Osoyoos (IPA: /ɒˈsɔɪjuːs/) (pronounced "O-sue-use"), is a town in the southern Okanagan valley of British Columbia that is a popular summer holiday destination. The town has about 5100 permanent residents (2016).
Osoyoos has gained an enviable reputation as the community of choice for retirees who wish to escape harsher Canadian winters. All in all, it's a true "lifestyle community", where people go to enjoy the good life.
The Osoyoos region's semi-arid climate produces very hot, dry days, and may have Canada's hottest weather a few times each year. The chief industries of Osoyoos are fruit production, viticulture (wine making), and tourism.
Most travellers will arrive by automobile and try to schedule their holidays to coincide with the Spring and Fall Wine Festivals.
Osoyoos is just north of the Canada-US border, and the border crossing is the busiest in British Columbia outside of the Lower Mainland.
The Osoyoos area has long been home to the Okanagan people (who speak the Syilx language), an Interior Salish people who still live in the valley, from the head waters of the Okanagan Lake, downstream to near the Okanagan river's confluence with the Columbia River in present-day Washington, though the traditional territory once encompassed the entire Columbia River. Like many places in the British Columbia Interior, the Osoyoos area was named by the Okanagan people. Osoyoos (O-sue-use) or (Sou-yoos) in the Syilx language describes a "narrow" waterway or where land almost meets, which refers to the cinched waistline of the 19 km long Osoyoos Lake (5 km of which is in the USA). The Okanagan people are thought to have first lived in the area around 3500 to 4000 years ago.
There are indications that non-native travellers may have been here in the 1500s, and also that Spanish conquistadors came here searching for Eldorado: they got as far as Kelowna before they and most of their horses died during a severe winter. It was not until the early 1800s that trappers and traders arrived, followed by gold miners and then ranchers. A fairly young place, in terms of settlers, who found the area too hot and dry in the summer. The first commercial orchard was planted in 1890, and when the South Okanagan irrigation canal was built in 1919, the town of Osoyoos began to grow and was thus incorporated in 1946.
The Okanagan Basin area around Osoyoos is an area of notable ecological significance. Habitat types include wetland/riparian, grassland/shrub-steppe, coniferous forest, and rugged terrain. This wide assortment of habitats supports extensive biological diversity. Nearly half the bird species in Canada are found here along with many plants that exist nowhere else in North America, or in some cases the world. Osoyoos is in the centre of the Okanagan Desert, Canada's only desert.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The climate is desert-like with summers that are generally hot and very dry (just over 300 mm (12") of annual precipitation), resulting in one of the province's longest growing seasons, and the warmest yearly daytime average temperature in Canada (17°C). Normally, daily temperatures in July and August average near 30°C (86°F), with overnight lows of around 14°C (57°F). September and October are usually warm and pleasant. Winters are short but can be somewhat cold with average lows around -3°C (26°F) in January. Spring arrives early with the return of warm and pleasant weather in April.
Osoyoos is in the south central interior of British Columbia, approximately 400 km east of Vancouver at the junction of Highways 97 and 3 near the border of Washington State.
- Take Highway 97 south from Kelowna and Penticton.
- Highway 97 also heads north from Omak and Oroville, both in Washington.
- Highway 3 (Crowsnest) travels from Hope (and Vancouver further along on highway 1) in the west, and from Nelson and Castlegar from the east in the Kootenays.
There is a small airport in Osoyoos, with a single paved 2,800 foot long runway running 12/30.
The closest major airport is in Kelowna BC 150 km to the north car rental available Vancouver, 400 km to the west-southwest. There is also a regional airport in Penticton, which serves domestic flights; Canada Customs services are available upon request.
