British Columbia A Circle Tour of Mountains and Vineyards

This Circle Tour could be started anywhere along the route, but for our purposes it will start in Golden. Set on the banks of the Columbia River, this quiet town offers endless outdoor adventures. There's whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River or a quiet retreat bird-watching on the world-renowned Columbia Wetlands. You can ride the gondola to the top of Kicking Horse Mountain for a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and enjoy a meal at Canada's highest restaurant, the Eagle Eye.

In the winter there is also some great "champagne powder" skiing here.Before leaving Golden you might take a drive East into Yoho National Park, with its 28 peaks, glacial lakes and Canada's highest waterfalls, Takakkaw Falls near Field. Nearby there is also the beautiful glacier-fed Emerald Lake and the Natural Bridge. A little further on is a view of the Spiral Tunnels.

These tunnels were carved in 1909 to avoid steep descents on the treacherous "Big Hill" section of the CP Railroad. If there is a train going through, you will be able to see the tailend still approaching the tunnel while the locomotive with the lead cars are already leaving the other end.Back in Golden, you start on the circle tour by heading south along Hwy 95 which follows the Columbia River to Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs. You might stop for a relaxing soak in either of the mineral rich springs, before heading south again to Kimberley.

A western mining town that's taken on a distinct Bavarian look and atmosphere. See the world's largest Cuckoo Clock and explore the Platzl, a pedestrian area filled with unique shops and restaurants.Next stop south is Cranbrook, where you can explore the only complete set of rail cars from the luxurious 1929 "Trans Canada Limited" operated in those years by the Canadian Pacific Railway. You leave town on Hwy 3, The Crowsnest Pass Highway, to the orchard town of Creston, There are always many stands offering locally grown fruit and vegetables for sale.

You might stop at the Creston Valley Wildlife Centre, a bird and waterfowl refuge for more than 250 bird species. There's a boardwalk you can take to a three storey birding tower, there's also nature programs offered at the Interpretive Centre.Leaving Creston, you head west over the Salmo Pass and on to Salmo and then take Hwy 6 north to Nelson. This is a historic city and you can take a self-guided walking tour of 350 restored heritage buildings and homes. Ride Streetcar #23 along the waterfront and stroll down Baker Street past the galleries and studios.

Heading west out of Nelson on Hwy 3A, the next stop is Castlegar. This community has a strong Russian influence, which can be seen at many community attractions including the Doukhobor Museum and Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park. You can take an excursion south on Hwy 3B to Trail and Rossland for a tour of the famous Le Roi Gold Mine. You can follow in the footsteps of the underground miners who drilled, blasted and hand-mucked the mine's 80 miles of underground drifts and stopes following the veins of gold.Now drive on Hwy 3 west to Osoyoos, at the south end of the Okanagan Valley.

Through this valley you will find the vineyards that produce the award winning wines that this region is famous for. Cradled between two mountain ranges, a chain of blue lakes span the valley floor in this warm-weather region blessed with sandy beaches. Heading north from Osoyoos on Hwy 97, which is just three miles from the US border, you'll pass through a true desert. At Oliver, a tour of local wineries is a must. You can learn about wine making and sample your favorite Bordeaux, Cabernets, or Chardonnays in the tasting rooms.

In Summerland, you can climb aboard the vintage Kettle Valley Steam Railway which will transport you a 6.5 mile route. There are some award winning championship golf courses throughout the Okanagan Valley to tempt you if you are a golfer.

At Shuswap Lake you are in a truly picturesque houseboat country, with over 620 miles of shoreline to explore on a rental houseboat. From Shuswap, you head east on Hwy 1, The TransCanada Highway, to Revelstoke. Be sure to look out for a small pulloff at Craigellachie. In 1885 the "Last Spike" was driven into Canada's first transcontinental railway. Stop in Revelstoke and tour the Railway museum that features a tribute to the workers that built the railway through the difficult mountain passes.

Heading east again, you drive through the Rogers Pass, one of BC's great mountain crossings between Revelstoke and Golden. You may marvel at the engineering feat that forged a path through the might Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges, making way for the railroad and the highway.Next stop is Golden, where you started from and the end of the tour.

This tour as described is 759 miles long and to really enjoy it, you should plan on 7 to 10 days.

.Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Canada Vacation.Article Source:

By: Michael Russell

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