In the heart of British Columbia’s famous Shuswap Lake recreation area is the town of Salmon Arm, the Northern Gateway to the Okanagan. Nestled on the south shores of Shuswap Lake, ideally situated mid way between Calgary and Vancouver, Salmon Arm is the largest town in the Shuswap area.
The first white settlers arrived in this valley in 1888. Salmon Arm first started as a railway camp during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), later developing into a logging, farming and dairy centre.
Salmon Arm is surrounded by outstanding natural beauty, clean waterways, provincial parks and an abundance of green space. All this lends itself to making tourism one of Salmon Arms’ fastest growing business sectors.
Salmon Arm has a mild, yet distinct four season climate, and superior year-round recreational amenities. The area boasts abundant art and craft work of various cultures, including aboriginal selections.
The beautiful Shuswap Lake takes its name from the Shuswap Indians, northernmost of the Great Salishan Family, and one of the largest tribes in the interior of British Columbia. Once numbering over 5,000, these people were fishermen and hunters, roaming in bands through the vast land of lakes and forests, reaching 240 kilometres to the west, east and north. Salmon Arm takes its name from the southwest arm of the Shuswap Lake, due to the large runs of salmon that used to run up the creeks that empty into the lake.
The area has retained a unique rural quality that is reflected in the richness and diversity of the communities throughout the Shuswap. Residents have a keen sense of pride and satisfaction in protecting their quality of life. It is this balance that appeals to residents and visitors alike.
Salmon Arm’s economy is a diverse mixture of forestry, agriculture, tourism commerce, and manufacturing. A growing industry in the Salmon Arm area is the ever-popular agri-tourism. These farms includes wineries, berry farms, orchards, cheese plants, dairy farms, corn fields, pumpkin and gourd patches, canning and cider pressing, petting zoos, and much more.
Stroll the grounds and explore Salmon Arm’s past at the R.J. Haney Heritage Park & Museum. Feature attractions include the Salmon Arm Museum & Archives, Haney Heritage House, North Broadview School, Newnes Blacksmith Shop, and much more. Once you’ve had your fill of history, take the 2-kilometre Nature Trail, which highlights the best of Shuswap natural history.
The Public Art Gallery, in the ivy-covered heritage building on the corner of Hudson and MacLeod, puts on a different show every month.
Wharf: Salmon Arm’s famous wharf – the longest in North America – offers a great view of the bird sanctuary and ecological reserve. The houseboat docking and watersport facilities on the shores of the Shuswap Lake are just steps away from the Visitor Centre.
Waterfowl: In the town of Salmon Arm, the mouth of the Salmon River is alive with breeding and nesting birds, especially Clark’s and Western Grebes, from April to June. Downtown, the Rotary Peace Park and Public wharf has a BC Wildlife Watch viewing area and picnic site, and offers good access to the river and its birds.
You don’t need to travel to South America to see an Alpaca. These cute, friendly and curious animals live at Canoe Creek Farm.
Mara Provincial Park: A broad, sandy beach, roped swimming area, picnic tables and a boat launch are available at Mara Provincial Park, situated along the east side of Mara lake, east of Salmon Arm on Highway 97A. This is a popular spot for parasailing and waterskiing, but no overnight camping is available.
Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park is among some of the most popular boating and canoeing locations in the Southern Interior. Shuswap Lake is shaped like an addled H and is made up of four large arms: the Shuswap Lake Main Arm, Salmon Arm, Anstey Arm, and Seymour Arm. The product of the glacial scouring that also rounded the surrounding Shuswap Highlands, all four arms converge at Cinnemousun Narrows, northeast of Sicamous. Those mariners interested in an extended visit will find 14 campsites, some vehicle-accessible but most the preserve of boaters and paddlers. On Salmon Arm, launch at the public wharf in Canoe, about 6 km east of Salmon Arm on Hwy 1, or in Sicamous, 21 km farther east on Hwy 1. There’s also gravel road access from Hwy 1 to Seymour Arm at Silver Beach Provincial Park. Wilderness campsites with basic facilities include Two Mile Creek, Albas, and Fowler Point on the northeast shore of Seymour Arm; Anstey View on the northwest shore and Four Mile Creek and Anstey Beach on the south shore of Anstey Arm; and Marble Point on the south shore and Hermit Bay on the north shore of Salmon Arm.
