Thompson Okanagan is a unique experience in and of itself. It has everything from dry arid deserts, warm valleys, to towering snow-capped mountains and vast lakes. And because of a quirk in its geography, one can experience most—if not all—of these in a single day. Truly a nature lover’s paradise. Not only that, but the region is also filled with other fun activities like wine-tasting, skiing, and even water sports! If you are dying for another weekend getaway and do as much nature tripping and cultural immersion; here are amazing things you can do in Thompson Okanagan, BC.
Wine tasting tour
First on the list is Thomson Okanagan’s main attraction: wine. The region is known as British Columbia’s wine central and for good reason. Many wineries and vineyards call the region home due to its climate and soil condition that’s perfect for wine production. The semi-arid land and hot summers that the entire valley enjoys makes this all possible.
Many tour companies offer a variety of tour options to choose from including exclusive and inclusive group tours. But if you are looking for a more personal trip, visiting these farms is also an option. Most of the bigger vineyards offer in-house tours which include visits to the actual vineyard and wine tasting.
Staying in one of Thomson Okanagan’s cities is the best way to start your wine tasting experience. Most of these bigger vineyards are located nearby and are easily accessible either by car, or bus.
Visit a Mountain Resort
Star Mountain Resort is a definite must-visit for people who love adventure and the mountains. The resort—located just a short drive away from downtown Vernon—is a popular must-visit all year round. Changing from a gorgeous skiing destination in the winter to a challenging hiking and mountain biking spot in the summer.
The resort has a multitude of facilities and amenities that visitors can enjoy such as cafes, gift shops, and even pubs. These are all housed in strikingly colorful buildings that truly pop amidst the white snow of winter and the green vegetation during the hotter months. Add to this the wonderful views of Canada’s Monashee Range and you get a breath-taking and priceless vista.
Go up to Myra Canyon Trestles
Another popular highland destination is Myra Canyon Trestles. Located just 20km from Kelowna City, the trestle is part of the Kettle Valley Railway—and arguably the most breath-taking. This 12-kilometer portion of the railway was constructed in the early 20th century by hand and served as a major part of the area’s economy back in the day.
Today, the site is a popular hiking and biking destination for people who love to see scenic views of the valleys below. Its 2 tunnels and 18 trestles have been rebuilt and reinforced throughout the years and have since been opened to the public. Bike rentals and guided tours of the trestles are available through the Myra Canyon Bike Rental and Tours.
Cool off at the beaches of Lake Okanagan
This popular summer destination boasts over 30 different beaches. Take a nice refreshing dip in its cool waters or enjoy a relaxing canoeing and kayaking escapade. This 130 km long lake sits between Vernon and Penticton and is easily accessible from both cities. Within the lake are many marinas and boat docks that are home to several boat rentals.
Scuba diving, lake cruises, and jet skis are also popular attractions among locals and tourists alike. Other adrenaline-pumping activities include parasailing, powerboating, and wakeboarding Paddle boarding is another fun activity that has been growing in popularity. Many inflatable SUPs for sale and for rent can be obtained nearby.
Go on a Shuswap river adventure
Speaking of cooling off, another must-visit summer destination in the Thomson Okanagan area is the Shuswap river. Spend a day swimming in its refreshing waters or floating lazily down the river while enjoying an ice-cold drink. Contact local officials to know the status of the river before heading out. High water levels are known to cause rapid currents that make tubing and swimming dangerous. Other facility includes a picnic area with a sizeable car parking and toilets. The picnic grounds have over 8 large picnic tables and that’s accessible via a wheelchair-friendly path.
Explore the different State Parks
No visit to Thompson Okanagan, BC is complete without exploring its many state parks. The region has over 60 provincial parks each with its own unique beauty and charm. The parks are open to the public most of the year and are quite popular among locals and tourists alike who enjoy outdoor activities like camping, bush-craft, and hiking among others. Here are three of the best places to check out.
Okanagan Falls State Park in Okanagan is a historic site that has great cultural significance to the Okanagan people. Today, the park is home to a diverse community of various deciduous trees and native fauna. Popular activities include hiking and overnight camping, kayaking, and fishing among others. It has access to basic facilities like a parking area, some picnic tables, and working toilets.
Another popular provincial park to visit is the Allison Lake Provincial Park. The 23-hectare park is named after Allison Lake, a small lake known for its calm waters. Because of this, it has been a popular spot for kayaking, canoeing, and other water activities. Surrounding the lake are hundreds of aspens making it quite a spectacle during the fall season. The site is easily accessible via Highway 5A making it a popular overnight camping stopover.
See the only desert in Canada
The Okanagan desert is a semi-arid patch of land near the town of the same name just south of the Okanagan Valley. Known as the Nk’mip Desert by the indigenous people, this patch of dry land is known to be the hottest place in Canada, literally. The aspens and the Douglas firs that are ubiquitous in most of Canada are quite few and far in between in the area. Today, the desert is a prime destination where visitors learn about desert conservation while enjoying the desert vibes.