Venture west toward Golden, with a detour through Radium Hot Springs where you can enjoy a mid-trip soak in a healing mineral pool. After journeying for another hour, you’ll arrive in Golden, home of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.
The adventurous town has gained a global reputation for climbing, mountaineering, skiing, and hiking that dates back to the early 1900s when Swiss alpine guides settled in the area. In the springtime, you can take advantage of winter in the alpine and warmer conditions in the valley with a multi-sport day in both snow and dirt.
Experience a new vantage point at the Golden Skybridge, open from May to September. Canada’s highest suspension bridges tower 130 metres (426 feet) above a plunging canyon and offers views of the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges, and a raging waterfall.
Golden, situated near the infamous Kicking Horse and Columbia rivers, is a favourite spot for whitewater rafting, paddling, fishing, and bird watching—come in the spring to see 15,000 migrating waterfowl.
Note: A section of Highway 1 east of Golden is open during the day and will be closed overnight (10pm to 7am) due to highway construction. Detours are available via Highway 93. Find up-to-date info on the Trans Canada Highway Construction.
As you continue farther west, watch the landscapes transition from the craggy peaks of the Kootenay Rockies to the rolling benchlands of the Thompson Okanagan, where vineyards and lakes beckon. The sunshine comes early to this part of British Columbia and you’ll want to linger to bask in the warmth and sip a vintage or two.
Your first stop is Shuswap, a network of eight communities connected by the tentacles of Shuswap Lake. Located within the traditional territories of the Secwepemc people, Shuswap is a place for gathering, exploring, and relaxing.
The Shuswap area offers farm-to-table meals and craft beverage tastings. Pay a visit to DeMille’s Farm Market to see what’s in season. Grab lunch to-go from one of the restaurants in town and enjoy it in the open air at Salmon Arm Wharf. There are also plenty of year-round activities, including biking, golf, paddling, and hiking (check out the Sicamous Lookout for sweeping views of the lake). Shuswap is home to many historians, performers, and artisans. Visit local museums, live theatre, and art galleries to experience their work.
If you’re planning to stay overnight, book a room at Indigenous-owned Quaaout Lodge and Spa on the territory known as Skwlax, located at the south shore of Shuswap Lake. The resort boasts lakeside views, a golf course, and plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in rich living culture of the Little Shuswap Lake Band.
*Note that due to wildfire activity in the summer of 2023, Quaaout Lodge and Spa is temporarily closed.
Vernon, a 1.5-hour drive south of Shuswap, is the gateway to both outdoor and culinary adventure. The town is conveniently wedged between the northern tips of sprawling Kalamalka and Okanagan lakes. Paddling is a popular activity in the Greater Vernon area (there’s even a paddlesurf shop).
Bike or walk along the Coldstream to Kekuli Bay Rail Trail, departing from Kal Beach and winding its way along the shore to Kekuli Bay Provincial Park.
This agricultural heartland is abuzz with family-run farms, orchards, and wineries. Inhale the sweet scent of orchard blossoms while on a tour, take a bee garden walk, or explore a historic ranch. Culinary enthusiasts will be pleased to know Vernon has its own Charcuterie Trail.
Sparkling Hill Resort is a renowned wellness retreat, with its European-inspired steams and saunas, panoramic views of the lake below, and Swarovski crystal architecture.
Drive 45 minutes south and you’ll arrive in Kelowna, an urban gem in the heart of BC’s Okanagan region. Here you’ll find great food and wine, art galleries, lake activities, and plenty of fun-filled adventures. Stroll the boardwalk downtown, pop into fruit stands and markets to sample the local bounty, or experience an Indigenous cultural tour with Moccasin Trails.
Kelowna is a launchpad for visiting the plethora of wineries in the area. Make the most of your visit by taking a guided wine tour (bonus: having someone else drive means extra tastings). For a self-propelled brewery sampling experience, try the Smile Cycle bike tours. Continue the two-wheeled theme and cycle Myra Canyon on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail — there are 18 trestles and two tunnels.
With more than 2,000 hours of sunshine each year, Kelowna has one of the longest, driest golf seasons in Canada. There are 19 golf courses to choose from.
An hour south, at the bottom end of Okanagan Lake, lies Penticton, on the cusp of the Naramata Bench. The beauty of this town is that once you’re here, you can go fuel free and walk, pedal, or paddle your way around. In fact, the downtown core is a hop, skip, and a grape away from some 80 wineries, eight breweries, two cideries, and three distilleries.
Aside from sipping and sampling, recreational activities are plentiful in Penticton—combine both passions with a bike and winery tour along the Naramata Bench Rail Trail. Or, head to the hills (Skaha Bluffs, to be exact) for rock climbing and hiking.
No need to end the trip just yet. As you make your way back home to Calgary, plan an overnight stay in Revelstoke, where you can explore the inland rainforest or go mountain biking. If you visit in early spring, you can even combine your forested adventures with a morning on the ski slopes at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Last updated: March 2, 2022
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