Pull over and take in the view. This 296-kilometre loop takes you on the scenic route through Merritt, with desert and lakes everywhere you look. Make a day of it, with stops for farm-fresh produce, hand-made bannock, and craft beer or cider to take back to your hotel for an evening in.
Go with the flow, but check opening hours in advance and consult DriveBC for route updates. Here are the highlights.
Updated June 2022
Kamloops Lake Viewpoint
Head west on the Trans-Canada Highway 1 towards Cache Creek. About 25 minutes out of town, you’ll pass Tobiano Golf Course. If you’re a golfer, make a mental note to come back for a breathtaking 18 holes, with views of clear blue Kamloops Lake. Continue another few minutes to Kamloops Lake Viewpoint and jump out of the car for sweeping lake views.
This spot is well known to photographers and well sought out for its picture-perfect views. You can’t miss this.
Cariboo Jade Shoppe
Continue on Highway 1 toward Cache Creek and the terrain becomes steeper in the semi-arid desert. At the intersection of Highway 1 and 97C, you can’t miss Cariboo Jade Shoppe, a family-owned and operated store.
Did you know that jade is the official gemstone of British Columbia? A foot-thick, 2,850-pound slice of jade is displayed proudly outside. Visitors to the area can’t miss the opportunity to take a photo with the gem.
Desert Hills Ranch
Another 15 minutes on the 97C brings you to Ashcroft, a village surrounded by sagebrush on the Thompson River. The area’s rich volcanic soil yields excellent produce, so visit Desert Hills Ranch and fill a basket at the farm market.
Early in the 20th century, settlers of Ashcroft found that its rich volcanic soil produced some of the best produce in the world. They found that if you added water to the fertile soil, it would grow nearly anything. Over a hundred years later, Desert Hills is committed to bringing the finest produce available. From the careful selection of only the best seed to the gentle harvesting and packing, they monitor their products every step of the way to ensure you receive the best produce on the market.
Stock up for the rest of your road trip – and the rest of your Kamloops trip. You can’t beat the fresh taste here.
Mosaic in the Village of Ashcroft
Stretch your legs with a self-guided walking tour of the glass mosaics found on buildings around town (here’s a PDF map). They’re the work of stained-glass artist Marina Papais and her partner Daniel Collett, along with members of the community.
Explore 20 unique spots around the Village of Ashcroft that feature beautiful displays. A lot of hard work went into these and your road trip companions get to experience these for free.
Left Field Cider Co.
Continue on the 97C about 50 minutes, past Logan Lake toward Merritt. Located on Mamette Lake, Left Field Cider Co. opened in 2011 making small-batch, full juice cider. Their orchard is a picturesque place for a break, with a tasting room and picnic area.
Left Field Cider Co founders’ journey to cider date back to their family’s agricultural roots. From a third generation British Columbia ranching family, life had led them both away from the ranch to the big city. It wasn’t until a random idea turned into an amazing adventure that would end up on their cider making adventure in this area of BC.
You can’t miss this spot – its well-known but still a bit undiscovered.
Kekuli Cafe Coffee & Bannock
With the slogan “Don’t Panic...We Have Bannock”, Kekuli Cafe & Bannock is a unique place to enjoy Indigenous cuisine. Options include “pow wow frybread tacos” and wild smoked salmon on bannock.
The owner, Sharon Bond dreamt of her own restaurant for many years, she has always had a passion for cooking, baking & excellent customer service. Her passion for pleasing people and helping people. She created a cafe that had something no other place had; a traditional cultural aboriginal ambience, with light pow wow music, aboriginal art, jewellery and Aboriginal cuisine! Bannock is her niche in the restaurant industry.
Located on Vight Street in Merritt you will have a truly unique and authentic, Indigenous experience here.
Empty Keg Brew House
Empty Keg Brewhouse is Merritt's first craft brewery – it opened in 2019. Their beer is brewed on-site, made with local products such as Nicola Valley Honey, and is a quick jaunt from Kekuli Café – so the perfect next stop on your Kamloops road trip.
If beer is not your thing they offer radlers (fruit infused beer with lower alcohol), wine, coolers, Premium Craft Distillery mixed drinks, NA beer, Pop/Coffee and even their own Hard Seltzer.
Looping back to Kamloops, take Highway 5A out of Merritt, an highway that preceded the Coquihalla Highway. While the 5A extends your return time, the payoff is a beautiful drive lined with lakes and meadows, and the chance to spot eagles, deer, and other wildlife.
It runs past Nicola Lake just outside of Merritt. Nicola Lake has over 20 species of fish including Kokanee and Rainbow Trout. Fishing picks up in the spring when the Kokanee become active – so if you’ve brought your gear, it might be the perfect opportunity for some play in the glacially formed narrow, deep lake - thirty kilometers northeast of the city of Merritt.