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.
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.
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 such as family owned and operated Nature’s Basket 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.
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.
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.
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 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 (such as Lake Village Bakery, known for its traditional artisan sourdough and fresh pastries), 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.
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.
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.
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/
Winter Camping for the Beginner in British Columbia
Winter can be a magical time to explore British Columbia and try new activities. Thankfully, there are many campgrounds and parks – both private and public – open in the ‘off-season’.
It’s true that winter camping comes with its own unique challenges and safety considerations for campers and RVers. If heading out in an RV there is winter camping trip prep to follow. For renters, note that a number of RV companies and dealers do rent out motorhomes and units in the winter. Make sure that the RV has double-pane windows, a high efficiency furnace, an interior winter cab blanket and comes with insulated and heated water and waste holding tanks.
When trying winter camping for the first few times it’s recommended to stay close to home and choose a campground not too far off the beaten path. Invest in any necessary items or borrow from friends or family who have ventured out at this time of year; gear rental is also an option. As with all camping trips, having a plan and being prepared is the key.
Here are some helpful tips to make your winter camping experience an enjoyable one. Read an expanded list of tips here.
- Make a gear list, bring quality winter and windproof clothing, plenty of warm wool-blend socks, long underwear and layer, layer, layer. Mittens are a better option than gloves and a wool hat is a smart choice as is a balaclava.
- Invest in waterproof winter boots with a warm lining and decent treads for traction.
- Pack a water bottle for heating or hand and toe warmers.
- Bring insulated camping chairs (there are even ones with battery heated seats).
- Purchase a portable power pack if you don’t have one and pack extra batteries.
- Pack ski goggles and good sunglasses for snow/sun reflection.
- Have the first aid kit ready and educate yourself about basic first aid. Put sunscreen under your nose and chin and get an SPF lip balm as the snow reflects the sun!
- Trekking poles and snowshoes are a fun option as are binoculars for winter bird watching.
Campfires & Meals
- Read our article on how to build a campfire.
- Get a waterproof case for the firestarter/matches.
- Bring a small shovel to clear snow from around the campfire pit. A small sled will also come in handy for hauling wood or gear around.
- Pack some ready-made or freeze-dried options to simplify meal times. High calorie foods are good in winter as are soups and hot drinks.
- Make sure you have insulated water bottles and tin mugs.
Even in the winter campers and hikers need to be aware of animals and their surroundings and continue to respect wildlife. Always exercise caution. Keep food locked away and do not leave scraps behind – pack out what you pack in.
Don’t feed the animals or get too close. Moose can be aggressive, bears can come out of hibernation, and any animal can be unpredictable if provoked. Stay alert, and move about slowly and quietly and respect the wilderness that you are in. BC Conservation Foundation provides good information.
If you plan to venture out on the trails in BC’s backcountry to hike, snowshoe, cross country ski etc. only do so if you, or the person you are with, is experienced in that outdoor activity in winter. Always have an emergency plan and tell someone where you are going and your estimated timeline beforehand. Check out Adventure Smart for more information.
For accommodations in British Columbia go the Camping Map.
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5 Ways to Enjoy Winter in Wine Country, Okanagan, British Columbia
As cooler temperatures emerge, and the snow blankets the vineyards, the valley transforms from a sun-soaked paradise to the ultimate winter destination. From champagne powder to frozen waterfalls to theatrical sleigh ride shows, the winter can be a magical time to explore the Okanagan.
1. Take A Winter Road Trip
With surrounding mountains and expansive lake views, Route 97 through the Okanagan Corridor is one of BC’s top scenic drives. In the winter, the sweeping landscape is enveloped in glistening tones of white and blue. Be sure that your vehicle or RV is ready for winter and always check road conditions in advance of your trip.
