Okanagan-Shuswap Attractions: Okanagan Nature-Oriented information, listings and links
The Okanagan area has an amazing variety of natural features, climate and geology. While some of these are offically Parks, many are simply interesting features, views, or settings. The list is designed to give you a sense of the unique place the Shuswap-Okanagan area is. These sites are listed in a rough north-to south order:
Maps: Shuswap Lake | North Okanagan | South Okanagan
Vernon | Kelowna | Penticton
Mount Revelstoke National Park
Park Admin Office: Third St & Campbell Ave, Revelstoke
This 260 square kilometre park surrounds Mount Revelstoke on the western edge of the Selkirk Mountains, famous for their height and geological complexity. Heavy rainfall as well as glacial erosion have created jagged landforms, causing thearea to be designated a national park in 1914. The snow stays in the area until late June. The Trans-Canada highway passes through the park and then runs along its southern boundary for a total of 31 kilometres. Pets are allowed but must be on a leash at all times in the park. There is back-country camping, except in the Miller Lake area and within 5 km of the Summit Parkway The Giant Cedars trail winds a half kilometre on a boardwalk through 800 year old cedars.
Albert Canyon and Hot Springs
35 km east on Highway 1
Take a dip in a 39 degree Celsius (102F) mineral pool or take a swim in the 30 degree hot pool. There is also rafting, trail rides and camping. There is a completely unrestored ghost town nearby, nestled among regrown wild vegetation. Camping is permitted, and food is available. Open 9 am to 10 pm July and August; open 9 am to 9 pm in May, June and September.
Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre
Off highway 23, north of town
Displays, maps and audio visual presentation highlight the damís design, construction, and function. Vistors can see the generators through a large window, and an elevator provides access to the observation point at the top of the 175 metre high concrete dam. The dam creates Lake Revelstoke which continues for 120 kilometres (with average width of 1 kilometre) until the Mica Dam to the north. Open 8 am to 8 pm mid-June to mid-September; open 9 am to 5 pm from March to October "shoulder season."
Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes are created by the Hugh Keenleyside Dam, near Castlegar about 20 kilometres to the south of Revelstoke. The width of the lake varies from 1 to 2 kilometres.
accessible by helicopter, Revelstoke Airport
The is glacier is 30 kilometres north of Revelstoke and has a log chalet at 1,935 metres elevation. There is a panorama of hanging glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine meadows. The glacier is the site of an international mountaineering school with both summer and winter recreation activities.
10 km west on Tranquille Rd from North Kamloops
Kamloops This is an active waterfowl habitat, particularly during the spring and fall migrations. Over a hundred species including whistling swans, trumpeter swans, Canada geese, snow geese and pelicans, can be seen from the road. From Red Lake Road, you can often see bighorn sheep.
Mount Ida Forest Fire
Just west of Salmon Arm
A major forest fire on Mt Ida called the "Silver Creek Blaze" in August 1998 forced the evacuation of 7000 people for a day and a night. The fire caused massive forest destruction, visible from the Salmon River Road, but also exposed rockfaces and waterfalls not visible from the roadway previously.
Rotary Peace Park and Public Wharf
Marine Park Drive, downtown
The park has a 250 metre walkway along the lakefront, with a pier, a marina and a picnic area. A great place for viewing shore birds and waterfowl.
Rotary Skyview Lookout
3 km west of Salmon Arm, Left on Salmon River Road (follow signs)
This lookout point, on the eastern slopes of the Fly Hills, takes you to the 1220 metre (4000 foot) elevation, with a great view of the Salmon Arm of Shuswap Lake. For the wintertime, there are 70 kilometres of marked snowmobile trails here.
10 km east of Chase
This bridge is in the middle of the 4 kilometre long Little River which joins Shuswap & Little Shuswap Lakes Squilax is the Shuswap word for black bear.
Adams River/ Roderick Haigh-Brown Provincial Park
This 988 hectare park is popular not only for its stunning scenery but its wildlife. 10 million salmon climb up this river every four falls (most recently in 1998) to spawn and lay their eggs. In other years the salmon run is less dramatic. By the time the salmon have completed the 485 kilometre swim from the sea, their silver bodies have turned a bright red.
