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How to Safely Explore the Desert Trails of Osoyoos

Osoyoos is home to a unique and fragile desert ecosystem of antelope brush and cacti, set against rolling hills, with acres of lush green vineyards and orchards. It’s what’s known as a “semi-arid shrub-steppe” desert, and it’s absolutely breathtaking. It’s incredible to explore, but when heading out on our trails and walkways, it’s important to keep in mind a few trail tips.

1. Hit the trails earlier to avoid the desert heat

We’re considered Canada’s Warmest Welcome for a reason! Even in the spring and fall, the weather can still heat up considerably, so we recommend doing most of your outside activities earlier or later in the day if possible to avoid the sun at its most intense. In the summer, that generally means before 11 am and after 4 pm.

And no matter what time of day, always remember to keep hydrated!

2. Watch your step and be respectful of wandering wildlife

The BC Southern Interior has one of the highest concentrations of at-risk species in Canada, from insects and amphibians to plants and animals, including some pretty unique creatures that call the desert home – like the Western Rattlesnake. Keep an eye out when you’re on the trails and be sure to leave ample space.

3. Keep pets on a leash to avoid any unpleasant encounters with snakes or cacti⁠

In a desert environment, cacti and snakes are to be expected along the trails. To ensure the safety of your pets as well as the local flora & fauna, please stay on the trail and keep your pet on a leash.  Also, make sure to thoroughly check your pup’s fur for cactus spines if you think they may have come in contact with these prickly plants!  

4. Don’t venture off the designated trails⁠

Due to the fragile nature of Osoyoos’ desert ecosystem, it’s important to stick to the marked, designated trails. Travelling off the path can lead to damage to the vegetation, harm to wildlife, as well as contribute to long-term issues such as soil erosion. Help keep habitats intact and plant life in pristine condition so everyone can enjoy the area!

5. Leave no trace: keep our trails clean and leave nature as you found it

As a Biosphere committed destination, communities like Osoyoos in the Thompson Okanagan region believe in respectful and sustainable tourism for locals and visitors alike. While out exploring this diverse area, ask yourself: “Is my action impacting the land in a negative way? What can I do to minimize my impact and leave it unchanged?”.

Here are some tips to help you leave no trace behind on your travels from Leave No Trace Canada:

  • Plan Ahead and Prepare
  • Travel on Durable Surfaces
  • Dispose of Waste Properly
  • Leave What You Find
  • Respect Wildlife
  • Be Considerate of Other Visitors

And of course – make sure to enjoy the experience and stop to take in the view! Discover one of the area’s many hiking and walking trails, then cool off after your day in the desert at one of the local beaches along Osoyoos Lake.