Situated at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers in the Thompson Valley, the sprawling city of Kamloops takes its name from the First Nations word T’kumlups, meaning meeting place. Water isn’t the only thing that meets here; the Trans-Canada, the Yellowhead and Highway 97 all meet in Kamloops, as do the two national rail lines, CP and CN.
The Secwepemc nation has inhabited the Kamloops region for thousands of years, basing their society on hunting and gathering and a dynamic trading economy. It was the native fur trade that first attracted white interest to the area, and dramatically changed the lives of the Shuswap Indians. The Secwepemc called the location of the present city Cumcloups. During the fur trade era the name Kamloops denoted the Indian settlement, but after 1867, the aboriginal name was gradually adopted for the village as a whole, with Kamloops being incorporated as a town in 1893.
David Stuart and Alexander Ross visited Kamloops in 1811. Stuart returned the following year to set up the first fur trading post, the American-owned Pacific Fur Company. Two years later the rival Northwest Fur Company had set up a post, and by 1821, the Hudson’s Bay Company had taken control of the fur trade in Kamloops.
Gold Rush fever in the 1850s and the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in the 1880s contributed to the rapid expansion of the settlement. Until the 1860s, the Fort at Kamloops was an important depot for the horse-drawn pack trains that travelled to and from the coast.
Today, Kamloops is the second largest city in the southern interior of BC (after Kelowna), and the fifth largest in British Columbia. The major industry is forestry, followed by tourism, ranching and mining. The landscape is characterized by rivers, mountains, lakes and grasslands, which offer unsurpassed opportunities for year-round outdoor adventure, enough to keep even the most avid outdoor enthusiast busy. Blue skies, endless sunshine, deep powder snow, one thousand lakes and spectacular landscapes make the Kamloops Region the natural place to visit and experience unparalleled adventure opportunities.
Kamloops is famous for its hospitality, offering visitors all the amenities of a big city – first class accommodation and dining, a lively arts scene, modern shops, a full range of businesses and wonderful parks and recreation facilities. The weekly Farmer’s Market, a world-class wildlife park, eight golf courses, endless miles of walking and biking trails, and scenic boat tours are just a few more reasons to visit Kamloops.
Kamloops is a vital transportation hub easily reached from every part of the province. BC’s four major highways, Highway 1 (Trans-Canada East and West), Highway 5 North (Yellowhead), Highway 5 South (Coquihalla) and Highway 97 all meet in Kamloops. Full service air and rail connections in Kamloops catering to travellers from every corner of the globe make the city truly international.
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The colourful history and personality of Kamloops is captured under one roof at the Kamloops Museum. From Natural History to Shuswap culture, from the fur trade and Gold Rush eras to the days of steam engines and Victorian elegance. Located on the corner of Seymour Street and 2nd Avenue.
Experience the rich cultural history of the Shuswap people at the Secwepemc Museum & Native Heritage Park, on the banks of the South Thompson River. The attractive museum exhibits incorporate the oral history and legends of the Secwepemc People, along with historical photographs, illustrations and artifacts. On display is a birch bark and dugout canoe, a summer mat lodge, and exhibits on hunting, fishing, clothing, games, food gathering and cooking. The museum is on the Kamloops Indian Reserve on the Yellowhead Highway north just north of Kamloops.
The Rocky Mountain Rangers Museum & Archives is a military museum dedicated to preserving and portraying the long and proud history of The Rocky Mountain Rangers from 1898 to the present day. Located in Battalion Headquarters on McGill Road.
A good place to start the Kamloops Heritage Walking Tour is at the Men’s Christian Hostel on Victoria Street West. Heritage buildings viewed on this leisurely two-hour walk include the Federal Building, constructed in 1900 and the last remaining building from Kamloop’s first street, the Old Court House (1909), and the brick Royal Bank building completed in 1912.
BC Wildlife Park: Meet local and endangered species of wildlife at the BC Wildlife Park. The park has 65 BC species including Grizzly bears, Timber wolves, Cougars, Moose, Mountain goat, Birds of Prey and many more, all in the spacious exhibits on the beautiful grounds. The Discovery Centre includes the BC Eco-Discovery Gallery that features interactive fun and learning experiences. This gallery allows guests to explore the unique habitats of the province on which BC wildlife depend – Rainforest, Grasslands, Mountains, Interior Plateaus and the North.
