Family Travel,  Travel

All Aboard the Kettle Valley Steam Train

I meant to publish this months ago, but life with a tiny human has a way of re-prioritizing everything.  Back in October of 2018, my little family celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving. And in the weeks leading up to my second favourite food holiday (after Christmas of course), I had been spending a lot of time contemplating what I’m grateful for in life. I took a much needed hiatus from social media, focused on my personal relationships and reflected on how fortunate my partner and I are to be surrounded by loved ones who not only love and cherish us, but joyously bestow the same on our young son. If you follow my Instagram, you know that every other month, we pack up our tiny human, our four-legged fur baby and hit the road to British Columbia’s Okanagan. It’s not only where my in-laws call home, it’s also our escape, our playground, our little slice of heaven on Earth. And every time we come up here, we try and experience something different, whether it be a trail we haven’t trounced on or visiting winery whose wine we haven’t sampled. This time, my father-in-law decided to take us all back in time, about 100 years back, back to the days of the historic Kettle Valley Steam Train.

kettle valley steam train

There really is something special about train travel isn’t there? It’s my favourite form of travel for so many reasons. It was my preferred method of travel around China, and my recent trip to Germany. It’s easy, relaxing, and unlike flying in cramped in coach class, it gives one the opportunity to enjoy the journey, rather than focus on the destination.

Kettle Valley Steam Train

However, it’s not always as romantic as it sounds. I’ve definitely had my fair share of sketchy train journeys in some rather remote parts of the globe, but for the most part, the rhythmic sway and clackity-clack of wheels on steel tracks provides delightful nostalgia. 

For CAD$25.00, guests are invited to boarding the 3716 steam engine on Bathville Road in Summerland. For your viewing pleasure, you have the choice to enjoy your journey from enclosed vintage train cars, or, an open, converted train car with school bus seats (which I highly recommend if the weather is as spectacular as it was for us!)

And as if traveling aboard a century-old steam engine isn’t cool enough, the journey is as breathtaking as the train itself. Bring your camera or smartphone because with little effort, the Okanagan Valley is a pastoral painting come to life.  sounds, motion and smell of a proper steam locomotive.

Follow your eyes down the mountain, across rolling hills, lined with vibrant green vineyards, through quaint hobby farms, right down to the shores of world famous Okanagan Lake, home to the Ogopogo, Canada’s very own Lochness Monster. White picket fences, jubilant hobby farms and the colorful spectacle that is Autumn made the journey extra special.

There are over 200 vineyards in the Okanagan region, and hundreds of orchards producing everything from peaches, apples, cherries to apricots, plums and pears. And while spring, summer and fall are the favourite times to visit, the winter months boast skiing, fine cuisine and less crowds to contend with.

The Kettle Valley Steam Train runs along the only preserved section of the “Kootenay to Coast Connection”. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail, affectionately known as the KVR, is the longest rail trail network throughout British Columbia, running from Hope to Castlegar. Outdoor enthusiasts can now enjoy some 650km of connected paths, once home to decommissioned tracks. And when we’re not riding on historic steam trains or enjoying some of the local vineyard’s, you’ll find us cycling the KVR’s beautiful trails.

 

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Jordana is a Canadian based travel author, travel manager, and anthropology graduate with a passion for all things cultural.

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