Herald Provincial Park is also situated along the shore of Shuswap Lake, on Salmon Arm. The park is very popular and fills up quickly during July and August. For these months, reservations should be made well in advance. If you can’t make a reservation, put your name on the waiting list for the small number of first-come, first-served sites that are available each day at noon. Campsites are located both at lakeside and a short distance uphill in the cool forest. Swimming, fishing, and bird-watching are the order of the day here. For picnickers looking for a break from Hwy 1, it’s worth the short drive to reach the park, situated on the grounds of an old homestead; there’s a feeling about the place as if you’ve come to visit your grandparents. Herald offers some interesting hiking, with two distinct geographical units (upland and flat delta) creating great hiking terrain. There are also Native Indian pithouse depressions, or kekuli, in the area west of the creek, as well as some old Native cache pits. Take Hwy 1 east of Tappen for about 12 km.
Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park has several beautiful walks and low-key hikes; the Lower Trail System provides access to viewing the salmon run along the Adams River. You shouldn’t miss the Reinecker Creek self-guided nature walk here, which leads to Margaret Falls. Roderick Haig-Brown was a magistrate, writer, angler, and conservationist dedicated to preserving, among other wildlife, the sockeye salmon so key to British Columbia’s economy. He even wrote a poem about salmon, which appears in its entirety on a plaque in the park named in his honour. The park encompasses the entire length of the Adams River, the site of the largest sockeye salmon run on the West Coast. There’s an excellent interpretive area that explains the whole phenomenal trek. A ‘dominant’ run happens every four years, followed by years of much smaller runs. Many wild critters live in this park, among them bears, beavers, and river otters. To get to Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park, travel west on Hwy 1 from Salmon Arm. Follow the signs north to Squilax. The park is about 5 km north of here.
Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is wildly popular. Everything you need for summer fun is right here: camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, paddling, swimming, hiking, windsurfing, sailing, houseboating, water-skiing, nature study, photography, visitor programs, and bicycling. With 12 km of paved trails, Shuswap Lake may also be the cycling capital of the BC Parks system. The park is open in the fall during the Adams River salmon run. Don’t confuse this park with Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park. Turn off Hwy 1 at Scotch Creek, then go about 20 km farther.
Peter Jannink Nature Park on the marshy shores of Shuswap Lake is a wonderful area for birdwatching. The park was created as a city park in 1999 at the initiative of the Shuswap Naturalist Club. Incorporated in the park is Salmon Arm Marine Park, which features an impressive wharf extending over the mud flats to the boat docks, providing a great viewing platform from which to observe the marshland bird life.
Golf: Salmon Arm offers three golf courses: The Salmon Arm Golf Club is set in an idyllic, rolling valley, beautifully treed and inviting. The public facility offers an 18-hole, 6,738-yard, par-72 championship course, or a more relaxed 9-hole executive course. Sonseekers Ridge Golf Course offers a challenging round of golf in a scenic, peaceful family-play place, where the focus is on fun. Sonseekers Ridge Golf course is 2,700 yards, 9 holes, and par 35. Canoe Creek Golf Course is a spectacular 7,000-yard, par-72 course encompassing 125 acres of farm and treed land, blending the natural rolling hills and unique waterways into a “Championship course”. The north nine is built on the gentle rolling slopes of the farmland, capturing the picturesque setting of the natural marshes and native grasses. The south nine takes in a more aggressive terrain at the toe of Mt. Ida. Canoe Creek is the dominant feature of the course. Shuswap Golf Vacations.
Skiers will find the nearest slopes at Silver Star Mountain Resort, northeast of Vernon, Apex Mountain Ski Resort west of Penticton, Big White Ski Resort, 54 km southeast of Kelowna, and Sun Peaks Ski Resort at Tod Mountain, north of Kamloops.
