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Spring Activities & Camping Abound in British Columbia’s 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.

Wineries in the Okanagan | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

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.

Myra Canyon | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

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. Another great accommodation in the Kelowna area is 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).

Okanagan Blossoms | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

TIP: For places to camp in British Columbia, go to the Camping Map!

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.

Kettle Valley Steam Train | Thompson Okanagan Tourism

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.

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 elsewhere in British Columbia go to 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.

Skiers on the chairlift at Sun Peaks Resort. Photo Credit Destination BC/Ryan Creary
Skiers on the chairlift at Sun Peaks Resort. Photo Credit Destination BC/Ryan Creary

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.

A couple sampling wine at Poplar Grove Winery. Photo Credit Destination BC/Kari Medig
A couple sampling wine at Poplar Grove Winery. Photo Credit Destination BC/Kari Medig

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.

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.

SilverStar Mountain Resort. Photo Credit Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson
SilverStar Mountain Resort. Photo Credit Destination BC/Blake Jorgenson

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.

Trestle 11 and 12 on the Myra Canyon in Winter. Photo Credit Monashee Adventure Tours
Trestle 11 and 12 on the Myra Canyon in Winter. Photo Credit Monashee Adventure Tours

5. Snowshoe the Myra Canyon Trestles

Rent a pair of snowshoes this winter and explore the historic Kettle Valley Rail Trail. At Myra Canyon there are over 18 trestles and 2 tunnels to explore.

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/

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For places to camp in BC this winter check out winter camping opportunities.

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Snowbirds! Explore the Communities South of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

Two trips to take on bright sunny days this winter that will provide a flavour of the local communities and regions south of Vancouver – Richmond and Delta as well as White Rock and Langley.

Our first trip starts in Richmond then heads south to the Village of Steveston, across to Delta and the Village of Ladner. There are some lovely and decent country roads you can take to these destinations but as it’s winter we will let you decide which way to get there. (Check out the Google Map in our drive: Explore the Communities of South Vancouver and the Fraser Valley).

Gulf of Georgia Cannery
Gulf of Georgia Cannery | Photo: Kim Walker
  • A historic landmark, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery situated in the Village of Steveston in Richmond has interactive and fascinating displays showcasing the machinery, tools and life in the West Coast fishing industry over a century ago. For the month of December the Cannery also hosts the Festival of Trees, decorated and sparkling for the holiday season.
  • For close to six weeks leading up to December 31 Steveston lights up and celebrates the festive season in style. Entertainment, food and fun provide a great way to spend a few hours alongside the waterfront. For more info: Steveston’s Winter in the Village
  • More interactive displays highlight what life was like in the early days of Steveston Village at the Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site.
Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC
Reifel Bird Sanctuary, Delta BC
  • If you enjoy watching birds in their habitat the Reifel Bird Sanctuary in Delta is a must on your list. It is home to thousands of snow geese that over-winter and many species live here year-round. Hundreds of acres of wetlands are criss-crossed by trails and quiet places to observe the birds.
  • Located in Delta is the Historic Village of Ladner. The original village is very small but offers some fun opportunities to poke around coffee spots and unique shops, fashion and gift boutiques, home décor, crafts and even a seed shop that yes, while it is a garden shop, also has interesting gifts.

Our second trip starts in White Rock. White Rock is a seaside community south of Surrey and Langley, its eastern neighbour, offers a country experience. Several golf courses are here and are open throughout the year when weather permits. This region is dotted with wineries, cideries, gardens, fruit and dairy farms open to the public, and even a turkey farm with a bistro.