2. Winter in Wine Country
The colder weather brings with it the perfect opportunity to enjoy the elegant, bold reds the Okanagan is so good at crafting. Try out the exceptional vintages garnering international attention, and raise your glass to the upcoming year. Check out one of the many events at the Winter Wine Festival. (Note: the Winter Wine Festival is currently on hold. Please check back in 2023).
3. Winter Camping
What could be more magical than waking up in a winter wonderland? Enjoy the warmth of a roaring fire with mulled wine in hand, unwind in the great outdoors, and try your hand at winter camping. With many RV Parks and Provincial Campgrounds open year-round, escape to the Okanagan for the ultimate winter getaway.
4. Ski Three Resorts in a Week
The Okanagan is home to a multitude of mountain resorts so you don’t have to travel far to hit the slopes. Known for unparalleled champagne powder, the mountains boast beautiful villages that will get you right into the festive spirit. And you don’t have to ski to enjoy the winter culture. From dog-sledding and ice-fishing to a horse-drawn sleigh ride to a rustic cabin in the woods – there’s an array of wonderful experiences for anyone looking to embrace the snow season.
5. Snowshoe the Myra Canyon Trestles
Whatever your winter preference this season, be sure to take a step back, enjoy the view, and welcome the festive charm of the Okanagan. To start planning your winter road trip visit route97.net. For more information on winter camping visit https://www.campingrvbc.com/winter/
For places to camp in BC this winter check out winter camping opportunities.
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Winter Activities On British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast
From the artistic community of Gibsons northeast to the harbour village of Lund, mountains meet the sea along the Sunshine Coast, a mainland area uniquely only accessible by ferry, boat or plane. Winters are typically mild and range from 2 to 10ºC (20 to 50°F) during the day. In lower elevations, rains keep the flora and forests lush, while higher areas see snow.
There’s plenty to do both inside and out if you’re RVing here in the winter. Make sure to get out on the water and head up some slopes. You will be rewarded with majestic views and an excellent chance of seeing animals in their natural environment.
Arts, Shops and Spas
This scenic and inspiring region boasts a thriving art community with more artists per capita than any other area in Canada. The Purple Banner Tour is a self-directed studio and gallery tour. Purple flags along the Sunshine Coast Highway and local streets from Langdale to Lund indicate galleries or artists’ studios, many of which are open to the public. (Visitation appointments may be necessary.) Sunshine Coast Art Tours combines visits to some tasting rooms with a majestic flight over Sechelt Inlet. There are also many eclectic shops and boutiques to explore that sell locally produced and handmade items.
The town of Gibsons on the shores of Howe Sound has a collection of fine galleries, clothing and giftware shops and bookstores. Molly’s Lane and Marine Drive are some streets to check out, as are the Gibsons Public Art Gallery and the Sunshine Coast Museum and Archives. The Kube has working artist studios, an art gallery and curated retail.
For a different experience visit the collection of yurts in Madeira Park at Fibre Works Studio & Gallery, a creative space for art exhibits and workshops. The Sunshine Coast also has funky thrift and vintage shops and there are craft fairs and year-round and seasonal markets, including the Gibsons Public Market, the Roberts Creek Community Farm Market and Powell River’s Townsite Public Market. Sechelt has a winter market in the pre-Christmas season and the Powell River Community Resource Center hosts the Uptown Winter Market.
There are fun and practical general stores, including one at Roberts Creek and Halfmoon Bay. Madeira Park is the main shopping centre for the Pender Harbour region.
Historic Powell River has an educational forestry museum and, in late winter, hosts the Powell River Film Festival in the classic Patricia Theatre, Canada’s oldest continuously running cinema. The townsite has over 400 buildings dating to the original 1910 town plan and, in 1995, was designated as a National Historic District of Canada. Stroll around for yourself or book a heritage walking tour. There’s also the unique opportunity to take in an Indigenous experience, such as the Tla’amin Nation Cultural Tours where you can meet skilled craftspeople and learn about traditional practices.
