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Anarchist Mountain Lookout over Osoyoos

Wintering in BC’s Okanagan? Check Out Things To Do Oliver to Osoyoos

The towns of Oliver and Osoyoos, located on the southern end of British Columbia’s Highway 97, are popular with outdoor enthusiasts year-round and attract thousands of snowbirds and RVers in the winter months.

Oliver

With its rich agricultural industry, Oliver currently produces half of the wine grapes for British Columbia and, with over 40 wineries, is known as Canada’s wine capital.

Firehall Brewery is a fun place for a few and calls itself the ‘Beer of Wine Country’ | Tania Veitch

Local bistros and winter wine tasting are a must-do as are the distilleries, cideries and breweries for tours and sampling. Firehall Brewery, with the fun tagline of the ‘Beer of Wine Country’, is located in an old firehall that dates to 1948. In and around town try out the food trucks and year-round fruit markets and visit Big Al’s Baker and Deli, a local favourite.

Shop the boutiques featuring local artists around Main Street and take in a show or play at the Venables Theatre, or a movie at the classic one-room Oliver Theatre. For some history, there’s the Oliver and District Heritage Society, which offers educational programs, heritage walks and more. The museum has exhibits and artifacts, while the archives (at a separate location) houses a research library. Indoor and outdoor activities and lessons, including overall wellness, arts and culture and sports and leisure, can be booked with the Oliver Parks and Recreation Society.

Arena fresh made ice in Oliver | Oliver Parks & Recreation

Hikers and walkers enjoy the view from the (7.7 km; moderate) Golden Mile Trail, which starts at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. Closer to town, explore Rotary Beach at Tuc-el-Nuit Lake or visit Lion’s Park where you can access the Oliver hiking and biking trail at the east boundary. There is an off-leash dog park here. Other great hiking spots are Burwell Lake Recreation Site, northwest of Oliver, and Inkaneep Provincial Park and Ny-lin-tn (previously called McIntyre Bluff), both north of the town.

Baldy Mountain Resort, 40 minutes from Oliver, has a base elevation of 1,726m (5,700ft) making it the third highest ski area in BC:
Baldy Mountain Resort, 40 minutes from Oliver, has a base elevation of 1,726m (5,700ft) making it the third highest ski area in BC | Sandra Smith

Winter sports enthusiasts love Baldy Mountain Resort, 40 minutes east of Oliver, which has a fantastic snowshoe rental and events program, including a moon candle-lit outing. The McKinney Nordic Ski Club, around 30 km southeast of Oliver, has 14 km of cross-country trails with a variety of difficulty and 5 kms of snowshoe trails. There is no lodge, but an outhouse is on-site.

For something unique visit Sunkeya Farm Alpacas, located northwest of Oliver. Its farm store sells yarn and alpaca fibre socks, hats, scarves, blankets and more. Be sure to call before you visit. There’s also the Oliver Indoor Flea Market on Station Street where you can be sure to find a few bargains and hidden gems to enhance your RV living.

Osoyoos

Located on Osoyoos Lake, amongst grasslands and highlands, Osoyoos has a dry winter climate, generally with mild temperatures from October through April and a low average annual snowfall of only 5.4 cm. The US border is a mere 5 km from town.

Osoyoos is known for its dry winter climate and paddle boarding in the winter is an option for those who dare | Matt Clark/Destination Osoyoos

Osoyoos is home to one of Canada’s few true desert environments. The region caters to its many snowbirds, is very pet friendly and has a multitude of boutiques to explore and fitness and art courses to try.

Its restaurateurs and chefs are passionate about promoting local, fresh food that’s been sustainably raised. Choose from casual cafés, wine bistros and upscale dining experiences. During winter the Osoyoos Farmers Market heads indoors. The Oliver and Osoyoos Winery Association puts together a December event with special promotions called Winter With Country.

Nk'Mip Cellars Vines in Winter
Nk’Mip Cellars Vines in Winter | Carol Stathers

A memorable experience is a visit to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre (pronounced in-ka-meep). At this 1,600-acre desert conservation area you can learn about the Osoyoos Indian Band and take in local food and wine tastings, dinner evenings and special events.

More culture can be had at Osoyoos Performing Arts and the Art Gallery Osoyoos; the gallery offers works by local and non-local art and artisans. For winter festivals and events visit the Destination Osoyoos event calendar for performances at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Junior B hockey games (Osoyoos Coyotes at the Sunbowl Arena) and more.

