The Richness of the North Okanagan & Shuswap
The North Okanagan/Shuswap is a land of lakes and mountains, ranchlands, and orchards. Beyond the fertile fields lie the Monashee Mountains and Shuswap Highlands. There are several great road trips to choose from. Pick an adventure and you’re off! Road trips in this area include the Shuswap Loop, the Okanagan Corridor, and the Monashee and Boundary Monashee Loops.
Take the Fork in the Road
Vernon is the largest city in the North Okanagan. Cherryville, Armstrong-Spallumcheen, and Enderby are also located here. Falkland, Salmon Arm, and Sicamous are just three of many small communities in the Shuswap, most of which hug the shoreline of Shuswap Lake.
The city of Vernon lies to the north of Kalamalka Lake. It has a vibrant history, much of which is depicted in murals painted on buildings in the downtown area. There are 28 murals that chronicle the area and the people who laid the foundation for what you see today. Come hike and bike trails galore around three lakes and five provincial parks that border the city. Visit a multigenerational farm with a petting zoo and tractor museum that sells everything it grows on site. Afterwards, visit the meadery and honey shop down the road where you can observe a working hive. Warmer months mean it’s time to get to the beach and lakes or out on the golf course. In the winter, head up to SilverStar Mountain Resort for some great snow fun including 105 km (65 mi) of groomed Nordic trails.
Where the Forks in the Road Lead You
The North Okanagan & Shuswap are located on two arms of Route 97 – 97A and 97B. Stay on Route 97 and you’ll find yourself veering northwest of Vernon. Enjoy the scenery as you head towards the Thompson Region, the city of Kamloops, and beyond. This section of highway winds past a historic ranch where Vernon’s story began. Route 97 branches off to 97A towards Armstrong-Spallumcheen, where you can explore the Barn Quilt Trail, the cheese factory, and an asparagus farm. The Interior Provincial Exhibition happens here every Labour Day weekend. Take in year-round outdoor performances at the Caravan Farm Theatre.
A few minutes up the road is Enderby with the largest drive-in theatre screen in North America. Hike the Enderby Cliffs with stunning views of both the Shuswap and the Okanagan Valley. Minutes north of Enderby, the Shuswap begins. Hwy 97A forks off to the east to Sicamous and 97B forks off to the west to Salmon Arm.
Sicamous, on 97A, lies on the shores of Eagle River, Mara Lake, and Shuswap Lake. It is known as the Houseboat Capital of Canada. There’s an abundance of outdoor activities including wildlife viewing, fishing, golfing, hiking, and cycling. In the winter, the boats are put away and the snowmobiles come out.
Take 97B from outside of Enderby and you’ll find yourself in the beautiful town of Salmon Arm along one of the arms of Shuswap Lake. Walking and hiking trails are plentiful in and around town. Make sure you take a stroll along Canada’s longest wooden inland curved wharf. There are many more trails within minutes of the city centre – for walking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
Continue on to Route 97B and you’ll arrive in Salmon Arm’s Shuswap Country. Come enjoy a lakeside retreat at the home of the legendary Roots & Blues Festival. The Shuswap has several other small towns, most of which lies on the banks of Shuswap Lake. There’s also Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, home of the famous Adams River Salmon Run.
Need to Know:
|Distance — Kelowna to Sicamous:||129km/80mi|
|Duration to drive:||Minimum two to three hours|
|Best time to drive:||Year round|