The wide, fertile Fraser
Valley is spread between the Coast and Cascade Mountains, parallel to the US-Canada
border. The valley runs for more than a hundred miles inland from the Pacific
Ocean to the small town of Hope at its eastern end. You can drive from one end
of the Fraser Valley to the other in about two hours, but you can just as easily
spend a lifetime exploring the 150 kilometres (93 miles) between Vancouver and
Hope. Almost all of the fertile land is rural and supports a blend of farming,
forestry, and outdoor recreation.
Hell's Gate Airtram
The Fraser River flows down the middle
of the Fraser Valley and by the very nature of its broad, deep, muddy girth, forces
road travellers to choose between its north or south side. Two major highways
cut east-west routes through the Fraser Valley, and link Vancouver with
Hope. Highway 7 (the Lougheed Highway, or Broadway, in Vancouver) traverses the
North Fraser Valley parallel with the Fraser River. As Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada
Highway) heads east of Vancouver, it crosses the Fraser River on the Port Mann
Bridge and leads through the South Fraser Valley. Whereas Highway 1 is a divided
freeway designed to deliver travellers to their destination as quickly as possible,
in most places Highway 7 is a conventional roadway and doubles as the main street
for the towns through which it passes.
this scenic journey of the Fraser Valley by following Highway 7 along the north
bank of the historic Fraser River. Visit Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge,
and enjoy the mild climate while teeing off on championship 18-hole golf courses
amid rolling tranquil countryside, with views of mountain peaks and winding rivers.
Golden Ears Provincial Park in Maple Ridge
is a destination with many possibilities, and is a popular camping venue. Once
there, you can fan out through the park to explore on foot, by boat, by bike,
or on horseback. Keep your camera handy! Pitt Lake, a superb location for paddlers
searching for freshwater adventure, serves as the gateway to several wilderness
areas. The Pitt-Wildlife Management Area is home to trumpeter swans, rare sandhill
cranes, hawks, eagles, herons, ospreys, and other wildlife.
winds along to Mission, which is tied historically to the Cariboo gold
rush of the 1850s. There is still a strong Native presence in the region, and
each year in July, the Mission Powwow draws drummers, singers, dancers, and spectators
to a three-day festival. The Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive
Centre bills itself as the oldest dwelling site in the province. The Sto:lo
Nation has erected a longhouse at the site where, between June to September, visitors
can learn more about traditional First Nations' culture and history.
Westminster Abbey, home to a Benedictine monastery, crows the skyline and occupies
a ridge overlooking the Fraser River Valley. Kilby
Historic Store is adjacent to Kilby Provincial Park
- it's well worth visiting. Look through the restored boarding house, post office,
and general store to get a feel for life on the Fraser River at the turn of the
century, when sternwheelers linked small towns like Harrison Mills with the docks
downstream at Mission and New Westminster.
After a hectic day
of sightseeing, visit Harrison Hot Springs. Called
the "Spa of Canada," Harrison Hot Springs is a resort town with recreation and
health at the forefront. Take the airtram for breathtaking views of the Fraser
River as it roars through this famous gorge. Continue along Hwy 1 to Hope,
a pretty little town with great appeal for outdoor adventurers - Kawkawa
Lake Park is nearby, as is Coquihalla Canyon Provincial
Park. Not far away is Manning Provincial Park
with more lakes and hiking trails. The local joke here is that no matter which
way you are going, the rest of B.C. is "beyond Hope".
Interesting spots for visitors
to check out along the way include Minster Gardens, which feature 11 themed
gardens, designed to dazzle the senses with fragrance and colour. Nestled at the
base of Mount Cheam, Bridal Falls offers panoramic views of the Fraser
Valley. The warm waters of Cultus Lake have attracted visitors to frolic and splash
on its beaches for decades. The water is so clear, that at midday, the gold sand
on the bottom on the lake perfectly complements the colour of the summer sun.
All the amenities of beach life are found here: barbeques, a picnic gazebo, tennis
courts, washroom facilities and even a boat rental are close at hand.
West along Highway 1 through the lush Fraser Valley to Abbotsford, Langley,
Fort Langley, and Surrey. Each town has its distinctive charm, history,
colour characters to meet and things to do. The annual Abbotsford International
Airshow, held in August, features aerial acrobatic teams, vintage aircraft and
stunt flyers. Attracting 300,000 spectators, this is North America's largest aerial
extravaganza. Throughout British Columbia, several historic 19th-century forts
have been preserved as reminders of how the west was originally settled by Europeans.
Langley National Historic Site, a Hudson's Bay Company post that has been
preserved and restored, is open year-round. It, too, is a delightful reminder
of yesteryear. Nearby is the Fort Langley Railway Museum, with a restored station
from the 1920s era, a Canadian National Railway caboose, and an operating model
railway. It's well worth a visit as you explore the town in the vicinity of the
Complete this scenic circle tour with a stop in Vancouver.
To list even a portion of Vancouver's attractions is impossible to do here. Suffice
it to say, the real charm and advantage of Vancouver is the range of entertaining
options open to visitors. Urbanites can eat at world-class restaurants, attend
the symphony, shop at exclusive boutiques along Robonstrasse and never cast so
much as a glance at the surrounding sea and skyscape. Those with an appreciation
of the outdoors can windsurf in the morning, golf at lunch, ski at noon, and take
in the city lights at night from atop a North Shore mountain. The city itself
is clean, colourful and friendly, with a cosmopolitan vibrancy that Pacific West
Coast cities are known for.
Towns on or near this Route - Click
on a town name to learn more about that town.