Located in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Osoyoos is known as Canada's only desert. Who would have thought that Canada, of all places, has a desert?
Osoyoos has beautiful weather most of the year. It gets pretty hot in the summer months, with the temperature hovering at around 30°c. Winter temperatures do dip down below 0°c, but they are very mild compared to what we experience in other areas of Canada! Rain and snowfall amounts are also very low. The warm weather is part of what makes Osoyoos a great place to visit. You can spend time here camping or lounging lakeside, and there are some other interesting and unique attractions that you can visit too. Here are some of my favourites.
Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
I've raved about this museum before and to date, it still sits close to the top on my list of favourite museums I've ever visited. It's 4000 square feet of a magical model railroad world, complete with day and night scenes. You could spend hours here marvelling at all the wonderful details that they've included in this railroad world. This museum is a true example of turning your hobby into something you can make a living out of, and I think it'll be a hit for both children and adults!
Just northwest of Osoyoos is the Spotted Lake. It's called the Spotted Lake because it actually looks like there are spots on it! This lake is rich with minerals and in the heat, when the water evaporates, spots become visible where the minerals are concentrated. You can't walk right up to the lake since it is a sacred lake to the First Nations People, but it is still visible and is quite a unique sight to see.
Spotted Lake is located along Highway 3, around 10km northwest of Osoyoos.
Photographers looking to take some hauntingly beautiful photos of abandoned buildings should make a stop at Haynes Ranch. Here you can find a few buildings that were built in the late 1800s/early 1900s that were once part of a ranch that spanned over 20,000 acres. Today, these buildings are no longer functioning, but you can get some great photos!
Haynes Ranch can be found on Road 22. More detailed access instructions can be found here.
Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre
The Nk'Mip (pronounced as Inkameep) Desert Cultural Centre is a great place to learn about the history, culture, and how the First Nations People had lived in the area. Don't miss the outdoor trail that is a part of this centre. It's here where you can really walk through the desert landscape and learn about their interactions and connections with nature, like how they used certain plants in their day-to-day lives. On the trail, you'll also see a traditional sweat lodge and pit house. You might even run into some wildlife there!
Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre located at 1000 Rancher Creek Road, Osoyoos BC, V0H 1V6.
Do a wine tasting or dine at a beautiful winery
The Okanagan Valley is known for its many wineries. Osoyoos has its fair share of them, and there are many others within short driving distance. I went to the nearby Tinhorn Creek Vineyard (around 15 minutes by car from Osoyoos) for a wonderful lunch when I visited Osoyoos. I've been to a handful of other wineries in the area as well, and they've all had amazing views. They are a great place to enjoy great food and wine, while relaxing and taking in the scenery!
Anarchist Mountain Lookout
For a great viewpoint of Osoyoos, take a drive up to the Anarchist Mountain Lookout. It is quite a steep drive up the mountain with lots of bends and turns, but once you're there, you'll get a spectacular view of Osoyoos and the surrounding Okanagan Valley.
Anarchist Mountain Lookout located at 1345 BC-3, Osoyoos BC, V0H 1V6.
I highly recommend visiting Osoyoos for a weekend getaway, or including it as part of your itinerary if you're visiting other parts of the Okanagan Valley, such as Kelowna.
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