Of course, it’s not the West Coast without some zen spa treatments. A few to visit are Painted Boat Resort Spa in Madeira Park, with its Canadian Wilderness Scrub, Seabreeze Spa in Halfmoon Bay, Shades of Jade in Roberts Creek and Beyond Bliss in Powell River.
Click here for the Sunshine Coast Tourism events calendar.
Coffee Culture, Drinks and Dining
A dedicated coffee culture thrives in the Sunshine Coast. For mojo, pastries, brunch and more check out:
Black Bean Cafe, Beachcomber Coffee Company and Wheatberries Bakery in Gibsons
Gumboot Café, Roberts Creek
Basted Baker and Strait Coffee in Sechelt
Skookumchuck Café and Bakery, amongst the trees in Egmont
Base Camp Coffee, 32 Lakes Coffee Roasters and Bakery, River City Coffee Roasters and Edie Rae’s Café at the Old Courthouse Inn, all in Powell River.
Nancy’s Bakery, Lund (popular for its blackberry cinnamon buns).
Drinks and dining options range from sustainable restaurants and bistros to distilleries and taphouses. Here are a few to sample:
Drift Café and Bistro for West Coast French and Molly’s Reach diner in Gibsons; a regular setting in The Beachcombers, a CBC TV series.
Tap Works Brewing Company, The 101 Brewhouse & Distillery, Banditry Cider, Persephone Brewing Company and farm and Sunday Cider, all Gibsons area.
Bruinwood Estate Distillery and Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse, Roberts Creek
The Backeddy Pub in Egmont for Pacific Northwest fare with inlet views.
Townsite Brewing for craft beer, Monks on Marine for a steak and Guinness pie and Costa Del Sol for Latin cuisine, all Powell River.
The Bricker Cider Company and TwentyTwo Taphouse in Sechelt. Also, El Segundo for Pacific tropical fusion and Jamar Canteen for Lebanese food and cooking demos. For comfort food try the Wobbly Canoe or the Gourmet Girl.
You can always refer to the BC Ale Trail for self-guided itineraries along the Sunshine Coast. Many establishments are dog friendly.
Outdoor Activities and Tours
When visiting the Sunshine Coast in winter you’ll need waterproof gear and to have extra clothing on hand. Plan any hikes—particularly in the off-season—and respect trail rules and any closures.
Wildlife such as elk, deer and coyotes are active year-round and blue herons and bald eagles can be easily spotted. Along the coast you will see seals and even sea lions, and molluscs and sea anemones in tidal pools. Guided wildlife tours are recommended for safety and best viewing. If you’re in Gibsons on a weekend the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre may be of interest.
Popular hikes and hiking areas include:
Soames Hill Park and “The Knob”, Gibsons, for sea and island views.
Iris Griffith Wetlands Park, Baker Beach Park and Mount Daniel/Garden Bay Marine Provincial Park near Madeira Park.
Pender Hill Park and beachcombing and birdwatching around Pender Harbour.
Cliff Gilker Park, Roberts Creek.
Smuggler Cove Marine Provincial Park and trails around Halfmoon Bay.
Suncoaster Trail and Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park near Egmont—witness the spectacular tidal changes of the Sechelt Rapids.
Sechelt area: Wakefield Road Beach, Kinnikinnik Park, Porpoise Bay Provincial Park and the lush forest of Hidden Groves.
Willingdon Beach Trail, Powell River.
Lund and area. Explore nearby marine parks, including Desolation Sound (by boat) and the Sunshine Coast Trail, Canada’s longest hut-to-hut hiking trail.
Inland from Sechelt, winter recreation fans enjoy the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at Dakota Ridge. (Alpha Adventures organizes tours here.) The ski trails are well groomed and the snowshoe trails vary in difficulty. Just north are the trails in and around Tetrahedron, a wonderful provincial park for backcountry snowshoeing. Powell River is home to Knuckleheads, a sub-alpine area popular for snowmobiling and snowshoeing.
