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#ExploreBC Road Trip: Vineyards, Valleys & Lakes

4 to 6 Days, 500 km (310.69 mi)

Explore the Shuswap and the Okanagan Valley with local photographer Mirae Campbell

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Whistler-based photographer Mirae Campbell explores BC’s vineyards, valleys, and lakes, from the Shuswap and the communities of Vernon and Kelowna to her hometown of Maple Ridge. Lush vineyards to glacial lakes, we follow Mirae’s journey below, sharing insights she discovered along the way.

Part 1

Shuswap

Quaaout Lodge

Travelling north from Whistler, you pass turquoise Pavillion Lake, expansive Kamloops Lake, and the Shuswap region’s charming cottage country, where Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is the centrepiece. Quaaout Lodge, located on Little Shuswap Lake, is owned by the Shuswap Indian Band of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation. Take a cultural tour to learn about Indigenous history, see community-built canoes, visit a pit house and sweat lodge, and find out more about medicinal uses for local plants. 

Mirae’s Highlights:
  • My car had to go into the shop in Salmon Arm for a couple of hours, so we walked into town and stopped at the Shuswap Pie Company. They had amazing, mouth-watering pies.
  • We also stopped at Sprokkets Café where there are over 100 motorcycles that have been rebuilt, with the oldest dating back to the early 1900s. The owner of the cafe, Mark, rebuilds them himself in the shop behind the cafe and knows every detail about each bike. It’s remarkable.
  • At Quaaout Lodgewe had the privilege of entering a pit house on the property, which was a highlight—it smelled wonderful and has such a beautiful history. Our guide showed us the sweat lodge on site as well; she also shared many of her personal stories. I felt honoured to have had the opportunity to expand my understanding of BC’s original keepers of the land.”

Part 2

Vernon

Alpaca sanctuary

Surrounded by four lakes—Okanagan, Kalamalka, Swan, and Wood—Vernon is a water-lover’s paradise. Work up an appetite on the water with your pick of stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, or other boating options before heading into town to check out the Charcuterie Trail. Enjoy local cheese, meat, bread, and other picnic favourites. Mirae stopped at Kalavida Surf Shop to get set up for paddleboarding on Kalamalka Lake, where the warm water takes on a hue of teal, cyan, or indigo, depending on the time of the year. You can paddle over to the Bishop Wild Bird Sanctuary to find out more about feathered locals.

Mirae’s Highlights:
  • We started the day at Camelot Haven Alpacas, a sanctuary where the alpacas roam and graze, and guests are allowed space to take photos. The kind woman who runs the sanctuary cares deeply about the animals, and these are the happiest alpacas I’ve ever seen.
  • In Vernon, the Wedge Cheesery made us a beautiful lactose-free charcuterie board with local and Canadian-sourced cheeses and meats. 
  • Davison Orchards has been a family-run business for three generations. We enjoyed lunch at the Farmhouse—the original house occupied by the first generation of Davisons—and we had the most refreshing apple slush made from 12 kinds of apples all grown on the farm. Perfect for a hot day.”

Part 3

Kelowna

Eldorado Resort

Home to more than 40 wineries within a 20-minute drive, Kelowna is known for its grape experiences but there are also plenty of places to pump up the adrenaline. Rent e-bikes and ride the Okanagan Rail Trail that connects Kelowna to Vernon. The trail follows 50 km of the original CN Rail line that was constructed in 1925 to bring Okanagan Valley produce and lumber to markets across Canada. Lakefronts, creeks, and natural habitat cover 24 km of the trail. Kekuli Bay offers incredible views  as you ride along Kalamalka Lake, and you can jump in for a cooling dip if needed. 

Mirae’s Highlights:
  • Frankie We Salute You! is a trendy, vibrant spot with extra patio space to accommodate COVID restrictions. Their  primarily vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free menu is delicious.
  • We really enjoyed our dinner on the lakeside patio at the Eldorado Resort. Make a reservation for around sunset and check out the gorgeous views.
  • Our guided tour of the Myra Canyon Trestles was definitely a highlight. Ben Vos, the owner of Myra Canyon Bike Rentals, was full of history and knowledge, and he had us laughing and entertained the entire 12-kilometre ride.”

Part 4

Maple Ridge

Kekuli Cafe

Known as the “Scenic 7,” the Lougheed Highway (aka Highway 7) connects Hope and Vancouver north of the Fraser River, passing through Agassiz (close to Harrison Hot Springs), Mission, Maple Ridge, and Coquitlam. Driving from Kelowna, take Highway 97C to Merritt and then head south on Highway 5 towards Hope to connect to Highway 7.

One final stop: Mirae’s hometown of Maple Ridge, set between Golden Ears Mountain and the Fraser River. This forested community is rich in growler-friendly craft breweries; it’s home, as well, to the Maple Ridge Ale Trail. A couple of worthy stops? Kingfishers Waterfront Bar & Grill, on the banks of the Fraser River, and the Billy Miner Alehouse and Cafe, named for the “Gentleman Bandit” who notoriously stole his fortune along the railway that runs past the cafe’s front door.

