The road from Calgary to Kelowna is a stunning 6 hour tour worthy of National Geographic. It is one of my very favourite drives as foothills turn into mountains and mountains morph into lush farmland ending in a glorious crystal blue stretch of water. The drive takes you from Calgary into Banff national park http://www.pc.gc.ca/index.aspx (just as an aside if you are not stopping in the park you don’t have to pay the park fee) we love to leave Calgary at about 4 am which puts you smack dab in the mountains just as the word is rising to greet another day. The crispness of the mountain air, even in the middle of summer is shocking and it leaves you wondering how anything survives, let alone thrives in the rugged climate. On this morning there is a thick mist that hangs like a curtain in the valleys cloaking sleeping inhabitants in a deep fog. It is like a special effect from a high end movie production and we feel like we are the only living creatures, its a cool feeling the type that make you know you are alive! As we headed toward the town of Banff we were treated to a gorgeous rainbow shooting out of the townsite greeting the blazing morning sun- truly stunning.
Leaving Banff National Park takes into Yoho National Park http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/natcul/natcul12.aspx where you will see the spiral tunnels and the locomotives and trains which traversed it. It’s a great piece of history and worth the stop. In Yoho you will also see Tak Falls, a shot walk from the parking lot to one of the tallest waterfalls in Canada. It is truly a spectacular sight.
As you head west you will enter into Glacier National Park and view the spectacular Rogers Pass. Rogers pass sits at and elevation of 1382m and takes you through the Selkirk mountains. http://www.vancouverisland.com/regions/towns/?townid=3496 You will pass through a number of tunnels and there is a cool Discovery Centre chronicling the history of the pass. You will also pass by the memorial arch commemorating the completion of the Trans Canada Highway in 1962 over the pass. It a nice place to stretch your legs and there are picnic tables and facilities.
You will enter then into the town of Revelstoke. I love breakfast at this place called “Main Street Cafe”. Great custom coffee drinks and a very tasty menu, vegetarian friendly and easy to get around gluten issues. Very nice staff and fresh and local produce, I love stopping here! There is also a great brewery in Revelstoke called Mt Begbie. We actually can’t get this beer in Calgary so we always stop and pick up a case on our drive home-check out their seasonal brew-it is usually interesting!
As you leave Revelstoke the mountains begin to slowly melt into lush green farmland and before you know you are in the land of fruit stands and cottages. The Shushawp is the house boating mecca of western Canada and an area known for boating; Sycamouse is a cottagers dream. The smell changes from crisp mountain air and the breeze starts to warm up as you enter the heart of the Okanagan. There is an area that reminds me of the drive to Egar in Hungary and I love that memory of that trip. The air is warm and the long grass lulls you into mood all together different from the stark and harsh beauty found in the mountains. In the mountains there is a feeling of being so small and you can feel lost in these giants as the road gives way to the lush green pastures, there is a feeling of growth, beauty and your senses are overtaken by the warmth. As the thermometer inevitably rises we inch closer to Vernon, a nice little place that we have seen grow from a mere village to quite the small city in a few years. There is a lovely city park that is a great spot for a picnic and if you have the chance to walk about downtown it is worth the stroll. There are a number of buildings with elegant and elaborate murals and it is not difficult to find a coffee or ice cream shop. Just outside of Vernon is my favourite part of the journey, the 40 km stretch of road to Kelowna. It is one of the most scenic in the country, I love the first crest that takes you from Vernon and splayed before your eyes are the sparkling waters of Lake Kalikma. The sun bounces off those crystal clear waters with all its might and by the time you reach Kelowna you can’t wait to dive into the Okaganon. Lake Okaganan is rumoured to be inhabited by the Ogopogo a mighty lake monster and while I have never seen the Ogopogo myself, I do know that the lake is great lake for boating and every type of water sport. If the spring has been warm the lake is usually pretty good for swimming, this year is was too cold for my taste! Still the beaches are sandy and the journey was as amazing as the destination!