Two to Four Day
On The Range and In the Valley
The Okanagan: by Joanne Osborn
Do you long for dazzling periwinkle blue skies that never seem to
end, turquoise waters in lakes that are bath water warm, the
overpowering scent of pine trees, or orchards laden with succulent
fruit? How about the site of an honest to goodness cowboy? Then a
trip to the Okanagan is just the destination for you.
The Okanagan is situated 400 km east of Vancouver in south central
British Columbia. It's warm climate 2,000 hours of sunshine per year
on average) and fertile land make it one of the richest agricultural
areas in Canada. Its three major cities, Vernon, Kelowna and
Penticton, rest on the spectacular shores of the 120 km. Okanagan
Lake. Whether you are on your way to the Canadian Rockies or looking
for an outdoor getaway, the Okanagan is a great place to visit.
How to Get There
You can reach the Okanagan by car, air or bus (see the Okanagan
Similkameen Tourist Association for travel details). The quickest
route from Vancouver by car is via the Coquihalla (Route #5) and the
Okanagan Connector (Route #97). On average, this drive takes about
DOUGLAS LAKE RANCH
A must stop on the way to the Okanagan is the Douglas Lake Ranch
(about a half hour drive outside of Merritt on the Coquihalla
highway). The Ranch is ranked the largest working cattle company in
Canada and is guaranteed to be one of the highlights of your trip.
You can take a tour of the Ranch's day to day operations, take a
trail ride through the surrounding rolling hills and flower laden
meadows, or relax on the secluded lake for some of the best fishing
in British Columbia. For those who wish to stay on the Ranch, there
are a variety of accommodations from luxurious lakefront cottages to
roughing it ranch style in canvas wall tents. All activities on the
Ranch must be reserved ahead of time (Douglas Lake, British Columbia,
Canada V0E 1S0, 1-800-663-4838 or (250)350-3344, Web Site:
From Douglas Lake Ranch, you can reach the Okanagan in about 2 1/2
hours via the Okanagan Connector (#97). Once in the Okanagan, treat
yourself to a visit to one of the many fruit stands which dot the
valley. Fruit harvesting begins in June with strawberries and
continues throughout the summer with cherries, peaches, pears,
apples, and grapes.
There are over 100 agricultural tours to take advantage of while
in the Okanagan from horse drawn tours of the Kelowna Land and
Orchard Co. in Kelowna to self guided walking tours of the
Davison's family orchard in Vernon. Many of the local farms have
small markets of produce, country baking and handicrafts. For the
best cinnamon buns in B.C. be sure to stop by Friesen's Country Time
Gardens in Vernon.
If wine tasting is your passion, the Okanagan offers over 30
wineries to tour. Many of these wineries have won international
competitions and are as well known as those from California and
Australia. You can visit individual wineries or tantalize your taste
buds with a guided Okanagan Wine Tour throughout the valley (for
further information 1-800-667-9898).
From bathing in the warm lakes to horseback riding, the Okanagan
offers a variety of outdoor adventures.. If you enjoy cycling,
Skedaddle Tours organizes a variety of cycling tours including
day trips through the valley's orchards and farmlands. If you enjoy
horseback riding, Silver Star Mountain offers trail rides
through its spectacular Alpine setting. For those who prefer hiking,
a variety of parks and mountains provide easy to advanced hikes.
Kalamalka Provincial Park offers a great place for an easy
hike with a stunning view of the interior grasslands and Kalamalka
Lake, one of the areas best swimming lakes.
There are a variety of luxurious hotels to stay in while visiting
the Okanagan, but to get the full country getaway, treat yourself to
one of the many bed and breakfasts scattered throughout the Okanagan.
Many of these are located on farms and offer everything from farm
tours to trail rides. (Vernon reservations 1-800-665-0795).
For More Information:
Okanagan/Similkameen Tourist Association
1332 Water Street
Kelowna, B.C. Canada
Wilderness Adventure: The Cariboo Chilcotin
- By - Teresa Murphy
If you grew up learning the about knights of the range and the
call of the canyon from Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour, and still yearn
to wander through the awe-inspiring wild west with its fascinating
history, untamed rivers, and lakes where you're the only person
around, the Cariboo and Chilcotin is where you should head.
Driving will offer you an unparalleled adventure. It will let you
sleep under the light of the western stars and give you the
opportunity to be that mysterious rider.
