Merritt Sunset
Photo by Darren Robinson

10 Reasons Route 97 Should Be Your Next Road Trip

With spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife, and the freedom to explore the unexpected, embrace your curiosity and make Route 97 your next road trip.

Route 97 is the longest continuous north-south highway in North America, stretching from Weed, CA to Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway at Dawson Creek, BC. The Columbia Cascades is a cross-border section of the highway that starts in Wenatchee, WA and extends up to Cache Creek, BC. This central corridor is full of beauty and adventure, and these are our 10 reasons you should make it your next road trip.


1. A Warm Welcome

Road Trip: Blue Mountain Winery Fall Colours

Photographer: Allen Jones

Feel the warmth of the sunshine as you roll down the windows and blast your road trip playlist. There will be plenty of opportunities to soak up the sun as you explore the region, from Canada’s only desert to the sandy beach of Shuswap Lake. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

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2. Nectar of the North

cedarcreek wine cellar

Photo Courtesy of CedarCreek Estate Winery, Kelowna

The sun-soaked valleys, rolling hills, and temperate climate make for ideal conditions to grow an array of grape varietals. Road trip through the Okanagan Valley as it boasts the most wineries in the country, and stop by Oliver, the Wine Capital of Canada. From international award-winning operations to grassroots boutique vineyards, you’re sure to find your new favourite bottle on and around Route 97. Let this Okanagan Wine Map guide the way.

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3. Wistful Waters

Bromley Rock, Similkameen

Photographer: Darren Robinson

Welcome to the land of the lakes! Nothing pairs with hot, sunny weather quite like a refreshing dip in the pristine water of a freshwater lake. Whether you’re in the mood to get active (think kayaking, boating, fishing), relax on the beach, or take photos of the glacier-fed lakes in Wells Gray Provincial Park, this road trip will satisfy it all.

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4. Snow-Capped Summits

skiing on Route 97

Photographer: Seger Nelson

Whether you want to shred first tracks through powder, or capture snow-capped peaks on film, the mountains throughout Route 97 will not disappoint. Home to the world famous champagne powder, the region’s dry, fluffy snow will have you wishing every day was a pow day.

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5. Wild Wonders

Similkameen River at Sunset

Photographer: Darren Robinson

A road trip is the perfect excuse to escape the urban grind and reconnect with nature. With Route 97, you’ve come to the right place. The dense forest, rolling grassland, and flowing rivers are home to some of nature’s most breathtaking spectacles. So turn your phone off, pitch your tent, and let Mother Nature do the rest.

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6. Endlessly Eye-Catching

Goat in Grand Forks, Boundary

Photographer: Darren Robinson

You may need to pull over to enjoy the stunning vistas (and wildlife) that lie ahead. From the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies to the Lake of a Thousand Colours, be sure to give yourself ample time so you can stop and marvel at the beauty before you. Don’t forget your camera!


7. Farm-Fueled Flavours

Chef preparing local produce

Photographer: Allen Jones

What’s a road trip without good food? Enjoy fresh, local flavours as you embrace the abundance of agriculture in the region. Stop for a peach in the Fruit Stand Capital of Canada, visit a local farmer’s market, or indulge in a farm-to-table culinary experience. While you’re here, enjoy a local brew too.


8. Pioneering Past

Grand Coulee Dam at Night

Photo Courtesy of Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce

Both sides of the border have vast history that will pique your curiosity and leave you wanting more. Head back in time and embrace cowboy culture in Gold Country, see the effect of the Ice Age Floods in Washington, take a walk along the Rail Trails, or learn about First Nations culture. This step back into the past will satisfy any history buff.

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9. Furry Friends

Llamas in petting zoo, Demille's Farm market, Salmon Arm

Photographer: Darren Robinson

There is nothing more incredible than viewing wildlife in their natural habitat, and this road trip is abundant with beautiful creatures. There are ample opportunities to view these animals, either guided or out in the wild, and you’ll be amazed by the diversity in the region. If you prefer the domesticated sort, there are plenty of farms and petting zoos to visit.

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10. Bang For Your Buck

Pincushion Mountain, Similkameen

Photographer: Darren Robinson

One of the best things about treating yourself to a Route 97 road trip is knowing there’s so much to enjoy along the way. There are so many opportunities to explore what nature has to offer, there’s plenty of places to stay that won’t break the bank, and the locals delight in showing you what they’ve created from nature’s bounty.

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So what are you waiting for? If sunshine, nature, and a little wine sounds good to you, get started with your trip planning and allow yourself to be curious. Make Route 97 your next road trip.