Tours are a great way to get out and about and experience the Sunshine Coast from a local’s perspective. Sunshine Coast Tours has a boating day trip to Princess Louisa Inlet (where you can see Chatterbox Falls); you can also charter a floatplane to view this hidden gem. Harbour Air Seaplanes offers scenic flights from Sechelt. Winter kayak or go on a boat tour of the Halfmoon Bay or Pender Harbour areas; various companies offer rentals and tours. Also, Sunshine Coast Shuttles out of Powell River drives people to/from the Sunshine Coast Trail and offers some supply services.
If you fish the Sunshine Coast is a dream come true, with its inland lakes and streams, meandering coastline and the Salish Sea. The Powell River area is famous for Chinook salmon and a winter fishing charter is an unforgettable adventure. Companies include OTB Charters (Pender Harbour) and Powell River Sportfishing and Coho Point Fishing Charters. All anglers in BC must obtain separate licences to fish in tidal (salt) water and/or freshwater.
NB: Visitor Information Centres across the Sunshine Coast may have shortened business hours in the winter.
Sunshine Coast Tourism reminds locals and visitors that they’ re on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, Skwxwú7mesh, and Homalco Nations”. Its Know Before You Go webpage has details on safe, responsible and respectful travel.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Click here for a winter dining guide courtesy of Penticton Visitor Centre.
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.
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.
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/
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/
Snowbirds! Spending Your Winter in the Vancouver Area? Check Out This Side Trip – North Vancouver to Whistler
Recently, we wrote a blog about things to see and do if you are a Snowbird staying in the Vancouver area. We suggested a drive from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs along Highway 7. Here is another drive that follows the Sea to Sky Highway (Hwy 99) from North Vancouver to Whistler.
The Sea to Sky Highway hugs the coastline as it winds its way north offering up stunning views across Howe Sound and to the mountains beyond. It then heads inland north of Squamish to the year-round destination of world-famous Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort. Mt Seymour, Grouse Mountain, and Cypress Mountain are all popular winter activity destinations, two of which are included in this trip.
- Rent a pair of ice skates and enjoy the exhilarating fresh air atop Grouse Mountain on their 8,000 sq. ft. ice skating pond. The Skyride allows for stunning views across Vancouver, Stanley Park and beyond.
- Take a self-guided snowshoe tour or go cross-country skiing at the top of Cypress Mountain through a forested winter wonderland. Warm up with a hot drink or bowl of soup.
- Back on Highway 99 and a further 18 km (11 mi) is the tiny, picturesque village of Lions Bay which hugs the shoreline. A must stop-off is the Lions Bay General Store and Café, located on the east side of the highway (take Lions Bay Avenue exit) and a favourite of those who have travelled this road for decades. You’ll find local products, great coffee, beer, lunch, souvenirs and great views too.
- Adjacent to the highway is the Britannia Mine Museum, an award-winning national historic site. It was a working copper mine from 1904-1974 and opened in 1975 as the BC Museum of Mining. You’ll be dazzled by the light and sound show as you are transported underground by train.
- Just south of Squamish is the entrance to the Sea to Sky Gondola. Be amazed at the stunning views of snow-capped mountains, old-growth forests and turquoise waters of the Howe Sound stretched out before you. At the top take in the brisk winter air, try snow-shoeing or tubing and then warm up with a hot drink or visit the Sky Pilot Restaurant where you can enjoy delicious West Coast fare.
- Like to try local craft beer? Howe Sound Brewing in Squamish produces an abundance of craft beer, from seasonal to year-round brews. Pair their excellent beer with small bites or big bites, all made in-house. It’s located on Cleveland Avenue left off Highway 99, almost at the end of town; you will see the pub on your right.
