Two days after sister’s graduation, we had a family roadtrip planned for the Canadian Rockies. The plan was to leave early at around 6-7 am from Downtown Vancouver and head towards Whistler for breakfast! (Normal times when you go for a day trip to Whistler in winter months for snowboarding) But due to unforeseen circumstances, the trip started at around 10.30 am instead. The plan was to drive north towards Kamloops, then Clearwater, passing by the Sea-to-Sky Highway via Whistler – which is slower but definitely more scenic than the southerly highway route. Furthermore as we were planning a round-trip with an end stop at Kelowna, we would pass by the highway crossing the Lower Mainland eventually. (see map for reference)
First stop of the day was Whistler, and with Vancouver designated as the host city for the 2010 Winter Olympics scheduled less than a year away, the Sea-to-Sky Highway was being upgraded. Still one of the best scenic drives with the Coast Mountains to one side, and the Straits on the other side. Horseshoe Bay provides a great view of the islands dotting the Straits. Upon reaching Vancouver, it was time for lunch at Whistler Village. With great sunny weather, the crowds were visible and hard core snowboarders were still heading towards the peak where snow can still be seen.
Lots of dining choices in Whistler, ranging from Starbucks Coffee to elaborate fine dining. But with Dad and Mum with us, we chose a safe, casual Chinese/Japanese dining option. Food was average and it was easy to get better Japanese cuisine from Vancouver. With our stomachs filled, we head on towards Kamloops, stopping by Seton Lake for a break. It was a really scenic lookout point! The greenish tinge to the lakes are due to the glacial silt residue from the mountains. This is a trademark of the lakes of the Canadian Rockies.
From Cache Creek, we leave the Coast Mountain scenery behind heading towards the Thompson-Okanagan Valley regions of British Columbia. This area of B.C. provides land for agricultural use, and the southern part of the valley is well-known for their icewines. One of B.C’s largest town, Kamloops is located along one of the lakes in the region, aptly named Kamloops Lake.
We reached Kamloops approximately at 4.30 pm. From there, the highway was wider and it took us one more hour of driving before reaching a small town called Clearwater, which is also the entry point into one of British Columbia’s provincial park – Wells Gray. The town of Clearwater is the closest to the resort where we are spending the night at. The resort, called Alpine Meadows Resort is actually only accessible through gravel road from Clearwater as it is located deep within forested area near Dunn Lake. It’s a nice place for a getaway from the urban area, and its location means you get to spot wildlife easily. True enough, we spotted a black mother bear and its 2 cubs close to the log cabins dotting the resort.
One note, we were the resort’s only guests for the night as it wasn’t peak season yet for travelling. The hotel manager lived on site though so no need to worry about the bears posing as a danger. The drawback was that the hotel’s restaurant wasn’t open and it was also a bit difficult to get the receptionist as they wasn’t manned. But the log cabins was well maintained and clean! It is also a great experience to live amongst the wilderness in the log cabin even for a night!