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Okanagan Valley

Kalamalka Lake, south of Vernon Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
The Okanagan Valley is almost dry enough to warrant being called a desert. After even one visit to this spectacularly diverse area, you'll understand why superlatives are constantly used to describe it. Beloved by thousands of visitors and inhabitants alike for the unparalleled variety of its climate and landscape, the Okanagan Valley has something for everyone: hoodoos, orchards, vineyards, mountains, valleys, lakes, highlands, ski slopes, and trails. This is truly one of the most desirable locales in British Columbia for year-round outdoor fun.

Starting in the south, near the US border, you'll find spectacular backcountry, with the remains of old mining settlements dotting the highway. After you pass through the arid Osoyoos and Oliver regions and head north up the valley, you will encounter orchards and vineyards, evidence of some of the best fruit- and vegetable-growing land in the world.

Dozens of parks surround Okanagan Lake, an outdoor adventure playground where the only difficulty is deciding what to do with your time. Ski at Silver Star, Big White, or Apex? Wilderness camp at Okanagan Mountain, or farther north at Monashee? Mountain bike at Kalamalka, or at Silver Star? Wait, wasn't that where you were thinking of skiing? As you can see, the choice is dizzying: Many of the spots you love in one season offer a whole new set of opportunities in another. To put it simply, this is one area worth spending some serious time in.

You could spend months exploring the Okanagan Valley region. There are more than 60 provincial parks, and dozens and dozens of recreation sites. If you want the basic campground, with pit toilets, campsites, and firewood, the provincial parks will satisfy. They are popular, however, and souls looking for more undisturbed places will not want to miss wilderness camping in some of the remote areas, such as Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. For details on a particular park, consult our Parks & Trails section.

The Okanagan's open terrain makes for ideal hiking and backpacking, with little or no bushwhacking required. The parks in the Okanagan offer remoteness, breathtaking landscapes, and challenging outdoor adventure. You can walk or hike as much or as little of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, south of Kelowna, as you feel inclined to tackle. Stamina, more than conditioning, will determine if you complete the 15-mile (24-km) round trip between the trailheads on the Little White and Myra Forest Service Roads. As the trail follows an abandoned railbed, the grade is moderate. This was one of the more challenging sections of the route to engineer, and required 18 trestles and two tunnels.

The Okanagan Valley area is great for mountain biking. There's a summary of some of the more notable trails and roads in our mountain biking section in Recreation, starting at Vernon in the north and ending at Keremeos near the Canada-US border.

Golfing: Kelowna boasts 15 of the 37 golf courses scattered from Osoyoos to Vernon. Most courses open in March, and some years golfers play into November. Fruit trees and water hazards challenge the patrons on many courses. Kelowna Springs Golf Course has seven natural spring-fed lakes, and more than a thousand apple trees grow on the fairways of Harvest Golf Club. Gallagher's Canyon Golf & Country Club straddles Gallagher's Canyon, through which a river runs. Predator Ridge Golf Resort has undulating greens and dozens of bunkers set on the dry and hilly terrain near Vernon. Golf Vacations in Kelowna and the Okanagan, BC.

Diving: When diving at Paul's Tomb in the Knox Mountain Nature Park in Kelowna, you can see, at a depth of 25 feet (8 m), a replica of Ogopogo, a mythological creature reputed to inhabit the waters of nearby Okanagan Lake. Otter Bay in Ellison Provincial Park in Vernon is the site of western Canada's first freshwater scuba diving and snorkelling park. A number of objects have been sunk here to attract a variety of fish and other lake-dwelling creatures.

Wildlife: For a special wildlife-viewing experience, take a day to visit Vaseux Lake Provincial Park, about 15 miles (25 km) south of Penticton on Hwy 97. Here, the Vaseux Lake Nature Trust operates the Vaseux Wildlife Centre in a multiagency cooperative project. In addition, there is a Canadian Wildlife Service wildlife sanctuary adjacent to the park and two Wildlife Management Units ensuring protection of critical bighorn sheep winter range. The cliffs surrounding the park include spring and winter range of California bighorn sheep, and the area is famous for bird watching. Grasses, reeds, willows, and shrubs along the shore afford a home to many varieties of birdlife.

Waterfowl, including trumpeter swans, widgeons, Canada geese, wood ducks, and blue-winged teal, are common. In spring, the beautiful lazuli bunting has been seen. Other bird species present include chukar partridge, wrens, swifts, sage thrashers, woodpeckers, curlews, and dippers. Mammal species found here include beavers, bats, cottontail rabbits, muskrats, deer, and mice. Rattlesnakes, toads, and turtles also live in this area. Considerable populations of largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and carp make their home in the water, and in winter, the frozen lake offers excellent conditions for ice fishing as well as other ice-related activities.

