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.
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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It’s always a great day to #CampinBC
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 over 60 different placemarks of ‘must see places’ and is growing.
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.
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It’s always a great day to #campinbc
RVing in British Columbia This Winter? Here’s Some Camping Trip Prep
Winter RVing in British Columbia is something that all RVers and campers should experience. Imagine waking to a wonderland of snow outside while being warm and cozy inside. After breakfast strap on the snowshoes, hit that favourite ski hill or cross-country trail, head to a beach for a magical shoreline hike or catch dinner while you ice fish on a frozen lake.
All revved up and don’t know where to go this winter? The Camping and RVing BC Coalition has a Web page which lists over 150 campgrounds and RV parks in the province that are open for business in the winter.
But before you set off, winter camping comes with its own unique challenges and safety considerations, so you’ll need to prepare the RV for various conditions before embarking on a trip. Below is some helpful advice to make your winter RV trip a more carefree one.
One of the biggest mistakes that you can make in winter is connecting the regular water hose to the campground supply and having it freeze overnight. Consider buying a heated water hose to prevent freeze-ups or bursting. And always keep hoses and cables off the ground or out of the snow.
Another option is to fill your fresh-water tank and then disconnect your hose. Often the water tank is located inside the RV and, as long as the unit is heated, the water in the tank should not freeze.
Do not assume that because your RV is heated that water lines running through it will not freeze. Any semi-exposed line can freeze! (Examples are in compartments behind hatches that are not insulated.) Verify the temperature the water heater is rated to operate down to.
Tip: Use a hairdryer to thaw frozen pipes.
Always make sure your black and grey water tanks are empty before your trip. Add one litre of RV potable antifreeze to each tank to protect the dump valves from freezing. Insulate the pipes draining into the tanks with foam pipe insulation.
Always keep your black water valve closed and only dump when full or when you’re ready to leave. This will help prevent ice from forming.
If you must keep your sewer hose connected at all times, be sure it is placed and supported at a steep angle so all residue runs down.
Tip: Wrap the sewer hose in insulation or heat tape to prevent ice from forming inside the pipe.
Warmth, Insulation & Condensation
Feel for any drafts and, where possible, insulate and/or seal the areas. Check window seals and re-caulk where needed. For drafty walls and floors add foam insulation panels or foam board flooring.
Examine the weather stripping on all exterior doors, slide-outs and access hatches and cover the AC unit. Insulate and re-seal accordingly. Most RVs have roof vents or skylights, which are ideal places for heat to leak out (these usually have exterior covers to prevent rain and snow from getting in). Seal these off by inserting an RV vent cushion or make your own with insulation and a moisture-proof fabric.
Saying this, one consequence of a well-sealed RV is condensation which builds up from internal heat and moisture, therefore keeping at least one vent about 2.5 cm open will allow for some ventilation.
Tip: Change any indoor curtains to a heavier or insulating fabric to block cold air. Add a moisture-resistant rug or carpet to the floor for the winter trip.
Tip: Insulate the gap behind light fixtures and electrical outlets.
Test the furnace and use compressed air or a brush to remove dust, debris, insects or spider webs. For those not using a furnace a portable ceramic or electric space heater is another option to stay warm, but make sure to open a window or vent, especially when heating with propane. For milder nights a heated blanket may suffice, just make sure it has the automatic switch-off function.
If you use propane to heat your RV it’s likely to last only a few days in really cold weather. For longer stays consider getting a 100 lb propane tank to supplement the regular tanks. Insulate the outside propane regulator from freezing conditions such as excessive wind chills.
If you plan to be situated for a while place wooden blocks underneath any stabilizing jacks to prevent ice formation and invest in an RV skirting (they generally snap on) to avoid cold air and wind from getting up and into the underbelly of the unit.
Tip: Use an electric dehumidifier; alternatively, a container of moisture absorbent will help to remove dampness from the air and help prevent corrosion, mold and mildew.
- Park your RV in the sun whenever possible. You’ll be amazed at how much a good winter sun can heat up your RV.
- Park your RV on support boards. These boards will prevent your RV tires from ‘sinking’ if the ground thaws.
- Pack winter bed quilts/sleeping bags and enough winter clothing to last a few days in the event of furnace or electrical failure.
- Make sure that the heat tape you buy can be crossed over itself, as this will provide the most efficient seal.
- Periodically start the engine to keep everything in good running order.
Additional resources for RVing in winter:
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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.
Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #CampinBC
It’s always a great day to #CampinBC
Snowbirds! Spending Your Winter in the Vancouver Area? Check Out These Side Trips
If you are spending the winter in the Metro Vancouver area there are many excellent attractions to keep you busy. Some of these include Granville Island, Science World, Planetarium Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery and neighbourhoods such as cool Kitsilano and colourful Chinatown. There are also numerous festivals and events, especially around the Christmas season, as well as Chinese New Year celebrations in February and the Dine Out Vancouver Festival that takes place early in the year.
