Updated: Jul 13
Welcome back to my summer van life blog as I continue my road trip along the picturesque Crow's Nest Highway. If you're new here, make sure to catch up on the first part of my 2023 summer van life adventures, where I started on a solo road trip from my home in the Vancouver suburbs to the serene shores of Okanagan Lake in British Columbia.
As a retired solo female traveller, there's nothing that brings me more joy than hitting the open road with my beloved van, Wanda, and exploring the hidden gems that this beautiful province has to offer. So, fasten your seatbelts and join me as we continue our expedition along the enchanting Crow's Nest Highway, immersing ourselves in the majestic beauty of British Columbia's mountains and valleys.
A rest stop along the way
In this blog post, I'll be sharing my experiences from the second leg of my journey, starting from Okanagan Lake with a stop in the charming town of Greenwood, BC., before carrying on to Christina Lake.
But, as every journey comes with its share of surprises, I'll also be sharing my struggle to find suitable camping options near the Provincial Park and how I ended up setting camp at the Christina Lake Motel & RV Park. I'll provide an honest review of its amenities, nearby activities, and my overall experience.
And, of course, I'll wrap up this blog post with some helpful hints and tips for fellow travellers planning to road trip along this stretch of the Crow's Nest Highway. Whether you're a seasoned van lifer or a curious road tripper, these pointers are bound to enhance your journey through this magnificent region.
So, pack your sense of wonder and adventure, subscribe to my blog, and stay tuned for the exciting continuation of my summer van life trip. There's more to explore, more to experience, and I can't wait to share it all with you.
Crow's Nest Road Trip Stop - Greenwood, BC
The approximate driving distance from Okanagan Lake Provincial Park to Greenwood, BC, is around 130 kilometres (about 80 miles). This up-and-over journey will take you through scenic routes and charming towns, making it a pleasant drive.
The quaint town of Greenwood, British Columbia is a charming little gem, nestled amidst rolling hills and lush forests, and boasts a rich history that I was eager to delve into.
My first stop in Greenwood was the Tourist Information Center and Museum, where the friendly staff warmly welcomed me and provided me with materials and a map for a self-guided walk around town. Armed with a newfound enthusiasm for the town's past, I set off on my historical adventure.
I learned that the Boundary region was one of the biggest copper-producing regions of the world which resulted in a rich mining industry including smelters and strong rail connections.
Following WWI, the mines and smelters began to close due to low copper prices and the city declined. People left in droves and by 1940 only about 200 people remained.
The town was essentially boarded-up until 1942 when it was transformed into an internment camp for 1200 displaced Japanese-Canadians forcibly removed from their coastal homes.
Many of these larger buildings are where the Japanese-Canadians were housed. The internees faced challenging conditions, confined within the borders of the internment camp. Families were uprooted, stripped of their belongings, and forced to live in barracks with minimal privacy. The living conditions were far from ideal, with cramped spaces, inadequate sanitation, and limited access to basic necessities.
Today, it is a quiet town with a delightful main street. I was delighted by the well-preserved heritage buildings, residential and commercial. Its history of boom and bust is present throughout the town. Fabulous coffee shops, unique clothing stores, and enticing bakeries now occupy the main street. Even though I visited during peak season, it wasn't busy.
A highlight was the Deadwood Junction & Trestle, where an old railway trestle still stood tall, reminiscent of the bustling railway days that contributed to the town's growth. I thoroughly enjoyed browsing in the shop and I had a really good cup of coffee.
As I continued my self-guided walk, I discovered hidden nooks and crannies, each with its own piece of history. I was impressed with the little guide which was very informative about the people who lived or ran businesses in the various buildings along the walk. Greenwood's vibrant community spirit was evident in the well-maintained gardens and welcoming locals.
Greenwood was a great stop and it was good to stretch my legs on my walk around the 4-5 blocks of the town. I have made a note for my next journey along the Crow's Nest that there is a small campground in town where I might want to spend a couple of days so I can sample all the bakeries, coffee shops, ice-cream parlours.
Christina Lake Provincial Park
Leaving behind the quaint charms of Greenwood, I continued along the Crow's Nest Highway, headed towards the breathtaking Christina Lake Provincial Park. The drive is thoroughly enjoyable with spectacular views of mountains and valleys. There are multiple rest stops and viewpoints along the way.
The road itself hugs the mountains and includes some tight curves -- making it a favourite for cyclists, motor-cyclists, and vintage car enthusiasts. Pay attention to the speed signs as you approach curves -- many curves require a much slower approach. Expect to see many logging trucks with huge loads of gigantic trees. Long stretches of the drive do not have any cell connection -- make sure to download any driving instructions if you rely on your phone for navigation.
Upon arrival at Christina Lake, I quickly realized that the Provincial Park did not offer camping facilities (rookie mistake -- I can't believe I missed that!) However, a resilient traveller like myself was not about to let this deter me from relishing the beauty of Christina Lake. I checked a couple of local campgrounds but with the upcoming long weekend, the most they could only offer was a single night. I eventually discovered the Christina Lake Motel & RV Park, which worked for my needs but was a truly uninspired spot for camping.
With my campsite secured, I decided to explore the wonders of Christina Lake. A short trek along Christina Creek was my first adventure. The soothing sound of the rushing water and the vibrant greenery surrounding the creek provided a sense of serenity and a fresh coolness that's hard to find elsewhere.
