X
3-2229-Blue-Mountain-biking
Blue Mountain Vineyards, Okanagan Falls
(Patrice Halley photo)

Armstrong

Geography

Armstrong is located in the Spallumcheen Valley at the north end of the Okanagan Valley.

The rain shadow effect of the Coast Mountains to the west makes the area relatively dry, although it is noticeably more green and lush than areas further south in the Thompson Okanagan. The city lies in a fertile agricultural bowl surrounded by grassland hillsides, forested highland plateaus and bordered on the east by the Monashee Mountains.

Okanagan Great Divide

A pullout on Highway 97 1.6km/1mi northeast of Armstrong on the shore of Fortune Creek marks the Okanagan Great Divide. The divide is the point that separates waters flowing north into Shuswap Lake, the Thompson River and on to the Fraser River from waters flowing south through the Okanagan into the Columbia River.

Fertile Swamp

Armstrong sits on a slightly raised "island" of land that was once surrounded by an area known as "The Swamp." In 1887, the swamp was drained, leaving rich black soil ideal for growing a variety of vegetables. For a time Armstrong was known as "Celery City," later the town became one of the largest asparagus-producing centres in Canada.

Silver Star Mountain

Silver Star Mountain, located southeast of Armstrong, 40km/25mi by road, is the highest nearby peak at 1,915m/6,280ft. On average, 700cm/23ft of dry champagne powder snow falls annually, making for superb skiing and snowboarding conditions from late November through March or early April. The summer wildflower show peaks in August with easy access to the subalpine via chairlift.

Climate & Weather

With a slightly more moderate climate than other Okanagan communities, Armstrong experiences four distinct seasons with 151 frost-free days a year. Not quite as arid as its most southerly neighbours, annual rainfall averages 323mm/12.7in. Summer temperatures average 26.6°C/80°F with some days well into the 30°C/90°F range. Winters see a total of about 4.9in/0.4ft snow with average daily highs not far below the freezing mark. Spring is marked by an abundance of showy wildflowers, while stands of aspen and cottonwood turn brilliant yellow in autumn.

Variations in altitude make the seasons elastic. It's perfectly feasible to play a morning round of golf in Armstrong and enjoy spring skiing that afternoon at Silver Star Mountain Resort.

Practical Points

  • Dress in layers year round and especially when visiting the mountains in summer. Temperatures and weather conditions can vary quite dramatically.
  • Road conditions at higher elevations can be treacherous even when excellent in the valley. Four-wheel or all-wheel-drive vehicles are best suited for rugged backcountry travel.
  • Winter tires or chains are required on Silver Star Road from Tillicum Road to Silver Star Resort from October 1 to April 30. Driving through this area without proper equipment may result in a fine.