Campbell Valley Regional Park, Langley, BC
Campbell Valley Regional Park, Langley, BC
  • A short distance east of White Rock, following 8th Avenue, will bring you to Campbell Valley Regional Park. This is a significant park with many kilometres of hiking, biking and horse trails. If you want to get out and stretch your legs this is a good place to visit.
  • Chaberton Estate Winery located on 216 Street is just around the corner from Campbell Valley Park. It is a well-known award-winning winery offering a variety of red and white wines. Sample some of these wines in the tasting room followed by a delightful lunch in the Bacchus Bistro which offers up an authentic French menu.
  • Up for some more wine tasting? A short distance further east on 232 Street is Backyard Vineyards. They produce award-winning bold reds and bubblies that will tingle on the palate.
  • When was the last time you went to a drive-in theatre? You can relive those days for a nostalgic evening by visiting the Twilight Drive In Theatre.  Showings and times are all on their website.
Fort Langley National Historic Site | Photo: Kim Walker
Fort Langley National Historic Site | Photo: Kim Walker
  • Fort Langley National Historic Site provides a glimpse into history when the Hudson Bay Company established a small post here to trade furs with the First Nations. Explore the various historic buildings and watch live demonstrations by costumed storytellers that showcase what life was like here in the 1800s. A short walk from here is the community of Fort Langley which is known for its unique antique shops, eateries and gift boutiques.
  • How about taking in a hockey game? The Vancouver Giants are Vancouver’s major junior hockey team and play in the Western Hockey League out of the Langley Events Centre. Giants’ games are an affordable alternative to the Vancouver Canucks, and you never know, you may be watching the next Wayne Gretzky!

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For other drives from Vancouver check out:

Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7
Vancouver to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway
Explore the Communities South of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley

For RV parks and other camping accommodations check out the Winter Camping Map.

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

Osoyoos & Oliver, in the Okanagan, British Columbia – Offers Plenty To Do in the Summer

Osoyoos Oxbows

Osoyoos Oxbows

For a unique British Columbia experience, head to Canada’s only true desert destination: Osoyoos. Located at the southern end of the Okanagan Valley, Osoyoos averages over 2,039 hours of sunshine every year and temperatures regularly hit the upper 30s in July and August. Fruit and wine abound, making Osoyoos an ideal summertime vacation destination.

To maximize your time in Osoyoos, it is important to take the temperatures into consideration. Start your day early at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre to learn about the unique ecosystem that makes up the traditional territory of the Osoyoos Indian Band. After taking in the indoor exhibits, head outside (bring water and sunscreen!) and wander through over two kilometres of maintained trails complete with interpretive displays featuring everything from local flora and fauna to a reconstruction of a traditional village. Take the time to complete the upper portion of the loop through the hillside of wild sage and antelope brush – the views are spectacular.

If the heat during your walk at the Cultural Centre gets too much for you to bear, head to Osoyoos Lake which is known for being the warmest freshwater lake in Canada. Sẁiẁs (Haynes Point) Provincial Park is the perfect place to unroll your beach towel for a swim or simply to nap in the sunshine. If walking is more your speed, the park is also home to a lush wetland habitat and an interpretive trail through the marsh will delight birdwatchers of all ages.

Haynes Point Wetland

Haynes Point Wetland

Once you have soaked up the sunshine at the beach, head for town and stop for some of the Okanagan’s best gelato at Roberto’s Gelato. Recommended flavours include Okanagan Apricot, Kulfi (Pistachio & Cardamom), Mango, and Chocolate Hazelnut.

In the afternoon, visit the Rattlesnake Canyon, a mining town themed amusement park complete with mini golf, go-karts, a rock-climbing wall, bumper boat, and the Tornado swing chair, which provides a great elevated view of Osoyoos.

If you are still seeking activity as the day goes on, consider heading to the Osoyoos Oxbows – a unique wetland ecosystem formed in the 1950s when the Okanagan River was straightened. Read about the Oxbows at the outdoor kiosk, and then meander along the trail listening for sounds of diverse migratory and resident birds. If you are really ambitious, bring your bicycle and cycle the 18-kilometre International Bike and Hike Trail heading north which runs parallel to the Okanagan River channel.

Oliver Winery

Oliver Winery

A 20 minute drive north is the town of Oliver. Described as the “Wine Capital of Canada” thanks to the more than 35 wineries that surround the town, Oliver is known for it’s abundant orchards, spectacular vineyards, and arid climate.

It is hard to speak about Oliver without speaking about wine. I am always particularly taken with wineries with unique attributes, and a few of my favourites are definitely in Oliver. Platinum Bench Estate Winery & Artisan Bread Co. forever has a place in my heart thanks to their pairing of great wine with amazing artisan bread baked on site. For me it is a toss up between their Gorgonzola & Fig and Double Cream Brie & Pear varieties. Delicious.

Kismet Winery, Oliver

Kismet Winery, Oliver

If a laid back lunch is what you are after, without a doubt you need to visit the Masala Bistro at the Kismet Estate Winery. The location is convenient and the patio, from which you can sample very, very good Indian food, offers gorgeous views over the vineyards. I have to admit, when I was at Kismet there was a long line at the tasting bar so I skipped that part entirely and headed straight for the most perfect samosas I have ever tasted. The wine will have to wait for my next visit, I suppose!

