You might have driven through the Similkameen Valley before without even knowing it. This lush valley is at the edge of the Columbia Plateau in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains. The Similkameen River, carves its way through the fertile valley, sustaining a thriving ecosystem in its wake.
Follow Highway 3 (also known as the Crowsnest Highway) as it winds alongside the river and you’ll encounter charming rural towns, ranches, farms, and vineyards—sprinkled across a contrasting canvas of craggy mountains and rolling grasslands. Take your time as you travel from Osoyoos to Princeton: visit historic sites, go for a hike, sip award-winning wine, and tuck into fresh fruit. You may even see an eagle or mountain goat along the way.
Head west on Highway 3 from Osoyoos and you’ll find yourself in the Similkameen Valley. Mount Kobau in the South Okanagan Grasslands features hiking trails that make you feel like you’re on top of the world.
Cawston and Keremeos are home to most of the Similkameen Valley’s wineries, with many tasting and touring options to choose from—plan ahead to see if online reservations are required. Keremeos is also known as the Fruit Stand and Organic Capital of Canada, and as you drive through the produce-lined highway, you’ll understand why. While you’re in town, check out the historic Old Grist Mill and Gardens for a picnic and sightseeing.
For an authentic backcountry experience, take a trip into Cathedral Provincial Park and Protected Area for hiking, camping, and fishing. The park offers 360-degree views of jaw-dropping mountain ranges on both sides of the border and is home to more than 33,000 ha (80,000 ac) of mountain wilderness and wildlife. There are also seven lakes to enjoy, including Ladyslipper.
Follow the river toward Princeton, where you’ll find ample fishing and recreational opportunities. Hike or cycle the Kettle Valley Rail Trail—part of The Great Trail—or head to the China Ridge Trails for mountain biking or horseback riding. In the winter, grab your snowshoes or Nordic skis for miles of endless outdoor fun.
History buffs can check out the Princeton and District Museum and Archives, which was established 150 years ago. There are also six ghost towns in the area—some of which you can visit today. Visit the Princeton Visitor Centre first to find out more.
Hike through the mountains and see wildflowers in bloom, kayak crystal-clear waters, and head up to the Cascade Lookout to see expansive views in all directions. There are plenty of trails available for all hiking abilities: meandering strolls to stretch your legs; challenging half- or full-day hikes; and multi-day backpacking treks. The park is also a prime spot for wildlife viewing and admiring seasonal foliage (the summer wildflowers and fall larches are spectacular). Manning Park Resort is a great launchpad for year-round park adventures, from canoeing Lightning Lake in the summer to snowshoeing and skiing in the winter months. There are also a number of campsites sprinkled throughout the park (check in advance for availability).
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Last updated: August 17, 2020
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