It can be tough to find a decent road trip from Vancouver. If you want to do a round trip in a day, then there are only a couple of directions you can head. Whistler is a sure thing, but it’s more about the destination and less about the journey. The Fraser Canyon, however, will satisfy even the most wistful wanderer.
Cross the Fraser River from Hope and head towards Spuzzum (I did not make that name up although it is literally beyond Hope). You begin to head through the Fraser Canyon, with beautiful mountains surrounding you. There are a few viewpoints along the way, which are great for a picnic. Fraser Canyon is long, winding and stunning. Halfway along the stretch to Spences Bridge is Hell’s Gate Airtram. It’s a nice place to stop and stretch your legs.
Hell’s Gate Airtram consists of a short ride down into the heart of the canyon. There is a great fudge shop and a place to buy some lunch at the lower station. Hell’s Gate is steeped in the history of gold mining in the area, with a few very spooky stories of old ghost miners who still wander the area. There is a large bridge that makes for a nice (but windy) stroll and gives you a good look at the raging river below. The salmon tunnels are also pretty interesting, being the only way they can fight the wild torrents and make it upstream to spawn (because fish pay attention to the moon).
At Spences Bridge, head back to Merritt and then back to Vancouver. Just before Hope are the Othello Tunnels. The tunnels are old remnants of the Kettle Valley railway. You can walk through three of the massive tunnels and the surrounding area is very beautiful. If you are looking for a longer hike, head past the tunnels for about 5 minutes until you reach a yellow gate. Just after the gate is a hike up and over the tunnels. It takes about an hour to get back to the car park.
Hope is a good spot for a break, lunch, or stretch of the legs. The Blue Moose Coffee House on the main street has good food and decent coffee. However, consider it a Vancouver location, as it is super trendy and you should expect to line up for a solid 10 minutes before being served.