By Cheryl Rhodes
Have you ever taken your dog on a gondola tram ride? The answer is probably no because dogs usually aren’t allowed on tourist attractions and either have to stay at home or wait in the car. If you’re thinking now’s the time to enjoy a dog-friendly tourist attraction, consider taking the family pooch to the Hell’s Gate Canyon air tram ride.
The Hell’s Gate Canyon tram ride is a two and a half hour drive from Vancouver, about 50 km from Hope, the town where travelers choose whether to drive on the Coquihalla Highway or along the Fraser Canyon route. Both highways will connect to Kamloops and then points further east. For travelers taking Highway 1 alongside the Fraser River, they’ll come across the Hell’s Gate Canyon tram about 50km north of Hope.
The red building sticks out like a sore thumb on the highway, and we’ve driven past it countless times until one day we decided to take the Hell’s Gate plunge. Leashed dogs are welcome to ride in the gondola so we brought along our Border Collie and Dalmatian. Our dogs cautiously stepped onto the lightly swinging tram and then were rather nonchalant about their first gondola ride over the Fraser River. Anchored by bolts that go 6 metres (20 feet) into the cliff rock, two trams move along the cable at the same time in opposite directions, and the descent to the lower terminal is steep but not scary.
We stepped off the tram on the lower side to discover a small village: a fudge shop, a cafe, a gift shop, a building with salmon displays, and a gold panning exhibit. Incredible photo opportunities await those who want to take pictures of the snow-capped mountains towering over the mighty Fraser River as it crashes through the narrow gorge that gave Hell’s Canyon its name. Visitors can wander through a garden and take photos of a totem pole and pose behind wooden cut outs of the tram. There’s a metal bridge over the river, but the grating poses problems for the dogs (sore paws!) and we quickly turn around. The dogs are glad for a drink of water from the bucket labelled “pup pub” and after we’ve had our fill of fudge, sightseeing, and taking photos it’s time to ride the tram back up to the parking lot.
Built in 1970, the Hells’ Gate Tram used to catch a lot of travelers driving along Highway 1 (Trans-Canada Highway) on the scenic Fraser Canyon route between Hope and Kamloops. The landscape is amazing with tree covered cliffs on one side and the fast-moving Fraser River cutting through a chasm on the other side. The tiny towns of Boston Bar and Lytton are barely glitches on the road, and the seven tunnels cutting through the mountains are just another fun factor of driving on this highway. Since the tolls were dropped from the Coquihalla Highway in September 2008, many drivers choose the quicker route to Kamloops and points east, and visitors miss out on discovering the Hell’s Gate air tram ride and the history of the older highway.
Debbie McKinney from Corporate Relations wants visitors to know that the Hell’s Gate air tram ride is the biggest rush on the Gold Rush Trail, and full of history, scenery, and nature – the one attraction between Hope and Kamloops that no one should miss.
Hell’s Gate air tram ride is seasonal and is open now until October 14, 2013 between 10am and 4pm daily, or closing at 5pm from May 17th to September 2nd. Admission is $21 for adults and $19 for seniors and children. Children under age 5 and dogs ride for free. For more information, visit their website http://www.hellsgateairtram.com/
Published: June 21, 2013
Cheryl Rhodes writes from Surrey, British Columbia where she lives with two dogs and three horses. She’s the author of 5 novels and a cookbook, and enjoys traveling, photography, swimming, geocaching, reading, and writing mysteries. Visit her at www.cherylrhodes.com