An Incredible Journey through British Columbia’s Heritage
From Christina Lake to Princeton, the historic railway route that intersects the Thompson Okanagan region is targeted for modifications and interpretive enhancements that will place the Kettle Valley Rail Trail in the category of a must do, world-class traveller experience. The Kettle Valley Rail Trail forms a 401.2 km portion of the Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail) scheduled for completion in 2017 and features tunnels and trestles, incredible vistas, and wildlife viewing. The trail takes travellers through the southern part of the province and into the past and around every corner there is another story to learn about the building of the famous railway.
First Nations Remarkable Experiences
Travel in a voyageur canoe along the shores of Little Shuswap Lake to the Adams River where Sockeye Salmon return to spawn each October, cozy up in a Kekuli for Elder Story Telling learn the legends of the past, attend Kamloopa, the largest Pow Wow in Western Canada, experience how First Nations lived in the desert at the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre, make a visit to a First Nations specialty café for fresh bannock and other traditional foods. From world-class golf resorts to formula 1 automotive racing, come and experience what Thompson Okanagan’s First Nations bands have created and are planning in the future for the tourism industry.
Unique Accommodations in the Thompson Okanagan
When touring the Thompson Okanagan, there are a wide variety of accommodation choices but in addition to the standard resorts, hotels, B&Bs and camping, how about going out of the box and trying something more unique. There is a B&B that is run by an amateur astronomer that features a tour of the night skies through a computer controlled 16 inch telescope housed in a roof-top observatory. Another B&B offers a luxurious roof top room… with no roof! Sleep in the back of a covered wagon at an historic roadhouse, in a tree fort or luxury cruising on a lake featuring 1,000 km of shoreline. And there is that Tuscany-Style Villa where you look out over the vineyards, over the Okanagan river valley… later you show up for your cooking class at the winery restaurants demonstration kitchen.
Long Table Events in the Thompson Okanagan
Popularity of Long Table Culinary events in the Thompson Okanagan has nurtured growth in the number and variety of events now being offered. In orchards, in vineyards, in wineries, fine dining to rustic, there is something for everyone’s taste including a 1.6 mile event consisting of a multi course meal using only the best foods provided by artisan producers from within a 1.6 mile radius of Orofino Winery! Quails’ Gate has joined the list of wineries featuring long table al fresco dining events during the summer and the fall harvest. Enjoy an atmosphere that invites conviviality and an appreciation for the summer bounty of the beautiful Okanagan.
Route 97 — over 200 years of road trips
Route 97 is one of the longest roads in North America stretching from Weed, California to Watson Lake, Yukon Territories. It winds through the Thompson Okanagan region from Osoyoos to Cache Creek and it was first used by the Fur Brigade starting in 1811. Pick your theme for stops along the way… heritage, golf, spas and resorts or local flavours including wineries, craft breweries, distilleries, cideries, long table dining in vineyards, and farm to table restaurants. At Cache Creek, connect with another Road Trip route… The Gold Rush Trail and follow the paths of the prospectors.
Freakin’ Farmer, Half Corked Marathon, Dirty Feet Kal Park 50, event names that conjure up the question “What the??” From obstacle races in the desert to marathons in the Rockies, the Thompson Okanagan has a wide variety of Living Well activities and events. A desert Oyster festival, a Fest of Ale, a Feast of Fields, and a Rib Fest. How about the Canadian Culinary Championships in Kelowna? Near Vernon, you can ‘Swing like a Girl’ with a former PGA pro and then step into a Cryotherapy treatment with -110°C temperatures at a European-style Health and Wellness Resort.
New wineries open in the Thompson Okanagan
Four new wineries have opened in the Okanagan in West Kelowna and Penticton. Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna has completed phase one which saw the opening of the winery and tasting room on August 1. Phase 2 will see the opening of the restaurant and accommodations. Also in West Kelowna, another First Nations winery has opened called Indigenous World Winery. Owned by direct descendants of the Syilx people, Indigenous World merges the modern culture with Indigenous history. The Hatch Winery in West Kelowna is an inviting, warm, rustic and entertaining ‘shack from the future’ that invites anyone to come by, try some wine or to just enjoy their lives for however long they can spare to spend. The hatch is a beautiful location with one of the most ridiculous views of the region that has ever been seen. Play Estate Winery is located on the west side of Skaha Lake, the winery will feature an iconic modern architectural building that will house a wine shop and tasting lounge, indoor/outdoor bistro with function space, and a 14 acre vineyard.
Wonder of Winter, much more than skiing
Walking along the colourfully lit streets of a Bavarian-style Ski Resort village, stopping along the way to enjoy a progressive wine tasting of over 30 wineries at a winter wine festival, dog-friendly Nordic skiing trails, wildlife viewing along snowshoe trails, 100,000 + Wildlights amongst the real wildlife, The Spirit Of Christmas steam engine-powered heritage trains, Hut to Hut Back-country, pond hockey tournaments, ice fishing and more. Snowmobiling is another popular sport in the Thompson Okanagan with many trail systems throughout the North and South Thompson, Shuswap and North Okanagan regions. Fat Biking is a growing sport and designated trail systems are being built alongside ski runs with rentals available in the resorts and major centres. Winter wildlife viewing by snowshoe or nordic skiing based in a cozy log cabin with access to viewing frozen waterfalls in Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Electric Car Touring through the Thompson Okanagan
There is now a comprehensive network of electric car charging stations in the Thompson Okanagan including the new TESLA Super chargers. From wineries and resorts to golf courses and fruit stands, every stop to top up a vehicle charge allows time for a wine tasting, a round of golf, shopping or just enjoying a beautiful beach. The Route 97 road network provides many choices for touring routes through the wine region, desert and inland temperate rainforest. And speaking of electric, how about renting an electric bicycle and touring a dozen wineries along a wine trail or renting a Segway and cruising around Sun Peaks Resort or the trails in Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park. The new Thompson Okanagan ‘Charter of Sustainability’ being completed will encourage even more tourism businesses to consider adding charging stations along with additional green initiatives.