North Okanagan Road-Trip: Kelowna to Salmon Arm

Photo by Stuart Madden

British Columbia's Northern Okanagan

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The main North Okanagan town, and a focus for most visitors, is Vernon, but just up the road is Armstrong, where they make wonderful cheese. The city’s Old Towne pays tribute to this in its cheese museum and features antique and specialty stores and even an operating bee farm. Then, at the end of the valley, 59 km (36mi) from Vernon lies Salmon Arm, a picturesque small city that rests on the shores of Shuswap Lake.

Kelowna to Vernon

Just south of Vernon is one of BC’s premier golf resorts, Predator Ridge, with three 27-hole layouts, a variety of upscale accommodations, a spa and a spectacular clubhouse. Two more of the Okanagan’s premier resorts, Sparkling Hill, Strand Lakeside are also just outside Vernon.


Vernon is the oldest community in the Okanagan and the crossroads point to Kamloops and the Thompson Valley; and the entryway into the Shuswap region. It was the home of the Interior Salish first nations until the 1800s when Europeans, fur traders, minors, missionaries and the Hudson’s Bay Company changed the character of the region.

Walk the city to see the 27 murals on downtown buildings that chronicle the region’s history. Contact Tourism Vernon for information about walking tours and special events.

Silver Star ski resort can be reached by taking 48th Ave./Silver Star Road at the North End of Vernon for 24km/15mi. It has both winter and summer activities.

Vernon To Salmon Arm

At the junction of highways 97 and 97A, turn left onto 97 for two km/1.2mi to reach the O’Keefe Ranch where you can walk through the historic old cattle ranch and visit the old mansion, St. Anne’s Church, and a blacksmith shop.

Back on 97A to Sicamous, the farming community of Armstrong is the cheese capital of BC. Tour the Village Cheese factory on Smith Drive and sample their products.

The Caravan Farm Theatre, north of Armstrong, is a unique theatrical experience with shows in an outdoor theatre in the middle of a working horse farm. Located between Highways 97 and 97A it is best reached by taking Wood Ave. in Armstrong to Salmon River Road that will lead you to the theatre site. Check with the Armstrong/Spallumcheen Chamber of Commerce.

Larch Hills Winery and Ovino are three boutique wineries near the main highway.

Driving along Mara Lake along Highway 97A is a picturesque journey into Sicamous with boat launch areas along the way.

Highway 97A splits into 97B outside the town of Enderby with 97B leading to Salmon Arm. Highway 97B takes you alongside the Salmon Arm Golf Club, one of the most popular and picturesque in the north Okanagan.

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