My family and I were doing some visiting in Vancouver last week and had a great trip back to Kamloops which inspired me to blog about the topic of driving the Coquihalla Highway. For those of you who haven’t made the journey and have heard ominous tales about “Snowshed Hill” and huge mountains of snow, I’ve found the trip (which I’ve made many times since the highway first opened) to be quite pleasant. And yes, there are mountains, usually snow but the highway crews are amazing to keep the roads clear so you can enjoy the winter wonderland as you travel.
Betcha’ Didn’t Know? Kw'ikw'iya:la (Coquihalla) in the Halq'emeylem language of the St�:l? is a place name meaning 'stingy container'. It refers specifically to a fishing rock near the mouth of what is now known as the Coquihalla River. This rock is a good platform for spearing salmon. According to St�:l? oral history, the skw'exweq, or underwater people, who inhabit a pool close by the rock, would swim out and pull the salmon off the spears, allowing only certain fisherman to catch the salmon. The Coquihalla Highway, derives its name from running alongside this river between Hope and the former location of the toll booth about 50 km away.
Be Prepared: as a former Girl Guide, I’ve always been taught to be prepared. This also holds true for driving the highway. If you’ve got good all season or winter tires on and drive for the conditions, yes that means slowing down and taking it easy, the highway can be a nice drive. For any trip our family does, we always have our truck equipped with jumper cables, extra blankets and a first aid kit, which I’d recommend.
My Travel Recommendations: our boys are 8 and 5 years of age so we pack plenty of snacks, drinks and games for the trip. We have a DVD player in the vehicle, but I prefer for the boys to look out the window and interact with us instead of zoning out watching a movie. There are all sorts of games you can play too from the ‘License Plate’ game, ‘I Spy with My Little Eye’ and travel-style board games. We bought mini Etch-a-Sketches for the boys which provides hours of entertainment. Music is also a must and family sing a longs makes the journey fun if not a little hard on the ears.
Great Stops: We typically fuel up in Chilliwack, have a washroom break and grab a cup of coffee then head out. 30 minutes up the road is Hope and you can stop at the Visitor Info Centre and have a picture with the ‘Rambo’ cut out and marvel at the coastal cedars and tall firs. About an hour from Hope is Merritt where the Nicola Valley opens up and it’s really beautiful. TIP: we typically find gas prices in Merritt a little higher so if you have enough gas to get you to Kamloops, maybe wait to fill up. Check www.gasbuddy.com for the best, up to the minute prices. Kamloops is only 50 minutes down the highway and once you get into the city there are many turn offs to get into the city centre. With four major highways intersecting Kamloops, the city is easy to get to and has a ton of great things to do!
- Awesome Aleece