Welcome back to my summer van life road trip blog. If you're just joining me now, let me catch you up real quick. I'm a retired solo female traveler, cruising around British Columbia in my trusty converted Sprinter van. This year's adventure has taken me through stunning landscapes, from my home in the Metro Vancouver area to the picturesque vineyards in Boundary Country.
In my previous posts, I shared the tales of the first leg of my journey, from home to Okanagan Lake Provincial Park, and the second leg, where I indulged in the beauty of the Kootenays and found beautiful Christina Lake but stayed in a less-than-stellar campsite. Today, I'm excited to continue our road trip as we explore the Red Mountain Resort, the historic district of Rossland, and savour the flavours of Columbia Gardens Winery.
So, join me as I share the next leg of this incredible summer van life adventure, packed with hidden gems, stunning landscapes, and of course, some delicious wine in the Kootenay region. Get ready for an unforgettable experience in British Columbia's natural beauty.
BC Summer Van Life Road Trip Along the Crow's Nest Highway
After bidding farewell to the picturesque Boundary Country, I hit the open road, eagerly venturing deeper into the captivating landscapes of British Columbia, with a true-crime podcast cued up for those stretches of highway without cell or radio signal. The highway unfolded before me, offering breathtaking vistas at every turn. Towering mountains, lush forests, and crystal-clear lakes line the route, reminding me why I fell in love with road-tripping and British Columbia.
As I drove along, I made a point to stop at various viewpoints to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery. Each viewpoint is situated to make the most of the views and is also a chance to breathe in the fresh mountain air, and stretch my legs. With every passing kilometre I've travelled in this province, I fall deeper and deeper in love.
Exploring Red Mountain Resort and Rossland's Heritage Area
My journey eventually led me to Red Mountain Resort, a hidden gem nestled among the peaks near Rossland. I was expected a full and bustling resort area such as Whistler-Blackcomb or Sunpeaks which both have exciting year-round villages but this is not that kind of ski resort.
The resort is small and quiet in the summer months. There were few businesses open and a lot of construction activity. There are hiking hills and mountain biking trails but nothing like the huge events with hundreds of cyclists that I am familiar with. There was one bar with a busy patio near the entrance to the resort but considering I had just eaten lunch, I didn't stop.
I imagine this is a happening place in the winter but it was dull and empty when I stopped in the summer.
Heading towards my stop for the night, I stopped in the heritage area of Rossland, a charming town which much importance in BC's history. As I strolled through the streets, I admired the well-preserved buildings and learned about the town's mining past from the signs on the side of heritage buildings.
I enjoyed the street art and sculptures as I wandered along Washington street.
The plantings along the street and at every street corner exude a welcoming small-town charm.
I also re-learned a valuable lesson about ice-cream. I was enticed into Mountain Nugget Chocolate Company by their promise of small-batch artisan ice-cream and settled on a waffle cone filled with delicious maple-pecan ice-cream. It was a hot day. I should have gone for the cup. Thank goodness for wet-wipes!
Discovering Columbia Garden Winery
I had the pleasure of discovering this charming winery through the incredible network of Harvest Hosts. Harvest Hosts is a membership network that matches owners of various small agriculture-based businesses with the owners of self-contained RVs and campers. Campers are welcomed to stay a night at wineries, cideries, farms, and farm markets in exchange for visiting their retail establishments and spending about $20CAD. I had contacted the owner, Ben, the day before and he enthusiastically invited me to stay.
Arriving at Columbia Gardens Winery, I was immediately struck by the picturesque setting on the hills above Rossland. The rows of vibrant grapevines stretched out before me, painting a scene straight out of a postcard. It was a true feast for the eyes.
Meeting Ben, the owner, a passionate and knowledgeable wine enthusiast, was an absolute delight. His love for winemaking shone through as he shared the story behind each bottle. His dedication to sustainable and organic practices added an extra layer of appreciation for his craft. His experience battling cancer has made him a strong advocate for avoiding all chemicals in growing and vinting his award-winning wines.
I was treated to a delightful wine-tasting experience, where I savoured the complex flavours and aromas of their exquisite wines. From crisp whites to bold reds, and even their special port each sip transported me to the fertile vineyards where the grapes were lovingly nurtured.
Unable to resist the allure of the wines, I decided to bring a piece of Columbia Garden Winery home with me. I carefully selected three bottles, each capturing the essence of the region in its unique way: a still red, a light red (orange), and a sparkling red. The sparkling red was an intriguing wine. Ben explained the batch had naturally carbonated while he was undergoing cancer treatments. Rather than use chemicals to get rid of the carbonation, he decided to bottle it with the sparkle.
The hospitality extended beyond the wine-tasting experience. The owner graciously offered a spot for me to park my van beside the vineyards and in front of the tasting room, providing a front-row seat to nature's spectacular show. As I settled in for the evening, I sat admiring the vineyard view, amazed at the colours and light play across mountains and valley as the sun dipped below the horizon. I was a little disappointed that I didn't spot the deer that move through the area but I did have a view through my binoculars of a mated pair of eagles tending their nest across the valley.
To my happy surprise, the vineyard was lined with loaded cherry trees, their branches heavy with ripe, succulent fruit. Ben encouraged me to pick as many as I could eat. It was a bonus gift from Mother Nature, and I couldn't resist plucking more than a few cherries, savouring their sweetness as I watched the stars twinkle above while sipping a glass of wine.
The night unfolded in perfect tranquillity. The only sounds were the gentle rustle of leaves and the soft serenade of crickets. I had a very restful sleep, waking up to bird song in the morning.
The Next Leg of the BC Summer Van Life Road Trip
Now, it's time to tease the next exciting part of my summer van life road trip. I'll be steering my trusty Sprinter van further east along the scenic Crow's Nest Highway, a route renowned for its captivating vistas and charming communities. The promise of new landscapes, cultural encounters, and outdoor adventures awaits just beyond the horizon.
I invite you to continue following my road trip adventures by subscribing or becoming a member (it's free!) of my blog. By doing so, you'll receive notifications of new content, allowing you join me as I continue to uncover hidden gems along the way. Don't forget to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Threads for real-time updates and a deeper dive into the places I'm exploring. Your support and engagement mean the world to me!
Cheers to the road ahead!
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