Note: This story was originally published in 2020.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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