Highway-5 (Coquihala) provides high-altitude four-lane route as a time saver for many regional travelers heading to Kamloops or Vancouver. But unless you are in a hurry, avoid in favour of the 87km-long Hwy-5A, which runs roughly parallel and leads past a series of historic ranches en-route to the intriguing cowboy town of Merritt.
Kamloops and Merritt in 87km and passing the Nicola, Douglas Lake and Quilchena ranches are standing evidence of the BC Interior’s past and present. They not only are working ranches, but have visitor accommodation and buildings that date to the first settlements in the area. Golfers should also look out for the Sagebrush Golf Course.
Following 5A will take you past a series of great fishing lakes – Stump Lake, Napier Lake, Richie Lake, Trapp Lake and Shumway Lake – each with easy to access boat ramps.
Merritt is the beginning of the Thompson/Nicola region cattle country. Its Visitor Centre in Baillie House can provide you with a good little free guide to the city’s various historic downtown buildings.
From Merritt you could take the Hwy-97C for a spectacular ride over the mountains (1728 m) to the Okanagan; setting you up to visit Kelowna (127km), or tour the North Okanagan on route back to Kamloops – a drive of about an hour via Hwy-5.