Drive curious and discover the regions of Route 97 from the Thompson, North Okanagan, Central Okanagan, and South Okanagan regions of BC to the Okanogan, Chelan and Douglas counties of WA.
When Route 97 stretches its arms northwest through the Thompson Region you can’t help but be reminded of the old west, travelling through an ancient landscape carved by glaciers and rivers and smoothed by the ages, where cowboy and First Nation’s culture live on today. Mother Nature has plenty in store for you, including some of the best skiing in BC’s interior. Give yourself plenty of time to get outside and explore the Monashee Mountains, the lush farmland and the sage grasslands that surround Kamloops and Cache Creek regions. It’s here where you start the Gold Country/Kamloops road trip loop. Venture out on BC 5 for an adventure on the North Thompson/Columbia Icefields Parkway Loop.
It may be hard to know which route to take when you come to a fork in the road. Fortunately, when you’re travelling Route 97 (and its branches 97A and 97B) through BC’s North Okanagan and Shuswap Region you don’t have to choose. Take one, both, or all three. Every mile of Route 97 has its own distinct personality and you can get here easily from Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton. Visit Vernon, Salmon Arm and Sicamous and uncover their charms. There are great road trip loops you can venture off on from here. Take the Monashee Loop for valleys, majestic mountains, hot springs, lakes and farmland or the Shuswap Loop and explore over 1,000 km (621 mi) of shoreline and 22 Provincial Parks or relax on a houseboat.
A road trip down the Okanagan Corridor of Route 97 takes you along roads that hug the banks of Okanagan Lake and winds its way along a shoreline that stretches through the heart of the region. With a constant backdrop of the Cascade, Coastal and Monashee Mountains, the Central Okanagan and its communities of Peachland, West Kelowna, Kelowna and Lake Country is truly ripe for exploring. Find boundless recreation, five unique wine trails, and a vibrant culinary, arts and entertainment scene centred around Kelowna’s waterfront. Trust us when we say you’ll just have to pull in and stay a while to take all of it in.
Meander along scenic Route 97 as the landscape changes from Summerland and Naramata, through Penticton and Okanagan Falls and on to Oliver and Osoyoos. Cities and towns hug the lakes here with lush green orchards and vineyards beyond. Explore the valley bottom and our pocket desert or hike and bike in the foothills and mountains. Learn about our First Nation’s heritage and desert landscapes. At the end of the day, unwind on a patio by one of our lakes, after all this is where you’ll find Canada’s Wine Capital. Venture out on the Similkameen Valley Loop for an eclectic, out there and edgy road trip through nature wonders and more wine country.
It’s not hard to imagine the old west as you make your way on and around Route 97 through Okanogan County. This was once a trade route long frequented by Native Americans, cattlemen and gold prospectors. The Columbia Plateau gently gives way to the Okanogan and the jagged peaks of the North Cascade Mountains to the west. Cattle ranches and historic sites alternate with fruit stands and the northern wineries of the Columbia Cascade wine region. Travel the blacktop north from Pateros toward the Canadian border at Oroville as you leave the Columbia River behind. Travel through Tonasket, the Colville Indian Reservation, and Omak, home of the legendary Omak Stampede and Suicide Race. There’s a great side trip here for history buffs and outdoor enthusiasts on the Many Lakes Loop, or take the Historic Highland Loop and go visit a ghost town.
Travel Route 97 north from Ellensburg through the Wenatchee National Forest. Chelan County is located mostly to the west of Route 97 in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and is home to the Wenatchee and Columbia River, and the pristine beauty of Lake Chelan. Step into the tasting rooms from Wenatchee to Leavenworth where you just may find your next favourite varietal or blend. You’ll find yourself surrounded by orchards, the Lake Chelan Wine Region, breweries and cideries, and more get-away-from-it-all than you could even imagine. There’s a reason we call this area Washington’s playground, and you will too when you’re done. Your road trip on the famous Cascade Loop can start here.
As you head north on Route 97 from Wenatchee, Douglas County lies to the east. Fresh fruits, vegetables, wheat, and more recently grapes, can been seen as you drive through this picturesque section of Route 97. Turn off the highway and take in the Ice Age Floods Loops. Experience the thrill of staring out over a 5.6 km (3.5 mi) wide precipice and imagine what it was like when water thundered over the edge. Five times wider than Niagara Falls, Dry Falls, as its name suggests, is dry. While you’re there, take a side tour to the Grand Coulee Dam. Make sure you stay for the laser light show. From this section of Route 97 you can also venture off on the Cascade Loop which National Geographic Traveler calls “one of America’s grandest, most spectacular drives.”