North Valley Vibes
Cruising the Okanagan’s one of our favorites pastimes. We spend many a day traveling top down surrendering to the vibe of the valley. The more we explore, the more we want to tell you about the quaint charm, world-class wineries and farm to table freshness of this amazing land. A relative newcomer to the international travel scene the Valley revels in a youthful exuberance that’s endearing her to socially-responsible travelers, and wine and cuisine enthusiasts the world over. This year the Okanagan was named the second-best wine destination in the world by USA Today, quite the honour we'd say. So baby let your hair down and buckle up!
Route 97 is the winding stretch of highway that curves its’ way through the Okanagan Valley. Starting at the junction town of Sicamous it meanders south through Lake Country, wine country and Canada’s only pocket desert before ending its journey at the American border and our southernmost city Osoyoos. You could easily make the trek in just under five hours but that bodes the question, why?
The stretch of highway between Sicamous and Grimrod requires both hands on the wheel as you weave between the Monashee Mountains and curvaceous shores of Mara Lake. The speed limit maxes at 80 km per hour and that’s exactly how you should take it, slow and easy but if you’re not here for the scenery, rumor has it there’s a faster divided route through Salmon Arm.
After leaving Mara you’ll travel through the Valley's lush northern landscape where the Shuswap River offers up the perfect float for vagabonds wanting to escape the summer heat. If you have time to pull over in Enderby check it out, this is a lovely little town with an authentic farm to table vibe. It's also one of the connectors to Mabel Lake, a great place to play in the northern Okanagan.
Continuing south you’ll notice the terrain changing as the climate becomes increasingly dry. This is the perfect stretch to just breathe as you cruise into Vernon on double divided highway. Vernon’s a modest city but well equipped to hold her own against the southern belles of the Okanagan. Bordering three unique lakes, this gem offers a plethora of places to eat and play, and is a hop-skip or jump from Lake Country and some of the best wineries in the Valley.
There are two ways to enter the City, one keeps you on Route 97 escorting you through the downtown core which is full of quirky little shops, the other takes you east to Coldstream and Lumby both great little towns to explore.
You’ll find Kalamalka (Kal) Lake and one of the best beaches in the valley on the east side of town. This is the gateway to a spattering of beaches, spectacular hiking trails, hidden coves and perches to watch cliff jumpers cascade into the aquamarine waters below. Okanagan Lake borders the west-end of the City slightly off the beaten path for tourists but right on track for locals. From Vernon, Okanagan Lake travels south to the City of Penticton which can be accessed by boat if you have the time.