The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and we just aired our Spring Forecast at the Weather Network. This can only mean one thing, summer is right around the corner.
I know for many people this has been a long, hard, and dark winter and while the rules and regulations for the summer are still uncertain, there has been a lot of initial whispers that it will be similar to last summer. In B.C. last summer a six person bubble was acceptable and you were allowed to travel inter provincially.
Now, I am by no means saying go ahead and book that getaway until we know exactly what the summer will look like, but if we are allowed to explore some of B.C. I wanted to share some of my favourite trips with you.
I have always been a big fan of the Okanagan (wine country hellllllooooo) but last summer for work I was able to discover a lot more than just delicious Okanagan wine. Think of Tuscany, but just 5ish hours outside of Vancouver. Rolling hills, mountains, and yes rows of green and purple grapes. It is an amazing place to explore, and one great aspect of this road trip: along the way there you travel through the ‘Electric Highway’ where there are hundreds of electric vehicle charing stations so it can be a great getaway that is also not hurting the environment.
I wanted to share some of my favourite places to stop and enjoy along the way.
Stop 1: Osoyoos
Osoyoos is the southern most town in the Okanagan Valley. The origin of the name comes from “soo-yoos” meaning “narrow waters”. Here you will find a dramatic desert like landscape with sweeping valleys and deep brown mountains.
Things to do
My first stop in Osoyoos was to the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre where I had a tour of the state of the art interpretive centre. The tour took his to the edge of the hill side, stopping to marvel at the sage and deer brush (which is endangered). My amazing guide Jenna taught me all about how the Osoyoos Indian Band use the land here. Different trees are used for tools and clothes, different leaves are used for food and herbs. It was truly amazing to learn about the connection to wildlife first hand. While I am petrified of snakes, this area is also home to B.C.’s endangered rattlesnakes and they do a lot of studying and rehabilitation at the centre.
Once the tour was done I made my way over to the Nk’Mip Cellars. This is actually the first Indigenous owned winery in North America. It was amazing to hear about the history and the story behind the award winning wine. I had a chance to sip some of the wines while overlooking the beautiful Osoyoos Lake.
Stop #2 Vernon
After exploring Osoyoos, I hoped back on Highway 97 heading north towards Vernon. Vernon is well known for hiking and biking trails that curve around colourful lakes and sandy beaches. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Things to do
Before making it to my hotel I made a quick stop at Davison Orchards. I have never seen an orchard so big. They had endless rows of all different types of apples and other fruits. I had a chance to try their famous “Appleanche” Slush. It was sweet and refreshing on a hot day.
Next I rented a bike from Kalavida Surf Shop and decided to explore some of the famous Rail Trail. The Rail Trail is a bike path that goes all the way from Vernon to Kelowna passing through beautiful rock faces and gorgeous lakes. At the start of the trail you bike along Kalmalka Lake. This 16 km lake is famous for its blue-green waters (it is one of a small handful of marl lakes in Canada). You could actually see the different tones as you traveled along the side of the lake. I just wish I had brought my bathing suit because there were some sandy beaches just off the trail.
Stop #3 Kamloops
After riding the bike it was back to the car for the third and final stop of the trip. I had only ever been to Kamloops once before and that was to cover a wildfire in the area, so I was excited to discover a different side of this city.
Kamloops is pretty unique because it is located in the middle of two branches of the Thompson River. What I didn’t know though is it is also home to amazing mountains and breathtaking hikes.
Things to do
I had a chance to meet with local guide Frank Ritchie, who first took me to a beautiful lookout point to see where the two parts of the river meet. After that we made our way to the Thompson Grasslands Provincial Park. Here we did a moderate hike up Lac Du Bois to see some incredible hoodoo formations as well as columnar basalts (aka lava flows). We even saw mountain goats in the distance. After taking some pictures of the incredible hoodoos, we then made our way over to the Garden of the Trolls. An easy stroll, through some grass patches and then boom – all of a sudden these giant rock formations that look like trolls faces appear out of nowhere. Some of them standing 20 feet high. I had a chance to climb to the top of one of them for some spectacular views.
I must say I really enjoyed this trip. As a weather reporter I usually head out to this region as I mentioned for wildfires, but this trip opened my eyes to a whole different side of the Okanagan. It is home to some stunning lakes and breathtaking hikes. I cannot wait to go back and discover more of B.C.’s wine country (and so much more).
I would love to hear some of your favourite summer getaways around B.C. so we can dream of exploring again.