If you're in the town of Kelowna itself, you can watch kokanee salmon spawning mid-September to mid-October in Lion's Park from a BC Wildlife viewing area off Springfield Road or during a guided tour; and you can take advantage of another BC Wildlife migratory bird-viewing site at Bertram Creek Regional Park.

The Okanagan Valley, stretching from Osoyoos at the US border north to Vernon, is laden with orchards, making it especially appealing in spring when the fruit trees are in full bloom. The best time to pick up some of the valley's bounty is mid-August through early September; however, as early as the end of June, the fruit starts ripening: cherries (late June through mid-July), peaches (mid-July through September), pears (August through September), apricots (mid-July through mid-August), plums (September), apples (August through October), and grapes (September through mid-October). There are even free Tree Fruit Tours.

Fruit aside, winemaking is the hot ticket in the Okanagan. British Columbians have long taken inordinate pride in their wines, even when those mostly came from a few largish factories. But ever since the province authorized estate and smaller farmgate wineries, many excellent wineries have popped up. Seventy two wineries operate in the Okanagan Valley from Vernon to Osoyoos; some have tasting rooms. Most are open summers and through the wine crush in September. Kelowna is the centre of the burgeoning wine industry. Maps for self-guided tours of the wineries are available from the British Columbia Wine Institute, 1855 Kirschner Road, Kelowna, BC V1Y 4N7.

Okanagan Falls is a charming town best visited for its tasty pleasures: it's home to the increasingly famous chocolate factory Snowy Mountain Chocolate; the largest ice-cream cone seller in the valley, Tickleberry's; the world-famous fruit-snack producer, Okanagan Dried Fruit; and two prestigious wineries, Wild Goose Vineyards and LeComte Estate Winery. Samples of all these treats await you - enjoy.

Penticton takes full advantage of its dual lakefronts. The south end of town (with its go-cart tracks, amusement centres, miniature golf courses, water slides, and RV parks) touches the north shore of Skaha Lake. The north end of town sidles along the southern tip of 70-mile-long (113-km) Lake Okanagan. Visit the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, operated by the National Research Council, which draws astronomers from around the world. It's open to the public during daylight hours, and tours are available Sunday afternoons.

On the east side of Lake Okanagan, Kelowna is the largest and liveliest of the Okanagan cities, with some noisy nightlife, a bit of culture (an art museum and summer theatre), a range of continental and ethnic restaurants, a big regatta in July, and an interesting historical preserve at Father Pandosy's Mission. Kelowna even has its own version of the Loch Ness monster: Ogopogo. Keep a lookout for him (her?) while supping on the gaily decked-out paddle wheeler Fintry Queen or touring aboard the Okanagan Princess.

Summerland is a theme town done in the same spirit as Osoyoos, only this time they chose to do it Tudor style. Old Summerland is down on the water, but most of the town's business now thrives up on the hill. Pick up the pamphlet A Walking Tour of Summerland, available at the museum or Visitor Info Centre. Also of note is the Agricultural Research Station, the only active agricultural research centre in the Okanagan. Its interpretive centre, research facilities, and ornamental gardens have become a draw for thousands of international visitors every year.

There are many festivals in this region - too many to mention here. For a complete listing, contact the Visitor Info Centre of the area you're visiting.

See the best of the area on the The Okanagan and BC Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in BC.

Population: 315,000

Location: The Okanagan Valley is located in south central British Columbia. There are a variety of entry points to the Okanagan Valley, which is about 155 miles (250 km) in length: from the west along Highway 3 via Keremeos and then Highway 3A; from the south along Highway 97 via Osoyoos; from the northwest along Highway 97C (the Coquihalla Connector) or along Highway 5 (the Coquihalla), both via Merritt; from the west or east along Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada); from the southeast along Highway 33; from the northeast along Highway 1 via Sicamous and then south along Highways 97A or 97B. Airline service to the Okanagan is through Kelowna.

View a map of Okanagan - Kelowna to the Shuswap.
View a map of Okanagan - Osoyoos to Kelowna.

The following towns are located in the Okanagan Valley, listed from south to north on or near Highway 97 and 97A.

Osoyoos, Oliver, Okanagan Falls, Penticton, Naramata, Summerland, Peachland, Westbank, Kelowna, Winfield, Lake Country, Oyama, and Vernon.



Search Premier Listings
  Accent Inns Kelowna, Kelowna Listing Details 
Kelowna's Accent Inn is right in the middle of the sunny Okanagan, a year-round recreation paradise, ideal for family vacations and ski or golf getaways. Sparkling Okanagan Lake is rimmed by sandy beaches, acres of orchards, famous golf courses and charming estate wineries. In winter, exhilarating downhill and cross-country skiing are nearby. Pet Friendly. Free wireless. Free parking.
 
