with tunes, sunshine and talking about all the amazing places we had been over the last 4 days.  We made a few smalls stops, one being just outside Beaverdell to make our roadtrip staple (PB&J sandwiches) while Amber went for a swim in the creek, followed by finally having ice-cream at a small shop in West Kelowna.

To me, travel is more than visiting some far away exotic destination. It’s about exploring the unknown. It’s seeing new places and coming to a new understanding of how the world works.  We ended up driving over 1500 kms, 18 hours, through numerous different cities and creating so many amazing memories! I cannot wait for our next big road trip.

Kootney map
Enjoy our slideshow of our road trip below:

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