Last weekend we made a trip out to see my daughter and her boyfriend at their new home in Kamloops, British Columbia. It’s a city where the north and south Thompson rivers meet, about an 8-hour drive from Calgary and perfectly situated in south central BC. It’s about 3 hours from Vancouver, an hour from the Shuswap Lakes and an hour and a half from the Okanagan Valley.
We left Calgary in terrible weather, it was cold and rainy and the mountains were getting their first snowfall of the season. As you can see from the picture above the tops of the mountains were covered in fresh snow from about Canmore to just past Lake Louise.
It was such a pretty and atmospheric drive this time of year and once we entered Yoho National Park the weather had started to return to summer temperatures.
Kamloops is situated at the beginning of the fruit belt and close to the Okanagan wine country with four wineries available to tour within the city limits. Just a short drive away is the Sun Peaks ski resort, a full-service resort that feels like a mini Whistler with all the amenities you’d look for in an all seasons resort. In the summer numerous hiking trails, a bike park and recreational facilities offer adventures for the whole family. It’s home to the British Columbia Wildlife park, the Kamloops Heritage Train and the riverside Secwepemc Museum & Heritage Park that features the remains of a 2,000-year-old village.
Friday morning, we made a lovely breakfast and then headed into town to wander the shops and its downtown district, an eclectic array of retail, small businesses, cafes and restaurants. In the afternoon, we stopped at Carlo’s O’Bryans for a few cocktails and some excellent appetizers on their rooftop patio, great food and some of the best views of downtown Kamloops and the surrounding area.
A short walk down the street will take you into the Riverside park, an inviting green space with many walking paths, a sandy public beach and the site of many music and food festivals. It’s a great space to relax and play with the entire family, it has washroom facilities, a large playground and the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic.
In the evening, we were lucky enough to be in town when The Heritage Train had it’s first ‘Sip and Ride’ event going on, it was the last day for the trains summer runs with a few trips scheduled in October. If you are going to be in Kamloops we’d highly recommend this activity, it runs infrequently outside of the summer months so check their website for availability.
We started our evening with a small wine tasting, just two half glasses were available from a local winery. They don’t have a liquor license so we weren’t even able to purchase a proper glass but it was nice non-the less. During the wine reception a few appetizers were available from a food truck where you could also purchase some grub for dinner if desired. It was nothing gourmet but they had a decent supply and for desert who wouldn’t enjoy their deep-fried Mars bar or a deep-fried Oreo cookie. A three-piece band serenaded us as we sipped on our wine, popping deep-fried spring rolls and then followed us onto the train to entertain during the ride.
The best part though was boarding and riding this historical train originally built in 1912, retired in 1958 and relaunched in 2002. It has been refurbished and is now operated non-profit by a group of dedicated, local volunteers. What they have done is amazing, it is one of the most beautifully restored steam trains that we have ever seen having been on many of them throughout Canada and the UK. Sitting in the passenger car I imagined myself dressed like Don Draper with a glass of bourbon in one hand, a cigar in the other and enjoying some chatter with all the other well-dressed passengers from a bi-gone era of travel. The return trip lasts about an hour, just long enough to enjoy the train, the scenery, the on-board entertainment and then arriving back at the train station at sunset. It was such an enjoyable experience, we’d love to come back at Christmas time for the Spirit of Christmas run which would be nothing less than magical. Heres a video of our ride on the Heritage Train;
Saturday morning, we got up bright and early to make our way down the street to the Community Market comprised of local artisans selling their creations and a large farmers market with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, wines, baked goods, flowers, homemade sausage, jerky and anything a foody could desire. We bought some hunters sausage, a bottle of wine, some jerky, these amazing loaded scones, some mini pies and fruit. We packed it all into a few backpacks and in the afternoon headed up into the mountains to explore the Sun Peaks Resort.
Sun Peaks is a year-round resort, most noted as one of BC’s premier ski resorts but also a popular summer destination for outdoor enthusiasts. When we arrived there was a mountain bike competition going on so it was extra busy but outside of an event its a popular spot for mountain bikers,hikers and outdoor aficionados. For $30 you can take unlimited rides on the chairlift to the top of the mountain then explore the alpine valleys and all the terrain offered throughout the resort. We explored the village which reminded me of a mini Whistler with all the shops, restaurants, cafes and bars that you’d expect at a full-service resort.
It was busy on the weekend with the Bike event happening and lots of tourists soaking up the last bits of summer. We took our picnic and hiked up to the adjacent hills for a great viewpoint of the resort and valley below. The wine and cheese tasted extra great after some exercise and fresh air. Our eyes grazed on the views, the sounds of nature were all around us, our senses satiated and souls filled with gratitude. As the autumn sun started to set we made our back home and settled in for a night of movies and popcorn.
We had a great stay with Meagan and Ryan and left feeling fulfilled with all that Kamloops had to offer and will look forward to returning. I’d love to do some skiing here over the winter months but we’ll see what the schedule brings. Here is a link to the photo gallery for more pics.