Saying this, with your RV or vehicle at hand, you may want to explore other options and see what nearby communities have to offer. Below are three suggested itineraries, each with various activities to choose from.
This blog takes you from Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs. For the other suggested itineraries click on the links above.
Vancouver to Harrison Hot Springs via the Scenic Hwy 7
Heading east from Vancouver through the Fraser Valley via scenic Highway 7 to Harrison Hot Springs, cityscapes soon open up into country with stunning views over fields and mountains.
- Between Mission and Harrison Hot Springs you may spot bald eagles in the area. The Fraser Valley Bald Eagle Festival takes place in mid-November when they come to feast on the spawning salmon, but there are eagles around from October to February. Viewing can be had at various locations including Kilby Provincial Park and along the rich ecosystem of Nicomen Slough on Highway 7 east of Mission from Dewdney to Deroche.
- Shortly past the Sasquatch Mountain turnoff you will come to the sign to Kilby Historic Site in Harrison Mills, a living museum of rural history. This historic museum houses a fascinating display of artifacts from the 1920s and ‘30s, a post office and the Manchester House Hotel; it’s decorated for Christmas too!
- Back on the road and still heading east you will come to a stop light that directs you to turn right to continue on Highway 7; however, go straight on towards Harrison Hot Springs on Highway 9 north. It’s only a short distance away. This resort is very popular in the summer as visitors soak up the small-town ambience, relax on the beach or enjoy the lake. In the winter it is much quieter; enjoy a walk along the waterfront and stop for a hot chocolate or bowl of soup or take a relaxing dip in the hot springs at Harrison’s Public Pool. The hot mineral waters are pumped into the pool from one of the hot springs and cooled to 38°C (100°F). If you are there around the Christmas season, you will be able to experience the twinkling Lights by the Lake, which runs from the end of November to January.
- Returning from Harrison Hot Springs via the same route visit Golden Ears Cheesecrafters on 128th Ave. in Maple Ridge where they make their own farm cheeses, offer country kitchen lunches and locally made items. Their cheeses are so popular they are incorporated in menus at many of Vancouver’s premier restaurants.
- Not far away is Hopcott Farms. This family butcher offers sustainable meats and other local produce, and you can enjoy a snack or lunch in their bistro.
- Head to the 1.1 km loop trail at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam to stretch your legs and enjoy the stunning Lights at Lafarge, the largest free holiday lights display in the Vancouver area (open throughout December and into early January). If you need to polish up on your golf Eaglequest Golf Course is open year-round (weather permitting).
- Finally, if you are here in December and haven’t experienced the CP Holiday Train, this is the time. The train leaves Montreal at the end of November and completes its journey in Port Coquitlam just before Christmas to raise awareness of hunger, collecting food donations along the route. It features entertainment and is adorned with Christmas lights and stops at Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody and Port Coquitlam – all close to Highway 7.
This is just a sampling of things to see and do east of Vancouver. For more ideas and to read our trips from Vancouver to Whistler and South of Vancouver, check out Winter Things to Do.
For RV parks and other camping accommodations check out the Winter Camping Map.
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Exploring History in New Denver, British Columbia
Not only is B.C. wild and beautiful, it’s rich in history too. Last summer we took a road trip through the Kootenay Rockies region, hoping to get a taste of some of the wildest camping Canada has to offer.
Just 13 kilometers east of New Denver lies Sandon. The town is lovingly preserved by its residents––which you can pretty much count on one hand!
A good place to start your tour is The Prospector’s Pick which functions as the Visitor’s Centre and Gift Shop. With any luck you’ll get to meet Vida Turok, a Sandon resident, while taking a look at the memorabilia and vintage collectibles. Vida is warm and friendly, and will tell you all about the town of Sandon. Those of you with a heart for adventure will connect with her adventurous spirit. She moved to Sandon after falling in love with the town while on a 100 days hike through B.C.
After picking up some ice-cream, or a hot coffee, take a look at the Brill Trolley Interpretive Display. These vintage buses from cities like Vancouver, Calgary, and Saskatoon found a permanent home at Sandon when they proved popular with visitors. Now you can tour the inside of Trolley #2201 during season.
As you continue down the path and up the hill you’ll see Sandon’s crown jewel, the Silversmith Power & Light Generating Station. It’s been operating since 1897, and today still runs 24 hours a day, providing green energy for Sandon and New Denver. Impressively, all of the machinery is original and it’s family-owned and operated.
At its height as a booming silver town, Sandon, was a state-of-the-art city with a population of 5,000. It was the first town in B.C. with the capability to provide electric power to every citizen. Today this hydroelectric power station is the first utility in B.C. to receive federal green hydroelectric certification.