Head north from Vancouver on the Sea to Sky Highway 99. If you
leave early you can stop for lattes in Whistler at one of the
myriad upscale restaurants. If you decide to stay the night, bargain
on rates at one of the many luxury hotels. It's off season for
Continue North to Pemberton, a rustic little town. From there take
the Duffey Lake Road. You're headed for the Tyax Mountain Lake
Resort in Gold Bridge, 130 miles north of Vancouver in the
Chilcotin Mountain Range. Here you'll be treated to an enormous log
lodge with a 30 foot high, stone dining room fireplace, and a number
of log chalets, all set at the edge of Tyaughton Lake, in the remote
wilderness. It will take you about 5 hours to drive here. Tyax
Mountain Lake Resort, Tyaughton Lake Road, Gold Bridge, B.C. V0K 1P0.
Ph: 604-238-2221. Get explicit instructions on driving. Note: BC Rail
at 604-984-5246 provides daily service to Lillooet, where Lodge staff
will pick you up.
The next day, drive back to Highway 99. Turn north on Highway 97
and head for Clinton. Stop here and have a look at the Museum, which
was originally built as a school in 1892, from handmade bricks.
Continue north to 70 Mile House along Highway 97. Turn onto North
Bonaparte Road. You're headed for the Flying U Guest Ranch, a
25,000 acre working ranch, complete with real cowboys and cattle.
$125 per day ($90 for children 6-12 years; free for children under 5
years) will get you accommodation in your own rustic log cabin, three
home cooked meals per day served in a 140 year old building, and
horseback riding from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. There is also swimming,
canoeing, and some fishing. The Frenlin's have owned the ranch since
1980, and are well known for their hospitality. Of all the ranches in
the Cariboo, the Flying U is considered one of the best. Don't miss
this chance to experience life much like it was 100 years ago in a
wild west setting.
Box 69, 70 Mile House, BC V0K 2K0. 250-456-7717.
BC Rail at 604-984-5246 provides train service to 70 Mile House each
Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can arrange for someone from the
Ranch to pick you up.
From here it's just 38 miles along Highway 97 to the Hills
Health Ranch, which won the prestigious 1993 International
Specialty Spa of the Year award.
The Hills offers all the creature comforts from gourmet spa
cuisine to a fitness centre with a staff kinesiologist, to massage
and beauty treatments, all in the heart of a wonderful natural
setting. This is where my wired up friends go for their twice yearly
"meltdown." And from horseback riding to hiking, to fitness classes,
you too can get in shape, both mentally and physically in a stress
free, encouraging, ranch air, environment. 108 Mile Ranch, B.C. V0K
2Z0. 604-791-5225. BC Rail at 604-984-5246 provides service to 108
Mile each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. You can arrange for someone
from the Hills to come and pick you up.
Continue along Highway 97. At Williams Lake turn left onto Highway
20. You're heading west, through Riske Creek, Hanceville, and Alexis
Creek, to Tatla Lake. Here, fill up your gas tank. You're going to
head south for a two hour drive on a well graded gravel road to the
Chilko Lake Resort. You'll pass through some of the province's most dramatic scenery, from pristine lakes, to dense forest in this area known as the Chilcotin.
The Chilko Lake Resort sits at the mouth of the Chilko River, on
Chilko Lake, an 84 km (52 mile) long lake, acclaimed for its vivid
blue water. It is surrounded by the rugged snow covered peaks of the
Coast Mountain Range, and is in Ts'yl-os Provincial Park,
which was created by the provincial government, the Nemiah Indian
Band, and the people of Chilcotin, to protect the area.
Even by British Columbian standards this area is as wild a
wilderness as you get. If you stay a while, you'll catch glimpses of
wildlife, including Grizzly bears. If you revel in a sense of
solitude, this is the place to visit.
The Chilko Lake Resort offers accommodation in a beautiful log
lodge, or in cabins, some new, and some original log buildings. All
are comfortably appointed. Activities include horseback riding,
fishing, wildlife photography, fishing, canoeing, white water
rafting, listening to the mournful calls of coyotes at night while
sitting under star filled skies, and eating - the place has a chef
that would rival any of those in Vancouver's finest restaurants.
Overnight wilderness pack trips can be arranged. While we were
there, Boysie William, a local Nemiah Indian, was our pack guide -
and we did see a grizzly bear! If you don't want to drive, you
can take a 55 minute flight to the Resort's own airstrip.
1-800-667-8773. German spoken.
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Last update 5/6/97, 5/7/97 Site Administrator