Mirae’s Highlight:
  • “We stopped in Merritt at the Kekuli Cafe where everything is bannock based, but with a twist. It is owned by a young Indigenous man named Elijah, and we had a great time trying all the different flavours. Delicious!”

Driving Directions

Part 1 - Vancouver
  • 6.25 km
  • 12 min
Show Map & Driving Directions

With smaller capacities and safety protocols in place, it’s best to book ahead if you want to visit a popular bar or restaurant, and don’t forget to pack your mask and hand sanitizer. We asked Mirae how she prepared for the trip.

I packed my reusable face mask and put a hand sanitizer bottle along with disinfectant wipes in the car. We pre-packed a few breakfast essentials and snacks for the road and shopped at our local grocery store in Whistler to avoid having to stop in grocery stores in local towns, eliminating contact points on our trip.  We checked in advance what the COVID policies were at the businesses we intended to visit so we knew how to be prepared.”

Travelling this route? Share your experiences with # explorebc.

This road trip was created specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2020. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability.

Mentioned in This Itinerary

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 320-9305

View Listing

Golf, Spas & Wellness, Indigenous Culture, Hotels, Accessibility

Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort

Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort, the pride of the Little Shuswap Lake Band, is situated on the north shore of Little Shuswap Lake....

Phone: (250) 679-3090

View Listing

Paddling, Shopping

Kalavida Surf Shop

BC's Original Paddleboard Shop - Across from Kalamalka Beach and at the head of the Okanagan Rail Trail. Kalavida is BC's first...

Phone: (778) 475-5808

View Listing

Attractions, Farms & Markets

Camelot Haven Alpacas

CAMELOT HAVEN ALPACAS - For a unique shopping experience, we welcome you to come visit the Alpaca Country Store - (Store Hours: - During these...

Phone: (250) 549-2959

View Listing

Farms & Markets, Accessibility

Davison Orchards Country Village

Growing food & family memories since 1933! At Davison Orchards, you get fresh, local produce grown right here in Vernon, BC. And we don't just...

Phone: (250) 549-3266

View Listing

Hotels

Eldorado Resort - Hotel Eldorado

Eldorado Resort is located Kelowna, British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley Canadas award-winning wine region. Eldorado Resort is Kelownas #1...

Phone: (250) 763-7500

View Listing

Biking, Museums & Heritage Sites

Myra Canyon Bike Rentals and Tours

ONSITE BICYCLE RENTALS on one of British Columbias wonders. Experience a part of the historical Kettle Valley Railway route built between...

Phone: (250) 878-8763

View Listing

Dining & Culinary Tours, Indigenous Culture

Kekuli Café Merritt

Kekuli Cafe  is a locally owned Aboriginal Cuisine Cafe Coffee shop! Serving everything on Bannock, with Bannock. Breakfast Served All day, Lunch...

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Shuswap Lake Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 320-9305

View Listing

Golf, Spas & Wellness, Indigenous Culture, Hotels, Accessibility

Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort

Quaaout Lodge & Spa at Talking Rock Golf Resort, the pride of the Little Shuswap Lake Band, is situated on the north shore of Little Shuswap Lake....

Phone: (250) 679-3090

View Listing

Paddling, Shopping

Kalavida Surf Shop

BC's Original Paddleboard Shop - Across from Kalamalka Beach and at the head of the Okanagan Rail Trail. Kalavida is BC's first...

Phone: (778) 475-5808

View Listing

Attractions, Farms & Markets

Camelot Haven Alpacas

CAMELOT HAVEN ALPACAS - For a unique shopping experience, we welcome you to come visit the Alpaca Country Store - (Store Hours: - During these...

Phone: (250) 549-2959

View Listing

Farms & Markets, Accessibility

Davison Orchards Country Village

Growing food & family memories since 1933! At Davison Orchards, you get fresh, local produce grown right here in Vernon, BC. And we don't just...

Phone: (250) 549-3266

View Listing

Hotels

Eldorado Resort - Hotel Eldorado

Eldorado Resort is located Kelowna, British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley Canadas award-winning wine region. Eldorado Resort is Kelownas #1...

Phone: (250) 763-7500

View Listing

Biking, Museums & Heritage Sites

Myra Canyon Bike Rentals and Tours

ONSITE BICYCLE RENTALS on one of British Columbias wonders. Experience a part of the historical Kettle Valley Railway route built between...

Phone: (250) 878-8763

View Listing

Dining & Culinary Tours, Indigenous Culture

Kekuli Café Merritt

Kekuli Cafe  is a locally owned Aboriginal Cuisine Cafe Coffee shop! Serving everything on Bannock, with Bannock. Breakfast Served All day, Lunch...

View Listing

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