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service, ☏ , email@example.com. Twice per week services between Kaslo and Vancouver with stops in Nelson, Castlegar, Christina Lake, Grand Forks, Greenwood, Rock Creek, Osoyoos, Keremeos, Princeton, Manning Provincial Park,Hope, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, and New Westminster. Travel times to Osoyoos from Kaslo is 4.75 hours, Nelson is 3.75 hours, from Castlegar is 3 hours, from Grand Forks is 1.75 hours, from Princeton is 1.75 hours, from Hope is 3.5 hours, from Abbotsford is 4.75 hours, and from Vancouver is 6 hours. This service provider also offers a weekly route between Kalso and Calgary via Nelson.
The town is small enough that getting around on foot or bike is suitable. As with most destinations in the Okanagan, getting around by car is the best way to see all the sights.
By public transit
- BC Transit (South Okanagan-Similkameen Transit System), toll-free: . Bus route 40 operates from Monday to Friday between Penticton and Osoyoos with stops in Okanagan Falls and Oliver. Travel time from downtown Penticton is 1 hour 30 minutes, from Okanagan Falls is 50 minutes, and from Oliver is 30 minutes.
- Oliver Taxi, ☏ .
- Osoyoos Taxi, ☏ .
- 1 Double O Bikes, 8905 Main St, ☏ .
- 2 Osoyoos Scooters, 6910 Main St (beside Ambrosia Restaurant), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Rents scooters, electric bikes, and 4 person pedal bikes.
- 1 Viewpoint on Anarchist Mountain (travel eastbound on Highway 3 from downtown Osoyoos for approximately 10 km). Due to the close proximity to the US border, Highway 3 East had to be built straight up and over this mountain rather than going around. Gaining hundreds of metres of elevation in a very short stretch of road, the viewpoint at the top affords great views of the Okanagan Valley including Osoyoos.
- 2 The Art Gallery Osoyoos (TAGO), 8713 Main St, ☏ . The gallery displays and sell works by local artists. The gallery is staffed entirely by the efforts of generous volunteers and is managed by the Osoyoos Arts Gallery Committee. The gallery is wheelchair accessible and hosts over 7000 visitors annually. Free.
- 3 Osoyoos Museum, 19 Park Place, ☏ . Don't forget to visit the Osoyoos museum, the "Best Small Town Museum in B.C." The museum features one of the finest displays from the archives of the B.C. Provincial Police. There are Indian artifacts, the first Canada Custom's House in the early 1800s, an 1879 log building, and the only liquor distilling apparatus to be found in a B.C. museum. Also of interest are artifacts from the local pioneers, miners, ranchers and farmers that struggled to reclaim this desert. It is open from the May long weekend until Labour Day Weekend.
- 4 Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre, 1000 Rancher Creek Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . Winter M-F 9AM-3:30PM; summer Tu-Sa 9AM-4PM. A source of insight into the desert flora and fauna, this one from the perspective of the First Nations (Indigenous) people. Self-guided and guided cultural tours on over 2 km of trails. Desert animals available for viewing including a live rattlesnake show. Adult $14, senior or student $13, child (5-17) $10, family $38.
- 5 sw̓iw̓s Provincial Park (formerly Haynes Point Provincial Park). Surrounded by warm water and sandy beaches, Haynes Point sits on a pencil of land jutting into Osoyoos Lake at the southwest end of the town. The water is reported to be the warmest in Canada making it excellent for swimming, boating and fishing. Lakeside campsites and privacy make this a popular camping area. Reservations are necessary during the summer months.
- 1 Osoyoos Lake. Osoyoos Lake is the warmest fresh water lake in Canada and provides for great summer time activities. Bring your boat or just sit on the beach and enjoy the day.
- 2 Pioneer Walkway. One of the many spots in Osoyoos where you are greeted by visitors and locals alike. The walkway is located along the lakeshore, and in the middle of the Motel district. Admire the plants and enjoy the scenery.
- Desert Country Wine Tours, ☏ . If you don't have a car this may be the best way to see the over 30 south Okanagan wineries. Prices vary depending on length of the tour: $40–$80.