If you have some time to spend in Oliver and you love the outdoors, a hike up McIntyre Bluff does not go amiss. Leaving from Covert Farms – a 650-acre organic farm and vineyard on a plateau north of Oliver – the McIntyre Bluff trail departs right from the wine shop. Parking is well marked and there is a trail log you can sign before you leave. The route heads through the Covert Farms property before starting uphill. The trail has a mostly gradual elevation gain over the next 2.5 kilometres, at which point you arrive at Rattlesnake Lake.

After Rattlesnake Lake, the trail first descends and then ascends more rapidly over the next few kilometres. Eventually the trail levels out and there is a short ridge walk before the view opens up and you are left breathless not from the climb but from the scenery. From the summit, views stretch south over Covert Farms, Oliver, and beyond. To the east, the cliff edge plummets over 850 feet to the valley bottom below. To the north, Vaseux Lake gleams. The entire trip took us about 3.5 hours and is perfectly rounded out with a stop at Covert Farms for wine tasting, a charcuterie board featuring farm-fresh products, and a wander around the property. With a little planning, and plenty of water and sunscreen as the trail is mostly exposed, McIntyre Bluff makes the perfect adventurous addition to any Oliver vacation.

Osoyoos and Oliver are the perfect places to kick back and relax in the sunshine for a couple of days while still offering a variety of activities that will be sure to keep the whole family entertained.

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For places to camp in the South Okanagan and elsewhere in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.

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Plan a Camping Trip to British Columbia’s Similkameen Valley

BC Parks reservations can be tricky to come by for a summer weekend, so when we snagged a last minute reservation for Stemwinder Provincial Park in BC’s Similkameen Valley we were excited to get out and try a new campsite.

Previously we have camped at nearby Bromley Rock Provincial Park (see our blog) so we had an idea of what the area would be like. The campsite at Stemwinder consists of 28 vehicle accessible campsites sandwiched between Highway 3 and the Similkameen River. The campground is generally laid out on two levels, the top level is right beside the highway and the sites are fairly open. The lower level, beside the river, is more treed. Our site was located right on the corner where you drive from the upper bench to the lower bench, so while it was surrounded on three sides by the campground road it still managed to be decently private since we really only had one neighbour.

Stemwinder Provincial Park | Kim Walker

The campsite at Stemwinder has pit toilets and one hand pump (on the lower level) for water. There are two short trails leading from near campsites 12 and 13 to access the river. Caution is advised, though, as Poison Ivy lurks just off the established trail! When we visited it was still quite early in the season and the Similkameen River was high. Later in the season the water would be lower and exploring the shoreline would be an option, although BC Parks cautions that the river runs fast and excellent swimming skills are required for anyone venturing into the water at this location. For a more relaxing swimming destination, head to Bromley Rock.

Riverside in Stemwinder Provincial Park | Kim Walker

Stemwinder Provincial Park makes an excellent location to use as a base to explore the surrounding area. On our trip, we spent our first day visiting nearby Keremeos. Keremeos offers a huge selection of orchards and vineyards. Pick up a winery and cidery passport at your first stop of the day, and then visit a total of either three or five locations in order to be entered to win a Similkameen Wine Lovers Package. On our visit we focused on the Similkameen cideries and had a great time visiting each location and sampling their offerings.

Our Campsite | Kim Walker

There are plenty of opportunities to travel back in time in Keremeos. The Red Bridge, originally built in 1907 as a railway bridge, is one of the only covered bridges left on the west coast. Keremeos Grist Mill and Gardens is a provincial heritage site home to a functional water wheel from 1877. The site offers workshops, a restaurant, heritage gardens, an RV campground, and lots more.

Keremeos Grist Mill, Picture BC
Keremeos Grist Mill | Picture BC

Before heading back to our campsite, we made sure to pop in at some of the many fruit stands in Keremeos.  Fresh fruit and samosas were on the menu for us and both were delightful!

Hammocking in Stemwinder Provincial Park | Kim Walker

Stemwinder Provincial Park is a great weekend or stopover destination when travelling through the Similkameen region. There is a lot to experience, whether you prefer sampling from vineyards and orchards, exploring a heritage site, or getting out for a hike such as the one at nearby French Mine (see blog).

