The historic Othello Tunnels near Hope will remain closed for the entire 2023 season due to extensive damage caused by the from the atmospheric river B.C. storm devastation in November 2021.
When will the Othello Tunnels open?
Othello Tunnels 2023 Update
Sadly, the latest update on May 5, 2023 reports the popular Othello Tunnels will not open for the foreseeable future.
The entire Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, including the popular Othello Tunnels hike, is closed due to slides, flooding and ongoing extreme hazards.
The area was already struggling to stay open before the storm due to geological concerns and the latest engineering report states there are 30 sites still to be repaired. These repairs will take time and will be done in phases over multiple years.
Othello Tunnels History
This unique BC experience is an engineering marvel is named after the works of Shakespeare.
Located within the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, these stunning tunnels pass through solid granite along the Coquihalla Gorge, once providing a rail connection between the B.C. coast and interior Kootenay Region.
Built in 1914, the Othello Tunnels, train enthusiasts will be intrigued by the rich railway history of both the Canadian Pacific Railway and Kettle Valley Railway.
Kettle Valley Railway
Building the railway was extremely difficult. The route had to be carved through solid granite through the treacherous terrain of canyons as it rose from near sea level just outside Hope to the Coquihalla Summit, 3646 feet.
The Kettle Valley Railway operated a passenger and freight service on the line. Harsh winters kept the route closed more often than open. Snow, rock and mudslides wreaked havoc with the line.
The railway’s Coquihalla line officially closed in 1961, after the route was damaged by heavy rains in November 1959. Sections of the railway were washed out and never repaired.
Fast Facts about Othello Tunnels
- The Kettle Valley Railway was built between 1913 and 1916 with CPR sponsorship.
- Building the railway cost five times more per mile than the average for that time period.
- The route crossed three major mountain ranges.
- There were a total of 43 bridges and 13 tunnels along the route.
- Engineer Andrew McCulloch named some of the train stations after William Shakespeare characters; Othello, Romeo, Juliet, Portia, Jessica, Lear and the villain Iago.
Othello Tunnels Flood – Photos – Before and After the BC Storm
Othello Tunnels closed after BC Storm
Devastation hit the popular Othello Tunnels hike and the roads to the tunnels has been destroyed.
Here are the storm images from Instagram and YouTube.
Othello Tunnels Before the BC Storm Photos
Plan a future trip to the Othello Tunnels
Mini explorers will get a thrill out of traipsing though the dark tunnels by flashlight glow and over the wooden bridges as the rushing river passes below.
Usually during the winter months harsh weather makes exploring the Othello Tunnels unsafe.
When the tunnels are open, services are available from April 1 – October 31. It’s best to visit on weekdays, early morning, or summer evenings as prime times can prove to be busy.
Check here for the latest COVID-19 and park updates.
Nature lovers will enjoy experiencing the gorge by witnessing the roaring water, marvelling at the spectacular rock formations, and following the stunning path carved out by the river and plummeting timbers.
On steamy summer days, the spaces between the tunnels provide a refreshing coolness from nature’s glacial air conditioner running just below.
Trip Planning to Othello Tunnels near Hope
When planning a visit to this spectacular attraction, ensure you pack a flashlight and sturdy shoes. The tunnels are dark and the gravel path is marked with bumps and holes from past travellers and overhead condensation drips.
Othello tunnels are closed in the winter, when harsh weather makes exploring them unsafe. Services are open from April 1 – October 31. It’s best to visit on weekdays, early morning, or summer evenings as prime times can prove to be busy.
It is a perfect place to slow down, pack a picnic, take in the impressive eminence of the river, and cherish the sounds of the local bird life.
The Coquihalla River can be dangerous. Do not swim, tube or wade in this area.
Othello Tunnels Hike
The Othello Tunnel route is about 3.5 kms from the parking lot to the end of the trail and back. The journey takes you through five tunnels. It is an easy walk and is very accessible for the use of wheelchairs and strollers.
How to get to Othello Tunnels near Hope
The Othello Tunnels, near Hope, are located in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park.
It is a two-hour drive from Vancouver, travelling along the Trans Canada Highway to Hope.
Take exit 170 off the highway, then watch for Kawkawa Lake Rd and finally turn on to Othello Road. Download a map of the park area.
Looking for more incredible adventures for local travel in BC? Be sure to check out these articles to help start planning your trip:
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– Road Trip – Top things to do driving from Victoria to Pacific Rim National Park
– Discover some of the best prehistoric rock carvings found in BC
– Explore the Sea-to-Sky Highway, one of the most scenic drives in North America
– BC Travel Guide: 21-day road trip Part 1 – Vancouver, Jasper, Banff and Okanagan wine country
– Top 10 things to see and do in Victoria, BC – a city guide
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