- 3 Osoyoos Golf & Country Club, 12300 Golf Course Dr, ☏ . brings together an ideal desert climate and picturesque Okanagan surroundings. Perched high above the Town of Osoyoos, vistas of mountains, lake, desert and valley on two full eighteen hole championship layouts offer all golfers a unique golfing experience.
- 4 Sonora Dunes Golf Course, 1300 Rancher Creek Rd (Nestled among rolling desert hills and lush vineyards just east of Osoyoos), ☏ . Offers a one-of-a-kind nine hole desert links course. The breathtaking views of the lake, vineyards and surrounding mountains ensure golfers will enjoy this unique experience.
- 5 Lake Osoyoos Sailing Club, 8015 Spartan Dr, email@example.com. Feel the power of wing during a three-hour introduction to the sport of sailing. The program is offered by the Lake Osoyoos Sailing School and generally runs during July and August of each year.
- Annual Cherry Fiesta, firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget about the Osoyoos cherry fiesta which is held every year on July 1, Canada Day. Many events are planned throughout the day, including a pancake breakfast, parade, the Cherry Spitting competition, and at night we have the Fireworks display. Don't miss out on all the festivities and excitement!
Osoyoos and the Okanagan has fruit stands along Highway 3 and Highway 97. While produce is often a bit pricier than the grocery stores at these fruit stands, they also sell products that you will not readily find in the local grocery stores, such as local grapes and pure fruits juices, such as apple, cherry, and pear.
- 1 Peach Hill Fruit Market, 9105 Okanagan Hwy 97 (north of Osoyoos on the east side of the highway), ☏ .
- 1 Ambrosia Family Restaurant, 6910 Main St, ☏ . A diner-style restaurant that serves Western and East Indian Cuisine.
- 2 Campo Marina Italian Restaurant, 5907 Main St, ☏ . Voted the most popular restaurant in the South Okanagan, the atmosphere will make you feel like you are in Italy, with fine dining, freshly made bread and fine wine.
- 3 Diamond Steak and Seafood House, 8903 Main St, ☏ . Fantastic souvlaki, kalamari, and other Greek specialties as well as steak and seafood. Extensive wine selection.
- 4 Sol Grill Room and Lounge, 7906 Main St (at the Holiday Inn), ☏ . Watch the sun set and take in the beautiful view of Osoyoos Lake while enjoying superb cuisine served with elegance and grace. Extensive wine selection.
- 5 Wildfire Grill, 8526 Main St, ☏ . The menu provides an innovative culinary experience featuring globally inspired cuisine using indigenous ingredients of the region.
- 6 Smitty's Restaurant, 8906 Main St, ☏ . A family-friendly place offering full breakfasts to dinners.
- 7 Osoyoos Golf and Country Club, ☏ . Three dining areas, extensive decks and patios overlooking a beautiful panorama of orchards and lake below. Casual and warm hospitality are the norm with "clubhouse" fare and daily features.
- 1 Pointe 49 Kitchen & Bar, 4200 Lake Shore Dr (at Walnut Beach Resort), toll-free: . At Walnut Beach Resort. Offers tapas and meals in-suite, in-doors or alfresco on the balcony.
Wineries and vineyards
- 2 Liber Farm & Winery, 14000 Hwy 97, ☏ .
- 3 Moon Curser Vineyards, 3628 Highway 3 East, ☏ , email@example.com.
- 4 Nk'Mip Cellars, 1400 Rancher Creek Rd, ☏ . Tastings Mar-Oct: daily 10AM-6PM, Nov-Feb: daily 10AM-5PM. The first Indigenous-owned winery in North America, and the second in the world. Often has special events such as a traditional salmon barbeque matched with not-so-traditional wines. Daily tastings. Tasting flight of four wines $5, or $15 for premium wines (proceeds support programs to preserve the Osoyoos language).
