5 Reasons Why You Need to Drive Canada’s Hidden Route

In Communities

Photo: Austin Miller

Scroll this
WORDS BY ALISON JONES | MARCH 5, 2017

Summer calls for the open road. The idea of treading new ground ignites the feeling of wanderlust within many of us; so this hidden route is bound to spark the intrigue of the intrepid explorer within you. Leave the hustle of the highway behind as you travel off the beaten path to a local’s favourite in BC.

Your destination? Nakusp. Perfectly nestled on the shore of Arrow Lake, this town is your gateway to adventure.

  • Journey: Revelstoke to Nakusp
  • Length: 105km
  • Time: 1.5hrs (with ferry)
Photo: Austin Miller 5 reasons to drive to Nakusp
The road to Nakusp | Photo: Austin Miller

1/ The Drive – Winding 105km from Revelstoke, the journey is nothing short of stunning. Turning off Highway 1 onto BC-23 South, the drive is the exact point when you roll down the windows and leave the hectic pace of your daily to-do list behind.

The road gently twists through an ever-tightening valley that offers some of the best views of the imposing Mt. Begbie as you get up close and personal to its base. As you traverse the route, you’ll relish the warm air brushing off the forest, carrying with it the smell of sweet pine and summer as you catch the first glimpses of the teal blue lake through brief breaks of the dense pine trees. Driving the quiet, single-lane road, you’ll cross bridges that marry sides over plunging canyons, and while you’ll innately look down at the impressive drop, don’t forget to look up, as these same vantage points give you a fleeting glance into the utter wilderness that lays just beyond your route.

The Nakusp car ferry | Photo: Austin Miller 5 reasons to drive to Nakusp
The Nakusp car ferry | Photo: Austin Miller

2/ The Ferry – An event in itself. Halfway to Nakusp, your drive will come to a definitive halt as you reach the port of Shelter Bay. It’s here that you board the car ferry to Galena Bay. Running hourly from each side, the 20-minute ferry is not only free, but it’s the epitome of the ideal pit stop. Once your vehicle is aboard the 80-car vessel, you can get out and stretch your legs while taking in the towering Selkirk and Monashee Mountains which pour themselves into the expansive lake.

Bike shops and cafes sit side-by-side | Photo: John Evely 5 reasons to drive to Nakusp
Bike shops and cafes sit side-by-side | Photo: John Evely

3/ The Town – Nakusp and its residents are humble about its beauty. Set to the backdrop of impressive alpine peaks while ideally located on the beachy shore of Arrow Lake, it’s a picturesque town that will quickly charm you into wanting to stay longer.

A true sense of pride runs deep within the town; from the beautifully maintained lake-front walkway and sandy beach to the well-kept boutique stores on the main street and quirky drive-in restaurant. Family owned cafés perfectly mesh with local bike stores and bakeries, all of which meld with the arrival of the weekly farmer’s market on Saturdays.

The location of all of this couldn’t be better for summer activities.

Biking beside the Nakusp lake side | Photo: John Evely 5 reasons to drive to Nakusp
Biking lakeside in Nakusp | Photo: John Evely

4/ The Biking – If there’s one common thread throughout the town, it’s the shared interest in anything with two wheels. Biking is a magnet for locals and tourists alike in Nakusp. There is a bounty of mountain biking trails all around the area, meaning the biggest problem you’ll face is choosing which one you’ll ride first. Bring your own bike or stop in at the locally owned and operated Shon’s Bike & Ski Shop for rentals or a chat about the best local trails.

For road cyclists, the 22km round trip to Nakusp Hot Springs is a hidden secret and a cyclist’s dream. The steady incline route features newly paved sections, smooth banking turns, and outstanding scenery.

The people of Nakusp, BC | Photo: John Evely 5 reasons to drive to Nakusp
The people of Nakusp, BC | Photo: John Evely

5/ The People – There is something to be said about the locals! Kind and welcoming, you won’t be short of people to talk to. Whether you’re up and at ‘em for an early morning adventure, or out till late, you’ll no-doubt get chatting to those who have lived in Nakusp for generations. Not only that, but they’re keen to share their wealth of knowledge about the history of the town and the best things to see off the beaten path!

The view from town, Nakusp | Photo: John Evely 5 reasons to drive to Nakusp
The view from town, Nakusp | Photo: John Evely

It’s your choice how to spend your time once in Nakusp. Whether that’s hiking the hundreds of trails, biking the endless routes, SUP-ing, kayaking, or dipping into the natural Hot Springs, you can tailor your trip to your own taste of adventure.

Looking for a place to stay in Nakusp? Take a look at the Lodge of Arrow Lakes.