Anarchist Mountain Lookout provides for a panoramic view of Osoyoos and Osoyoos Lake | Lionel Trudel Photography (@lionel_trudel)/Destination Osoyoos

Skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing aren’t far with Baldy Mountain Resort only 40 minutes northeast of Osoyoos.

Walks include the 1.5 km boardwalk at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, a 67-acre nature interpretive facility, where you can explore and learn about one of the world’s rarest ecosystems (the semi-arid, antelope-brush); Pioneer Walkway, a paved path on the strip of land that separates the north and south ends of Osoyoos Lake; Legion Beach Park, a 10-minute walk from Main Street; and Osoyoos Oxbows Trailhead, located at the north end of Osoyoos Lake, a protected wetland popular with bird watchers. For dog walking areas and off-leash park info visit the city of Osoyoos webpage on dogs in parks.

Osoyoos Desert Centre in the summer | Kim Walker

Golfing in the winter and early spring is possible in Osoyoos. Contact Osoyoos Golf Club and Sonora Dunes Golf Course direct as season opening and tee times are dependent on the weather. Popular indoor activities are five-pin bowling at Kobau Lanes, curling at Osoyoos Curling Club and pickleball at the Sonora Community Centre.

Pamper yourself at Solterra Desert Spa at Spirit Ridge Resort or Levia Wellness Spa, a farm-to-table spa experience. Another ‘getaway’ option is booking a hotel or motel. Several Osoyoos accommodations offer special weekly winter rates for snowbirds looking for a little break from their campgrounds. Check with Destination Osoyoos for updated information and deals.

For information when in the area:
Oliver Visitor Centre: 6431 Station Street
Osoyoos Visitor Centre: 9912 BC Highway 3

Want to read more on Winter Activities check out https://www.campingrvbc.com/category/activities/winter-activities/

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For places to camp in BC in the winter go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/winter/

Wintering in BC’s Okanagan? Check out Things To Do from Kelowna to Penticton

Snowbirds and off-season RVers head to British Columbia’s mid-Okanagan, sometimes called the “Napa of the North”, for more than its sunny and mild winter days. There are plenty of activities and things to try, both out of doors and in.

Kelowna

The largest city in the Okanagan, Kelowna has a thing or two to boast about. It’s hip and urban yet outdoorsy, surrounded by water, mountains and agriculture, and has a fantastic food and wine scene based on local produce. Its winters are generally temperate with scenic snowshoe trails and powdery ski runs an easy drive away.

Award-winning Quails Gate Winery has been family farmed since 1956 | Tourism Kelowna/Meghan Reading

Looking for things to do in the winter? Browse some unique boutiques and shops (Bernard avenue and Pandosy Village, near the beach, are musts), sip a cider, gin or beer in a tasting room, or enjoy a farm-to-table meal. If you’re hankering for BC-caught oysters or a Friday fish fry head to Codfathers Seafood Market. It’s owned and operated by fishmongers who promote sustainable harvesting.

Wintertime in Kelowna means annual festivals and events and winter wine tours offer a variety of vineyards and trails to visit. Tourism Kelowna has a helpful webpage that lists what farms, markets and orchards are open. The snowy season is a great time to purchase jams, preserves, honey and cheese.

Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park | Tourism Kelowna/Seger Nelson & Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association

Arts and entertainment ranges from galleries and museums to events and live shows. Kelowna Museums organizes workshops and operates the Okanagan Heritage Museum, the Okanagan Military Museum and the unique Laurel Packinghouse, which is part museum part venue area.

There are a number of winter hiking spots in and around Kelowna, including Johns Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park, Rose Valley Regional Park, Myra Bellevue Provincial Park and Bear Creek Provincial Park. Mission Creek Greenway has over 20 kilometres of trails, including an area where you can spot salmon spawning.

The downtown Kelowna Skating Rink has a fire pit for warming up | Tourism Kelowna/Matt Ferguson Photography

Just 20 minutes east of the city is the Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club which has 75 km of groomed ski trails which meander through beautifully wooded forests and hills. Dogs are allowed on the snowshoe trails (all 70 kms) and about 1/3 of the ski trails. You can ice skate at Stuart Park, a free outdoor rink with a fire pit for warming up, hike at Knox Mountain Park, just north of downtown, and walk along the waterfront boardwalk; the trail connects to the Rotary Marsh Park, a fantastic spot for birding.

Horse & Sleigh at Big White Ski Resort | Tourism Kelowna/Jeff Bassett, Sproing Creative

Ski and snowboard options include Big White Ski Resort (to the east) and SilverStar Mountain Resort (to the northeast), both around an hour’s drive from Kelowna; shuttle service is available. These winter playgrounds also offer snowmobiling, snowshoeing and fat tire biking. For a real bird’s eye view in winter book a helicopter tour with OK Heli.

