Thompson Okanagan Travel Guide
Get to know the central interior of British Columbia, known for hot, dry summers and a landscape of mountains, lakes, rivers, orchards and vineyards.
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About Thompson Okanagan
Roadtripping through the Thompson Okanagan is a must for anyone coming to Canada and is suitable for family travel as well. As part of British Columbia’s paradise, you will experience a landscape with rolling hills, lush valleys, narrow lakes with sandy beaches and high mountain peaks calling for outdoor adventures.
Most part of the region is centrally located between Calgary, Alberta, and Vancouver with some of the most spectacular highways passing through, alongside rushing rivers with snow-covered mountain peaks appearing in front of you.
Kelowna is the largest city in the Okanagan.
As you travel through the Thompson Okanagan you will notice miles and miles of orchards and vineyards the further south you go.
Venture into Canada’s unique desert in Osoyoos in the south combined with memorable hiking or biking adventures near the town of Oliver BC. Explore Greenwood in Boundary Country, the “Smallest City” in Canada. Take a drive to North Okanagan’s wilderness and explore the beautiful Lumby and Vernon area. Head north to Helmcken Falls, a waterfall higher than Niagara Falls. Go for a photo shoot at Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and hike the trails.
All towns and cities in the Thompson Okanagan are rich in cultural heritage. Wherever you’re heading, you will discover a part of British Columbia’s interesting history, whether it’s the Old West, the Gold Rush or First Nations people.
Thompson Okanagan is home to one of the largest Aboriginal celebrations of First Nation culture and heritage, the Kamloopa Pow Pow. It is a vibrant traditional display of storytelling, song, and dance happening on August’s long weekend.
7 Regions of Thompson Okanagan
1. Okanagan Valley
The Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in British Columbia. During the summer months, you will find countless sandy beaches and plenty of outdoor and water activities. The South Okanagan Valley with towns like Osoyoos and Oliver is known for its vineyards and wineries producing award-winning wines.
The mountainous terrain is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world and of course ideal for wilderness hiking or whatever else you are up to.
2. Boundary Country
Boundary Country is a historical region in southern British Columbia lying along the boundary between Canada and the United States. The region includes the communities Grand Forks, Midway, Greenwood, Christina Lake, Rock Creek, Kettle Valley and Big White.
The Boundary Country was part of the traditional territory of the Sinixt First Nations, known as the Arrow lake people. In 1859 the area was the site for one of Canada’s earliest gold rush. It’s a land of natural beauty, surrounded by lakes, rivers and mountains.
3. Gold Country
Step back in time and explore the Gold Country, a sub-region in British Columbia with a rich gold mining history with tales of prospectors and the wild west. Find out what life was like during the gold rush era. If you’re an outdoor adventurer visit here for the wilderness and abundant wildlife. Explore historic towns, travel along backcountry roads and spend time at provincial parks. The region includes the communities Cache Creek, Hat Creek, Ashcroft, Logan Lake, Lillooet, Savona, spencers Bridge, and Lytton.
4. Kamloops Country
Kamloops Country is the heart of British Columbia and home to Kamloops, the second-largest city in the interior. Grasslands, silt bluffs, carved canyons and powerful rivers call out to the outdoor enthusiasts. Kamloops Country is the perfect place to saddle up for a cowboying experience at one of the western guest ranches. Book a rustic wild west experience with campfires and all.
Learn about First Nations history and modern culture at the annual Kamloopa Pow Wow, held each year at the end of July.
For another highlight visit the Kamloops Cowboy Festival held annually in mid-Mach to appreciate Cowboy poetry, western art and cowboy music.
The Shuswap is situated in the central lower third of British Columbia, halfway between Vancouver, BC and Calgary, AB. Canada’s Highway #1 runs right through the Shuswap region, and Highway 97 joins from the South Okanagan.
The region is scattered with unique communities of different sizes. With over 1,000 km of freshwater lakes to explore and the Monashee Mountains as a backdrop, it is the perfect setting for cruising on a houseboat.
7. Wells Gray to Mount Robson
Wells Gray to Mount Robson is a subregion of pure wilderness. Follow the Yellowhead Highway (Hwy 5) North of Kamloops, along the North Thompson Valley for 1.5 hours, or drive 3.5 hours south from Jasper, and you will be surrounded by mountains, forests, rivers and lakes at Wells Gray Country, home of Wells Gray Provincial Park and the famous Helmchen Falls, the fourth highest waterfall in Canada.
Mount Robson is the other big attraction in the northern part of the Thompson Okanagan and borders Jasper National Park. The Park is known for Mount Robson (3954 m) the highest peak in the Canadian Rockie. The park is a hikers paradise offering many trail options, and the most famous of all, the Berg Lake Trail, a two-day, 44 km hike.
The major towns in this area are Valemount, Blue River, Clearwater, and Little Fort. All four towns are accessible by Yellowhead Highway 5.