The following morning the elementary school held its year-end ceremony in the field. The entire school belted out 'O Canada' which made me immediately stop and stand tall. At the conclusion, I noticed other campers did the same. As I enjoyed my coffee the lovely sounds of their choir drifted in air.
The highlight of my time at Christina Lake was, without a doubt, visiting the crystal-clear waters of the lake itself. The pristine shoreline offered opportunities for sunbathing, picnicking, and simply enjoying the idyllic scenery. For those seeking a bit of thrill, there were options for kayaking, paddle boarding, and canoeing to explore the lake's hidden coves and nooks.
Christina Lake Motel & RV Park
My time at the Christina Lake Motel & RV Park was okay but I doubt I will ever return. Here's my review of the amenities, campsites, nearby activities, noise levels, and the overall beauty of the RV park. I will be using this criteria to compare campsites through the rest of the summer. Top rating is 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️.
1. Location: 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ The approximate driving distance from Greenwood to Christina Lake is around 30 kilometres (about 18.5 miles). The Motel & RV campground is next to the highway. The proximity to the lake was a significant advantage, allowing me to easily walk to the day-use area of the park for a beach day.
2. Amenities: 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ As a campsite, it was rather ugly, more of a parking space than a camping spot but it had everything I needed. There is a large shower/toilet house that appears run-down but inside it was impeccably clean and much nicer than the outside would suggest. The shower was hot and free of charge.
An on-site food bus place also served as a performance area for the local jam session on Friday night. Some guy (who seemed very well known by those attending) fancied himself quite the star. I lasted about 10 minutes before leaving. Draw your own conclusion about the talent level.
On Sunday mornings a local market sets up on the street on the outside of the RV park. The majority of items seemed to be artisan crafts.
3. Campsites: 🏕️ 🏕️
There are many sites with zero privacy between lots. Campers have options for 15 - 30 amp power and water hook-ups at each flat level sites. There is a children's playground (but send the kids to the school next door for a better one) and a sani-dump. Fast and stable WiFi was also available. I felt the price was high for what I got.
There was no shade at all, which is great for solar power but required dropping my canopy and stringing a shower curtain to try and create a bearable place to sit.
4. Nearby Activities/services: 🏕️ 🏕️
While the beach is the main attraction, there are some services within walking distance of the site. Across Lake Drive, visible from the highway is a food caravan called Baba Kabab. The owner told me he only makes 2 things... but they are both delicious... kebabs and falafels. He was right. I had the Kids Hot-Bab which made a perfect afternoon snack. It was really good!
There is also a gas station/convenience store across the street and several excellent ice-cream stands, local artisan shops, a pizza parlour and a market within walking distance along the highway.
5. Noise Levels: 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️ 🏕️
The Christina Lake Motel & RV park is very peaceful, even when the weekend campers began to fill in the spots. The noise from the highway wasn't noticeable once darkness fell.
6. Aesthetics: 🏕️
This RV park is ugly. There is absolutely zero aesthetic appeal. The signs on one of the outbuildings says there's a laundromat and Italian family restaurant inside but the building is a mess of construction. The pool area is covered with debris and has obviously not been used for a very long time. On-going construction and piles of construction materials add to a generally messy and run-down feel.
Helpful Hints for a Crow's Nest Highway Road Trip
1. Prioritize Safety Precautions: Before hitting the road, ensure that your vehicle is well-maintained and equipped for the journey. Regularly check tire pressure, brakes, and fluid levels. Pack an emergency kit with first-aid supplies, a flashlight, tools, and a spare tire. Additionally, consider investing in a roadside assistance plan for added peace of mind during your travels.
2. Pack Travel Essentials: A reliable GPS device or navigation app on your phone will be indispensable for exploring the area. Always have sunblock, insect repellent, and a hat to protect yourself from the elements. Lastly, bring a camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes you'll encounter along the way.
3. Embrace Local Information Centers: Local information centers, like the one in Greenwood, are hidden gems that hold a wealth of knowledge about the area's history, attractions, and safety guidelines. As a curious traveler, make it a point to stop by these centers to obtain maps, brochures, and insider tips from the knowledgeable staff. Not only will they enhance your understanding of the region's heritage, but they can also recommend lesser-known spots and experiences that add a special touch to your journey.
4. Check Camping Options Ahead of Time: If camping is part of your van life experience, it's advisable to research camping options along the Crow's Nest Highway before starting your trip. Not all provincial parks have camping facilities, or may not have vehicle access, so knowing the nearest campgrounds, RV parks, or motels will help you plan your itinerary better. Booking in advance for popular destinations during peak holiday weekends is a smart move to secure a spot.
The journey from Okanagan Lake to the enchanting Christina Lake has been a delightful odyssey filled with history and nature. But my summer van life adventure is far from over! There are still countless roads to explore, hidden gems to uncover, and stories waiting to unfold. The beauty of van life is the freedom to follow the winding roads that lead to new horizons.
I invite you to subscribe/become a member, and join me on the upcoming posts that will capture the rest of my summer van life adventures as I continue eastward along the Crow's Nest Highway.
Where will I go next? That question remains an exciting mystery, even to me.
Thank you for being part of this incredible voyage so far, and I look forward to sharing more cherished moments and thrilling experiences with you.