- For some eagle spotting, head back to the highway and continue north towards Brackendale and Brackendale Eagles Provincial Park, one of North America’s largest congregations of wintering bald eagles. These majestic birds gather in this area from November to January to feast on salmon. There are plenty of lookouts and shelters to view the eagles (the Eagle Run viewing shelter is at 41015 Government Road) and you can take an organized tour or even an eagle viewing float trip. Visit Squamish Tourism’s web page on eagle viewing for more information.
- Get back on the highway, it’s time to head to Whistler! There is so much to do in this world-renowned resort. In winter the snow is the big attraction with skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and more, but if you want to do something different or your ski legs need a rest there are fabulous restaurants, art galleries, spas, winter events, festivals and more. A must-see is the Whistler Village stroll where you will find fun and sporty shops, bistros and cafes, and the Whistler Olympic Plaza, which is transformed into an outdoor skating rink in winter.
- To experience First Nations art, history and culture visit the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler. Hear the stories and songs and admire the traditional regalia, carvings and art. This is a beautiful museum with stunning works and exhibits; guided tours are available.
- If you are in Whistler on a Sunday evening from December to March check out the free Fire & Ice Show in Whistler Village. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or warm cider and be prepared to be amazed at the spectacle created as expert skiers jump through hoops of fire!
- Once you have explored Whistler then it’s time to head back, and the views are just as stunning on the return journey! You will pass Furry Creek, known for its golf and country club, and the villages of Lions Bay and Horseshoe Bay, home of the BC Ferries terminal for taking travellers over to Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island. Horseshoe Bay has some shops and eateries and it’s always fun to watch the ferries coming and going.
There is so much more to see in this area, particularly in and around North and West Vancouver. Check out Vancouver’s North Shore Tourism. You could spend a day or two exploring the parks and waterfront walks, Lonsdale Quay Market, with its specialty shops and services, or the historic and growing urban neighbourhood of The Shipyards District.
For other drives from Vancouver check out:
For RV parks and other camping accommodations check out the Winter Camping Map.
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Vancouver Island, British Columbia Off-Season Adventures
‘Canada’s Mediterranean’, is how I like to refer to Central Vancouver Island. It offers more year-round outdoor recreational opportunities in mind-blowing scenery, than I’ll ever have time to enjoy in one lifetime. But I’m trying– and the best part is that so many activities are absolutely free!
To get you started let me give you just a couple of very different ‘cool season’ activities on different parts of the Island, along with two fantastic year-round RV parks located close to each mini adventure.
Life’s too short not to visit the best places, right? So let’s start this Island winter season sampler with…
Stocking Creek Regional Park
Nothing screams “Vancouver Island” like a waterfall– we’ve got the tallest one in Canada here, but the one I’ll show you today is near the popular year-round Country Maples RV Resort. Stocking Creek Falls is just south of the neat little town of Ladysmith—and you HAVE to see their downtown Christmas light up if you’re here during the festive season!!
The Stocking Creek Regional Park is the start of a tranquil 2km loop trail in a lush rainforest alongside the clear babbling creek that leads to the stunning viewing platform above the picture-perfect waterfall.
And if you’re nimble and sure of foot (although it’s not recommended for safety reasons), it is possible to get behind the waterfall and look out through the water curtain—it’s so loud back there!!!
Check out the video of the recent winter hike I took there with our RV Snowbirds. Love this park!
Groomed Trail Snowshoeing at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort
After setting up camp, it’s a short drive inland and up to Mt. Washington Alpine Resort, which borders world famous Strathcona Provincial Park, BC’s oldest park, and home to Canada’s tallest waterfall with a drop of 440 meters!
It’s also one of the few places anywhere that you can ski AND have a view of the ocean!
One of the things they brag about in the Comox Valley is that you can golf in the morning and ski in the afternoon!
Although there are exceptions to all rules, on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, the expectation is that white stuff stays on the mountains, while at sea level, anything that comes down from the sky is rain. I love snow, but I don’t want home delivery– except Christmas Eve.
