On the southern edge of British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley sits an extraordinary habitat popularly referred to as Canada’s pocket desert. The region around Osoyoos is described as a semi-arid, antelope-brush ecosystem and is considered one of Canada’s most rare, fragile and endangered ecosystems.
What we are saying is that you don’t want to miss experiencing this desert environment where Osoyoos is located. Whether it is the unique wildlife, fascinating flora, warm and stunning lake or rolling desert hills, taking in nature will be something you won’t soon forget and you can do so in many different ways.
Here are a few options for how you can experience, engage with and enjoy nature in the Osoyoos area.
From A Bike
Biking is an extremely popular way to get around the South Okanagan and one of the best ways to see all that nature has to offer. Whether it is taking in the rolling desert hills from a road bike, or shredding the desert dirt trails on a mountain bike, breathtaking views will be had!
There is a growing network of mountain biking trails that will take nature-goers to some very explore-worthy areas, mapped out on Trail Forks.
On The Lake
Osoyoos Lake is the warmest freshwater lake in Canada – averaging approximately 24°C (75°F) in July and August. Surrounded by desert landscapes, vineyards, orchards, hills and mountains, Osoyoos Lake is truly a paradise for all ages.
Warm temperatures make Osoyoos Lake perfect for swimming, boating, SUP, kayaking, fishing, tubing, or floating. The lake can be accessed from dozens of points all around Osoyoos, including the town centre.
Several public beaches and parks also line Osoyoos Lake, which makes for a perfect day soaking in nature.
By Foot On The Trails
Walking or hiking in the region is another great way to experience the desert ecosystem.
There are several trails, such as Strawberry Creek Trail or Mount Kobau Trail that will rise in elevation and give panoramic views of the surroundings, while also offering close-ups of desert plants.
Explorers can also choose trails like the International Hike & Bike Trail or the Oxbows Trail, which stay flat but are incredible spots for seeing wildlife such as birds. Osoyoos recently was added as an outpost along the BC Bird Trail and is home to a spectrum of spectacular birds, adding to any nature experience.
At Osoyoos Desert Centre
Experience the beauty and diversity of this unique desert environment at the Osoyoos Desert Centre, a 67-acre nature interpretive facility located 3 km north of Osoyoos. Enjoy a guided or self-guided tour along our 1.5 km boardwalk, explore hands-on displays in their interpretive building, and stroll through their native plant garden.
At Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
The spectacular Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre (pronounced in-ka-meep) is a state-of-the-art interpretive centre and is an architectural marvel sensitively constructed into a hillside. Extensive indoor and outdoor exhibit galleries create a fun, interactive learning environment with hands-on displays, education stations and two multi-media theatre experiences. Discover the fascinating stories of Canada’s only desert and share in the rich living culture of the Okanagan people.
Completed in 2007, this 1,600-acre desert conservation area – the largest remnant of the Great American Desert- is one of Canada’s most endangered places. Stewarding for its protection, The Osoyoos Indian Band wanted a place with purpose. Here you can discover the desert ecology and wildlife, hear the legends of Sen’klip (Coyote), and meet interpreters who give daily trail walks. See eye-to-eye with a Western Rattlesnake. Experience the beauty of Nk’mip’s sage and antelope-brush desert environment.