After such activity relax and get pampered at a local day spa or salon. It seems fitting while in Kelowna to try a Vinotherapy massage, where the residue (pips and pulps) of wine making are rubbed into the skin.

Summerland

The town of Summerland, a leader in the agri-tourism business, is on the lower end of Okanagan Lake with Peachland to the north and Penticton to the south. Nearby vineyard slopes and hills provide outstanding viewpoints of the valleys and lake.

Trans Canada Trail overlooking Summerland | Carol Stathers

There are many parks and trails to explore. A popular winter hike, snowshoe or cross-country outing is the Kettle Valley Railway Trail, part of the Trans Canada Trail. The rail line was once used to transport silver ore to the BC coast. There’s also the 268-acre Mount Conkle Park and its ‘Bonk Loop’, and for a fantastic view of Summerland hike or snowshoe up the volcanic dome of Giant’s Head.

Indoor winter options include the rink at Summerland Arena or the Summerland Community Centre for bingo or a game of billiards or shuffleboard. Tour Summerland Art Gallery, the Summerland Museum and Archives Society and try specialty shops such as Summerland Sweets, which has manufactured fruit syrup, jam and candy since 1962. For some cool nostalgia check out Nixdorf Classic Cars, which boasts an inventory of 100 vehicles from 1936 to 1970, and even a muscle car section. If you’re craving craft beer, be sure to visit Detonate Brewing and Giant’s Head Brewing. Click here for a list of community events in Summerland.

Penticton

The hub of the South Okanagan for outdoor recreation, Penticton has over 80 wineries in the region, and over a dozen combined craft breweries, cideries and distilleries in and around downtown.

There are plenty of restaurants and ambiances to choose from, from pubs and casual spots to elegant bistros and even the rooftop patio at Slackwater Brewing, which hosts trivia nights. Be sure to check out the Penticton Ale Trail which highlight’s the town’s breweries and eateries. Many wineries remain open during the winter; contact the winery before setting out and do sample some ice wines. There are several wine tour companies you can book with should you prefer not to drive.

Rent a fat bike to explore a vineyard or cruise along the Kettle Valley Rail Trail | Travel Penticton

Try your hand at the Cascades Casino or watch a flick at the Landmark Cinemas. For an art fix visit the Penticton Art Gallery and shop or the Lloyd Gallery (representing over 40 Canadian artists) or give an improv workshop a go with the Penticton Arts Council.

Shows and lessons are held at the Leir House Cultural Centre and the local Elks Lodge has art workshops, as do some of the local wineries such as Noble Ridge Vineyard where you can make a silk scarf while enjoying a glass of wine. There’s also Pottery at Artables.

Take in a show at the Dream Café, the Cleland Community Theatre, or the South Okanagan Events Centre, where you can also watch the Junior A Penticton Vees hockey team. 

The Penticton Community Centre offers special programs and activities along with its pool and fitness area and the Penticton Curling Club has leagues from November to March. For a winter walk you can easily access the Kettle Valley Rail Trail or rent a fat bike from Freedom Bike Shop to cruise along it, or perhaps a snowshoe tour with Hoodoo Adventures is more your thing.

Brand-new to Penticton is its much-anticipated outdoor skating rink. This fully refrigerated centrally located rink can operate in temperatures up to 10°C and will offer free rentals.

Nickel Plate Nordic Centre has 56km of groomed trails and 22km of snowshoe trails | Travel Penticton

Just over 30 minutes southwest is Apex Mountain Resort for downhill skiing and snowboarding; there’s also a 1-km ice skating loop, ice rink and tubing area for the kid in you. Apex organizes evening snowshoe outings followed by dinner and wine at its Gunbarrel Saloon, which has many times been named best après-ski bar in Canada!

For epic cross-country skiing and snowshoeing head to the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre, just west of Apex. Shuttle bus services are available. Golf in late winter in Penticton is possible, depending on the weather of course. Contact Penticton Golf & Country Club for more information.

For information when in the area go to:
Kelowna Visitor Centre: 238 Queensway Avenue, Kelowna
Summerland Visitor Centre: 15600 Highway BC 97, Summerland
Penticton Visitor Centre: 888 Westminster Ave W #120, Penticton

Want to read more on Winter Activities check out https://www.campingrvbc.com/category/activities/winter-activities/

TIP: If you find this blog interesting why not subscribe to the enewsletter and never miss another story!

