Home to Canada’s only semi-arid desert, an award-winning wine region and boasting some of North America’s best backcountry skiing and epic glaciers, British Columbia’s magnificent interior offers a thrilling range of landscapes to explore and all the wide-open space to enjoy the outdoor adventure lifestyle that its locals adore. It says something about the relentlessly jaw-clanging beauty of the interior that you can approach it from the Rockies or Vancouver and find landscapes every bit as spectacular as those you’ve left behind. However, in this case, the road less travelled really offers up the best sights: both major east–west routes across the region – Trans-Canada (Hwy-1) and Hwy-3 along the US border – skirt the real highlights. More rewarding are the two north–south routes: the easternmost snakes through the Kootenay region – an idyllic assortment of mountains, lakes and peaceful towns and its vast Glacier and Revelstoke national parks – all the way south to the US border near the quaint old mining town and skiing and biking haven of Rossland. Roughly parallel to the west, Hwy-97 travels through the arid Okanagan: a Californian-like enclave of orchards, vineyards, lakes and resort towns, whose beaches and scorching summers draw hordes of holidaymakers from all over the world.
The regional transport hub of Kamloops effectively forms Okanagan’s northern gateway. It’s also on the doorstep of the laidback Shuswap region – a medley of lakes and rivers loved by houseboaters and spawning salmon – and the magnificent Wells Gray Provincial Park, a remote collection of exceptional waterfalls and perfect canoeing lakes. And it’s from Kamloops too that the most spectacular portion of the Trans-Canada begins: along the awesome Fraser Canyon to Vancouver, which is as scenically spectacular as anything in this incredible region.