Depart Vernon and head south on Route 97. Stop at Kekuli Bay Provincial Park to take a photo of stunning Kalamalka Lake. This unique body of water gets its vibrant hues from limestone deposits left by receding glaciers. When the lake warms, crystals form to reflect the sunlight, creating a distinct aqua colour. Continue south through Lake Country and be sure to stop for fresh fruit.
Want to make the journey from Vernon to Kelowna in a more leisurely manner? Consider renting an electric bike and riding the Okanagan Rail Trail, a discontinued railway corridor that offers almost 50 km (30 mi) of scenic recreational trails.
Kelowna—the Okanagan’s biggest city— is home to a vast array of urban wineries, breweries, and fabulous culinary options that include artisan specialty foods.
Take McCulloch Road down to Myra Canyon Station.
From Myra Canyon Station, hike, rent a bike, or take a guided tour through this scenic portion of the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. In the winter, try your hand at snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or fat-biking.Highlights include the two tunnels and 18 trestle bridges running along Myra Canyon. You will see mountain wilderness, canyon views, and plenty of wildlife as you experience a piece of Canadian history.
Cross the bridge that spans Okanagan Lake and continue south on Route 97. The drive between West Kelowna and Penticton winds past scenic vineyards as it runs parallel to the shoreline. The charismatic towns of Peachland and Summerland offer a number of beaches and parks perfect for stretching your legs and experiencing the laid-back Okanagan lifestyle. Allow yourself enough time to get outside and explore, and a wine tasting or two is a must.
The Naramata Bench is a must for food and wine enthusiasts. Naramata Bench Road winds through vineyards perched on sun-soaked hills. Start at Hillside Winery near Penticton for a short bike ride on the Kettle Valley Rail Trail. For a longer route, start at the Smithurst parking lot and bike through the Little Tunnel and down through the Naramata vineyards to Penticton.
On the east side of Skaha Lake near Penticton, Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park boasts more than 650 rock climbing routes as high as 80 m (262 ft). These ancient gneiss cliffs, home to protected wildlife, offer an array of hiking trails. Continue south on Route 97 and stop to bird watch at Vaseux Lake, or visit one of the many wineries in Oliver, the self-proclaimed Wine Capital of Canada.
Once you reach Osoyoos and Canada’s only desert, visit the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre for an authentic Indigenous experience.
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