Nestled in deep wilderness at the base of the Cascade Mountains, the pretty little town of Hope sits on a wide sweeping curve of the mighty Fraser River, guarding the entrance to the Fraser River Canyon.
The Native Heritage of the Hope and Fraser Canyon area is rich in culture and tradition. The Sto:lo people can trace their heritage back between 9,000 and 11,000 years. That history goes hand in hand with life on the Fraser River.
Simon Fraser passed through in search of a waterway to the coast, and the Hudson Bay Company had a fur trading fort here. When gold was discovered, Hope, like many of the settlements in this region, suddenly became a bustling waypoint for traders and prospectors, bringing pioneers from all over the globe.
These days, the local joke here is no matter which way you’re going, the rest of BC is beyond Hope.
Location: The town of Hope is located at the junction of Highway 5 (Coquihalla Highway), Highway 7 and the Trans-Canada Highway 1, 94 miles (150 km) east of Vancouver and 128 miles (205 km) southwest of Kamloops.
Hope Museum: The colourful history of this one time Hudson Bay Company fur trading fort and Gold Rush town is depicted at the Hope Museum, at the corner of Water Street and the Trans Canada Highway. Exhibits include the Home Gold Mill, a complete gold concentrator erected at the Pipestern Mine in 1932, and now entirely restored at the museum.
This is truly the Chainsaw Carving Capital of Canada, with over two dozen large wooden sculptures scattered throughout the downtown core. These carvings, which can be viewed on the Hope Arts and Carving Walk, feature local wildlife, including eagles, bears, mountain sheep and cougars.
Hope Slide: Just east of Hope on Highway 3 is an awe-inspiring testament to nature’s power. In January 1965, most of an entire mountain called Johnson’s Peak came sliding down into the valley. Over 45 million cubic feet of earth, rock and slate travelling at 150 kms per hour (95 mph) tumbled down to bury the highway, and mark the valley forever. Now known as the Hope Slide, the remaining half of Johnson’s Peak is an irresistible draw.
Hiking: For a much gentler natural experience, head a little south of Yale and hike the Spirit Cave Trail for a beautiful panoramic view of the high Cascade Mountains.
Remember the movie Rambo – First Blood? If so, you might recognize Hope as the setting for this muscle-bound Hollywood smash hit. Starstruck, a Rambo-spinoff tour company, will lead you on a walking tour of all the shooting locations, and as locals will tell you, Mr. Stallone was actually very pleasant.
Bird Watching: Hope and the Fraser Canyon are a dream for bird watchers, as the unique blend of coastal and interior climates make it a haven for a huge variety of birds. Greenwood Island across from Hope is a blue heron sanctuary where the large birds nest year after year. Each year the large dead trees that line the river provide roosts for the many bald eagles that follow the spawning salmon upstream. Manning Park holds a summer Bird Blitz, a bird count that is a fun event for experienced and novice birders alike.
North of Hope, just before Boston Bar on the Trans Canada Highway, is one of the most spectacular sights in British Columbia: Hell’s Gate, a narrowing of the Fraser River where the water churns through the famous gorge in a tremendous maelstrom. It’s an awesome sight to behold, and certainly a “hellish” experience for the more than 2 million spawning salmon that must pass through this part of the Fraser River every year.
For a closer look at the fury of Hell’s Gate, ride the Hell’s Gate Airtram across to the other side of the river. Restaurants, gift shops and an interpretive centre await those daring enough to make the trip.
Beautiful forest enhances Kawkawa Lake Park, which features a large picnic day-use area. Less than 2 miles (3 km) northwest of Hope off Hwy 1, its proximity to town and a warm-water lake make it popular with boaters, anglers, and swimmers.
Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, located just to the east of Hope, allows visitors to explore an engineering marvel. The Othello Tunnels were built from 1911 to 1918 to complete the Kettle Valley Railway. They were cut through solid granite to allow the railway to span the 300-foot-deep (90 metres) Coquihalla Canyon. Plagued by washouts and rock slides, the railway line was closed in 1959. The impressive chain of tunnels, linked by a suspension bridge and a wooden bridge, is a major attraction during summer months. A leisurely walk (2.5 miles/4 km return) on the abandoned railway grade will take you through the tunnels and the spectacular Coquihalla Canyon gorge.
Nicolum River Provincial Parkis a convenient roadside pit stop on Highway 3 for those travelling to the Interior from the Lower Mainland. The small park contains 9 vehicle/tent campsites and offers only basic facilities: picnic tables, pit toilets, fire pits, and water.
