There’s no need to hunker down and hibernate when the snow flies in British Columbia’s scenic interior. With mild temperatures, fluffy flakes, frozen lakes and frosty mountains, Vernon, SilverStar and Kamloops make ideal wonderlands for your winter holiday. Click into skis, strap on snowshoes, hop on a snowmobile, sip wine or plunge into ice fishing.
Vernon: Recreation and Wine
CHARMING VERNON, a 30-minute drive north from Kelowna International Airport, provides easy access to outdoor adventure. Hike or snowshoe the trails in nearby Ellison Provincial Park, or rent a fat bike from Sun Country Cycle and hit the paths in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. Be sure to grind up to John’s Jump Lookout for spectacular views of Kal Lake, named one of the world’s Top 10 most beautiful by National Geographic.
After a day’s workout, unwind along the Scenic Sip just south of Vernon. Six wineries, including the award-winning 50th Parallel Estate, offer tastings on the weekends (a few are open mid-week) all winter long. Closer to town, sample honey wine at the Honeymoon Meadery tasting bar inside Planet Bee Honey Farm, and try a range of liquors at Okanagan Spirits Craft Distillery. It’s possible to sample liqueurs made from local berries including haskap, sea buckthorn and huckleberry.
FamilIes flock to town for the Vernon Winter Carnival, running February 2 to 11, 2018. Canada’s third largest winter festival fosters community spirit with a parade downtown, a family day in Polson Park, a family skate at Kal Tire Place and local businesses that decorate in this year’s theme: Carnival in Wonderland. A highlight is the Snow Sculpture Competition at SilverStar Mountain Resort, February 2 to 4, where B.C. ice artists compete over two days creating glittery works of art.
SilverStar: Slopeside Fun
WHAT BEGAN AS A LOCAL HILL where avid skiers hiked to the top to enjoy a single run of fun has grown into B.C.’s third largest ski area. SilverStar Mountain Resort boasts more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, a 760-metre vertical drop, and is building a new high-speed gondola from base to peak to mark the resort’s 60th birthday in 2018.
Don’t let SilverStar’s cheery Victorian buildings fool you—the resort has evolved over the decades to become a modern mecca for every kind of outdoor enthusiast. When legs get tired from carving downhill turns, SilverStar’s My1Pass lets guests exchange their skis or snowboard for access to the tube park (tubes included) and ice-skating pond. They can also rent snowshoes, cross-country skis or a fat bike and try the resort’s multi-use trail network for a different kind of workout. There’s even a new beginner trail that connects SilverStar to Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre, where an additional 50 kilometres of groomed classic and skate skiing trails await.
Thrill seekers who want to try something new can book a snowmobile tour in Silver Star Provincial Park, or zip along forest trails astride a Yeti SnowMx bike with Monashee Adventure Group—this motorized bike has a ski in front and a track in back and rides like a more agile snowmobile. To relax after an active day, couples and families can ride a snow cat or take a horse-drawn sleigh to one of the resort’s backcountry cabins for a lantern-lit dinner.
Kamloops: Adventure Awaits
IN RECENT YEARS, THIS SUNNY CITY has gained a reputation as a top place to mountain bike. Now, when snow packs local trails, visitors rent fat bikes from District Cycle and pedal the groomed pathways at Isobel Lake or the 40 kilometres of natural trails at Kenna Cartwright Park. Those who prefer shoes and skis make their way to Stake Lake, home of the Overlander Ski Club, where 60 km of classic and skate trails, 12 km of snowshoe paths and a few dog-friendly trails entice nature lovers.
For something completely different—and truly Canadian—drop a fishing line into a frozen lake and try to hook a wild rainbow trout with Elevated Fishing Adventures. Owner and guide Campbell Bryk provides the gear and expertise, and makes guests feel at home inside a heated fishing tent complete with hot beverages.
For more winter activities in Kamloops go to tourismkamloops.com.
Kelowna International Airport: Your Gateway
YLW IS SITUATED CLOSE TO MANY of the region’s winter activities. If you’d rather escape the cold than embrace Jack Frost, Kelowna International Airport offers daily WestJet flights to sun destinations in Mexico and the United States. ■