A Road Trip through British Columbia’s Okanagan and the International Selkirk Loop
There is nothing like a good road trip during the summer, especially when the scenery is so lovely. This trip begins at the Oroville-Osoyoos Border Crossing into British Columbia’s Okanagan for part one of this two-part series. The second part of the trip continues onto the International Selkirk Loop through the Kootenay Rockies before crossing the border at the Porthill-Rykerts Border Crossing into Idaho and visiting the towns of Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry.
When planning a road trip, make a detailed itinerary mapping out how far you want to drive each day and make reservations for where you are going to stay each night. Use online resources (see some suggestions in The Specifics at the end of the article) and determine any places or activities for the day. Have a plan but be open to spontaneous stops. Often a local may recommend a hidden gem that is not well known, so you want to take advantage of those opportunities. The nice thing about a road trip is you can pack extra comfort items. Throw in a few portable chairs for stargazing, a blanket or two for chilly evenings, some beach towels for the many lakes on this trip, and be sure to pack a cooler and picnic basket.
Day 1: Osoyoos Once across the border, continue to the town of Osoyoos—your destination for the night. The Nk’Mip Resort, set in the heart of Canada’s only desert, has a variety of interesting activities. Start at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre, a natural history museum from the perspective of the indigenous peoples. The Osoyoos Indian Band are members of the Okanagan Nation, and more than 400 members live and work on the Osoyoos Indian Reserve. Plan to spend a few hours here exploring both the indoor and outdoor exhibits. The centre is housed in an eco-friendly building using native and modern techniques. Allow time to take the loop trail outside the museum to explore the desert while viewing an Osoyoos village.
For lunch visit Nk’Mip Cellars for an alfresco lunch overlooking Osoyoos Lake. The cellars are the first winery in North America owned and operated by an indigenous band. Enjoy tasting some award-winning wines. Make sure to try Mer’R’iym, the Nk’Mip word for marriage. This red blend is a perfect meld of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and malbec.
The Nk’Mip Resort has a lovely beach at the campground. Check out Wakepilot Wakeboarding for a 90-minute Sea-Doo experience or rent a stand-up paddleboard to enjoy some time on the lake. The Safari Beach Resort is a lakefront retreat, the type families return to year after year. This is an older resort, but it is spotlessly clean and comfortably furnished. Amenities include a sandy beach and gorgeous lake views. After a long day of travel and activities, consider picking up takeout for dinner or check out one of the restaurants within walking distance of the resort. The front desk can give you recommendations.
Day 2: Olivier Start your day with a visit to Covert Farms Family Estate. This unique farm tour takes place in a vintage 1952 Mercury truck, which will traverse the vineyards and farm stopping for plenty of photo opportunities on this scenic property. Stops also include the chance to try farm fresh produce from the fields. Children and adults enjoy feeding the llamas and other livestock. The tour ends with a wine tasting on the patio overlooking a lawn with plenty of games and activities for children. Olivier is in the midst of the Okanagan wine region with so many great wineries it is hard to choose. Hester Creek Estate Vineyards is a must see with some of the oldest vines in the area. The on-site restaurant Terrafina is a culinary delight, with locally sourced ingredients a highlight of the Mediterranean-style menu.
After lunch, drive to Peachland to try out ziplining at the ZipZone Adventure Park. It is a scenic drive up to the top of the canyon. The lines zigzag back and forth across a canyon for some particularly exhilarating rides. There is a trail for those who prefer to observe with views of the landing platforms. The staff is fun and energetic and works well with children.
Drive back down into Kelowna for the night. The historic Hotel Eldorado and Resort is located on the banks of Okanagan Lake and provides exceptional sunset views. The hotel is filled with vintage features from the antique cars greeting you at the entrance to the ambiance of the rooms with luxurious bedding and upscale features while maintaining an old-fashioned feel. Enjoy an afternoon swim at one of the pools or use the waterslide. The on-site marina has a variety of watercraft available for rent.
Dining at the Eldorado is a delight. Start off by enjoying a pre-dinner drink at the Eldorado Lounge or the Whiskey Room for one of their famed martinis or a barrel-aged whiskey cocktail. Lakeside Dining is the hotel’s award-winning restaurant with sunset views over the lake. The menu is sourced with organic local ingredients as well as AAA Angus beef. A truly memorable meal.
Day 3: Kelowna After breakfast at the hotel drive to Myra Canyon for an incredible outdoor experience exploring the Myra Canyon Trestles by bicycle. Make a reservation with Myra Canyon Bicycle Rental & Tour Inc., which rents bikes at the start of the Historical Kettle Valley Railway Trail. If you haven’t been on a bike in a while, this is the perfect trail with just a slight elevation change. There are 18 trestle bridges and two tunnels to traverse while exploring Myra Canyon. Although the trail is narrow at some points there are plenty of spots to pull over for photos.
After you have worked up an appetite, the Home Block at the Cedar Creek Estate Winery is the perfect stop for lunch. During the warmer months, the restaurant is open air on one side with views of the vineyard and Okanagan Lake in the distance. Liberal use of local fare and a wood-fired grill which uses fruit wood and wine barrel staves helps create a memorable meal.
It is a three-hour drive to your final stop in the Okanagan, the Christina Lake Community. The Sunflower Inn B&B is just lovely. Owner Kathleen Smythe welcomes you into her home on the banks of Christina Lake. She is friendly but allows privacy as well. Enjoy the kayaks and other lake toys. This is the place to get your Zen on. The small, sleepy town has a few local places to eat. Take some time to just enjoy the atmosphere of this cute bed and breakfast. Smythe also runs Alpine’s Holistic Healing, located at the Sunflower, and she is a certified healing touch practitioner in both traditional and holistic forms of patient care. She gives a great hot stone massage.
Stay tuned for next month’s travel article to join us on our tour of the Kootenay Rockies and portions of the International Selkirk Loop.
The Specifics Resources Osoyoos - DestinationOsoyoos.com Kelowna - TourismKelowna.com Stay Safari Beach Resort - SafariBeachResort.com Eldorado Hotel and Resort - HotelEldoradoKelowna.com Sunflower B & B - SunflowerInnBB.com Do Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre - NkMipDesert.com Wakepilot Wakeboarding - Wakepilot.com Covert Farms Family Estate - CovertFarms.ca ZipZone Adventure Park - ZipZone.ca Myra Canyon Bicycle Rental & Tours - MyraCanyonRental.com Eat Nk’Mip Cellars - NkMipCellars.com Terrafina - HesterCreek.com Lakeside Dining - HotelEldoradoKelowna.com Home Block - CedarCreek.bc.ca/restaurant