Coquihalla River Provincial Park is convenient as a stop-off along the Coquihalla Highway for resting, fishing and picnicking aside the pretty Coquihalla River. The park provides lovely fall colours due to the large number of Vine Maples and also reveals remnants of the old Kettle Valley Railway.
Coquihalla Summit Recreation Area is located on both sides of the Coquihalla Highway 5, north of the community of Hope. The massive park provides a beautiful setting for wildlife viewing and a stopover for travellers along the Coquihalla Highway.
Skagit Valley Provincial Park has 32,570 hectares of wilderness to explore, with three separate campgrounds in the park, Silvertip, Ross Lake, and a Whitworth Horse Camp with 11 pull-through sites (near Whitworth Meadows). The Skagit River is one of the premier rainbow trout fishing rivers in Western North America.
Manning Provincial Park has rain forests on its west side and grassland slopes on its east. Between the two extremes lies a land of wild rivers, crystal lakes, towering peaks, and alpine meadows that is brimming with year-round recreational opportunities. Hiking trails are its chief draw, but the park also offers horseback riding, swimming, canoeing, fishing, mountain biking, and, in winter, cross-country and downhill skiing.
Manning Park Resort in the Cascade Mountains offers downhill skiing and snowboarding, and more than 100 km of ungroomed trails that accommodate all levels of cross-country skiers and snowshoers. Located between Hope and Princeton, Manning Park Resort is considered the premier cross-country and snowshoeing destination in southwestern British Columbia. The Gibson Pass Ski Area is located in Manning provincial Park. Skiing & Winter Activities.
The historic Skagit River Trail in Skagit Valley Provincial Park was blazed in the 1850s during the feverish stampede to the Cariboo gold fields in central British Columbia. In an attempt to do an end-run around the colonial government’s customs and excise tax collectors stationed at the mouth of the Fraser River, American entrepreneurs constructed a trail that ran from Whatcom, Washington (now Bellingham), to the Thompson River. For all the underhanded effort, the trail lasted for only two months before it was abandoned: the upkeep was too taxing. A moderately challenging 9-mile (14.5-km) section of the trail persists between 26-Mile Bridge near Silvertip Provincial Campground and Sumallo Grove in Manning Provincial Park. Sumallo Grove is situated on the south side of Hwy 3, 16 miles (25 km) east of Hope, just inside the park’s western boundary. Although it’s possible to complete the round trip in a day, the De Lacey Wilderness Campsite 2.5 miles (4 km) along the Skagit River Trail from Sumallo Grove welcomes hikers.
Gliding: Hope is an ideal glider flying location as a result of westerly winds which blow from the Fraser Valley and rise upon hitting the mountains. Mount Hope is noted for creating strong upward columns of air that can keep a glider flying for as long as six or seven hours. That’s the thrill behind glider flying for the more than 85 pilots who make the Hope Regional Airpark their home base.
Golf: Hope Golf & Country Club is a semi-private, 9-hole golf course on Golf Course Road offering superb mountain views in all directions. 18 holes, par 72, 6,317 yards. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
The fur brigades that founded Hope are the namesake of the district’s annual Brigade Days festival, now in its 31st year. Held on the weekend following Labour Day in September, the festival includes the Briggie Ball, the Bed Race, Logger Sports, and a Demolition Derby.
The nearby town of Yale, north of Hope on Highway 1, is one of southwestern British Columbia’s oldest and most historic communities, having been the bustling steamship navigation capital during the Gold Rush. Founded as a Hudson’s Bay fort in 1848, Yale rose to prominence as the inland terminus of the Fraser River sternwheelers, and a waystation for those travelling up and down the Fraser River.
North of Hope on the Coquihalla Highway is Merritt, the service centre for the ranch country of the Nicola Valley. Merrit has a rich ranching heritage and hosts the annual Merritt Mountain Music Festival, Canada’s Number One Country Music Festival.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on a driving Circle Tour. Head north out of Vancouver for the scenic Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island Circle Tour, or stay on the intensely scenic Sea to Sky Highway, passing through the magical winter resort town of Whistler and Coast Mountains Circle Tour. To explore the rural farmlands and forests of the fertile Fraser Valley, take the Fraser Valley Circle Tour, travelling outbound on the scenic route north of the historic Fraser River, returning westwards along the Trans Canada Highway 1 to Vancouver. Circle Tours in British Columbia.