Ah, BC. You continue to offer so much to do within a normal weekend. With the exchange rates being what they are, more Vancouverites are opting to stay local and explore our wonderful province.
I recently went on a weekend desert roadtrip to Osyooos, and came back with a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of this beautiful part of our province.
Osoyoos is located in the southern part of the Okanagan. It is a 4-5 hour drive depending on how quickly you go and how many stops you make along the way. Osoyoos is blessed with being the only desert micro-climate within BC – it’s telling that the town’s motto is “Canada’s warmest welcome”. This means that just like Palm Desert or Las Vegas, Osoyoos enjoys dry, sunny days and higher temperatures than Vancouver.
While not as well-known as other parts of the BC interior, Osoyoos is a popular destination for snowbirds and travellers from other parts of Western Canada. It’s only 15 minutes from the border, so expect quite a few Americans as well. Summer is extremely busy and hotel prices can skyrocket if you don’t plan your trip in advance. Try going a few weeks before high season, which starts in earnest in June. The weather might be slightly more variable, but lakeside views remain unchanged and the small town feel is unparalleled.
Osoyoos makes no qualms about being a small town. While all of the basic amenities are present, don’t expect the same convenience as Vancouver or any other big city. There are a few grocery stores in town but for fresh produce, you’re better off driving out to the numerous fruit stands.
What you’ll find unique about Osoyoos is the warmth and hospitality of everyone you meet. Its saying a lot, coming from Vancouver, but clear skies and great weather seems to do so much for this small town.
A key feature of your trip will include the lake in some form. Be it water sports, fishing, boating, or simply lying on the beach, Osoyoos boasts calm waters and temperatures high enough to take a dip. One of my favourite discoveries was trying paddleboarding for the first time – the lovely folks at 3 Phase Adventures provide both rentals and lessons for the uninitiated.
Then of course, the wineries. While not as well-known as the wineries in Penticton and Summerland, Osoyoos’ desert climate makes for some interesting varieties of grapes and vintages not found anywhere else in BC.I absolutely loved driving along the interior roads, soaking in the unusual landscape while scanning the signs for my next discovery. For a handy guide, pickup the wine passport from the Visitors Centre or any participating winery.
Layer Up: What people don’t realize is that Osoyoos is a serious desert, which means both sunscreen and hats during the day, as well as a light jacket at night.
Mosquitos: It’s also handy to keep in mind that Osoyoos is situated right on the lake. When higher temperatures surface, so do mosquitoes and other pests. Take along some bug repellent and be aware that you might come away with a few bites in the evenings.
Gas Costs: As with any interior getaway, gas can be a factor. There and back in my economy car, with two trips out to local wineries, ended up costing around $90. Take advantage of Abbotsford’s cheaper rates and fill up enroute if you can. The number 3 highway is easy to drive and relatively well-maintained.
Pack Your Passport: With the border so close, it is very tempting to see what’s across the other side. I didn’t this trip, and I regretted it. Next time, I’ll be crossing to visit Oroville and its nearby ghost town. If nothing else, a cheaper cross-border gas run is always a good reason.