Country incorporates the region of the Similkameen Valley between Osoyoos on the Canada/United States border in the east and the gold rush heritage town of Princeton in the west. For travelers heading east from Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, Similkameen Country is the gateway to the Okanagan Valley, the Kootenays and the BC Rockies.
Rich in western heritage and gold mining history – gold was discovered on the Similkameen River in the 1850s – the Similkameen Valley is agricultural and ranching country today. Cattle ranching and horse breeding are strong industries in the valley, and the fabulously sunny climate makes the Lower Similkameen Valley one of the finest fruit, vegetable and wine growing areas in North America.
The landscape of the Similkameen is dominated by the Similkameen River and the rugged mountains of Cathedral Park in the south, a diverse topography varying from arid valleys to soaring snow-capped mountain peaks.
The source of the Similkameen River is the Cascade Mountains in Manning Provincial Park, flowing north and east through the valley before turning south to the Columbia River in the United States.
The claims of Similkameen Country and its communities are many; Fruit Stand Capital of Canada, Organic Capital of Canada, and BC’s Garden of Eden. This beautiful region offers great outdoor adventure, and guest ranches are common, offering western adventures that include horseback riding and range drives.
Location: Similkameen Country is located in the southern interior of British Columbia, extending from Osoyoos in the east to Princeton in the west, a distance of 70 miles (113 km). Access to the Similkameen Valley is along the Crowsnest Highway 3 that runs east/west north of the border. The valley is accessed from the Okanagan Valley along Highway 97.
Tucked into a shadowy draw through which the waters of Hedley Creek rush to join the Similkameen River, is the charming little village of Hedley. The cliffs of Stemwinder Mountain loom in the west, and Nickel Plate Mountain rises to the east. The coloured and striped cliffs on both sides of the canyon inspired the Similkameen Indians to call the place Sna-za-ist, meaning the Striped Rock Place.
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, 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.
Enjoying Canada’s driest climate, Osoyoos bills itself as Desert Wine Country. Osoyoos is the only desert in Canada, with the lowest rainfall, the highest temperatures, and the warmest lakes. Osoyoos is located in the middle of the Southern Okanagan wine country, whose fine wines match any wines from anywhere, from France to California.
The town of Princeton is beautifully situated in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, where the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers meet, serving as the southern gateway to the British Columbia Interior. The mountains and valleys make it a natural setting for fabulous, year-round outdoor activities, and an outstanding vacation destination.
The small community of Olalla is located on Highway 3A, approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) north of Keremeos, and 28 miles (45 km) south of Penticton.
The fruit packing town of Cawston is located on Highway 3, 5 miles (8 km) east of Keremeos and approximately 22 miles (35 km) west of Osoyoos. The Cawston area was the site of a Hudson’s Bay Company store in the mid 1800s.
Provincial Parks: Major provincial parks in the Similkameen include the following parks:
- Bromley Rock Provincial Park, east of Princeton
- Stemwinder Provincial Park, west of Hedley
- Keremeos Columns Provincial Park, north of Keremeos
- Cathedral Provincial Park, on the border with Washington.
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.