These days, I head to Mt. Washington to relax. I leave the downhill skiing aside, and instead, pack a lunch and head to the beautiful Raven Lodge just below the ski hill overlooking the valley and Paradise Meadows (and it is!). There you can rent some snowshoes and get out for a couple hours exploring the groomed trails in this stunning location.
Of course, the crisp mountain air and ‘shoeing works up an appetite, so the perfect ending is to drop off the snowshoes and sit under the massive wood beams of the lodge, and park beside the fireplace in a big comfy chair and enjoy lunch. They make fabulous, well priced lunches, or you bring your own, and just purchase a glass of wine or a hot chocolate while telling stories or dozing by the fire and enjoying the view over the valley.
Check out the video – you want to do this – and if you haven’t tried the modern snowshoes, it’s as easy as walking!
45 minutes later, you’re back down in Courtenay, and just outside of town, the tranquility of Seal Bay RV Park welcomes you home. It even has a stocked fishing pond onsite!
Visit Vancouver Island this Winter and Stay Awhile!
As I said, winter and summer sports are possible on the same day in Canada’s Mediterranean! While the rest of Canada deals with real winter, if you have an RV, you can still stay in Canada where your dollar goes farther, enjoy the lower off-season monthly RV park rates at award winning parks, and have an active lifestyle with endless adventures.
Special Places Google Map Makes it Easy
Visit my ‘Vancouver Island Special Places’ Google Map, and use your favourite digital device to find other amazing places to see and things to do on Vancouver Island. The map currently has 40 different placemarks of ‘must see places’.
The placemarks on the map for each location are colour-coded to indicate the activity level or fitness level needed to explore. Green ones are easy, Yellow a bit more challenging, then Blue, then Red. Clicking on a placemark will open a window of information about the spot, with a short write-up, and links to photos and videos showing you why each place is a jewel.
This winter, don’t hibernate—activate!
If this area interests you, check out our drive:
From Coast to Coast on Vancouver Island: Vancouver to Tofino
For other places to camp in the winter, plus more winter blogs and how-to information go to Winter Camping in British Columbia.
Share your BC travel and winter camping photos using hashtag #CampinBC
It’s always a great day to #campinbc
Spring Activities Abound in the Okanagan
In the mountains there is still plenty of white stuff, but in the valleys, once the snow melts, the trees start to bloom and the leaves turn green.
There are a variety of activities available in early spring, especially because the temperate climate of the Okanagan is so warm early in the season. Consider indulging in some of the following if you’re looking to get camping this spring:
If you’re a fan of wines and brews, consider taking one of the area’s many wine tours. In Kelowna, you can take the Lakeshore Wine Route, starting at Sperling Vineyards to CedarCreek Estate Winery. Home of the award-winning restaurant, Home Block, CedarCreek is a popular way to enjoy the valley and the views of Okanagan Lake. As your day winds down, you can head back to Apple Valley Orchard and RV Park for a good night’s rest. The next day, you’ll be geared up to head down to Penticton to explore one of the province’s mighty Ale Trail destinations. In fact, Penticton was recently named Canada’s Craft Beer Capital!
You’re wise to spend several days using Kelowna as your home base, especially in spring. The flowers are out and the birds are singing, so it’s a great time to visit. Plan to spend a day visiting the Kettle Valley Railway in Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, where you can enjoy biking, hiking and walking across the 18 trestles that still exist from the decommissioned railway line.
Of course, spring skiing is still an option if you’re so inclined, with Big White Resort, located just 60 kilometres east of Kelowna, a short day trip away. Other great accommodations in the Kelowna area include Okanagan RV Park, West Eagle Campground and Holiday Park RV & Condo Resort.
