Friday, March 30, 2007

Hell's Gate Fraser Canyon B.C. Landmark

Those heading to southern British Columbia (Canada) this summer, especially inland from Vancouver, might like take in the Hell's Gate Airtram. It's located in the Fraser Canyon, a 2-3 hour drive east of Vancouver and about the same driving time from west from Kamloops.

A B.C. native myself, I'm old enough to remember when the Fraser Canyon highway (Trans-Canada) past Hell's Gate was the only route between the coast from Hope to home in Kamloops. The Fraser Canyon highway passed through a series of recently built tunnels, a novelty at the time. (And yes, my dad always honked the horn as we passed through. There wasn't much else available to amuse young children on a long car trip),

The twisty mountain-hugging highway unnerved drivers from the flatland Prairie provinces -- Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta -- and held them to a top speed of about 30 mph (even slower if they were driving RVs or hauling travel trailers). Their snail's pace meant they were soon leading a parade of irritated B. C. drivers who were champing at the bit to pass them as soon as possible.

When the Coquihallla highway opened in 1986, it meant drivers had a choice at Hope: North via the slower though more exciting and scenic Fraser Canyon, or east, via the more direct though higher elevation Coquihalla into Merritt and then north to Kamloops or further east to the Okanagan.

And so drivers, especially those heading to Kelowna or fast-tracking it to Kamloops, opted for the faster, shorter Coquihalla, bypassing natural wonders like Hell's Gate. I think this is a shame, since the historical Fraser Canyon is very much worth visiting.

So if you're planning to be in southern B.C., you might want to travel the Fraser Canyon highway, and take in one of Hell's Gate's man-made attractions -- the Hell’s Gate Airtram.

The tram opens for the 2007 season on Thursday, April 5th. And if you're in the vicinity on the weekend of May 5 and 6, it's a free ride.

February 1, 2008 News From Vancouver Coast & Mountains tourism:

Whoever imagined a festival where barrels are thrown off a bridge and into the mighty Fraser River sure knew how to have a good time. The Fraser River Barrel Race is the Fraser Canyon’s not-to-be-missed family-friendly festival.

Festivities begin Sunday, May 4, 2008 with breakfast at Hell’s Gate, where each family member can enter the Barrel Race Draw to try their luck at picking the winning barrel. After breakfast, the barrels are launched into the Fraser River to begin their journey down the wild canyon waters to the finish line at Yale.
The event ends with a festive BBQ, where the winners are announced and prizes are awarded!

See above link for info.


travelthecanyon said...

New events at Hells Gate Airtram for 2008 including bc rivermania celebrating BC's 150 years, Simon Fraser's 200 year anniversary of coming through hells gate, also 150years of BC visit for more information in the Fraser Canyon

Karen said...

Good to know! It's almost impossible to keep track of future events and dates, so I'm grateful when readers take the time to update the blog posts.


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