This day would be the grand finale of our 9-day Canadian Rockies road trip; our last day of driving on our way back to Vancouver, where it all began. The Rocky Mountains were in the rear view mirror and we were near the finish line. We left Revelstoke in the morning, but instead of taking the fastest route (through Kamloops), we decided to take a detour through the Okanagan Valley. This just happens to be wine country. We stopped for a quick lunch at the Quail’s Gate Winery, snapping some great shots of the vineyard after enjoying our meal (and, of course, a wine flight). This was a delicious choice.
The Okanagan Valley stretches along the Okanagan Lake and River valley, from around Vernon, and extends far south past the US border. This region has traditionally known for fruit production, but has recently become famous for producing the best wines in British Columbia. The weather is usually quite mild, and known for being very dry and hot especially in the summer being sheltered by the rain shadow of the Columbia Mountains. Of course, the day that we visited, we found the rain.
Driving through southern BC in the fall was amazing. We had seen a lot of mountain ranges on the drive back from the Rocky Mountains, and the further we got from Alberta, the more prominent fall began to appear once again. We made a last minute decision to take a different route home, deciding to visit the Okanagan for the afternoon. The colours were beautiful, the weather was still warm and the views took our breath away.
We took this “shortcut” through the Okanagan, diverting away from the Trans Canada Highway at Sicamous, and travelled south on Highway 97. Our first stop was just south of Vernon, where we found an incredible view of Kalamalka Lake from above. This was right before the weather took a turn for the worst and we had a great view of the Coldstream Valley.
As we approached closer to Kelowna, the clouds got a little bit darker, and after crossing the William R. Bennet bridge – across Okanagan Lake – it began to rain. Unfortunately, this meant that we wouldn’t get to spend much time exploring outside, but we found ourselves a great indoor spot to experience the best of the region. We decided to stop for a quick lunch and a wine tasting at the popular Quails Gate Winery in Westbank (across the water from Kelowna). Here we shared a few different things for lunch, and paired it with a perfect wine flight. Quails Gate is a popular winery for a reason, and we enjoyed a flight which showcased some of their best work. It was perfect.
After lunch, it was back on the road. We took the 97 connector from Kelowna through the mountains towards Merrit; as we gained altitude, the light rain turned into heavy snow, but we were prepared with four-wheel-drive. We would survive the worsening weather conditions safely crossing the Coquihalla pass and returning to the Fraser Valley. We arrived in the city sometime after sundown.
This final “shortcut’ was the perfect way to end our 9-day road trip. Our vacation was almost over, but we still had another two days in Vancouver before our flights left; stay tuned for some of our pictures of Autumn in Vancouver coming up this week.