Travelling Highway 5
It’s road trip time! Pack the snacks, turn on the tunes and marvel at the scenery along the Yellowhead Highway. Buckle up and turn on the tunes. It’s time for your road trip on Hwy 5, also known as the Yellowhead Highway. Sprawling ranch land hugs the banks of the North Thompson River in the shadow of the rounded slopes of the Monashee Mountains. As you travel north, the river snakes back and forth and mountain peaks morph from gentle mounds covered in ancient timber to jagged peaks capped by glaciers.
The Yellowhead Highway — Wilderness Just a Step Away
It’s time for a spin with wilderness just a step away. Take as much or as little time as you want, just remember to stay within those speed limits. Every turn in the road enhances the feeling of freedom as you follow the road to your next adventure.
Dazzling Landscapes along the Yellowhead
The Yellowhead connects Vancouver, BC to the Canadian Rockies. It’s a corridor for accessing grand adventure. Get off the asphalt, get out and stand in awe at the panoramic views of the wilds of British Columbia. Hwy 5 is your gateway to amazing recreational highlights. Hike, raft, ski or just relax and watch for wildlife. No matter which exit you take, or which turn you make, an adventure is waiting just off the blacktop.
Access the North Thompson via air or vehicle through Kamloops, conveniently located on Hwy 1 (the Trans Canada Hwy) at the intersection of Highways 5 and 5A. The city was named after its location, at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers. It comes from the Secwepemc word Tk’emlúps, meaning “where the rivers meet.”
While you’re there, visit the Kamloops Museum and the Secwepemc Museum. The Kamloopa Pow-Wow is one of the largest pow-pows in BC and is held every August. You’ll find live music, drumming contests, bingo, and an art show and auction. There’s also a Cowboy Festival later in the month.
After your visit in Kamloops, follow the North Thompson River NE along Hwy 5. The river departs from its journey and heads west between Blue River and Valemount. Not to worry there are dozens of gorgeous lakes and rivers to keep you company on your adventure.
Barriere, Lower North Thompson
This bountiful landscape is cowboy country. At Jandana Ranch, spend your days learning to communicate with horses. Cowboy up during the Labour Day long weekend for the annual North Thompson Fall Fair and Rodeo.
Barriere lies in a low, wide valley, complete with vast, green ranches. Listen to the cattle call and horses whinny in the shadow of the Monashee Mountains. Bear witness to the regeneration of our forest from the great fire of 2003.
Make a stop at the McLure Wildfire monument for a self-guided interpretive tour. The monument is for those who helped battle the great blaze and rebuild this resilient, small-town community.
Clearwater and Wells Gray
As you move north along Hwy 5, past Clearwater, rounded, smooth mountains encroach on the highway. Clearwater is the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park and home to more waterfalls and wilderness than most people can envision.
Drive 35 kilometres (22 miles) along the Clearwater Valley Road for park access. As you drive along, dense forests come into view. The accessible walking trails from the main roads lead into a mystical rainforest where you can hike the Rim Trail to famous Helmcken Falls. There are over 40 waterfalls here for you to enjoy.
Take the time to explore Trophy Mountains. In the spring and summer wildflowers paint the inclines. Those bound for water-filled expeditions can raft the legendary Clearwater River. For something quieter, launch your canoe into the soothing waters of Murtle Lake.
The jagged slopes of the Cariboo Mountains come into view as you drive towards Blue River. This is the home of Mike Wiegele’s Heli-skiing in winter. In the warmer months this is where you start your get-away with kayaking or canoeing the golden shores of Murtle Lake, the largest paddle-only lake in North America.
The village of Valemount is a cozy community nestled in the ruggedly wild landscape of the Cariboo, Monashee and the Rocky mountain ranges — including the Canadian Rockies’ tallest peak Mount Robson. Valemount is near the Fraser River’s headwaters which is the gateway to Jasper National Park. Plucky hikers find their passion hiking the famed Berg Lake Trail, where the 22 km (14 mi) hike in leads you to the turquoise blue waters of Berg Lake. You can hike both ways or ride a helicopter to the lake and hike back down.
For an easier journey, amble through the bird sanctuary of Cranberry Marsh, where ungroomed trails lead you to observation towers with a panoramic view of the wetland.