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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 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.

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 (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.

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. Click here for a winter dining guide courtesy of Penticton Visitor Centre.

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/

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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/

Osoyoos, BC: Desert Camping in the Winter

Osoyoos is well known as a destination for summer camping, but what about in the winter?

Nk'Mip Cellars Vines in Winter
Nk’Mip Cellars Vines in 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.

Nk'Mip Campground and RV Park
Nk’Mip Campground and RV Park

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.

Nk'Mip Cellars
Nk’Mip Cellars

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.

Lunch at the Sage Pub
Lunch at the Sage Pub

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).

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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.

Fun Family Camping Trip to the Okanagan, British Columbia

Skaha Lake, Penticton
Skaha Lake, Penticton

It doesn’t feel like summer until we visit Penticton, the interior of BC where it’s always warmer and where fruit orchards and wineries make for a picturesque summer photo. With our trailer in tow, the average five-hour commute allows us to enjoy the beautiful lush scenery and mountain peak tops until we arrive at Southbeach Gardens RV & Campground, where we have become regulars.  Often times the kids will have their tablets and headphones ready for the road-trip, along with pillows and blankets next to them just in case they feel like taking a nap.  We would pack fresh fruits, lots of water and some salty snacks to avoid having to make unnecessary stops if someone gets hungry.

Southbeach Gardens RV Park & Campground
Southbeach Gardens RV Park & Campground

Upon arriving and checking-in, unpacking and settling at our camping spot becomes the next item on our to do list.  We keep coming back to this campsite because it’s conveniently located across the Skaha Lake, offering over 250 RV and tent spacious camping spots and lots of greenery to keep cool during the hot summer days. The kids playground, arcade and the mini golf is where the kids like to spend most of their time.  For us, being able to grab the beach towels and walk across the street for a swim in the lake saves us time and makes it that much more enjoyable. Renting equipment for various water sports such as paddle boards, jet-skis and kayaks is also available at the beach.

This year we could not have asked for better weather, with temperatures tempering between high twenties and mid thirties, it was beach weather everyday.  And since we booked two weeks in August, I made a list of all the places I wanted to visit and make the most of our time spent here.

Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm
Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm

One of the first places we visited was the Okanagan Lavender Herb Farm.  Situated on the hills of South Kelowna overlooking the Okanagan Lake, it is the perfect spot for an afternoon stroll or catching the last sun rays before the sun sets.  And if you are a lavender enthusiast like I am, then you will cherish the free sample of edible ‘pure lavender and lemon balm’ that you receive upon your entrance into the garden.  Beside the beautiful blooming lavender buds, we really enjoyed walking through the hedge maze and writing wishes on the wishing tree; where you write your wish on a long plastic strip and tie it to the round iron structure amid all the purple plants.

H2O Adventure Fitness Centre
H2O Adventure Fitness Centre

On one of the ‘cooler’ days, we felt like leaving the beach scene and checking out the H2O Adventure and Fitness Centre where the Surf Simulator is all the hype.  A fifteen-minute drive from Kelowna Downtown, the centre features three waterslides, a wave-pool, lazy river, a spray park and play area for the little ones, as well as two hot-tubs and an Olympic size pool.  Of course, most of our time was spent at the Surf Simulator, where the kids got to practice their surfing moves, either standing up or on their knees for the less advanced.

Kalamalka Lake
Kalamalka Lake

With our friends from Kelowna, we visited the Kalamalka Lake.  A glacial lake four kilometers south of Vernon, particularly known for its turquoise blue water due to crystals forming in the hot summer days that result in distinctive blue and green color.  The sandy Kal Beach roughly stretches 300m in length and 50m in width, includes a pier, and is a popular destination for swimming, picnicking and beach volleyball.  A concession stand is open during the summer months, and parking is conveniently located across the beach.

The entire Okanagan valley consists of many activities to do and places to visit, such as elegant wineries that display their ripe grapes in structured rows overlooking lakes; where wine tours are available at most wineries during the weekdays.  Other events such as various festivals and farmer’s markets are active on the weekends, where one can find sweet cream peaches among other local fruits.  U-pick is also available at most fruit orchards if you have the time and want the freshest pick.

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Published: October 21st, 2016

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