Nestled peacefully in the shadow of K Mountain on the banks of the Similkameen River, in the beautiful Similkameen Valley, is the colourful village of Keremeos, 48 kilometres southwest of Penticton.
With its beginnings as a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post in 1860, and like the old prospectors who founded this town, Keremeos moved three times before finally finding a place in which to settle down.
In 1909, the astute postmaster of Upper Keremeos, Mr. George Kirby, realized that when the railway pushed through from Oroville to Hedley, the line would be built on level ground close to the Similkameen River. He purchased a tract of land and relocated his hotel by 1906. His vision came to pass, merchants and residents from the two other townsites followed suit, and Keremeos came into being.
Incorporated as a village in 1956, Keremeos derives its name from the Indian word keremeyeus, meaning creek which cuts its way across the flats, or where the valleys meet.
Today, the well-preserved early 1900s buildings give the town a distinctive Old West feel. Cattle Ranching, hay ranging and fruit growing are the economic mainstays here, with cherry, peach, pear, apricot and apple orchards blanketing the landscape. If you visit the town in the summer, you’ll be delighted by the plethora of fruit and vegetable stands in the area – more per capita than in any other fruit-growing area in Canada! The South Similkameen Valley is also home to some of the best grape growing land available.
Location: Keremeos is located at the junction of Highway 3 and Highway 3A, 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Penticton, 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Osoyoos, and 42 miles (67 km) southeast of princeton Princeton.
Spanning the Similkameen River is the Red Bridge, one of only a handful of covered bridges remaining in North America. Built by the Victoria, Vancouver and Eastern Railroad in 1907, the bridge is a reminder of that bygone time when the now abandoned railway ran up the Similkameen Valley. Today, this covered bridge is used as a highway bridge to the south side of the Similkameen River and to the Ashnola and Cathedral Lakes Park.
The Keremeos Museum displays its artifacts in the original old jailhouse on Sixth Avenue. One of the jail cells, complete with doors and bars, is being used as one of the many quaint displays. A number of ranching and settler artifacts and items are displayed, as well as some Indian artifacts, old stoves and a few unusual pieces such as the old alter from the Chopaka Indian church.
Tube down the Similkameen River from the historic Red Bridge to the village of Keremeos.
Displays of pioneer life can be viewed at the historic water-powered Grist Mill, built in 1877 by Barrington Price. Now Western Canada’s oldest flour mill, and the only one remaining with most of its machinery intact, it provides a unique opportunity to preserve and present an industry that played an important part in the settlement history of British Columbia. Careful restoration has included the reconstruction of an operating water wheel and flume. Price’s store, with its 1894 wallpaper still in place, is now an exhibit space full of intriguing hands-on displays. The site on Keremeos Creek on Upper Bench Road is open year-round, and from May to October, the costumed staff will show you how the gardening, milling and other tasks of the packhorse and goldmine era were done.
Camp along the riverside in Forest Service campsites in the Ashnola Recreation Area.
Local Produce: The friendly agri-tourism businesses in the valley welcome visitors to their award-winning wineries, orchards and farms, for tours, tastings and purchases of their farm fresh products. Organic fruits and vegetables, honey, flowers, juices and wines are all their to tempt the passing visitor.
Keremeos Columns: See the unusual geological oddity of the Keremeos Columns, natural basalt columns nearly 100 feet high extending for some distance along the face of a cliff northeast of the town. Formed from 30-million year-old volcanic activity, the columns can’t be seen from the main road, and anyone wishing to see them should turn east at the Keremeos Cemetery and drive about half a mile to a gate, beyond which a road winds up the slopes. Visitors are requested to seek permission from private landowners before embarking on the four-mile hike to the columns, located in the Keremeos Columns Provincial Park.
Cathedral Provincial Park, a 33,000-hectare wilderness area, is located 38 km southwest of Keremeos, and contains 85 km of hiking trails that lead to spectacular views, numerous lakes, and fascinating rock formations. One of the highlights of Cathedral Park is the wildlife, which includes bighorn sheep, black bears, mule deer and mountain goats. The park offers three campgrounds in its core area: Quiniscoe Lane, Pyramid, and Lake of the Woods . Vehicles aren’t permitted in the core area of Cathedral, so campers should plan on a hike in to the campsites. This mountainous park presents a wealth of thrilling hiking opportunities for both the novice and the seasoned hiker. Most of the lakes and waterways support populations of rainbow and cutthroat trout.
Rockhounding: Go rockhounding in the area for rhodonite, jasper, agate and petrified wood.
Visit the nearby Hedley Museum, which showcases the Mascot and Nickel Plate gold mines.
Apex Mountain Resort near Apex Mountain Provincial Recreation Area is located 32 km southwest of nearby Penticton off Hwy 97. Justly renowned in western Canada as one of the three prime ski and snowboard destinations in the Okanagan Valley, it’s fast becoming a popular destination for summer hikers and mountain bikers. The provincial recreation area covers Mount Riorda and Beaconsfield Mountain. From the summits of these mountains, you will enjoy the vistas of Manning and Cathedral Provincial Parks, Peachland Hills, and the rolling Okanagan Highland. More than anything else, skiers and snowboarders will love the fluffy powder snow that accumulates here. Powder fills the gun barrels of twelve steep chutes that lead skiers down from the peak of Beaconsfield Mountain (elevation 7,187 feet/2178 m), reached by the high-speed quad Westbank chairlift. The mountain is also served by a triple chair and a T-bar. Total vertical rise from the base to the peak is 2,000 feet (605 m). The 50 trails at Apex are divided between 16 percent novice, 48 percent intermediate, 18 percent advanced, and 18 percent expert ability levels. Almost anything’s possible when you have ideal conditions, and light crowds to boot. Apex Alpine also offers 7.5 miles (12 km) of cross-country trails. The trailhead is located beside the resort’s RV park. Skiing is free on the cross-country trails. Skiing & Winter Activities in the Okanagan and Similkameen.
Golf: There are 9 golf courses to choose from in the Penticton area, north of Keremeos, and nearby Osoyoos offers two fine golf courses: Sonora Dunes Golf Club is nestled among the rolling desert hills and lush vineyards of Osoyoos, surrounded by the breathtaking natural beauty of the desert. Golfers of all abilities will enjoy the solitude offered by the tranquil, natural setting. Sonora Dunes is located adjacent to Nk’Mip Cellars and the Nk’Mip Desert and Heritage Center, approximately 5 km east of downtown Osoyoos via Highway 3. Osoyoos Golf & Country Club is perched high above the town of Osoyoos, with vistas of mountains, Osoyoos Lake, desert and valley that brings together ideal desert climate and picturesque Okanagan surroundings. The club offers two full eighteen-hole championship layouts that offer all golfers a unique golfing experience: the Park Meadows Course (Blue Tees – 6,208 yards, par 72) and the Desert Gold Course (Gold Tees – 6,500 yards, par 71). Okanagan Golf Vacations.
Northwest of Keremeos is the charming little village Hedley, tucked into a shadowy draw through which the waters of Hedley Creek rush to join the Similkameen River.
Southeast of Keremeos is Osoyoos, which claims to enjoy Canada’s driest climate, with the lowest rainfall, the highest temperatures, and the warmest lakes.
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.