Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.
Scenic Westside Road Vernon to Kelowna
Westside Road is a scenic, alternative route running from Highway 97 near the north end of Okanagan Lake to Highway 97 in West Kelowna. This stretch of road is about 67 km in length with narrow, curvy and hilly sections.
Come and enjoy Westside Road, a hidden gem in the Okanagan, British Columbia. Explore the Tail of the Ogopogo, which is the unofficial name of the road. Get ready for some sharp twists and turns, so drive carefully and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife.
Vernon to Kelowna Route via Westside Road
Westside Road is an epic drive with spectacular Okanagan scenery, popular by bikers as well as speedy cars. It is a curvy road, climbing up and down the hills, winding along Okanagan lake with many amazing places to stop along the route. Look out for black bears, deer, and California Bighorn Sheep on the road, as well as osprey and eagle soaring up in the sky.
Westside Road is a great alternative route to travel between Vernon and Kelowna if you’re looking for an adventure. Try to spend at least a day exploring the parks and some of the first-class hiking trails, taking you to impressive waterfalls and grand viewpoints. There are many amazing places to stop along the way to experience Okanagan at its best.
The whole trip from Vernon to Kelowna via Westside Road is about 83 km.
Westside Road Information
- Distance Westside Road turnoff at Highway 97 to Westside approximately 67 km
- Road condition: a paved, narrow, winding two-way road
- Westside Road driving time: 1-hour minimum
- Westside Road has a speed limit of 60 km/hr for the first part, and 70 km/hr further up the road.
- This is a curvy, narrow road winding along the edge of Okanagan Lake. I wouldn’t recommend it for big rigs.
- Be aware of wildlife, especially Bighorn Sheep. Although recognize the fact, that this is free range country, meaning, that there might be cows or horses on the road.
Westside Road – a brief history
The west side of Okanagan Lake between Kelowna and Vernon was part of the Hudson’s Bay Fur Brigade trail until the late 1800s. The lake was used for transporting goods until 1935 when the railroad was built on the other side of the lake between Kelowna and Vernon. Portions of Westside Road were started in the early 1900s, and it was a slow process to get it to today’s stage. Read about the road’s history here.
How to get to Westside Road – Starting point Vernon
Westside Road begins at Highway 97 near the north end of Okanagan Lake near Vernon, BC, and ends at Highway 97 in the south in West Kelowna, BC.
To get to Westside Road from Vernon, take Hwy 97A North, take the exit to Kamloops and follow Okanagan Hwy 97 to the Westside Road turnoff (Vernon to Westside Road turnoff is approximately 13 km).
On this stretch of Highway, you will pass Historic O’Keefe Ranch, a good place to stop.
I started the road trip in Vernon, BC, the largest city in North Okanagan. Vernon is much smaller than Kelowna, less touristy and fairly easy to get around. It has all the services and large stores, great restaurants, parks and nearby attractions worth visiting. There is plenty to see and do in and around Vernon and you won’t get bored, I promise. Vernon is also a good base for exploring the Okanagan Valley.
Interesting Fact – Cannabis in British Columbia
I don’t use the stuff myself, but if you do, you’re in luck here in British Columbia. Although there is talk about food shortage in Canada, there is definitely no shortage in cannabis production. On the first 20 km of Westside road, known as the “Green Belt” there are twelve cannabis stores, according to a local I talked to.
Evely Recreation Site
From the turnoff to Westside Road, it’s about 23 km to Evely Recreation Site. You don’t have to camp here to enjoy the place. During my winter on Westside Road, this was my little getaway heaven.
During the off-season, Evely is a gem on Westside Road and worth stopping by. If the park gate is closed, park your vehicle and walk down to the lakeshore along beautiful trails.
During summer holidays and especially weekends, this place might be super busy and lose its charm.
The campground has 50 campsites but is not suitable for big rigs. I suggest that you check it out first before driving down with a larger RV.
There is no potable water. Outhouses only and a boat launch. Almost every site has a tiny private beach.
Sugar Loaf Mountain – side trip
This is a place where mainly locals go. Not many tourists know about the Sugarloaf Mountain Hike. The trail takes you to an overlook of Okanagan Lake and the beautiful valley below. I bet that you won’t encounter many people on this trail.
Directions: Just opposite Evely Recreation Site entrance, turn right up the road and continue along this road, past gravel pits. You should see a sign for Sugarloaf Trailhead 3.7 km into Westside Road.
