Whether you like to visit historic railroad sites, are a fan of the 1981 movie “Rambo: First Blood” or are looking for a scenic walk in a park, Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park is a picturesque stop just east of the small town of Hope in British Columbia, Canada. The highlight here is a two-mile round trip hiking trail (flat and hard-packed for easy walking or biking) that connects five now-abandoned railway tunnels featured in Hollywood films. The forested trail winds through Coquihalla Gorge and parallels the rushing Coquihalla River. Take a flashlight or wear a headlamp as some of the tunnels are quite dark and the gravel surface underfoot sometimes erodes in spots from dripping water.
Blasted through solid granite between 1913 and 1916 to complete the Kettle Valley Railway, the Othello Tunnels were extraordinary from the start. Railway engineer Andrew McCulloch (who also built many of the famous bridges along the Oregon Coast) conquered the challenge posed by the canyon’s steep and hazardous terrain— after spending an average of $136,000 per mile (five times the average cost for railways at that time). On top of the expense, the Kettle Valley Railway had the distinction of being the most difficult railway in Canada to operate. For the first seven winters, it was shut down more than it operated. The constant harsh weather caused washouts and rockslides, and after a particularly bad season of heavy rains in 1959, the rail route was extensively damaged and permanently closed. If you’re wondering about the name Othello Tunnels, it’s because McCulloch was an avid fan of William Shakespeare. It was rumored that he sat around the evening campfire reciting the Bard’s work, and so he named rail stations and tunnels after characters in Shakespearean plays.
In addition to its history, the tunnels made an impressive backdrop for Sylvester Stallone and other movie stars to show off their acting abilities. This area was known as Chapman Gorge in “Rambo: First Blood” (the first in the series of the Rambo movies). It was here that a police officer fell out of a helicopter and Rambo clung precariously to the rock wall above the Coquihalla River. Pick up any visitor guide in Hope for a map of other nearby filming sites you can drive to around town.
IF YOU GO:
For information, maps, and directions to Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park (no admission fee), visit
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In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com