The Kamloopa Pow Wow is one of the largest gatherings in Western Canada showcasing First Nation’s culture! Kamloopa Pow Wow is an annual three-day event that takes place on the August long weekend and it attracts performers, competitors, crafters and artists. The Pow Wow is a spectacular expression of the Secwepemc heritage here in the Kamloops area and boasts vibrant display of storytelling, song, and dance.
The climate in Kamloops makes for perfect conditions to grow American Ginseng, thus attracting the Sunmore Ginseng Factory. The ginseng product is shipped world wide to Canadian, North American, European and Asian market. Take a free tour of the factory and learn all about the amazing natural root which is used to help de-stress and keep your body in top condition.
Kamloops Art Gallery: Art is an incredible expression of culture, people, memories and creative articulation for all ages. Kamloops has the principal gallery for visual arts in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. Escape from the busy day-to-day happenings for an hour and immerse yourself in an atmosphere of inspired creations at the Kamloops Art Gallery.
Kenna Cartwright Park encompasses almost 800 hectacres of Mount Dufferin, and offers an extensive network of gentle nature trails for hiking or cycling, with panoramic views of the city, the Thompson Valley, Kamloops Lake and the convergence of the North and South Thompson Rivers. Wildlife species such as squirrel, bluebird, hawk, deer, coyote and bear visit and inhabit the park. The park is also host to three provincially blue-listed (vulnerable) species – the Great Basin Spadefoot Toad, Great Basin Gopher Snake and Lewis’ Woodpecker, as well as 1 red-listed (endangered) species – the Badger.
Hoodoos: The clay benches along the South Thompson River were once the bottom and shoreline of glacial Lake Thompson, 10,000 years ago. Centuries of erosion have carved giant hoodoos into the clay banks. Other hoodoos and fascinating geological formations can be found at Mara Hill, within the city limits on the north shore, and along Tranquille Creek, just west of Kamloops.
Whether you enjoy cycling, roller blading or just going for a stroll, McArthur Island Park on the north bank of the Thompson River is the place to be. And if you’re downtown, Riverside Park is yet another delightful spot.
Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park: In the Shuswap Highlands region east of Kamloops, hike the gentle trails in Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park in fall to see a host of migratory birds. The park offers camping in a lushly forested environment, sheltered by towering cottonwoods. Spring wildflowers bloom in extraordinary profusion, as birds make their northern migration through this area of the Shuswap Highlands. Come fall, the birds are back again. Fishing and easygoing hiking are both good reasons to camp here.
Steelhead Provincial Park, a recently created park, is located on the southwest shore of Kamloops Lake. Summer recreation draws a crowd, but at other times you’ll have this park and its wonderfully eroded landscape to yourself. This is an angling hot spot, too. Take Hwy 1 about 35 km west of Kamloops.
Near the west end of Kamloops Lake, Savona Provincial Park offers a pretty spot for a picnic and a swim. Highway 1 runs right past the park.
Lac Le Jeune Provincial Park, located 37 km southwest of Kamloops, offers camping and water sports, and provides lakeshore hiking opportunities, horseshoe pitches, and visitor-program activities in its amphitheatre. The park also contains two archaeological sites. The waters of Lac le Jeune are famous for producing fighting rainbow trout. The campground serves as a base for recreational activities at Stake and Walloper Lakes.
Walloper Lake Provincial Park is accessible via the Lac Le Jeune exit just off the Coquihalla Highway, south of Kamloops. This small lake is surrounded by an open lodgepole pine forest. Facilities include picnic tables in a day-use picnic area, pit toilets, and a fishing wharf. No overnight camping is permitted, and an undeveloped area provides launching for small boats only.
Stake Lake has extensive hiking trails and standard-issue, single-track, mountain bike trails. In winter Stake Lake is a popular cross-country skiing venue.
McConnell Lake Provincial Park offers 102 hectares of natural wilderness located south of Kamloops. The park encompasses several small lakes and is famous for its fly-fishing. McConnell Lake has been known to produce 1.5+ kg rainbow trout! The park contains an extensive trail network that is popular with hikers in the summer and cross-country skiers in the winter.