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #CampInBC, #ExploreBC, #BCNice

For places to camp in BC in the winter go to https://www.campingrvbc.com/winter/

Powell River, British Columbia, Insulated by Nature

Two ferries from the lower Mainland or one from Vancouver Island to get to Powell River could leave you feeling isolated, but locals prefer to think of it as being insulated from the busy world and high crime.  Powell River, situated on the side of a mountain is wrapped in forest, insulated by nature. With hundreds of lakes behind it and the ocean at its feet, locals have the best of both worlds.

Totem at Viewpoint into Town

Powell River and area population (Lund, Texada, Savary Island) is about 20,000.  There are box stores, independent stores and eateries covering a wide range of tastes. At the south end of Powell River sit by the sea at “Seasider Bistro & Wine Bar” or at the north end closer to Lund enjoy a spectacular view of Okeover Inlet at “Laughing Oyster Restaurant.” It’s open April to October. If you want to enjoy a meal “on” the water “The Boardwalk in Lund” has gluten free cooking while a golden sun sets into the ocean.

Lund is either the beginning or the end of Highway 101 depending on who you ask. It once was a fishing village now a tourist destination for those taking off for Savary Island or other islands. “Historic Lund Hotel” was originally built in 1895, now owned by Tla’amin Nation. It has 31 rooms, a store, restaurant, pub, laundromat, and Tug Uhm Art Gallery. Camp at “Sunlund By-The-Sea Campground & Cabin,” a 5 minute walk to the hotel and “downtown” Lund. Sunlund offers full facilities; pets are welcome, laundromat and showers surrounded by forest. What a setting to wake up in before going to Nancy’s Bakery for one of their famous blackberry cinnamon buns. Fuel up before you leave Powell River. There isn’t a service station in Lund.

Lund Hotel

If you’re ready for a hike try the Sunshine Coast Trail. At 180 km. with 13 huts it’s the longest free hut-to-hut trail in Canada. Pick up part of it at “Inland Lake Provincial Park” with spacious campsites among the trees. It has a 13 km wheelchair accessible trail around the lake. The road to the park is a good gravel road about 20 mins from Powell River. It’s open year-round with free camping from mid-September to mid-May.

Inland Lake Provincial Park
Inland Lake Provincial Park

Is canoeing your desire? The Canoe Route is 57 km long taking you through 8 lakes with portages.

We live in Powell River but our favorite campground is downtown by the ocean. “Willingdon Beach Campground” has 81 sites, some full-service, some beside the beach, others snugged under the trees. An easy walking trail joins it through towering cedar and Douglas fir where pesky squirrels beg for peanuts. At one time it was the rail bed for bringing logs down from the lake to the log dump on the beach. Old logging equipment rests along the trail.  It’s only 5 minutes from Westview Ferry terminal to Texada Island or Vancouver Island.

Willingdon Beach Campground
Willingdon Beach Campground

Historic Powell River Townsite was where it all started. Dr. Israel Wood Powell discovered the area in 1881 and established logging camps but thousands of years before him it was home to Tla’amin First Nations.  A pulp and paper mill was built 1910- 1912 and went on to become the largest newsprint mill in the world. The company built a lovely town based on the English Garden plan. Take a walk around the old homes; tour Dr. Henderson’s home and when you’re tuckered out stop at “Townsite Brewery.” From a 1931 building the “Townsite Market” has grown with individual stores selling produce, unique products from hand-made chocolates to children’s clothes and more. “The Old Courthouse Inn” owners decorated each room in an antique theme and serve delicious meals in the cozy café.  Go to the movies at the Patricia Theatre, the longest running theatre in Canada. In 1995 the federal government proclaimed this area a National Historic District.

Lund Shellfish Festival, Darren Bolton Prawn Fisherman
Lund Shellfish Festival, Darren Bolton Prawn Fisherman

If it’s culture you want, Powell River has it every month of the year. In August they shut down Highway 101/Marine Drive to celebrate the blackberry at the Blackberry Festival. Lund is famous for their Shellfish Festival in May. Every 2 years International Choral Fest Kathaumixw fills the air with music for five days. For a complete list of all that is happening in the area stop by the Powell River Visitor’s Information Centre, 4760 Joyce Ave. They have a gift store and WIFI.

There is just too much to tell in a short period of time. You’ll just have to discover how Powell River is insulated by nature for yourself. Warning: People have been known to come for a visit and 30 years later they are still here.

If this area interests you, check out our drive:
Salish Sea Route

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For Camping and RV parks in the area and elsewhere in BC go to the camping map.

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It’s always a great day to #campinbc

Published: May 23rd, 2019

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