North America

What’s an Okanagan? Can’t be Canada, but it is!

Photo credit: Kellyoyo

If you are contemplating visiting Canada’s beautiful British Columbia, then you must plan to visit the Okanagan Valley. Quite simply, the area is a must see.

The Okanagan Valley is situated in the northernmost area of the Sonora Dessert and lies in the rain-shadow of the Coastal Mountain range.

This means that Kelowna, which is the Okanagan’s “quaint”, “charming”, “alluring” and “Why don’t we live here” hub, is in a microclimate, getting over 2000 hours of sunshine per year and only about 12 inches of rain annually. Wait till you see it. That’s why the city’s brand is frequently tagged “Ripe with Surprises”. Its name derives from an Okanagan language term for “grizzly bear”.

The area abounds with hundreds of freshwater lakes such as Okanagan Lake, which is the largest. The lake stretches from Vernon in the north to Penticton in the south with Kelowna situated midway; it is 110 km long with some depths reaching over 300 metres. Visitors and residents alike swim, water-ski, parasail, kayak, windsurf, fish and sail on Okanagan Lake and the area’s many other surrounding lakes.

Mild winter temperatures and close proximity to the Monashee Mountains make the region a an ideal setting for BC’s second largest alpine resort, Big White. With 17,000 beds at Big White’s hotels, condos and chalets, the resort is Canada’s largest totally ski in ski out resort village. During warmer months, golf replaces skiing as the sport of choice, with over 50 golf courses in the Okanagan to play – 17 of which are in the Kelowna area, making Kelowna Canada’s preeminent golf destination.

The Okanagan Valley has become a refuge and ‘go to’ destination for nature lovers, adventurers, and recreationalists alike.

Fruit production is a hallmark of the Okanagan Valley. Thanks to excellent growing conditions, the Okanagan Valley has a well-established agricultural industry featuring world-class vineyards and orchards. Commercial orcharding of apples was first tried here in 1892.

The Okanagan Valley’s wine industry offers dozens of premium vineyards for touring and wine tasting. With many Okanagan wineries competing successfully at international levels, this booming business has attracted the attention of international wine connoisseurs.

Situated midway between Vancouver and Calgary, Kelowna enjoys convenient air connections including direct service from Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria and Prince George.

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