Super Camping British Columbia
Super Camping British Columbia

Super Camping
British Columbia
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Vernon, Kalamalka Lake, Photo Destination BC Andrew Strain

British Columbia’s Okanagan Lakes and Rivers Tour

By Travel British Columbia

If you and your family and friends are looking for a summer getaway to enjoy warm weather and glistening lakes, head to the Thompson Valley. Launch your boat and explore a region of beautiful tree-adorned lakes, meandering rivers, and white-water rapids. Dryland attractions like golf courses, go-carts, and mini golf are sure to keep everyone entertained. This tour only covers 280 kilometres, but it can take weeks to explore all the lakes along the route.

Kal Lake in Vernon - Thomas Bullock
Kalamalka Lake, Vernon | Thomas Bullock

Tour Experiences

There’s no better place to start a British Columbia water recreation tour than in Vernon. Surrounded on all sides by the warm lakes of Okanagan, Kalamalka, and Swan, the city plays host to a wide variety of water sports.

Kalamalka Lake, known as the “Lake of a Thousand Colors”, is found in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park, which lies just 10 kilometres south of Vernon. Named as one of the top 10 most beautiful lakes in the world by National Geographic back in the ’60s, Kalamalka fulfills the city’s needs for swimming and sandy beaches and is renowned for its peaceful fishing and picnic areas.

Okanagan Lake is surrounded by dozens of parks, providing an outdoor playground for all levels of recreation seekers. Most prefer to get wet and seadoo, wakeboard, parasail, and windsurf in the warm waters. Aside from the numerous beaches found along the 113 kilometres of shoreline, there’s plenty of hiking and mountain biking in the area as well.

Swan Lake soothes visitors with water just slightly cooler than the summertime air. As a large and shallow lake, it is an ideal environment for waterfowl to nest and feed. Be sure to bring binoculars to catch a glimpse of ducks, Osprey, Herons, and other shorebirds that call this lake home.

A Twin Anchors Houseboat in Sicamous.
Twin Anchor Houseboats, Sicamous

Vernon to Sicamous

Leaving the city of Vernon, drive north on Hwy 97 and enter the beautiful Spallumcheen Valley. You will come upon the agricultural town of Armstrong, well-known for its cheese. Make sure to stop by the Village Cheese Company and check out some of their tasty handcrafted varieties. In fact there are several cheese farms in the area you can visit. A little further north, Enderby serves as the base camp for paddlers looking for a relaxing excursion on the Shuswap River. Here, the river meanders alongside the highway. The slow-moving water is popular with canoeists and kayakers.

Continue up the highway to Sicamous, widely known as the houseboat capital of Canada. This pristine environment is set against gorgeous mountains and azure skies, making it a popular destination for visitors.

Lakeside chairs near the Swan Lake Resort in Vernon.
Swan Lake, Vernon

Sicamous to Sorrento

From Sicamous, the tour takes you west along Hwy 1 following the shore of Shuswap Lake towards Salmon Arm. Like Sicamous, Salmon Arm is surrounded by the inviting waters of Shuswap Lake. Around the perimeter of the lake, Shuswap Lake Marine Park offers many locations that are popular for fishing, water sports, hiking, and camping. Salmon Arm itself has a harbour encircled by walking trails that serve as a convenient place to launch watercraft.

Continue on until you come to Sunnybrae Road. For a quick side trip, head east to Herald Provincial Park to see the beautiful Margaret Falls, where over 60 metres of white water plummets into Reinecker Creek.

Still heading along Hwy 1 you will come upon the popular holiday destination of Sorrento. Sorrento is a small but active community with an array of recreational activities during both summer and winter. Steep mountains, deep valleys, and thick forests all teeming with wildlife surround Sorrento. A short drive down the road, the main entrance into Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is located in Squilax. This park has everything needed for summertime fun: fishing, camping, boating, swimming, hiking, waterskiing, windsurfing, and much more. There’s also 1 kilometre of pristine beach with grassy picnic areas perfect for family barbeques or a game of beach volleyball with friends. For the more adventurous, whitewater rafting trips down the Adams River are always exciting.

OK Lake in Vernon - Sky High Photography
View of Okanagan Lake, Vernon | Sky High Photography

Sorrento to Vernon

Heading back towards Vernon stop and play a round of golf in Chase before reaching the Monte Creek turnoff. For the next 100 kilometres Hwy 97 travels through cattle ranching country.

Eventually, you’ll find Falkland which has an enormous Canadian flag high above the town and just maybe the largest Canadian flag in the world. Spend some time in the Heritage Park or take a trip out to The Pillar, an impressive natural rock formation a short hike from Pillar Lake. To complete your tour, continue back into Vernon.

To read the full circle tour go Okanagan Lakes & Rivers Circle Tour.

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Published: June 16, 2023
Last Updated: June 16, 2023

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The Super Camping / Select Lodging Guide

First Published in 1989