Paul Lake Provincial Park lies just north of Kamloops. The park’s vehicle/tent sites are as popular with RVers as the extensive picnic grounds are with day trippers. The park features a car-top boat launch, and an easy, 13-km round-trip hiking trail leads to a great view of the lake and nearby Harper Mountain. Paul Lake is stocked with two species of rainbow trout, and is easily accessed with a cartop boat. Take Hwy 5 north of Kamloops; turn east off the highway and drive for about 17 km on paved road. The total distance from the city is about 24 km.
North Thompson River Provincial Park includes a quiet campground with vehicle/tent sites on the banks of the North Thompson River. A riverside picnic area, a playground, and trails complement the campsites in a forested area near the confluence of the Clearwater and North Thompson Rivers. Canoeing and kayaking are superb, as is the hiking. Smooth depressions in the ground are evidence of former Native Canadian habitation in the park; check out the two archeological sites as well. Take Hwy 5 for 118 km north of Kamloops.
Buse Lake Protected Area is a favourite location for birders, naturalists, and rockhounders. Buse Lake and the marl edges attract a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds, with some relatively rare species such as American avocets, which are attracted to the rich alkaline shoreline. Hiking is easy, and the top of Buse Hill offers expansive views of surrounding landscapes of the Thompson Basin.
Hiking: Mother Nature has blessed Kamloops with some of the best hiking trails in the Interior. Receding glaciers during the Pleistocene Era has left the landscape rich in beauty and provided endless trails throughout the area.
Juniper Beach Provincial Park: Juniper Beach is one of the few access points to the Thompson River between Savona and Spences Bridge. One of the newest parks in British Columbia, it was created to help protect a desert landscape. Some of the world’s best steelhead fishing is found here. In July, you’ll be able to watch sockeye salmon as they travel upstream to spawn in the Adams River. Visitors can pretend to join them by taking a plunge in a large, natural pool that is separated from the river for swimming. Take Hwy 1 west of Kamloops for about 40 km.
Fishing: The nearly 200 lakes in the Kamloops area make it one of the best freshwater fishing destinations in North America, whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter. Steelhead, eastern brook and rainbow trout can be found in most lakes. Once the cold weather sets in and the ice thickens up, determined ice fishermen can be found on a number of the lakes in the region. Some may choose to visit a secluded lake or visit one of the many fishing lodges open year-round. Consult the BC Freshwater Fishing Synopsis to determine which lakes are open for ice fishing.
Kamloops Trout: As well known as the famed steelhead are the Kamloops trout. Kamloops trout are a unique strain of trout that put on an eye-popping, acrobatic performance for fly-fishers skilled enough to hook one. These wild rainbow trout, native to central and south-central Interior regions of the province, are the prize in Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park.
Windsurfing: Occasional strong winds make Nicola Lake a popular place to go windsurfing and sailing. Nicola Lake is home to the Kamloops Sailing Association, which operates the Quilchena Sailing Centre on the lake, a facility with moorage, docking, and boat-storage facilities.
Golf: Thin air and summer temperatures that rise above 90 deg F mean that the ball really flies at the eleven golf courses in the Kamloops area; The Dunes Golf Course, Eaglepoint Golf & Country Club, Kamloops Golf & Country Club, Rivershore Golf Club, Sun Rivers Golf Resort, Aberdeen Hills Golf Course, McArthur Island Golf Club, Mount Paul Golf Club, Pineridge Golf Course and Tobiano Golf Course (just east of Savona). Kamloops Golf Vacations (High Country).
Winter Activities: Once the leaves have fallen from the trees and the birds have flown south, Kamloops becomes a winter wonderland bursting with activity. Two downhill ski areas near Kamloops are and . Whether you go tobogganing, ski the diamond slopes or challenge the snowboard park, Kamloops is the place to do it all. Cross-country ski enthusiasts travel from all parts of the world to experience the wonderful cross-country skiing in the mellow, rounded hills and snow-carpeted meadows in this area. Whether you’re interested in groomed trails, backcountry, or just looking for some peace and solitude along a trail, Kamloops is the place to discover it. The Stake Lake Ski Trails can be found 25 minutes by car from downtown Kamloops, Sun Peaks Ski Resort and Harper Mountain both offer groomed trails, and Roche Lake is the place if it’s backcountry trails you desire – there are miles of old logging roads to explore. Lac le Jeune and Bush Lake are also very popular.