The duration of the hike is 1.5-2.5 hours, Distance is 4.8 km. This route has a steady, steep ascent and is perfect to get your heart rate up. It’s easy to navigate your way to the top.
When you reach the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain, you’ll follow a little loop, stopping at a collection of different viewpoints before turning around and following the path before the mini circuit back to the parking lot.
Download AllTrail App and it will take you there.
About 11 km from Evely Recreation Site is the turnoff to Fintry on the shores of Okanagan Lake. It’s easy to spend a couple of hours at the park.
Follow Fintry Delta Road, the windy road down to the Fintry Park parking lot on the left. Fintry Park includes part of the former Fintry Estate, a heritage site with a colourful history.
The set of trails begins near the parking lot. To hike up to Fintry Falls, take the wooden staircase through the forested canyon to spectacular views of its three waterfalls and deep pools. You can do a loop to get back to the car.
A trail across the field takes you to Fintry Campground and the almost 2 km waterfront with a beautiful sandy beach. I was there during the off-season and I had the whole place for myself. Fintry is ideal for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
The campground has 158 vehicle-accessible campsites for both tents and RVs, with a playground, picnic tables, flush toilets, showers, and two sani-stations. Some sites are more forested, while others are sunnier, but all are within a short walk of the lakeshore. The campground opens on March 31.
Download AllTrail App for trail details and directions.
La Casa Market and Restaurant
From Fintry, it’s about 4 km to get to La Casa Market offering groceries liquor, beer and wine. It also has an authentic Italian Eatery with delicious food.
The store is well stocked with a variety of your favourite fresh produce and a large selection of groceries, premade ready-to-go food, and even gluten-free bread. You also find household items, snacks, medications, pet food, etc.
Prices are on the high side, but being out in the middle of nowhere and on a fancy resort it has to be expected.
La Casa Market is open Sunday to Monday from 11 am – 8 pm
Bear Creek Provincial Park
Continue about 23 km on Westside Road after stopping at La Casa Market and you will arrive at beautiful Bear Creek Provincial Park. The Park is open to the public all year round, but the official camping season starts at the end of March and closes middle of October.
Here you find lakeside camping, a long sandy beach, and 5 km of hiking trails in the canyon. Book camping at Bear Creek Provincial Park.
If you’re not planning to camp at the park, stop anyways and spend time walking along the lakefront. They have excellent bathroom facilities.
Hiking Trails at Bear Creek
For getting on the hiking trails, park your vehicle at the parking lot across the road from the provincial park entrance. The Canyon Trail is pretty popular, therefore I suggest getting here early during weekends and school holidays to make sure you get a parking spot.
There are three well-marked hiking loops that all begin at the same trailhead. The routes range from a 15-minute loop trail to the 1.4 km Mid Canyon Trail and the longest is the Canyon Rim Trail at 2.5 km.
Try Ice Climbing here during the winter months!
The longest hiking trail is the 2.5 km Canyon Rim Trail and that’s the one I recommend. The trail takes you up wooden stairs, across footbridges, and up steep terrain to waterfalls and lookout points with stunning views. Okanagan Lake is shimmering below you, and Kelowna’s famous floating bridge can be seen in the far distance. Be aware of wildlife, such as rattlesnakes, bears and coyotes.
Sign up at AllTrails for directions and information about the hiking trails at Bear Creek Provincial Park.
Once you leave Bear Creek, it’s just over 6 km to the southern end of Westside Road. From here you can continue south to West Kelowna/Westbank, or turn east on Hwy 97 and head across the famous floating bridge, which takes you to the east side of Okanagan Lake to Kelowna.
Kelowna has a beautiful harbour and lakefront with a park and a sandy beach. Here you will find all facilities, restaurants, shopping centers, hotels, motels, golf courses, beaches and municipal and regional parks along with many wineries.
- Take the 3-hour walking food tour or a half-day Kelowna sightseeing tour while in Kelowna to make the most of your stay.
- Check out my 6-Day Kelowna Intinary How to spend 6 days in Kelowna.
Wildlife on Westside Road
Slow down and try to keep the speed limit. Unfortunately, there are many racers on this road. Move over if you can and let them pass. Keeping an eye out for wildlife at all times to prevent hazards to you and the animals.
If you see an animal on the side of the road, slow down – there may be more coming. Driving slow means that you will more likely to react in time to prevent a wildlife collision. Read more: Canadian Wildlife
🔗 LINK YOUR TRIP ➔ Vernon to Osoyoos Road Trip
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