Popular Routes: Okanagan Valley
There is something magical about emerging from the great pines of the Coast Mountains into the Central Plateau of the Okanagan Valley.
The landscape transforms into an arid desert like climate, with dramatic rocky vistas, vineyards and ranchlands. The temperature spikes and you are embraced by a permeable heat that beckons you to cool off in one of the many glorious lakes in the area. Time really slows down.
As you meander along Highway 3, affectionately known as the Crowsnest or just ‘the Crow’, fruit stands will start to pop up selling peaches, apples and other delights bringing you into Keremeos the fruit stand capital of Canada. You’ll spot inviting little diners and antique shops full of old tack and even the gas stations have a charming energy where you’ll likely end up buying an extra pair of sunglasses just for fun, along with a bag of Sour Patch Kids.
Kelowna and Penticton tend to be hives of traffic and activity due to airports, shopping amenities, motels and restaurants. They’re also both right next to Lake Okanagan and Skaha Lake, popular for boating and jet skis. So please allow us to steer you towards a few spots that keep your relaxed energy just where it should be.
Try the beach at the Southern end of Skaha Lake in the tiny community of Okanagan Falls or OK Falls. It’s usually pretty easy to get parking, there are a few stores nearby and a great little park for kids. The sand and swimming area is clean and also a good spot to launch kayaks. Skaha allows motorized boats, so just be mindful about the water traffic during busy times.
Otherwise , you can enjoy peaceful swims and kayaking during mornings and evenings. Both sunrise and sunset are pretty spectacular here. OK Falls also has two RV parks in town if you decide that you’d like to stick around for a night or two. There is also camping at sx̌ʷəx̌ʷnitkʷ Provincial Park (Okanagan Falls), which is managed and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band. Also can’t mention OK Falls without telling you about Tickleberry’s Ice Cream. Just follow the crowds!
Sample the Varietals
You are in wine country! And we’ll be the first to say please don’t go wine tasting and driving. Instead consider doing a tour with Okanagan Wine Tours where you’ll get the benefit of their knowledge, exposure to a range of vineyards and of course a shuttle to each location. If a tour is a bit too much for the palette and you just prefer a nice lunch or dinner with a glass then we recommend a few of BC’s most famous:
Just a Smidge of Excitement
Okay, so far this post has been all about going slow and relaxing, but if you fancy something with a bit more energy then consider a night at the Penticton Speedway. Why? Because it’s family friendly, has a locals vibe and is super entertaining. Just don’t forget some hearing protection! Grab a beer, some sugary donuts and a seat along the track and prepare to be entertained.
Where to Cool Off
Fintry Provincial Park is close to Kelowna and has some incredible hikes. You can follow a trail that leads you through a gorge up about 400 stairs to a beautiful series of waterfalls. This trail is rated as being moderate to difficult, so being in shape is key. Once you make it up there you can chill out and relax next to one of several waterfalls and cool off while you’re at it to. This provincial park is equipped for camping and has several other amenities, but due to its location, you’ll likely find it on the busier side.
Another great way to explore the area is by horseback. Whether you have zero experience or years of riding skills, there are plenty of places to saddle up. We suggest Red Barn Ranch in Summerland, BC. Yup, you read that right, there is a place here called Summerland. It’s calling to you… Gwen is the proprietor here and will give you a tailor-made ride into the rolling hills that you won’t forget. Since you’ll be inland and the heat of the day can be intense, we recommend a morning or evening ride to enjoy some more manageable temperatures.