Swan Lake Bird Sanctuary
5 kilometres north of Vernon
This undeveloped swampland is a protected area for birds, and is home to white geese, swans and herons.
south of Oyama
Wood Lake is unusual for is rectangular shape, about 6.5 km long and 1.5 km wide. The lake is great for Kokanee and rainbow trout fishing.
north of Oyama
Kalamalka Lake is f for its unusual emerald green color. The lake is actually named for the Indian Chief Klamalka who lived at the head of the lake. The north shore of the lake has a sandy beach. On the northeast corner of the lake is Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, a 978 hectare park (Day use only) with great hiking and birdwatching (watch out for rattlesnakes!).
Kalamalka Lake Viewpoint
8 kilometres north of Oyama
This viewpoint shows Kalamalaka Lake and its colorful splendour, as well as a view up the Coldstream Valley to the east.
Knox Mountain Nature Park
north end of Ellis Street
This park, at the top end of winding road, has two lookout points over Kelowna and Okanagan Lake. Great for hiking and picnicking. At the foot of the park is an underwater diving park called "Paulís Tomb, complete with a 7 metres long model of Ogopogo, 8 metres below the surface.
Antlers Beach Provincial Park
just south of Peachland
This park is on both sides of highway 97. One side has a sandy beach, the other has a waterfall of Deep Creek. The creek is a kokanee spawning run after mid-September.
Giants Head Park
Giant's Head Rd, off Rosedale
The 910 metre Giants Head Mountain overlooks Summerland, looking like (what else?) a giant manís head, with great views of the lake, and has picnic areas.
19 km north of Summerland
This viewpoint overlooks Rattlesnake Island and Squally Point on the opposite shore. The legendary Ogopogo sea monster is said to make its home in an underwater cave off the Point. The viewpoint is at a bend in Okanagan Lake and provides views of both Kelowna and Penticton
just north of Penticton, on Highway 97
As you leave Penticton, driving north on Highway 97, youíll see sandstone hoodoos, which are vertical columns caused by erosion, high on the benchlands to your left.
14.5 km north of Oliver on Highway 97
This federal wildlife and bird sanctuary lies alongside a 4 kilometre-long shallow and weedy lake with nice sandy beaches. The lake is named for the French word for muddy. The lake is a resting point for birds coming through here on their spring and fall migrations, and attracts some species not sighted anywhere else in Canada: the canyon wren, white throated swift and the white-headed woodpecker. On the southwest end of the lake is McIntyre Bluff, named for one of the Overlanders in 1862. There is no power boating allowed on the lake. The nearby Wildlife Centre, with its trails and blinds, provides opportunities to view California bighorn sheep and some of the areaís unique flora and fauna. There is a Provincial Park with 14 campsites beside the Wildlife Centre.
Federal Ecomological Reserve (Pocket Desert)
east on Road 22, 7.5 km north of Osoyoos
This 100 hcetare desert is the northern extreme of the American Great basin Desert, which extends all the way to Mexico. Since 1921, much of the area has been transformed by irrigation, except for this reserve of unspoiled desert. The climate supports several rare plants and animals. Look for burrowing owls, turkey vultures, pacific rattlesnake, bats, black-headed grosbeaks, antelope bush, sage, rabbitbrush and prickly pear cactus.
8 km west on Crowsnest Highway 3
This 12 hectare lake has heavy dissolved concentrations of various minerals including copper, silver, gold, sulphates, and epsom salts. These rise to the surface into plates that "spot" the lakeís surface. Natives called the lake "Klilok" or medicine lake, and believed that a soak brought both youth and wisdom. Unfortunately, today, the lake is on private property.
5 kilometres west of town
Great viewpoint over the town and the lake
on Highway 3, 1 km east of Highway 97
The only banana farm in Canada, with produce for sale at the Fernandes market.
Keremeos Columns Provincial Park
4 km north on Highway 3A (east at cemetery)
This undeveloped 20 hectare park requires a short route over private property (pleas aks permission), and then requires a steep, hot 8 kilometre hike (bring water in canteens). At the end of the hike you are rewarded with 30 metre high, 100 metre wide basalt columns formed by volcanos 30 million years ago.
Cathedral Provincial Park
Ashnola River Rd, off Highway 3, 5 km west of Kememeos
This 33,272 hectare park is 21 kilometres down the road, past small ranches. The park offers 32 kilometres of wilderness hiking trails with views of various immense peaks with strange shapes (and stranger names like Devilís Woodpile, Grimface Mountain, Macabre Tower, or Stone City) and lots of wildlife. The area has bighorn sheep, golden eagles, hawks, mountain goats, mule deer, pika, squirrels, and plenty of fish in the water. It is also the starting point for the Centennial Trail to Manning Provincial Park.