Vancouver Daytrips: othello tunnels at coquihalla canyon

Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park
3km return, 0m Elevation gain
Ages: Strollers, bikes, wheelchairs, walkers, runners, everyone can do this easy stroll

Despite commuting up and down the Coquihalla Highway since 1990, and living in Vancouver since 1980, I had never visited the Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.

In fact, I only first heard of them a few years ago from friends who headed out for geocaching adventures with their kids. This year, however, on our annual epic road trip from Vancouver to Calgary, we plotted in Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park as the perfect place to stop from lunch.

When you travel with young kids, you need to plan for breaks every few hours if you are going to get to your destination in one piece. At just 2 hrs (ish) outside Vancouver, the Othello Tunnels are the perfect spot to stop for lunch en route to the Okanagan, Shuswap, and beyond.

othello tunnels at coquihalla canyon

othello tunnels at coquihalla canyon

othello tunnels at coquihalla canyon

The directions to find Othello Tunnels at Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park couldn’t be simpler. Take exit 183 just east of Hope off Hwy 5,  and follow the signs to the park about 5km off the Coquihalla Highway.

The history of the Othello Tunnels is fascinating. In the early 1900s, there was a silver boom in the southern region of BC. The CPR took a more northern route leaving the area exposed for American exploitation. The Kettle Valley Railway was then built linking mines from the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan and Kootenays.

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The railway was built over three mountain ranges. In the Coquihalla Gorge – the river cut a 300 foot deep channel of solid granite. A straight line of tunnels were built through it which are known now as the Othello Tunnels.

othello tunnels at coquihalla canyon

othello tunnels at coquihalla canyon

The 1.4 km walk takes you through 5 tunnels. Bring a flashlight as the first tunnel is quite long and can be very dark. The path is very popular with young kids and families and cyclists and dog lovers. It’s a very easy route and the stunning gorge combined with the long, dark, mysterious tunnels makes it the perfect place to get kids excited for a little leg stretching and exercise before piling back in to the car to continue the ride.

The park has some great stories attached to it as well. You’ve probably noticed the signs up the Coquihalla Highway with little rail engines and a Shakespearean character name. Well, engineer Andrew McCullough was an avid reader of Shakespearean literature, and used characters such as Lear, Jessica, Portia, Iago, Romeo & Juliet to name stations of the Coquihalla subdivision.

The Othello Tunnels also have a place in movie history, most famously used in scenes with Sylvester Stallone in Rambo: First Blood.

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