It’s a great time of year to visit the South Okanagan, as the fruit trees are in bloom in early April. Their heady scent permeates the air. In Penticton, you can enjoy time at a variety of different campgrounds and resorts, including Oxbow RV Resort, South Beach Gardens Campground or Barefoot Beach Resort. While in Penticton, you can enjoy all kinds of different activities and events. In fact, Visit Penticton has a great events calendar you can enjoy year round. Some favourite activities around the Penticton area include a day trip on the Kettle Valley Steam Railway in Summerland (and don’t forget to swing by Summerland Sweets while you’re in town, or to indulge the adults’ sweet tooth, consider a visit to Bottleneck Drive. You’ll have a chance to enjoy breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries, all in close proximity to each other).
As you wind your way south, golf, swimming, boating and hiking are top activities to enjoy. Outside the busy summer season, there are many places to see and things to do that are just waiting to enjoy. Book a spot at Gallagher Lake, where you’ll enjoy amazing views among the ponderosa pines any time of year. If you plan on staying in sleepy Oliver, consider booking at Lakeside Resort, a full-service year-round resort that’s budget friendly. It’s also near Nk’Mip Canyon Desert Golf Course, if you’re looking to practice your swing. Also in Oliver is Fairview Mountain golf course, which is known to be open (weather permitting, of course) 11 months of the year! While you’re in town, swing by the Oliver Visitor’s Centre, as there are events going on all year round in Canada’s Wine Capital.
Closer to the border is Osoyoos, known as Canada’s Warmest Welcome, where – if you’re not careful – you could drift across the American border, which bisects Osoyoos Lake. In town, you have a variety of options for accommodations, including Brookvale Holiday Resort and Cabana Beach Resort.
Stationed in Osoyoos also allows you to head east into Boundary Country or west to the Similkameen on day trips. Each are wonderful (consider visiting the Rock Creek Fall Fair, and don’t forget Keremeos is known as Canada’s Fruit Stand Capital) and are close enough to stay in Osoyoos, the only true desert in Canada, while exploring all the Okanagan has to offer.
For campgrounds in the Okanagan and elsewher in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.
Share your BC camping photos using hashtag #campinbc
Getting back to Nature Any Time of Year
Winter camping in the Thompson Okanagan brings family and friends together.
Camping can be enjoyed any time of year; all the smartest people know that. And, thanks to the increase in popularity over the last few years in year-round RV travel, winter camping is more popular than ever before.
The Thompson Okanagan has a variety of camping locations that are available year-round, offering amenities and services for short and long-term camping; your choices abound!
Marrying the popular skiing site of Silver Star Resort outside of Vernon is the Cedar Falls Campground. With about 30 sites available, it’s a great destination for families on a budget and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Steps from BX Falls Trail and about 30 minutes from the ski hill, Cedar Falls offers 18 fully equipped sites and 14 sites that offer power but not water. Information is available at Cedar Falls Campground.
“We have seen a real increase in our winter camping visitors,” says winter site manager Gail Sweeney. She and her husband are on site over the winter to assure that the roads are plowed, the on-site coin laundry facilities are fully stocked and the washrooms and shower facilities are sparkling.
Also in Vernon is Swan Lake RV Park and Campground. Located right on the shores of Swan Lake, nature is never far away. This quiet and family-friendly campground features coin showers and a small laundromat. There is a 20 per cent discount on daily rates for long-term campers and owners Orville and Audrey recommend reserving early for a winter spot. More information can be found at Swan Lake RV and Campground.
Heading south and located on the banks of Coldwater River just south of Merritt is Moon Shadows RV Park and Campground, where there are 25 fully serviced RV spots, 25 non-serviced RV spots and 19 tenting spots, all available year round. The fully serviced campsites have electric and Wi-Fi capabilities, as well as sewer and water hookups. There are also wheelchair accessible washrooms and bathing facilities at the administration building. Learn more at Moon Shadows RV Park & Campground.
In the South Okanagan, where it feels like winter barely kisses the land, are the communities of Penticton, Oliver and Osoyoos. Snowbirds flock to the area, as temperatures are mild and snow is rare. In fact, golfing is available almost year-round at the local golf courses.