  Careers and Jobs at BCjobs.ca, Burnaby Listing Details 
BCJobs.ca enables job seekers and employers to connect with each other. Search for employment opportunities throughout BC or apply for and post BC jobs and resumes. Use the internet as a resource to find that dream job, including accounting jobs, administration jobs, construction, manufacturing, customer service, sales, marketing, financial, technical, technology, health care, tourism, retail and more .... all in British Columbia.
 
  EMR Vacation Rentals, Vancouver Listing Details 
EMR is a fully licensed Travel Agency offering fully furnished vacation homes, condos, suites, and estates in Victoria, Vancouver, Tofino, Whistler, the Okanagan, and on Vancouver Island. We have a large inventory of unique properties to select from. This includes properties that feature oceanfront, beach front, breathtaking views, private hot tubs, luxurious settings and more. Toll Free: 0-800-520-0932 UK.
 
  Holiday Park Resort, Kelowna Listing Details 
Nature provides the perfect setting for our four seasons RV & Condo Resort. Located in the heart of the Okanagan Valley on 67 acres. The resort features a wide array of accommodation options ranging from vacation condominiums to fully serviced, landscaped RV sites. Reserve now and enjoy the "Sweet Life". Specials available for first time visitors.
 
  NIHO Land & Cattle Company, Vancouver Listing Details 
NIHO is Western Canada’s leading expert in recreational real estate and one of the largest private owners of recreational property in British Columbia. We have over 40 years of experience in buying, selling, managing and developing all types of recreational property and real estate throughout BC, whether it be undeveloped land or a lot in one of our many recreational subdivisions.
 
  Okanagan Vacation Chalet Rentals, Kelowna Listing Details 
OKChalets features the Okanagan’s finest selection of ski-in/ski out accommodation. We specialize in Ski Villas, Resorts, Condos and Chalets for your family holiday or business needs. Imagine yourself, your family and friends cozying up, après ski, in a fabulous chalet on your favorite mountain. Offering luxurious executive properties in The Okanagan, Whistler, Sun Peaks, and Fernie.
 
  Owner Direct Vacation Rentals, Kelowna Listing Details 
Looking for a Vacation Rental? Why spend more and get less with a hotel? We offer privately-owned, condos, apartments, bed and breakfasts, chalets, cottages and cabins throughout British Columbia for rent - nightly, weekly or monthly. Owners set their own competitive rates. Great value and selection.
 
  Ricardo's Mediterranean Kitchen, Kelowna Listing Details 
Serving exquisite dinners by Chef Ricardo. Full Bar service available. Come in and relax in our adult oriented, air conditioned lounge. Located at the Holiday Park Resort, a four season vacation destination for a wide range of travellers.
 
  Strand Lakeside Resort, Vernon Listing Details 
Nestled right on the shores of Lake Okanagan in beautiful Vernon, at Strand Lakeside Resort you'll have the opportunity to enjoy this four-season Okanagan playground and destination resort whenever the mood strikes. There's literally something year round for everyone in and around Vernon: sandy beaches, picturesque vistas, and your own private retreat. You'll be close to the energy and bustle of Kelowna, but far enough away to simply unwind, relax and experience the true meaning of vacation.
 
  The Lodging Company, Kelowna Listing Details 
Ski Vacation Rentals: Ski-in/ski-out chalets, condos, and vacation homes at BC’s top ski resorts. The Lodging Company has the perfect condo for your next getaway and can arrange discount lift tickets and airport transfers! View our complete listing of properties online or call us Toll Free at 1-888-676-9977 for personal assistance in planning your vacation.
 
  Waterfront West Real Estate, Courtenay Listing Details 
Waterfront West is the first and only marketplace dedicated exclusively to buyers and sellers of waterfront and water view real estate in British Columbia. Advertising Realtors' listings, private sales and developments, we are pioneering the market for this prime real estate. Featuring private and brokered sales, waterfront developments and a complimentary Buyers' Club.
 
  Wescan Charter Bus Lines, Delta Listing Details 
Our charter buses are fully insured, licensed and certified from 11 seats up to 58 seats and are ready to go anywhere in Western Canada and the U.S. The bilingual drivers and tour guides are available in English and Chinese. Our owner operators are always prepared to deliver outstanding service, ensuring complete customer satisfaction. We have several luxurious buses with some of the most experienced drivers in the industry. At Wescan we provide exceptional service transporting large or small groups of people out for a day of relaxation or several days of sightseeing. Our drivers are very experienced, courteous, and safety trained so that we may get you to your destination relaxed and refreshed, hoping that you may remember your trip with Wescan as a once-in-a lifetime event. Call for an immediate quote 24 hours/day, 7 days/week.
 
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