Located on the southern end of Skaha Lake in the Okanagan Valley, and known locally as OK Falls, the little community of Okanagan Falls was originally known as Dogtown, from the Okanagan First Nations word Skaha, meaning dog, after which the nearby Skaha Lake was named.
Okanagan Falls was named after small twin waterfalls that were once part of a scenic natural landscape located at the southern end of Skaha Lake where it emptied into the Okanagan River. The falls were reduced to a series of gentle rapids in the 1950s with the construction of a flood control dam to control the level of water flowing south in the Okanagan River.
Okanagan Falls is a charming little town best visited for its tasty pleasures: It is home to the largest ice-cream cone seller in the valley, Tickleberry’s; and two prestigious wineries, Wild Goose Vineyards and Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards (formerly LeComte Estate Winery). The community of Okanagan Falls was founded on agriculture, and today provides fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious dried fruits and award winning wines.
The South Okanagan area offers a diverse variety of outdoor recreation, including miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails, along with rock climbing, boating, parasailing, swimming, fishing, wildlife watching, skiing, and golfing on the several championship golf courses. Wildlife is plentiful, with frequent sightings of bighorn sheep and deer, while elk, bear, moose, cougar and a variety of other wildlife can be found in the surrounding mountains.
Okanagan Falls residents enjoy one of the mildest climates in Canada, with lots of warm dry weather and very high annual hours of sunshine.
Population: 6,005 (includes Kaleden)
The little grey Bassett House, which today houses the Okanagan Falls Museum, was ordered from the T. Eaton and Company catalogue in 1909 by the pioneer Bassett family, which operated a freight and stagecoach company in the area. Arriving in prefabricated kit form at Okanagan Lake by rail, the house crossed the lake on a sternwheeler and was carried the rest of the way to Okanagan Falls by horse-drawn wagon. The Okanagan Heritage and Museum Society has operated the Okanagan Falls Museum out of the Bassett House since 1986.
Those with green fingers won’t want to miss the Memorial Rose Garden, across the highway from Barrett House. The best time to visit is when the flowers bloom from May to October.
Okanagan Wineries: Fruit aside, winemaking is the hot ticket in the Okanagan, and British Columbians have long taken inordinate pride in their wines. Ever since the province authorized estate and smaller farmgate wineries, many excellent small wineries have popped up. Most are open in summer and through the wine crush in September. Wineries in the area include the Wild Goose Vineyards, the Blue Mountain Vineyards, Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards (formerly LeComte Estate Winery), and Stag Hollow Winery. Take a self-guided wine tour, and experience the magic first hand.
The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory off White Lake Road is a world-class facility for science and technology research related to radio astronomy. Scientists at DRAO have a wide range of interests, from the solar system to extragalactic research. The Observatory grounds and Visitors’ Centre are open year-round for self-guided tours between 10 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday (except statutory holidays). The grounds are also open on weekends and holidays from Easter until Thanksgiving, between 10 am and 5 pm, with staff on duty in the Visitors’ Centre. Guided tours of about 1 hour led by Observatory staff are offered on Sundays in July and August, between 2 pm and 5 pm.
Christie Memorial Provincial Park is a very popular day-use site on Skaha Lake, located at the town of Okanagan Falls.
Okanagan Falls Provincial Park is rich in animal and bird life, and is famous for a variety of small bats that live in the area. The park offers picnic facilities and 25 vehicle/tent campsites.
Inkaneep Provincial Park : Seek a cool riverside respite from the Okanagan sun at the Inkaneep Provincial Park, 20 km south of Okanagan Falls on Hwy 97. A trail provides access to the Okanagan River and some good spots for camping, fishing, and canoeing, but take binoculars; the area’s thickets are a well-known habitat for birds such as the black-headed grosbeak, American redstart, northern oriole, and many others. Some unique flora and fauna are present in the nearby ecological reserve.
Vaseux Lake Provincial Park: For a special wildlife viewing experience, take a day visit to Vaseux Lake Provincial Park, just south of Okanagan Falls on Highway 97. Here, the Vaseux Lake Nature trust operates the Vaseaux Wildlife Centre, with a Canadian Wildlife Services wildlife sanctuary adjacent to the park ensuring protection of critical bighorn sheep winter range. Vaseux Lake is a mecca for paddler’s and naturalists.
Apex Mountain Resort near Apex Mountain Provincial Recreation Area is located 32 km southwest of nearby Penticton off Highway 97. Justly renowned in western Canada as one of the three prime ski and snowboard destinations in the Okanagan Valley, Apex is also 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 metres), reached by a high-speed quad chairlift. Almost anything’s possible when you have ideal conditions, and light crowds to boot. Apex Alpine also offers many miles of cross-country trails. The trailhead is located beside the resort’s RV park. Skiing & Winter Activities in the Okanagan Valley.
Just 6 kilometres from Apex Mountain Resort is the Nickel Plate Nordic Centre in Nickel Plate Provincial Park. Access to the 30 kilometres of groomed and track-set trails here is from Highway 97 in Penticton, on the Apex Mountain Road, or northeast of Hedley via a 30-km gravel road off Highway 3A. The weather conditions that make downhill skiing at Apex such a joy provide light powder snow at Nickel Plate.
If fishing is your passion, a short drive south of town to Vaseux Lake will probably net you a rewarding catch of largemouth and smallmouth bass, rainbow trout or kokanee, while you are surrounded by a landscape of stone and serenity.
Golf: Nearby Penticton offers many fine golf courses: Twin Lakes Golf Resort features spectacular golf in a serene mountain setting. The 18-hole golf resort is nestled in a scenic valley surrounded by towering rock cliffs, 12 miles southwest of Penticton and 35 miles north of the Canada/US border. Penticton Golf & Country Club offers a challenging 18-hole course, with narrow fairways and water in play on twelve holes (6,131 yards, par 70). Located at the north end of Penticton. Pine Hills Golf & Country Club is a 9-hole public course offering panoramic views of Penticton and Okanagan Lake (2,127 yards, par 28). Located on Pine Hills Drive in Westbench, 1 mile North of Penticton on Hwy 97. Sage Mesa Golf Club is perched high on a plateau overlooking Penticton and Okanagan Lake (9 holes, 3,218 yards, par 33). Facilities include a superb practice facility and one of the best driving ranges in the Okanagan. Pleasant Valley Par 3 Golf course is a privately-owned, public golf course uniquely positioned between Campbell Mountain and Penticton Creek. The delightful executive course is perfect for the casual, recreational, or avid golfer (1,191 yards, par 27). Riverside Par 3 Golf is a 9-hole, par-27 public golf course located on Riverside Drive in Penticton. Skaha Meadows Golf Course is a public 2,435-yard, par-35 course located on Skaha Lake Road. St Andrews by the Lake Golf Course lies within the picturesque Kearns Valley, surrounded by dry hills, sagebrush and cactus plants (2,070 yards, par 32). Located on White Lake Road in Kaleden, south of Penticton. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
North of Okanagan Falls is Penticton, which offers many attractions, including the S.S. Sicamous and the S.S. Naramata, the historic sternwheelers launched in 1914 to ply the waters of Okanagan Lake.
South of Okanagan Falls is Oliver, surrounded by desert to the south, and lakes, mountains, vineyards and orchards in almost every other direction.
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.