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Osoyoos in Canada’s Okanagan Valley. Famed for the Mediterranean Micro-Climate

The writer flew from England to visit relatives in B.C.,Canada. and was taken by them for a stay in their holiday home by Lake Osoyoos.

On the Highway From Vancouver to Osoyoos

It's mid-July and we have embarked on a five-hour journey eastwards from Vancouver, speeding past a seemingly endless forest on a highway cut through rock. Crossing the Cascade Mountains the people carrier climbs to a height of 4403 ft at Allison Pass. Bears hide amongst the firs and I scan the landscape hoping to catch sight of one.

Safely through the mountainous terrain, the view from the windows changes to acres of orchards and vineyards. Isolated stores selling local fresh produce are dotted along the route. The temperature is climbing. The driver ratchets up the air conditioning. This is the southern Okanagan Valley, renowned for its Mediterranean micro-climate.

Our destination is Osoyoos, the southernmost town in the Okanagan Valley, less than four miles from the border with the USA. I am being taken there by my Canadian relatives, whom I have flown from England to visit. We are travelling to spend a week in a holiday home owned by them in the Safari Beach Condominium Resort complex overlooking Lake Osoyoos.

Allison Summit Pass

Allison Summit Pass

Tourist Facilities in Osoyoos

Osoyoos is still a small town, but developing quickly. It's a popular holiday destination, a favoured choice for a retirement location, and an escape for ‘snowbirds’ who spend the winter months there to escape bitterly cold winter weather in other regions of Canada.

Osoyoos has great beaches, of course, and water sports, boating, fishing on the lake. Over the years it has become even more appealing, offering golf courses, winery tours and tastings, visitor centres, a mountainside observatory that offers fabulous views of both the night sky and of the lake and town far below.

Agriculture in the Micro-Climate of the Okanagan Valley

Since 1907, when irrigation transformed the shrub-steppe land of the Okanagan Valley into a lush agricultural belt, crops of cherries, apricots, nectarines, peaches, plums, pears and apples have been produced in the Mediterranean micro-climate of the area. Osoyoos was promoted as the producer of the earliest apples in Canada.

More recently, some land was turned over to grape production and vineyards produce good wines, including the famous 'frozen' wine. Nowadays vineyard tours and wine tastings add to the attraction of Osoyoos as a holiday destination.

The Festival of the Grape in the Okanagan Valley

Osoyoos Desert Centre

On the southern edge of British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan Valley is an extraordinary habitat popularly referred to as Canada’s pocket desert. This semi-arid, antelope-brush ecosystem is one of Canada’s most rare, fragile and endangered ecosystems. It is also home to one of the highest concentrations of rare and at-risk species in Canada.

— https://www.desert.org

At Osoyoos Desert Centre

Taking a guided nighttime safari at Osoyoos Desert Centre—our night-time safari in search of rattlesnakes.

Taking a guided nighttime safari at Osoyoos Desert Centre—our night-time safari in search of rattlesnakes.

Average Temperatures in Osoyoos, B.C.

In recent time there have sometimes been unprecedented high temperatures during the summer months., ocassionally reaching a maximum of 42 degrees

In recent time there have sometimes been unprecedented high temperatures during the summer months., ocassionally reaching a maximum of 42 degrees

Taking a Steep Route up Anarchist Mountain to Visit the Newton Observatory

Taking Highway 3 out of Osoyoos towards the east, our car climbed the steep road to Anarchist Mountain. Our destination was the Newton Observatory, where we hoped to chat to Jack Newton and be shown his telescopes and images. On a very tight turn in the road, we stopped at the lookout to enjoy the fabulous view of Osoyoos, and the border with the USA, far below us.

Route from Vancouver to Osoyoos

Route from Vancouver to Osoyoos

Hospitable Reception at the Newton Observatory on Anarchist Mountain

After a long gradual descent down the mountain, we turned on to Observatory Road and introduced ourselves to Jack Newton and his wife, hoping to be shown the telescope and Jack's amazing images of the galaxy. We explained that we had not booked rooms in his B&B but Jack, a world-famous amateur astronomer, was nevertheless more than happy to enthuse about his passion for the night sky.

Statistical Information About Osoyoos, B.C.

  • Permanent population: 5556 (2021 Census)
  • Average age of permanent residents: 55.4 years
  • Warmest freshwater lake in Canada (average summer temperature 24.6 centigrade)
  • Osoyoos Lake is 64m deep at its deepest point
  • The mid-lake depth is 14m

Osoyoos Indian Band Website

Map of Osoyoos, B.C.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Glen Rix