Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fraser Canyon ~ Thompson Canyon ~ BC, Canada

We love rv'ing and have travelled many different roads during every season of the year.  During winter months, weather conditions must be considered in order to decide the best route to take and on this trip we decided that the best road conditions appear to be through the Fraser Canyon. This is such a scenic drive and we haven't traveled this section of the Trans Canada Highway for a long while, especially during winter months so with the route now planned, we were on our way.

We begin our travels through the Thompson Canyon, Cache Creek, BC
Cache Creek is 193 km (120 mi) to Hope and pulling the fifth wheel meant we would likely take about two and half hours travelling through the canyon to reach Hope,  It is a rather dreary overcast day but the sights are great anyway and we're appreciating that we do not have any snow or ice on the road to contend with.  We barely see a dusting of snow up on the hills on this part of the trip and we expect to see more in winter.

The Thompson River offers a scenic drive
The Fraser Canyon is what most call the area between Cache Creek, BC to Hope, BC but technically between Ashcroft, just south of Cache Creek and Lytton, which is half way through to Hope, it is called the Thompson Canyon.  The Thompson River flows through this canyon and meets the Fraser River at Lytton, BC.  Lytton to Hope, BC is what is technically the Fraser Canyon.  This makes total sense knowing the two different rivers but I had never questioned that before because we appear to follow the same canyon.   Now that I have the correct information, I understand it but old habits are hard to break and you know what they say about teaching an old dog new tricks :).

Waterfalls down the rocks at Spences Bridge, BC
The Thompson River at Spences Bridge has always been a favored spot for steelhead fishing and today we spotted a few people standing in the river with their fishing rods busy searching for the 'big' one.  I noticed this water cascading down the rock face across the river from the highway and I think there may be bits of ice on the rock but there is definitely water that is not frozen on this day making a great waterfall.

The Goldpan Tunnels in  the Thompson Canyon
Both the CN Railway and the CP Railways were built along the rockface along either sides of the Thompson River.  There and several tunnels drilled through the rock as well as structures built over the tracks to prevent rocks or snow landing on the tracks and causing problems.  A bit of history of the railways about construction through the Fraser Canyon can be found on my Kamloops blog concerning their connection to the railway.
The Thompson River appears calm before the rapids
Much of the Thompson Canyon is not very deep so we are fairly close to the Thompson River level.  The river is usually quite low at this time of year but that changes throughout the seasons. At this point we are able to see all the rocks that create a big challenge for anyone who may want to boat down the Thompson even with higher water levels; I understand it is one of the most popular river trips for those who like the whitewater rafting and a great day for those that do it!

The highway climbs up from the bottom of the Thompson Canyon
We are beginning our climb up the mountainside and leaving the river to follow at the bottom of the canyon,  We are driving on roads that are mainly wet but no ice and no snow to make this a difficult trip. There is enough water on the road to warrant using the window wash on occasion so always make sure you have those filled before you leave on this kind of weather days.

Snow capped mountains of the Lillooet Range
As we're approaching the Lytton area, we see some sunshine appear with blue sky that allow us to see the snowcaps on those beautiful mountains that are part of the splendor of the Fraser Canyon; that begins when we leave the Thompson Canyon at Lytton, BC where the Thompson River meets the Fraser River and continues onto Vancouver, BC.

More snow on the mountains at higher elevations
The mountains we see are part of the Lillooet Range with Skihist Mountain being the highest peak at 2972 meters (9750').  We can see there is some snow up on the mountains but less than expected at this time of year.  The weather seems to be different than our normal, no matter who we speak to.

We see the Thompson River at the bottom of the Thompson Canyon
We've climbing quite high in the mountains on the Trans Canada Highway (TCH), also called Highway 1 and are still amazed at how mild the day is and the conditions of the road make the drive stress free.  This most definitely makes the travel much more enjoyable than dealing with snow and icey roads.  We can see the Thompson River way down below as it weaves its way through the canyon to soon meet with the Fraser River.

So now that we've had our lesson on the Thompson Canyon - Fraser Canyon names, we will continue our drive down through the Fraser Canyon and see how good the roads might be on this section of the TCH for our winter travels.

To  learn more about this wonderful part of our province, click on the link to visit to see all that there is to see. 


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