Thompson Okanagan Region

British Columbia’s Thompson Okanagan, a sun-drenched haven for winemakers,  is also the province’s lake district and, for generations,  a favoured  family  holiday spot  for western Canadians.

At its heart is a long, fertile valley running north-south along Okanagan, Skaha, Vaseux, and Osoyoos lakes, where vineyards, orchards, golf courses, and forests of ponderosa pine blanket the hills above a string of warm, beach-fringed lakes. Okanagan Lake, the longest of the three at 135 kilometres, is also said to host Ogopogo, a shy but harmless creature, rarely seen but possibly related to Nessie of Loch Ness.

The region is home to over 170 licensed wineries and more than 50 18-hole golf courses, as well as four major ski resorts. Lesser known are the Thompson Okanagan’s other landscapes: the hundreds of trout­ stocked fishing lakes in the rolling ranch country around Kamloops; the vast boreal forests of the north; the many reaches of Shuswap Lake, where visitors can explore 1,000 kilometres of shoreline by houseboat; and Osoyoos, located in Canada’s only desert where 2,000 hours of sunshine annually help support species found nowhere else in the country.

 

Some of BC’s biggest, most dramatic wilderness parks are found in the Thompson Okanagan. One such draw is Wells Gray Provincial Park, home to the stunning 141-metre Helmcken Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls, as well as plenty of outdoor adventure options. Here you can cast a line, hike, paddle in Murtle Lake-North America’s largest canoe-only lake-and possibly catch sight of moose, bears, and mule deer. The area surrounding Blue River features one of the highest concentrations of bears in North America. Another must-see is Mount Robson Provincial Park. East of Wells Gray, this UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounds the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies.

 

Each year, vinophiles flock to the Thompson Okanagan to tour and taste, especially during the region’s four annual wine festivals. Others come to hike and bike on the area’s long-distance paths, including the famous Kettle Valley Rail Trail; to fish, canoe, and camp in the backcountry; and to experience First Nations culture and western heritage at the region’s many festivals.

Kamloops

Kamloops is centrally located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia and boasts rolling hills, two converging rivers, 82 parks, a sparkling lake and world class sporting facilities, Kamloops is a paradise for the active traveller.

Clinton

Founded as a result of the boomof the Cariboo Gold Rush, Clinton is considered the midway point between Vancouver and Prince George. Clinton is also the ‘Gateway to the Cariboo’. There are endless trails of spectacular scenery in the areas surrounding Clinton, including the Marble Range, Cougar Point, Limestone Mountains and Hart Ridge.

The numerous lakes in the area including Kelly Lake, Pear Lake, Riley Dam and Big Bar Lake provide excellent fishing. Some of these lakes also provide resort areas with beaches and water sport activities. Wildlife is abundant in the Clinton area, where you may come across deer, moose, cougar and bears.

There are both winter and summer recreational activities available for the outdoor enthusiast, including skating, curling, tennis, and more. Hiking, mountain biking trails, cross crountry ski trails are all available in the area.

Osoyoos

Osoyoos is a resort town in the southern part of the Okanagan Valley, directly on Osoyoos Lake and close to the border of Washington state.

Enjoy the endless water activities on the Osoyoos Lake including kayaking, canoeing, tubing and waterskiing. Osoyoos Lake and the Osoyoos Oxbows are also excellent fishing spots. Drop a line for bass, trout, salmon and whitefish or any one of the 43 species found locally.

Tour the wine country and take the time to relax amid the beautiful vineyard views. Take a leisurely stroll on the many beautiful lakeshore walkways. Hike or bike on the widespread system of trails. Tee off at one of the picturesque golf courses.

Osoyoos offers a unique selection of family attractions. The Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad is a must-see mini-world with 20 computer-operated trains running through a Euro-style landscape of cities, villages, resorts and countryside peopled by over 11,000 hand painted figures. Get active at Rattlesnake Canyon with mini-golf, bumper boats, climbing wall, rides and arcade.

The Okanagan Valley is the second largest wine region in Canada with approximately 4000 hectares of vineyards. The Okanagan accounts for producing more than 90% of British Columbia wine. Vineyards and wineries can be found all along the 113 km Okanagan Lake and communities.

During the summer months, visitors are offered countless sandy beaches, hot sun, and a variety of outdoor and water activities. Okanagan Lake provides the valley not only with excellent swimming but is also a spectacular backdrop to the golf courses and Okanagan wineries and popular ski resorts located in the rolling hills of this wine valley.

 

Located in the rolling hills of the valley and overlooking the lake, the Okanagan Valley has over 15 picturesque golf courses to choose from. Skaha Bluffs is a rock climbing area just south of Penticton, on a hillside above Skaha Lake. The climbing takes place in three parallel canyons. Notable climbing walls include Fortress, Red Tail, Doctors wall, The Great White Wall and The Grand Canyon. One of the most popular sections of the hiking trail along the former Kettle Valley Railway line is the section through Myra Canyon. Myra Canyon is located south of Kelowna on Okanagan Mountain Park.

The Kettle Valley Steam Railway operates a heritage railway along a preserved 10-kilometre section in Summerland, British Columbia. This is the only active remaining section of the Kettle Valley Railway. Hop aboard and watch out for the special train robberies!

Vernon

A little over five hours from Vancouver and two hours from Kamloops, Vernon is surrounded by 3 lakes and hundreds of small fishing lakes, world-class golf, great beaches and trails, spectacular farmers’ markets three days a week, and family-friendly attractions and festivals.

From boating to alpine skiing, each season presents plenty of exciting things to do in the Okanagan Valley. A true outdoor-lover’s paradise, the region offers miles of mountain hiking trails, kayaking, alpine and cross country skiing, snowboarding, golf, cycling, and sandy lakeside beaches.

The 180km long Okanagan Valley is nicknamed “The Napa of the North” for the many world-class wineries in the region. Harvest time in late Summer and early Fall is a particularly rewarding time to visit. Peach and apricot orchards also dot the landscape and offer visitors to visit and pick their own fruit during the Summer. Visit one of the many in the region.

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