Kamloops is the place where real places and rough edges are embraced. Here, spontaneity reigns, every street and trail are yours to explore, and wrong turns often lead to the greatest discoveries. So if you're looking for polish and flash, you're in the wrong valley. Whether you've got fun between your legs mountain biking alongside hoodoos, sipping back crafty gin cocktails, tantalizing your taste buds with local cuisine, or swinging balls across award-winning golf courses, Kamloops has what you crave. So come as you are, play in our weird and awesome backyard, and let curiosity be your compass.
This road trip follows the South Thompson River, along the infamous “fishing highway”, Highway 24, then ends trailing the North Thompson River. The entire region relies on these historic waterways. What are you waiting for? Go out and enjoy the open road.
From Kamloops, the 380km loop travels along Highways 1, 97, 24, and 5, and takes around five hours. Here are seven things to see along the Waterways Loop.
Historic Hat Creek
Heading west from Kamloops, travel along Highway 1 for 83km. This section offers vistas of Kamloops Lake and rolling ranchlands. Just ten minutes north of Cache Creek is Historic Hat Creek, an Indigenous-owned heritage park that immerses visitors in the Gold Rush era. Cache Creek was a popular stop for gold prospectors, which can be experienced by touring the onsite stage house and hearing from local storytellers.
After heading north along Highway 97, you’ll find your way to Clinton. The Clinton Emporium is an eclectic antique shop in Clinton. The emporium’s shelves are home to vintage cowboy boots, mining maps, railway ties, and everything in-between. Local legend has it that the shop has “pickers” across British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan to find Canadian memorabilia.
The Junction Coffee House
Before the town of Clinton was established, the settlement was called “the junction” by passers-by. Today, a small coffee shop on the main street of Clinton has given a nod to its namesake at The Junction Coffee House. Fuel up with a shot of espresso or baked goodies, before continuing north on Highway 97.
The Sugar Shack
If you’re searching for 100% maple syrup, you’ve come to the right place. Comfort food never tasted so French-Canadian than at The Sugar Shack in 70 Mile House. Pick a table and split a Montreal smoked-meat sandwich and poutine. This restaurant is a popular stop for travellers along Highway 97.
Bridge Lake Ice Caves Trail
The Bridge Lake Ice Caves Trail takes 10-15 minutes from the parking lot off Highway 24 (“the fishing highway”, as it’s better known). In recent years, BC Parks has installed viewing platforms that look over Bridge Lake, as well as the small canyons on either side.
Five minutes off Highway 5 is the McLure Ferry is a unique reaction ferry (propelled by the current of the river) andhas a two-vehicle, 12-person limit but only takes five minutes to cross the North Thompson River.
Note: The ferry operates spring through fall from 7:00am to 12:00pm and 1:00pm to 6:20pm. If there is a risk of dangerous currents, due to high water levels in the spring, the ferry may close temporarily.
Iron Road Brewing
Top off your trip with a flight of railroad-inspired brews at Iron Road Brewing in Kamloops. The brewery’s nachos and tacos are popular menu items with students at nearby Thompson Rivers University, and visitors alike.
- Click here for Google Maps directions of the Waterways Loop
- Phone service may be limited during sections of this road trip. Printed maps are recommended if you are unfamiliar with the area.
- Plan and check highway conditions on Drive BC
Historic Hat Creek | Intersection of Hwy 99 & 97, Cache Creek
Clinton Emporium |1303 Hwy 97, Clinton
The Junction Coffee House | 1418 Hwy 97, Clinton
The Sugar Shack | 2481 Willow Drive, 70 Mile House
Bridge Lake Ice Caves Trail | Highway 24
McLure Ferry | Ferry Road, McLure
Iron Road Brewing | 980 Camosun Crescent, Kamloops