You’ve got to love the Okanagan in the summer: sun, wineries, lakes. Granted, you don’t get the famous British Columbia mountains and trees, but the weather and warmth are so nice for us Lower Mainlanders. We try to head there at least once every summer. Okanagan Lake Provincial Park is located between Kelowna and Penticton, on the west side of Okanagan Lake… 11 km north of Summerland. This is on the side of the lake that gets shade in the afternoon so that can be both a good thing and bad thing.Even though it’s just off busy highway 97, the camp sites are down a steep slope towards the water, which means the traffic sounds pass overhead and miss your eardrums. That same slope shapes the entire park. It’s campground is made up of 6 tiers that step down to the lake. Each tier contains a road with about a dozen campsites. The lower the tier, the closer your campsite will be to the water. The campsites are cleverly located on the water-side of each street, leaving you with a gorgeous view of the lake. Across the lake is Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park so you mostly see nature.The roads are paved which makes lugging water gear, chairs, etc to the beach a little easier. Its generally a bit of a hike though. There are showers and both flush and pit toilets which are clean and maintained.
In the In summer of 2011 we camped at North Okanagan Lake Provincial Park. We went with 3 other families. We stayed in site 51, had friends in the double sites 48/49 and also on the street above us. They were comparable in terms of view, shade and levelness. We had an owl sitting in our tree for a couple of nights, which was neat! We spent most of our spare time in the double site, which had a bit more privacy & room so we could all circle around the fire and talk. Beach access is in the south/east corner and our sites were at the north/west end of a row so it was definitely a long hike to the beach. One day we piled all the beach equipment into the vehicle and drove. South Okanagan Lake Park is next to the north park and there is a trail that joins the two. This is a nice hike or bike ride but other than that trail there really is no other hiking within walking access. You are a ways out of town so expect to drive if you want to enjoy all that the Okanagan has to offer. There is certainly lots to do in the area, and we took the time to enjoy as many as time would allow.
Summerland is 15 minutes away. The adults piled into the SUV and, with a designated driver assigned, we headed out for a day of wine tasting. This is a must do activity and many wineries have spectacular patios to enjoy an afternoon lunch. On this day we visited:
Bonitas Winery has a great patio for delilcious bistro style lunches or dinner.
- Dirty Laundry is a winery that does a particularly good job at creating a visitor experience including stories and a picnic style lunch.
- Sumac Ridge has a very nice tasting room where they showed off some good wines. Shows you the marketing value of a winery.
- Sumac Ridge also has a short 9 hole golf course. Try it if you like target golf. Because of the local geography, each green is located on a hill top so it’ll really sharpen your short game. Best to leave the wine tasting until after the game.
Penticton is 25 minutes away. On another day we piled kids and adults into the vehicles and headed into Penticton to float down the canal towards Skaha Lake. They really have a great set up here. You park and pay to rent a tube at start of the canal and then enter the water. This can be a slow relaxing float or a much faster and active float depending on the water level at your time of the season. We had a slow float but it was a beautiful day and everyone had a great time. Included in your tube rental is your short bus trip back to your vehicle. This is a very busy attraction so prepare for crowds. Penticton has a few great beaches to enjoy as well.
Naramata is 35 minutes away and boast the “Naramata Bench”. We were not able to visit the wineries this trip but we have during previous trips and there are some amazing wines and even more amazing views from the sunny side of the lake. Here you will find 24 great wineries on 10 km stretch of road just north east of Penticton. Some of the notables:
- Lake Breeze has a great bistro for lunch. Its busy though so you’ll have to wait a while. They make some very tasty, light white wines.
- Hillside Winery has an excellent bistro for supper or lunch.
- The Red Rooster has a beautiful patio setting (no food service) with interesting statues.
- Elephant Island makes popular fruity desert wines. Not our taste in wine, but we respect their reputation and they have a very interesting winery to visit.
Here is my advise for this campground.
- Recommended Sites: based on the set up and beach location I would avoid booking double sites unless you can get 80/81. The double sites are a long way from the beach and with the open grassy design of the campground two side by side single sites still adequate access between them (this campground photo does show the double site size and view). All camp sites are level and a good size but the locations do matter. Try to get on the second or third tier for good view while keeping low from the highway. (Sites 48-74 rows).
- Campground Highlights:
- Lake Okanagan – nice view and access to the lake for swimming
- Close to Summerland and Penticton/Naramata
- Flush toilets and clean showers
- Paved roads to allow wagons or bikes to be used to transport chairs and kids toys to the beach
- Campground Lowlights
- Steep hike to the beach
- Not big or remote enough to allow adjoining access to hiking or bike trails . You’ll need a vehicle.
- The lake is cold and windy early in the summer season
- Very hard to get into.
- Not the usual BC trees providing privacy and shade.
- No hook ups
- Things to do
- Swimming & beach activities
- Penticton river floating
- Summerland wineries (15 minutes from campground)
- Naramata Wineries (30 minutes from campground)