The FlyOver Canada experience captures Canada in all its glory as it zooms in on some of the country’s most remarkable places. One of them is the spectacular Okanagan Valley.
This part of British Columbia is lovely year-round. But in the fall, as life winds down for winter, wind breathes life into the air as it hisses through the valley's renowned fruit-bearing trees. The sun is brisk. The air sharp. Bright red and gold colours of ripe fruit abound.
This is harvest time in the south-central interior of bountiful British Columbia. It is B.C.’s most vital agricultural region and the hub of the province’s wine country. And it makes for a very pretty FlyOver scene. During the FlyOver Canada film, our pilots and camera team whisk into a ripe vineyard and follow mountain bikers through the vines as sprinklers spray the landscape.
The lakes and rolling hills of the Okanagan Valley wind their way 200 kilometres (125 miles) up from the town of Osoyoos just north of the U.S. border to the city of Vernon at the north.
This is a region of lakeshore communities and a uniquely "un-Canadian" climate, harnessed by the city of Kelowna and defined by the grand Okanagan Lake.
Vineyards and Orchards
Beautiful terraced vineyards are tucked into every hillside of the Okanagan Valley—there are more than 185 of them. You’ll find small, family-run businesses and large, world-class operations. Wine lovers are drawn to the area for the renowned sun-ripened flavours of B.C. Riesling, Pinot Gris and Syrah varietals. The warm, relaxed climate and ever-so-lush views triple the appeal.
Meanwhile, orchards appear around every corner with roadside markets alongside. Honeycrisp apples and Bing cherries spill out of barrels. Locally-made syrups spiked with the juices of the delicious fruits line the shelves.
Positioned in the rain shadow of the Cascade and Coast mountain ranges, the area is known to have a sunny, dry climate, ideal for fruit growing. Temperatures climb to a simmering heat during summer days and settle into a comfortable coolness at night.
Biking the Okanagan's Mountains and Trails
While touring the wineries by bike is an undeniably cool activity in the valley, abandoned rail beds and tunnels of the Kettle Valley Railway—a heritage site near Summerland—pack huge appeal for cyclists.
There’s no doubt, two-wheeled adventurers own their rightful place in the Okanagan Valley. Penticton has a thriving mountain and downhill biking scene. Kelowna has world-class trail networks, and Vernon has Silver Star Bike Park, a top-shelf lift-access park with more than 100 kilometres of groomed terrain and equally awesome views.
Extensive cross-country tracks trace the outskirts of Kelowna. Wide open rail trails, fast single-track riding and all-mountain terrain can be found a little further beyond the city. If an easy, scenic ride for the family is what your soul craves, the Okanagan has you covered there, too.
Lakes and Natural Spaces
Lakes of the Okanagan Valley spill over with life in the summer and sit peacefully under a canopy of trees and terraces in fall. There are several lakes in the area. Okanagan Lake is the largest, running through the valley for 120 kilometres (75 miles) from Vernon, through Kelowna and to Penticton in the south. Swan, Kalamalka and Wood lakes run east to west, with Skaha, Vaseux and Osoyoos lakes in the south. The whole system drains into the grand Columbia River and flows out into the Pacific Ocean.
The countless waterways and provincial parks that encompass the area make the Okanagan Valley a wildly tempting destination for nature lovers, and wine lovers, too.
The city of Kelowna, in the heart of the Okanagan Valley and wine country, has an international airport. For those who prefer the simplicity of road travel, it is around a four-hour drive from Vancouver to Kelowna, and five hours from Banff National Park to Vernon, B.C., along the Trans-Canada Highway.