Went here for a family holiday and was harassed for trying to drop of my handicapped relative closer to the beach. We attempted to turn around in the boat launch area that was semi full and were told rudely to back our vehicle up. This caused us to block traffic. The rent a cop that worked there wouldn't allow us to proceed forward and would not stop talking long enough for us to explain our situation. He rather told us to simply "don't come here then!". Warning to all handi-able people you are not welcome at Scott's Creek (Shuswap provincial park).
When I asked the name of the man he refused to give it to me and proceeded to snap at me about how I own a dog? ...
The thing that makes Shuswap so great is that it's a very convenient hub to surrounding areas of British Columbia. Wells Gray is one of them, approx 2 hours from the Shuswap area, depending on where you are staying.
The park is well-known for it's beauty and has approximately 20 waterfalls that are reachable by boat, car, or on foot. There are also several extinct volcanoes in the area, making for some cases, a distinct landscape. There are a myriad of outdoor activities you can do in the park.
If you are staying in the Shuswap area for a few days, it's well worth the trip, even just to see the waterfalls, as we did.
What is not a well-known fact is that part of the Sonoran Desert (the same desert as in Northern Mexico) is in Canada, down near Osoyoos, bordering on the US. Osoyoos is approximately 4 hours from Salmon Arm.
I've never really seen a desert before, and I found the scenery strangely beautiful and unique.
There are two desert centres in the area, one run by the Nk' mip or the Osoyoos Indian Band, and the Osoyoos Desert Centre. We only had time to see the Nk'mip centre, and it was pretty interesting. There are plans to build a more extensive centre for 2005, but presently, the Nk'mip centre is run out of a large trailer facility, with interesting displays on native life and culture in the desert. There are two gently graded interpretive trails at the centre, with covered shelters and plenty of benches along the way to rest on.
Just a warning: The heat and sun can be overwhelming, even for a short period, so bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water for the trails. There are also rattlenakes in the area as well.
We didn't have time to visit the Nk'mip Cellars winery located on the property, but it's probably worth checking out -- It's the only aboriginal winery in North America.
During the fall, in September and October, you will see salmon returning from the ocean to the Adams River, where they will spawn and die.
Every 4 years, a major salmon run occurs, where 2 million sockeye salmon will return. At this time, the area holds a festival called "Salute to the Sockeye". There are tours available, and naturalists on hand to answer questions. We had a chance to witness this natural miracle in 2002, and even though we were witnessing death, it did give us a chance to ponder how the fish, brilliantly red as they slowly die, return to their natural home so that they can continue the circle of life.
It's not entirely known how they know to return to this area, but I've been told by a naturalist that the fish may have a sense of smell, using this to find their way home. Fascinating. For more info, have a look at the website below.
Located north-east of Salmon Arm on the other side of the lake is Herald Provincial Park. Much like Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, it has a popular beach and campgrounds. However, what's beautiful about this park is that it has beautiful forested trails and Margaret Falls.
Located near the north-western shore of Shuswap Lake is Adams River. Adams River is one of the most famous salmon-bearing rivers in British Columbia. It's especially famous between late August and October when thousands of salmon arrive to spawn. If you've never seen it before, it's actually quite a sight, with the thousands of red fish fighting the currents and obstacles along the way, arriving back at their places of birth to mate and then die. Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park (located a short distance from makes for an excellent viewing location during the salmon spawn.
One of the more popular beaches along Shuswap Lake seemed to be located at Shuswap Lake Provincial Park. This is a park located along the north-western shore of the lake, essentially across the lake from the town of Sorrento.
While there are forested trails here, I think the major attraction is the beach. There are also camp sites (open from July to Labour Day) and a boat launch.
The Margaret Falls are over 200 feet high and cascade into Reinecker Creek. The walk/hike is an easy 10 minute self-guided nature walk in a beautiful gulley with large trees and cliffs looming above you, and a cave near the base of the falls is large enough to hold 2 or 3 adventurous explorers.
We took lots of picturesque photos. We then walked back along the trail into Herald Provincial Park.
There are plenty of roadside markets and stands to explore, selling delicious local fruit, such as bing cherries, apples, peaches, plums, nectarines and pears, home baking, crafts, jams and jellies.
Okanagan fruit and vegetables are prized in Western Canada, and I think it is much superior to Californian or Ontario fruit as we can get it relatively fresh and tree-ripened. No trip to the Shuswap area is complete without buying some local produce. Do price comparisons, as some places charge a lot due to the tourist factor. Ask the locals which market they prefer. As you drive south down Highway 97 towards Kelowna, prices and selection will be much better. Two markets I can recommend:
De Mille's Market is sort of more like a small supermarket, and can get very busy. It seems that many tour buses stop here. The staff doen't seem to be that friendly or to be of much help. The big drawing factor is their delightful corn maze and their menagerie of animals. This place is fun for families to explore.
Hanna and Hannah is an apple orchard, and sell up to 32 varieties of apples throughout the season, plus u-pick flowers, something I haven't seen before. There is an informative self-guided tour of the orchard. This is a much smaller operation; I found the staff here very informative and helpful. The surrounding grounds are just lovely.
The Shuswap area is so relaxing, and you can do as little or as much as you want. Some people never leave the front porch, and just drink in the beautiful views of the lake or forest (if you're lucky enough to get one), read and nap. Others do plenty of watersports, hang out at the beach, and do other outdoor activities; it's all up to you how active and busy you want to be.
While the main centres in the Shuswap area are Salmon Arm, Sicamous, and Kamloops, the whole surrounding area is populated with little villages and hamlets on quiet country roads that are fun to explore.
There'll be signs that will say "fresh eggs" , "honey", "alpaca and llama farm" or once in our case "organic ale". People will be very happy for a visit and a chat, and will show you around. It's still a place where people on the road you're walking on will wave as they drive by.
What happened to us is that we wandered down one road near our accomodation, and startled some pigs who were nosing around near the edge of the road. I think their squeal of shock and surprise and mine could be heard all the way back to Calgary! After we recovered from our heart attack, and the pigs from theirs, we found out that we were at an organic microbewery of Irish ale, called Crannog Ales. Well, what else could we do but check it out?? (for more info, www.crannogales.com).
One day while wandering down another road, we ran across a yard filled with beautiful and whimsical wood carvings amongst the trees, like a magical forest. A sign in the yard proclaimed, "Wooden It Be Good".
It's the finding of the unusual that gives a feeling of serendipity to your vacation memories. The atmosphere of rest and relaxation in the Shuswap area lets you focus on and appreciate the beauty of nature and simple things, which is sometimes hard to do when you're absorbed with your life in the city.
There are a few wineries in the area, with Recline Ridge being the most northern winery in North America, located near Salmon Arm.
However, approximately 2 hours south of Salmon Arm, you are in Kelowna, and many well-known Canadian wineries abound such as Fetzer and Tinhorn Creek, in addition to some off-beat ones such as Blasted Church. At the tourist information stops, you can get information and maps, hours they are open, and tours and tastings available.
The hot, arid environment, plus the cool nights make the area an award-winning wine region. At times, looking out at the landscape, I thought I was back in Sonoma or Napa in California.
One thing to watch in Shuswap Lake is the sockeye run. Every year in October, these salmon swim 500 km from the Pacific to Shuswap Lake to hatch. Every 4th year there's a dominant run that brings up to 2 million salmon congregating in the river, the largest such run in North America. Different from other species, they don't die after hatch. Instead they spend up to 2 years in their nursery lake.