Penticton has several year-round campgrounds, including Wright’s Beach Camp. Located on the shores of Skaha Lake, this large campground has more than 200 sites, most of which are fully serviced and offer a lake view. In the winter, there are 44 sites that offer either 30 or 50 amp service. For more information, click on Wright’s Beach Campground. In Oliver, Apple Beach RV Park is a family-owned RV park open year-round. Its sites are fully powered and large, while pets and kids are welcome. Hosts Gary and Marilyn Johnson are friendly and welcoming, and the lakeside campground is known for being quiet and tidy. More information is available at Apple Beach RV Park.
Known as Canada’s Warmest Welcome, Osoyoos changes from its bustling tourist destination in the summer to a more sedate welcome in the winter. On the shores of Osoyoos Lake is Nk’mip RV Park, which is open year-round and has fully powered sites, laundry facilities and an indoor swimming pool. There are weekly and monthly rates available. Learn more at Nk’mip RV Park.
Further west along Hwy 3 is Manning Park Resort and Skyview RV Campground. Open year-round the campground features 60 large pull-through and back-in sites in winter and all have full services with 50-amp power, water, and sewer. There is also a large modern washhouse.
For winter and year-round camping opportunities in the Thompson Okanagan and all of British Columbia go to the Camping Page.
Share your BC camping photos using hashtag #CampinBC.
Osoyoos, BC: Desert Camping in the Winter
Osoyoos is well known as a destination for summer camping, but what about in the winter?
“Canada’s desert” is located near the Washington State border in the South Okanagan. It is a beautiful desert area wrapped around Osoyoos Lake with more wineries and orchards than you can imagine. Hot, dry summers, fresh fruit and a warm swimming lake make this a popular place for tourists in the summer.
We decided to check out Osoyoos a little more closely in the winter since it is such a popular destination in the summer. It is known for often having short, dry winters and is an attractive destination for snowbirds.
The day we arrived the temperature was hovering around zero degrees Celsius with some snow on the ground. We checked in with some locals to get ideas on what to do in the winter. One recommendation was to head up to Mount Baldy Resort, a ski hill just 45 minutes from Osoyoos. It has a great tobogganing hill for kids but is also popular for their cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and downhill skiing. If you plan it right, we were told you can ski and golf on the same day. For golfing, there is the championship-level Osoyoos Golf Club plus a number of executive nine-hole courses.
For winter camping we were very impressed with the large Nk’Mip Campground and RV Park located on the east side of Osoyoos Lake. We have camped there many times in the early spring and summer both in our tent and trailer, but it is also popular in the winter, with RVs set up for the colder weather. It has over 350 sites, wireless internet, clubhouse, indoor pool and hot tub which is open in the winter months.
Just above the campground is the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre and Nk’Mip Cellars with their patio restaurant open April to October. We had a chance to enjoy their beautiful view overlooking the vineyards with the campground and lake in the distance. We learned that the winery was the first Indigenous-owned and-operated winery in North America. With an impressive selection of award winning wines, we enjoyed some wine tasting and wandered around the gift shop.
After a visit to the cellar we headed back into town to the newly renovated Sage Pub. It was a busy place, with clientele of all ages, views of the lake and lots of big screens for the sports enthusiasts. One of the recommendations we had received earlier in the day was to try their Shepherds Pie which did not disappoint my husband. Even though our waitress said they are well-known for steak and pizza, I opted for their staff favourite and delicious Mexi Skins!
We rounded out our Osoyoos trip with a visit to my favourite Home Hardware on Main Street (check out the reviews online; it is way more than a hardware store).
So put Osoyoos on your list for your next winter getaway. It is more than Canada’s hotspot in summer; it features plenty of cold season indoor and outdoor activities that cater to all levels of RVers and campers.
For campgrounds & RV Parks in Osoyoos and other communities in British Columbia check out the Camping Map.
Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc.
Published: February 26th, 2019
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