You can round out your tour with a look at the Steam Locomotive and a visit to the Museum. The museum is the only attraction that is not free at $5 admission.
Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre
During its decline, Sandon served as a Japanese Canadian Internment Camp during WWII. We learned more about this period in history at New Denver’s Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre.
There is an admission fee of $9 per adult to tour this National Historic Site. In fact, it’s the only site in all of Canada where you can learn about this part of WWII history.
In 1942, 22,000 Japanese-Canadian citizens were forced from their homes along the coast of B.C. and relocated to internment camps. As you tour this National Historic Site you are actually walking through what once was The Orchard internment camp.
You can get a sense of what life was like under those conditions walking through the 14’ x 28’ shack that usually housed 2 families. One side shows you the conditions the Japanese families would have found it in, while the other side shows you what it looked like once it was inhabited.
As you exit the different halls holding artifacts, you’ll walk through the beautiful Peace Garden.
We love experiencing history on our travels, and in the New Denver area we found what almost feels like a forgotten history to explore. And, though sad, it was interesting to find a connection between Sandon and the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre in New Denver.
Planning Your Perfect Itinerary
You can enjoy some epic camping and the historic sites above over a weekend. You can explore Sandon in the morning and New Denver in the afternoon on one day. And enjoy hiking and relaxing at your campsite on day 2. Depending on where you’re traveling from, you can also make this part of a larger BC road trip, adding in stops in Nelson, Revelstoke, and hot springs around the area.
When to Go: Between Victoria Day and Thanksgiving (Canadian Thanksgiving is the 2nd Monday in October).
Visiting between these dates gives you access to all there is to do at Sandon and some of the best hiking weather. However, winter camping is definitely a thing in B.C., and some of Sandon is open and/or available by appointment in the winter.
Where to Stay: Be sure to check out Camping & RV in BC’s Campground Map here. We typed in New Denver and set the search radius to 50km to really get a full picture of what’s around. We chose to stay about 30 minutes from New Denver. Our favorites were Summit Lake Provincial Park and we completely fell in love with serene, waterfront Box Lake Recreation Site both near Nakusp.
Road Trip Time: For those of you making your way from Spokane or Kelowna, you’re roughly 4 hours to adventure and history. Heading in from Calgary? Plan on about 6 hours of drive time. Friends in Vancouver and Seattle, you’re about an 8-hour drive away. Note: During 2020 the border is closed to travel between the United States and Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If this area interests you, check out our drive:
Mountains, Lakes & Rivers in the West Kootenays and Boundary Country
For campgrounds in the Nakusp. New Denver and Sandon areas as well as elsewhere throughout British Columbia go to the Camping Map.
Share your BC camping and travel pictures using hashtags #campinbc, #explorebc and #BCNice.
RV Snowbirding at Oliver in BC’s Okanagan
Oliver, BC is well known as the “Wine Capital of Canada” and home to more than 40 wineries! However, it is not just a place to go wine tasting in the summer; it is extremely popular for snowbirds and those wanting a little winter adventure.
Not long ago we checked out winter camping in Osoyoos; this time we headed a little further north to see what Oliver has to offer. We visited three parks full of RVs all looking very cozy and well set up for the cooler weather. Since our visit others have opened up to cater to snowbirds such as The Lakeside Resort in Oliver.
Yes, Oliver gets cold and has some snow but overall it is pretty mild with most days in January and February around 0 degrees Celsius and snow that usually only sticks around for a few days. Its population is 4,800 with a median age of 56; this means there are many services for seniors including a hospital, recreation centre, ski hill, two golf courses, and theatre.
On this trip, we checked out three local campsites all open year-round and welcoming snowbirds. First stop were two RV parks on Tuc-el-nuit Lake, located in the town of Oliver, but we can now add The Lakeside Resort who have recently renovated their RV sites to accommodate winter stays.
Right on the shores of Tuc-el-nuit Lake, Apple Beach RV Park has large sites under beautiful willow trees and a lovely grassed beach area. It is family operated, pet friendly, and welcomes “big rigs”. Also on the lake is Desert Lake RV Resort with 40 sites in total including 11 right next to the water. This resort offers daily, monthly, and annual rates. The Lakeside Resort also boasts a lakefront location, is the closest to the town center and offers 50 amp services.
A little further north (about 10-15 minutes) of Oliver is Gallagher Lake Camping & RV Resort. We just love the beach at Gallagher, lots of families and activities during the summer months and so peaceful in the winter. Some sites are pet friendly, there are WiFi hotspots, and nightly, weekend, and weekly rates for all seasons. If you are not a camper, check out their cute little camping cabins nestled amongst the big trees. The cabin rates are slightly more expensive.