- 1 Desert Surfside Motel, 7310 Main St, ☏ , toll-free: . This complex is on the beach. Wheelchair access to every room on the property. All rooms are non-smoking and offer kitchens. Amenities on the property include beach BBQs and designer patio furniture for individual or group gatherings, bike rack, wireless internet, and some units have phones.
- 2 Cabana Beach Campground and RV Park, 2231 Lakeshore Dr, ☏ . Offers family campers one of the nicest sandy private beaches in Osoyoos. There are a dozen RV sites, with electric and water hookups, situated right on the waterfront overlooking the lake and sandy beach. There are more accommodations inside the main campground. Unique tenting sites with "cabanas" (a cooking shelter, with water tap, electricity, sink, light and optional fridge rental). Also full hookups are available for motorhomes up to 30 feet and trailers up to 25 feet. (Larger RVs cannot be accommodated.) Camping cabins are also available for weekly rental (bring own bedding). This campground has seen many generations of happy campers! Reservations are recommended for July and August. Your hosts: Gary and Alison. No pets.
- 3 Coast Osoyoos Beach Hotel, 7702 Main St, ☏ , toll-free: . Canada Select 3.5-star hotel. The Coast Osoyoos Beach Hotel lies on the tranquil shores of Osoyoos Lake and features 250 feet of private beachfront, making it a perfect summer destination to visit with family and friends.
- 4 Spirit Ridge Resort, 1200 Rancher Creek Rd, ☏ . Canada Select 4.5-star resort. Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa is surrounded by dramatic sun-drenched landscapes, miles of vineyards and views to Lake Osoyoos' warm, blue waters, Spirit Ridge's Osoyoos vacation rentals are within reach of desert golf, luxurious spa experiences and unique cultural opportunities at the cultural centre.
- 5 Holiday Inn & Suites Osoyoos, 7906 Main St, ☏ , toll-free: . Open year round.
- 6 Walnut Beach Resort, 4200 Lakeshore Dr, toll-free: . Walnut Beach Resort features 110 suites, an 800-ft private sandy beach, outdoor pool, wine bar and meeting facilities for up to 150 people.
- 7 Watermark Beach Resort, 15 Park Pl, ☏ . This luxury Osoyoos lakefront resort is in the centre of the town of Osoyoos on the shores of Osoyoos Lake. The resort consists of a main building that houses 123 suites on four stories as well as 30 Beachfront 2-bedroom suites spread out in 5 separate buildings along the shores of Osoyoos Lake. This 1.8 hectare resort encompasses over 1,000 feet of beachfront along the shores of Osoyoos Lake. All of the suites contain fully equipped gourmet kitchens as well as private balconies.
- 8 Casa Del Mila Oro Resort, 47- 5401 Lakeshore Drive, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Townhouse and condo complex on the waterfront on the Eastern side of Osoyoos. Pool and conference centre. Great for groups. Ask if you can rent townhouses side by side for larger groups.
- 9 Best Western Plus Osoyoos (Best Western Osoyoos), 5506 Main St (off Highway 3 and adjacent to Rattlesnake Canyon amusement centre), ☏ . The modern rooms feature flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, minifridges and coffeemakers. Suites add pull-out sofas, kitchenettes or kitchens, and/or in-room whirlpool tubs. Children age 15 and under stay at no extra cost with an adult. Free parking, hot breakfast served in a simple dining area. Other amenities include an indoor pool, a hot tub, a fitness room, a business centre and a meeting room.
- The nearest hospital is in Oliver.
- Continue north to Penticton and Kelowna to visit the rest of the Okanagan.
- Head west to visit Cathedral Provincial Park and Manning Provincial Park, two large expanses of mostly untouched wilderness.
- Head east and visit the Kootenays.
|Routes through Osoyoos|
|Hope ← Cawston ←||W E||→ Greenwood → Castlegar / Nelson via|
|Penticton ← Oliver ←||N S||→ → becomes → Oroville → Omak|