Larch Hills Cross-Country Area in Salmon Arm has an impressive 140 km of cross-country ski trails, about 40 km of which are groomed. To reach the trailhead, drive 17 km south of Salmon Arm on Hwy 97B, turn left on Grandview Bench Rd and go 5 km, and turn left on Edgar Rd and drive 2 km farther. The Larch Hills Ski Club maintains a chalet, which is open to all, the site of the annual ‘loppet,’ or cross-country ski race. A map of the Larch Hills trails is available at the Salmon Arm and District Visitor Centre.
Dog Sledding is superb in the area. If you’re looking for excellent sledding, this is the pace to be. There are four mountain areas that have groomed trails right up to the door of the two chalets. All sledders, beginners to extreme, are invited to experience the awesome snow in the Shuswap area.
Snowmobiling: Snowmobilers should head for Queest Mountain, Blue Lake, Owl’s Head and Hunter’s Range.
Fishing: In addition to 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 the central and south-central Interior regions of the province, are the prize in Niskonlith Lake Provincial Park and Silver Beach Provincial Park, at Seymour Arm at Shuswap Lake.
Houseboating: Rare is the vacation that offers it all, and houseboating on the Shuswap Lake is one of the greatest vacations known to mankind. While cruising along the 1,000 kilometres of shoreline at your leisure, pause at sandy beaches, hike up to cascade waterfalls or explore the many hiking trails. Enjoy the houseboat by day as home base for exploring, water sports, swimming or fishing. By night, tie up in a secluded cove, and while steaks are sizzling on the barbeque, you can fish from the stern. As evening wears on, watch the moonlight reflecting on the water, as dazzling stars appear. The possibilities are endless, the choice is yours, and you are the Captain. Think about it!
Houseboating on Shuswap Lake.
RV Deck: And now for something completely different! You drive it, you tow it, and now you can sail it! Take your RV where no other can hope to go. At the Riverside Marina Dock at the Sicamous Narrows, you can drive your motorhome onto your rented RV deck, have it secured and clamped, and set sail for the wonders of nature that will unfold around Shuswap Lake. Confused! OK…you drive your RV onto a stable deck that is equipped with powerful inboard motors. Once your motorhome is well secured to the deck, you fire up the deck’s motor and head out onto the lake, motorhome and all. Brilliant!…and what a great vacation! And if that’s not enough, how about a floating hot tub that can be pulled behind your houseboat or ski boat! All available on Shuswap Lake, and…you heard it first on BritishColumbia.com.
Old Flume Trail: Did you know that logs were once floated down the mountainside to a mill on Adams Lake via a wooden flume? If you enjoy a little history on your hikes, or simply want a cool walk, try the Old Flume Trail on Bear Creek, just off the road leading to the mill on Adams Lake Road. Along the trail you’ll find remnants of the old flume and descriptions of the process.
If you’re passing through in July, you’ll want to take in the annual Strawberry Festival, or the annual Fall Fair in September. February is time for the annual Shuswap Jazz Festival, and the Victoria Day long weekend in May brings on the Grebe Festival in Peace Park, where you can watch one of nature’s wonders, the aquatic courtship dance of the Western Grebe.
Arts & Crafts: Salmon Arm’s Farm & Craft Market operates on the parking lot of Piccadilly Place Mall on Tuesday and Friday mornings from April to October. You will find fruits and vegetables in season, jars of honey, eggs, homemade bread and jam, herbs and crafts.
In the late seventies, Chinook salmon stocks were close to extinction on the Shuswap River. Concerned local residents started a salmonid enhancement program in the Kingfisher area. Since 1981, the Kingfisher Environmental Interpretive Centre east of nearby Enderby has evolved from a community run hatchery to the current capacity to rear 500,000 fry annually, and offers walking trails and self-guided natural history trails.
South of Salmon Arm is the idyllic riverfront community of Enderby Enderby, located south of Mara Lake on the banks of the Shuswap River and nestled below the steep volcanic Enderby cliffs that tower high above the city.
Northwest of Salmon Arm is the lakeside vacation community of Sorrento on the shores of Shuswap Lake. Like Chase, Sorrento offers a fabulous array of recreational activities during both summer and winter.
North of Salmon Arm on the sunny north shore of Shuswap Lake is the North Shuswap, which incorporates the picturesque villages of Anglemont, Celista, Lee Creek, Magna Bay, Scotch Creek, Seymour Arm, and St. Ives.
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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