While we were in the area, we decided to explore some winter activities. We headed to Vaseux Lake which is located north of Oliver before you reach Okanagan Falls. The word “vaseux” is French for muddy or murky which describes the silty water. If you make it here during the warmer months, watch for lots of bass fishermen, the big horn sheep and mountain goats, as well as a large variety of birds in the area known as the Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area. If you are bird watcher, you may want to visit the trails that allow access to the Vaseux Lake Migratory Bird Sanctuary.
Since the lake was well-frozen, we decided to clear off a patch of ice and spend some time skating. Sometimes the lake is clear of snow and you can skate forever, ice fish, or maybe catch a glimpse of sail boats on skates! And If you are looking for good hiking in the area with stunning views in the cool or warm weather, check out nearby McIntyre Bluff which overlooks the lake. It is accessible through the neighbouring Covert Farms tourist trail.
When it was time to get warmed up, we headed to Big Al’s Bakery & Deli on Main Street in Oliver. Check out their yummy baked goods; you won’t be leaving empty-handed!
To sum up, Oliver caters to all ages, and in winter they have a special welcome to snowbirds. It has a beautiful, natural charm which appeals to locals and visitors year-round.
For winter camping opportunities in British Columbia as well as year-round camping go to Camping & RV in British Columbia.
Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc
Five Spots to Ice Fish and Camp this Winter in British Columbia
Ice-fishing is often overlooked as a winter activity, especially if you live in southern B.C. But fishing doesn’t stop when the temperatures drop – it only gets more exciting. Ice-fishing is a very social activity that requires only a limited amount of gear or experience. When solidly frozen, an entire lake becomes accessible without the need of a boat, and you don’t need the often-complicated casting techniques required in other fisheries. It’s as simple as drilling a hole, and dropping a line.
It is important to exercise caution, however. Always make sure the ice is thick enough to ensure a safe trip. Before you walk out onto ice, it needs to be at least 10 centimetres (four inches) thick if you are fishing alone, and at least 38 centimetres (15 inches) thick before you drive your truck onto it. Remember that a freshwater fishing licence is still required for ice-fishing, and that you should check the regulations for any closures or restrictions.
With these points in mind, along with some basic gear, you can be set for some fun times on the ice this winter. And the good news is, with many parks open year ’round that are close to great hardwater lakes, you can make a wintertime camping trip out of it.
Here are our top five spots, with recreational vehicle or camping spots close by, to try ice-fishing this winter:
Alleyne Lake (near Merritt)
Kokanee provide an exciting winter fishery in this lake. The trick is finding schools of fish. Using a fishfinder is your best bet, but if you don’t have one, start at the bottom and work your way up through the water column until you find a school.
Note: The neighbouring lake, Kentucky SE Pothole, located 50 metres east of Kentucky Lake, is closed to ice-fishing.
Camping: Check out the Winter Camping Map for campgrounds open year-round in the Merritt and surrounding area.
Swan Lake (near Vernon)
This is a great spot to fish in the winter, although you should exercise extreme caution to ensure the lake is entirely frozen before venturing out. Swan Lake is located only moments away from Vernon’s downtown centre. As you can catch rainbow trout weighing up to a kilogram (about two pounds) in size, make sure to bore your holes with an ice auger that is at least 15 centimetres (six inches) in diameter. Since fish are more lethargic in the winter, bites can be fairly light, and using a fishing bobber can help you detect when a trout is softly nibbling your bait.
Camping: Check out the Winter Camping Map for campgrounds open year-round in the Vernon and surrounding area.
Edith Lake (Kamloops)
Target both brook char and rainbow trout in Edith Lake. For brook char, try fishing with mealworms close to the shoreline. The water is clear in the shallows, and since a brookie’s bite can be very light, by laying down and looking into your hole through the ice, you will be able to see when a brookie has taken your bait and is on your line. Move out to a spot over a little deeper water, and use a big attractor spoon, followed by a hook and worm on a short leader, to try your luck for rainbow trout.
Camping: Check out the Winter Camping Map for campgrounds open year-round in the Kamloops and surrounding area.
Ness Lake (Prince George)
Ness Lake is currently stocked with both kokanee and rainbow trout. However, brook char are also present in the lake, which presents many different fishing options for the hardwater angler. Ice-fishing gear and an auger can be borrowed for free for up to a week from the Prince George Visitor Centre.
Camping: Check out the Winter Camping Map for campgrounds open year-round in the Prince George and surrounding area.
Whiteswan Lake (Canal Flats)
If Lussier Hot Springs weren’t reason enough to try ice-fishing at Whiteswan Lake, the quality of the rainbow trout in this lake is. Since the East Kootenays can be very cold, make sure you pack along appropriate warm clothing. You may want to think about getting an ice shelter.
Camping: Check out the Winter Camping Map for campgrounds open year-round in this area.
Check out winter camping in British Columbia for over 150 provincial parks and private campgrounds that are open year round.
Share your winter BC camping & fishing photos using hashtag #campinbc.
It’s always a great day to #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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