EXPLORING SUSTAINABLE DESTINATIONS IN KELOWNA, VERNON, KAMLOOPS, AND THE SHUSWAP
Route 97 is a classic BC road trip. Travelling through some of the province’s most stunning terrain, you’ll find sweeping vistas of golden grasslands and sagebrush steppe, craggy rock-topped hills rising above verdant valleys and lush vineyards, unending pine forests dotted with sparkling lakes, and some of BC’s most charismatic towns.
It’s hard not to feel awed and inspired by these landscapes, and over the years we’ve learned how important it is to help protect the places you love, how crucial it is to minimize your impacts. With this in mind, we set out to see a section of Route 97 from Kelowna to Kamloops, visiting some forward-thinking and sustainable businesses that do just that - as well as a few of the beautiful vistas that so inspired us.
We began our journey in Kelowna. Nestled on the shores of Okanagan Lake surrounded by scenic sun-drenched benchlands, Kelowna is the biggest city in BC’s wine country and a popular year-round getaway, warmed by a laid-back culture of fresh food and delicious drink.
You’ll discover orchards and farm markets scattered throughout town, and we found yourselves returning to Paynter’s and Gatzke’s again and again for fresh-picked pears and apples. There are a lot of wineries nearby, too, and we enjoyed tastings at the First Nations-operated Indigenous World Winery, the organic Sperling Vineyard, and the famed Summerhill Pyramid Winery (where we also got a quick lesson on both biodynamics and sacred geometry!). Once you’ve eaten and drank your fill, head out for a quick hike up Knox Mountain, or rent some bikes and explore the breathtaking trestles and tunnels of Myra Canyon.
Venturing north towards the cozy town of Vernon, we entered the beautiful lake country of the North Okanagan. Gentle rolling hills and big blue lakes of many hues spread out almost as far as the eye could see, and we wanted to explore every nook and sage-scented valley.
For a really fun (and emissions free!) experience touring the Okanagan, rent a Tesla through Okanagan Powertrips. Zip around the scenic Kalamalka and Okanagan Lakes, stopping in at the Camelot Haven Alpaca Farm for some hyper-local yarns or Davison Orchards for crisp apples and fresh-pressed juice, and then head towards the Monashee Mountains to Wildcraft Forest, where you can immerse yourself in the trees and sample some unique forest-flavoured teas.
Continuing on, we drove north to see the salmon return to the Shuswap. Home to some of North America’s biggest sockeye runs, millions of fish make their way all the way from Alaska and up the Fraser and Thompson Rivers to the Adams River spawning grounds. Every four years the runs are so big that it seems like the entire river is a shimmering, splashing, sockeye red. People come from all around the world to witness the spectacle, just as untold numbers of Secwepemc First Nations have done for thousands of years. It felt like such a momentous and important thing to see, a tiny trembling connection to the quiet rhythms of the planet.
Leaving the Shuswap, we turned west to follow the river down towards the city of Kamloops. Surrounded by dazzlingly barren hills, Kamloops sits at the confluence of the South and North Thompson Rivers in a stunning landscape of lush vineyards and desolate hills. It quickly became one of our favourite landscapes in BC.
There’s a ton to see and explore from the web of trails in Kenna Cartwright Regional Park to the magnificent Lac du Bois Grasslands. After hiking, relax with a quiet stroll through the historic downtown, grab a treat from the weekend farmer’s market, or head out on a tasting tour at a couple of the local wineries like Monte Creek Ranch and Privato.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Megan McLellan & Emanuel Smedbol are photographers from Vancouver, BC. Driven by a passion for sharing local trips & trails, they started the adventure blog Field and Forest. When they aren’t out hiking & camping you can usually find them strolling around the neighbourhood daydreaming about hiking and camping.
W: fieldandforest.co IG: @fieldandforest