Skiing & Winter Activities in the Thompson Okanagan area.
Snowmobiling: Kamloops has the terrain to suit any type of snowmobiler. Drive less than an hour in any direction and you’ll find everything from wide-groomed trails to towering peaks and bowls. Riders usually find themselves in layers of deep powder in early November. Try Greenstone Mountain for novices and intermediate riders, Easy Meadows, and Tranquille Lake.
Dog sledding is a true epic experience enjoyed by many adventurers here in the Kamloops region. We have lots of fresh wide-open spaces and groomed trails to take your team for a run. Or go for a peaceful tour with a guide and a team of excited and playful Siberian or Alaskan huskies.
Sleigh Rides: What a great way to spend an hour or two: bundled up in a sleigh, enjoying the warm winter’s sun on your face, cruising across snow-drifted fields and along special trails — behind a team of big beautiful horses happily trotting along! Sleigh rides are a great activity for everyone!
Music lovers will appreciate the fun and music at the Kamloops Bluegrass Festival held in July.
Winter Wine Festival is not just about Icewine, but all of the famous wine varietals of the Okanagan Wine Country region. Enjoy a wonderful marriage of culinary events, wine tastings, educational seminars and some of the best skiing and snowboarding anywhere in the world. Hosted by Sun Peaks Resort in mid January.
Wagon and Hay Rides are lots of fun here in Kamloops! Get up close to real work horses and see some scenery from a view you can only experience when taking a good ol’ ride on a restored wagon or one that’s is filled with sweet hay!
Rockhounding & Fossil Hunting: As a city once covered by water, Kamloops is rich in minerals, fossils, and precious stones left behind as the waters receded through geographical changes. Search for fossils, gold, opals, agates, zeolites, geodes and many other precious gemstones. Let local knowledgeable and qualified guides take you to treasured places where you can dig to your hearts content.
Rock Climbing: Getting out and going for a climb is a great way to test your endurance. Kamloops is home to many great climbs that offer varying degrees of intensity. Head out to The Beach on Kamloops Lake for a nice day climb, or make it a an overnight camping trip and make your way to the gorgeous Marble Canyon rocks, the bouldering areas at Oregon Jack, or the more forested areas at Roche Lake.
Mountain Biking: As the birthplace of “freeriding,” Kamloops has always attracted mountain bike enthusiasts. The Kamloops area offers a vast selection of diverse, easy-to-access topography for riders, from desert-like, single-track courses to high-speed alpine riding to exhilarating BMX tracks. Rugged canyons, hoodoos, logging roads, sliders, ramps and kilometers of recreational riding provide bountiful terrain for both adventure and leisure bikers.
Skydiving: One free-fall and you’ll surely catch skydiving fever as you glide over hills, mountains and the glistening Thompson River. Come to Kamloops for a dazzling skydiving experience. Qualified coaches certified by the Canadian Sport Parachute Association are available should you need help or instruction.
Farm Guide: Travellers looking for a down-to-earth experience can find a list of resources and activities featured in the Kamloops Farm Fresh Guide. The guide showcases the diversity of life in the Thompson Nicola region, which ranges from wine tasting to guided family horseback rides on a working cattle ranch. Visitors can use the guide (available from Tourism Kamloops) to locate area farmer’s markets and fall fairs, discover fresh-picked fruit and vegetables, farm-raised meat and eggs, and value-added products like honey and jellies.
To the west of Kamloops is the Gold Country community of Savona, located on the shores of beautiful Kamloops Lake, named after Francois Savona, who in 1859 established a ferry service across the Thompson River where it flows out of Kamloops Lake.
To the east of Kamloops is the sunny Shuswap region that offers a four-season playground that boasts the largest houseboat fleet in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. The Shuswap Lake system offers more than 1,000 kilometres of shoreline to explore, amidst spectacular scenery and a pristine environment.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.
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