This summer we ventured out of the Lower Mainland to seek a true escape from city-life. Our goal was to explore more of what our beautiful province of British Columbia has to offer, and perhaps find our next place to call home. We packed our bags, created our roadtrip playlists, downloaded our favourite podcasts and hit the road.
Kelowna and Myra Canyon Ranch
A short five-hour drive from Vancouver, we rolled into Kelowna just in time for a stroll along the beach of Okanagan Lake followed by dinner at Vice & Virtue Brewing. We then headed to Myra Canyon Ranch where we had booked a stay in one of their rustic A-frame cabins. We were greeted by one of our lovely hosts, Kathrin, with good and bad news. I asked for the bad news first, and the A-frame unfortunately had been double-booked. However, Kathrin had graciously upgraded us to one of their main suites, and was it ever luxurious! As much as I love A-frames, I had no complaints.
In the morning, we cooked up a hardy breakfast courtesy of the ranch’s farm-fresh egg, enjoyed tea on the balcony overlooking the city and said hello to some of the friendly farm animals. We loved the atmosphere at the ranch and thought how that it would be a dream to live and run the ranch! I wish we could’ve stayed longer to enjoy some of the many activities, such as taking horseback riding lessons. Instead, we packed our bags and headed to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park.
Canyon, Kettle Valley Railway
One of my my favourite activities of the roadtrip was biking the Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Trail. The 12 km route follows the old railway bed, crossing 18 different trestles and overlooking spectacular views of the canyon. The Kettle Valley Railway was originally built between 1912 and 1914 to link Southern BC to the coast. The train tracks were eventually removed in 1980, seven years after the last train travelled the tracks. The Okanagan Mountain fire in 2003 destroyed most the trestles, but the trail has since been fully restored to welcome hikers and bikers.
We started at the Ruth entrance of the trail as it is closer to Myra ranch and we had our own bikes. However, the Myra entrance is much more popular and has bikes for rent. This trail is relatively flat and is great for families and beginner riders. It can also be walked.
Lake Country to Vernon
After our bike ride, we enjoyed a scenic drive through Lake Country to our next destination. This area was new territory for me and I was surprised by how beautiful it is! Surrounded by beautiful lakes and rolling hills, there is access to many outdoor activities. Our second night was spent at Ellison Provincial Park, a popular campground with beach access to Okanagan Lake just south of Vernon.
The following day, we backtracked south into Lake Country to visit the municipality of Oyama, situatuated on an isthmus between Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake. When we drove past the day before, we were fascinated by the geography of Oyama, which almost seemed man-made from our viewpoint up on the highway. We grabbed lunch at OKF Grill, where we had the most delicious burger of the entire trip.
After lunch, we brought out our bikes and circumnavigated Wood Lake, the smaller of the two lakes. The west side of the lake had many great areas to stop and enjoy the views. The east side of the lake, also part of the Okanagan Rail Trail, had fewer public lake access points as it was mostly through private property. I would’ve loved to explore Kalamalka Lake as well, but alas we once again had to hit the road.
Our next stop was BX Press Cidery in Vernon. While I’m not a huge fan of wine, I thought it appropriate to at least visit an orchard while in wine country. We enjoyed a cider-tasting in the beautiful family-owned orchard. They also host daily tours, live concerts and other special events throughout the summer. Just imagine enjoying live music in the orchard on a warm summer evening!
The last stop of the day was to the Historic O’Keefe Ranch. Originally a 12,000 acre cattle-ranch founded by Cornelius O’Keefe and his business partners in 1867, the main ranch site became a historical site 100 years after its founding. Today, they offer guided tours of the O’Keefe Mansion and self-guided exploring of the surrounding buildings, such as the general store and blacksmith shop. There are even Cowboy Dinner Theatre shows throughout the summer! Wishing that we had more time in each area we visited was becoming a common theme.