Sports and the Outdoors
Kettle Valley Rail Trail. This former railroad route runs through some of the Okanagan's prettiest and most dramatic countryside. Bikers and hikers can follow the trail in sections, the most popular being from Brodie (along Highway 5) to just east of Midway (on Highway 3). Other sections run between Penticton and Naramata and through the Kelowna area. Pick up trail maps from the visitor center in Kelowna. Kelowna, www.kettlevalleyrailtrail.com.
With more than 35 courses in the Okanagan Valley—19 in the Kelowna region alone—golf is a big draw. Several courses have joined forces to create Golf Kelowna (www.golfkelowna.com), a one-stop shop for tee times, accommodation, and visitor information.
Gallagher's Canyon Golf and Country Club. Located about 15 km (9 miles) southeast of downtown Kelowna, Gallagher's Canyon is part of a golf community development and has an 18-hole championship course that meanders among ponderosa pines, as well as a shorter nine-hole course. Greens fees include use of a cart. It's a challenging course, and the vistas of the mountains, orchards, and vineyards are a nice bonus. 4320 Gallagher's Dr. W, Kelowna, V1W 3Z9. 250/861–4240; 800/446–5322; www.golfbc.com/courses/gallaghers_canyon. C$159 for 18 holes; C$27 for 9 holes.
Harvest Golf Club. Surrounded by lush vineyards and orchards (you can pick peaches, apricots, pears, and five kinds of apples while you play), the 18-hole Harvest Golf Club is aptly named. The championship course has bent-grass fairways and multiple tees so you're always challenged. Greens fees include a cart. Open from mid-March to mid-November, the Harvest Grille serves breakfast and lunch consisting of sandwiches, salads, and other casual fare; more substantial dishes are added to the menu in the evening. 2725 KLO Rd., Kelowna, V1W 4S1. 250/862–3103; 800/257–8577; www.harvestgolf.com. C$125.
Okanagan Golf Club. With their Okanagan Valley views, the two courses at the Okanagan Golf Course are a feast for the eyes. The Quail Course is a challenging hillside course with dramatic changes in elevation and tight, tree-lined fairways. The Jack Nicklaus–designed Bear Course is more forgiving. High-season greens fees include a cart. 3200 Via Centrale, Kelowna, V1V 2A4. 250/765–5955; 800/446–5322; www.golfbc.com/courses/bear. C$159 for either course.
Ski the Okanagan? Outside of British Columbia, the Okanagan's ski resorts may not be that well known, but they're quite popular with Vancouverites and other Canadians. Unlike coastal ski resorts, such as Whistler-Blackcomb, which tend to have damp weather, the Okanagan resorts are blessed with dry powdery snow and bright sunny days. Okanagan mountains may not have the glam factor of more celebrated ski destinations, or as many high-brow dining options, but they are easy to navigate and really know how to cater to families.
Ski season generally begins in late November or early December and continues through mid-April. The busiest times are the Christmas/New Year holidays and in mid-March when many schools in the western U.S. and Canada have their spring break. In summer, the resorts turn to mountain biking and championship golf. For more information about skiing and other winter activities in the Okanagan, contact the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association. ()
Big White Ski Resort. With an average annual snowfall of more than 750 cm (24 feet), this family-oriented resort is a hot favorite. The mountain has a vertical drop of 777 m (2,550 feet) and a good mix of more than 118 runs, served by 16 up-to-date lifts. You can ski or walk anywhere in the compact village, which has more ski-in/ski-out accommodations than any other Canadian resort. There are excellent day-care and children's programs, a ski school, and night skiing five times a week. Three snowboard parks, 25 km (15 miles) of cross-country trails, snowmobiling, ice-skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, dog sledding, a 60-foot ice climbing wall, and Canada's largest snow-tubing park, round out the resort's myriad options. Shuttles run regularly from the Kelowna Airport to the mountain; on weekends and holidays, there's also shuttle service from several Kelowna-area hotels. Big White Rd., off Hwy. 33 about 1 hr southeast of Kelowna, Kelowna, 250/765–8888; 800/663–2772; 250/765–7669; www.bigwhite.com. One-day lift ticket C$84.
Silver Star Mountain Resort. The friendly Silver Star Mountain Resort, 22 km (14 miles) northeast of Vernon, has six chairlifts, a vertical drop of 2,500 feet, 115 runs on 3,065 skiable acres, and night skiing. The resort also has 60 km (37 miles) of groomed, track-set cross-country trails; two half pipes for boarders; snow tubing, snowmobile, or snowshoe tours; sleigh rides, and skating. The Victorian-style village has several ski-in, ski-out hotels and lodges, restaurants, and a day spa. Although only 65 km (40 miles) from Kelowna International Airport, this smaller mountain is usually quieter than its "big sisters" so line-ups are less time-consuming. That holds true in the summer, too, when ski runs convert to mountain bike trails. Silver Star Rd., Silver Star Mountain, 250/542–0224; 800/663–4431; www.skisilverstar.com. One-day lift ticket C$81.
Sun Peaks Resort. With a 2,891-foot vertical drop, 3,678 skiable acres on three mountains, lots of sunshine, powder snow, and a 2,500-foot-long snowboard park, Sun Peaks Resort can keep most powderhounds happy. Twelve lifts serve the 122 downhill runs. This family-friendly resort also offers a ski school, day care, 30 km (18 miles) of groomed and tracked cross-country trails, snowshoeing, dog-sledding, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides. The compact Tyrolean-themed village has a number of ski-in, ski-out hotels and places to eat. The mountain is 53 km (33 miles) north of Kamloops, and shuttle services will transport skiers from Kamloops Airport. There's also a twice-a-week shuttle from the Vancouver Airport. Note: In summer, Sun Peaks becomes one of British Columbia's top mountain-bike destinations, and also opens up its 18-hole championship golf course. 1280 Alpine Rd., Sun Peaks, 250/578–5484; 800/807–3257; www.sunpeaksresort.com. One-day lift ticket C$84; Nordic skiing C$18.