Getting Here — The Travel Essentials
Getting here is easy. The Crowsnest Highway (BC Highway 3) runs straight through the Similkameen Valley. It travels from Princeton to the Okanagan Valley at Osoyoos in the Thompson-Okanagan Region of BC’s Interior. If you were to drive the valley from end to end, you’d cover 180 kilometres. Start at Manning Park in the west and end up at the BC Highway 97 junction in Kaleden or Osoyoos in the east. (or vice versa). How long it takes to drive it will be up to you, just mind the speed limits here!
You can access BC Highway 3 from Vancouver via the Trans Canada Highway 1 in Hope. While if you’re coming from Jasper, Alberta, you’d connect from the Coquihalla Highway, BC Highway 5A. Travelers from Calgary would connect to BC Highway 3A linking the Crowsnest to Penticton. Getting here from the US, you would enter the valley at the junction of Highways 97 and 3 near Osoyoos.
Calgary to Princeton — 9 hours
Kamloops to Princeton — 2 hours
Kelowna to Princeton — 3 hours
Vancouver to Princeton — 3 hours
Calgary to Princeton — 9 hours
We’re not your typical tourism destination. In spring and summer, we recommend you book your accommodation in advance. That goes for camping too. You can make reservations at private campgrounds and at certain parks. Reservations can also be made at BC Forest Service government campsites. While facilities are rugged and rustic, they’re also really rudimentary. So come prepared to pack out what you pack in!
Our Visitor Centres are located in Princeton, Keremeos and seasonally in Hedley. Each centre has Wi-Fi access and our staff can answer any questions you may have. In addition, they can provide you with information, directions, advice, local knowledge and assist with making your reservations. While you’re there, be sure to pick up some brochures, maps, and other essential travel information.
Know Before You Go
Fishing is one of our favourite pastimes in the Similkameen. You get get your fishing licenses online, at Service BC in Princeton, or at select retail outlets in Princeton and Keremeos. Visit BC Provincial Fishing website for more information.
Rules of the Road
Seat belt use is mandatory for all drivers and passengers in Canada. The Distracted Driving Law is in effect in British Columbia. This prohibits drivers from talking, texting or emailing on any electronic devices while behind the wheel. That shouldn’t be a problem here, as cell reception is limited to areas surrounding our towns and along the Hope/Princeton corridor in Manning Park.
Climate & What To Pack
The diversity of the Similkameen’s landscape calls for shrewd packing. If you’re heading into the mountains for any sort of outdoor adventure, it’s best to dress in layers. Our restaurant scene is pretty laid-back. So casual attire is the order of the day. The Similkameen is in BC’s southern interior and on the north end of the Columbia Plateau. This makes our summers exceptionally hot. Plan to wear sunglasses and a hat and a water-soaked bandana around your neck to provide extra protection from our scorching temperatures.
Only YOU Can Prevent Forest Fires
If you are getting here in the summer, please note we have a complete fire ban from mid- June to mid-September. We do this to help reduce the risk of forest fire. If you’re planning on camping, or even just picnicking, come prepared with propane BBQs or small camp stoves. Help light your way in the dark with light sticks, flashlights or enclosed lanterns.
Wildlife viewing is easy throughout the Similkameen Valley. There are deer, moose, coyotes, badgers, mountain sheep, and mountain goats, usually near the roads. Look up and you’ll see bald eagles, osprey and ravens ready to have their photo taken. Highway 3 follows the Similkameen River, which is also an important source of water for our wildlife. They usually cross here unexpectedly, especially at dawn & dusk. So keep your eyes peeled for animals dashing from the shadows. It’s important that we keep our wildlife wild by not feeding them and keeping food caches out of reach when camping.