The big difference between the two is speed. Highway 5 up to Merritt, then across the Kelowna is the fastest. Big highway, no where to stop really. Great mountain scenery, but you'll be in Kelowna before you know it.
Highway 3 through Manning Park is lovely, and lots of great places to stop and see. Then the winding road through to Keremeos, where you start into desert country. Lots of great tourist stops along this route: The Grist Mill, Hedley Gold Mine, the wineries of Oliver.
So, are you gang-bustin' to get to Kelowna as quickly as possible? Take the 5. Are you looking for an authentic BC journey with some great stops for scenery and history? Take the 3.
Last night I read another option is to take Hope to Princeton then 5A north to 97C and over to Kelowna. We are leaving on June 17th and want to get to Banff in two days. Yet, we want time to see sights along the way. So saying that we would like a route that is reasonable but yet one that we can see the so called "Best sights". I know it is all great but realize can't do it all in one trip. We love to stop and see sights. Not big wine drinkers but know that kind of country is very lovely.
I've not done the road north from Princeton to the 97C Okanagan Connector, so I can't advise on that piece of road.
Sounds to me like you would get the most from heading east to Keremeos or Osoyous, then north up the Okanagan from there.
*the Othello Tunnels in Hope
*the Hedley Gold Mine
*the Grist Mill in Keremeos
*the Kettle Valley Railway in Summerland
All of these have website you should be able to google.
However, since there are a lot of nice places to stop on the way, your drive will take longer than just the extra 1/2 hr!!! We travel both ways, but much prefer the Hope to Princeton route, so we usually use it, unless we want to stop in Merritt. Manning Park is a nice stop - good restaurant too. Hedley is a quaint little (really little)community to just veer off and drive around and see the little homes that people still live in that were once miners homes. There is also a great restaurant there called The Hitching Post. The Grist Mill in Keremeos is interesting as well, and there are a lot of fruit stands along the highway in Keremeos.
I wouldn't go via Osoyoos as that is adding quite a lot of out of the way driving. You can easy make a nice leisurley day of the drive from Vancouver to Kelowna, overnight there and then make a nice leisurely drive the next day to Banff.
The 5A from Princeton to Merritt (97A connector) is a nice drive as well, but I think you'll see more varied scenery the other way. That 97A connector is boring IMHO.
Hmmm - 97C connector - but you know what I mean...
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