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Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park
About This Park
Above the lakeshore are over 10,000 hectares of rugged landscape with mountain lakes, grasslands and spruce-fir forests accessible only on foot, horseback or bicycle. Trails and rustic campsites are the only facilities in this area of the wilderness. A wonderful setting for hikers – a climb to the top of Okanagan Mountain will lead you to beautiful scenic lake views to the west and the Monashee Mountains to the east.
A boater’s paradise, this wilderness park dominates the east side of Okanagan Lake between Kelowna and Penticton. Six marine campgrounds and secluded bays and sheltered sandy beaches tucked into the 33 km of undeveloped shoreline make water exploring a true adventure.
Know Before You Go
- Good, sturdy footwear is essential. Summers are hot in this arid park and hikers should carry water between camping areas. Mountain bikers should carry a map of the park with them at all times.
- Mushroom picking or harvesting is prohibited in provincial parks.
- Trail Report [PDF] (June 5, 2022)
- Remaining on the main trail network.
- Waiting for favourable weather. Calm conditions with no rain or snowfall are optimal for travelling safely.
- Travelling quickly to reduce exposure time.
- Spreading groups out to reduce risk of multiple casualties.
- Stopping or camping only in open flat areas at least one tree length from standing trees.
- Travelling carefully since contact with roots or trees may cause a tree to fall.
- Avoiding steep slopes – falling trees and loose rocks may slide downhill.
- Leaving the area or taking shelter if trees are actively falling.
This park is located on the east side of Okanagan Lake, just opposite Peachland on Hwy #97. There are no public roads in the park. Access to the south boundary parking lot is through Naramata to Chute Lake Road. It is 6 km of gravel then 1.5 km of very rough road. It is a total of 25 km from Penticton. Access to the north boundary parking is via Lakeshore Road from Kelowna. Follow for 15 km to the parking area. The road continues past the parking lot but is for private land access only with no public parking. Boat, bicycle, horseback or hike only once inside the park boundary.
Nature and Culture
- History: This park was established August 23, 1973.
Culture: The colourful history of the Okanagan Valley is very evident in the park. There are archaeological sites and provincially significant First Nations pictographs found on rock outcrops and canyon walls. At one time, the local Salish Indigenous peoples used Wild Horse Canyon as a wild-horse trap.
Historic trails form part of the current trail network, some dating back to 1860, when Father Pandosy established an oblate mission near Kelowna. Settlers used a trail through Wild Horse Canyon, but finding the south end of the trail crossed extremely rough and rocky country, Father Pandosy instituted a better trail higher up to the east.
Good’s Creek Canyon Trail was named for Dave Good, supplier of survey crews for the Kettle Valley Railway, built in 1915. Commando Bay was used to secretly train Chinese-Canadians for guerrilla warfare in 1944, during World War II.
Little remains at the crash site of a DC3 passenger plane that went down in December of 1950 roughly one km northeast of Divide Lake. The two CP Air pilots died in the crash, while 16 others on board were rescued by local search and rescue teams. There is no trail access to the site.
Conservation: The park is a representative example of the Okanagan Basin and Okanagan Highlands. The terrain ranges from the deeply incised melt water channels of Good Creek and Wildhorse Canyon to the 1579m high Okanagan Mountain with spectacular examples of heavily glaciated rock terrain including classic rock drumlins, grooves, flutes and striations.
The park encompasses ecosystems from three different biogeoclimatic zones: the bunchgrass zone in some of the lower but more exposed areas, the ponderosa pine zone in much of the lower elevations and the interior Douglas fir zone on the upper mountain reaches. Significant old growth Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Lodgepole pine and Engelmann spruce covers more than 2500 hectares. The park’s plant life represents the influence of both the dry southern and wetter northern climates. The park protects a significant portion of undeveloped lakeshore along Okanagan Lake.
Wildlife: The variety of ecosystems represented in the park leads to an abundance of wildlife that is surprising in an area so close to Kelowna.
The rugged rocky terrain is habitat for mountain goats. White-tailed deer, moose, elk, lynx, marten, coyote are also found in the park. Small but very important species are the blue listed Western harvest mouse, Nuttall’s cottontail (the furthest northerly occurrence) and Spotted bat. The Northern alligator lizard and Western skink can be found under rocks or bark in open wooded areas while the Yellow-bellied racer prefers grasslands and open fields.
Blue listed reptile species found in the park include Western painted turtle, Rubber boa, Gopher snake, Western blue racer and Western rattlesnake. The park protects habitat for five blue and two red listed bird species including the Western grebe and Whiteheaded woodpecker.
- Management Planning Information
- There is currently no approved valid management plan for this area. Management plans are prepared as soon as practicable, subject to available resources and the ability of key planning partners to participate.
Activities Available at this Park
There are wonderful opportunities for canoeing or kayaking daytrips and multiple day trips along the shoreline of Okanagan Lake bordering Okanagan Mountain Park. Camping among the marine park campsites gives the illusion of being tucked away along the coastal saltwater bays, yet being inland. If possible, use a Canadian Hydrographic Chart 3052 for Okanagan Lake. This is available for a fee. Phone 250 765-3995 in Kelowna and 250 492-2628 in Penticton.
There are cycling opportunities at this park. Obey the signs that allow mountain biking within Okanagan Mountain Provincial park.
Norman, Baker and Divide lakes are all stocked with rainbow trout by the Summerland Trout Hatchery. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence.
There are a number of hiking trails in this park. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Horseback riding is permitted at this park. Please use the designated trails because the park is rugged and even experienced riders can be challenged. Most areas in the park are inaccessible even by horseback, so please travel with caution.
Hunting is permitted only during lawful game hunting season. Check the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis for regulations.
Pets on Leash
Pets/domestic animals are allowed in the campground but not in the day-use, picnic areas, beaches, or park buildings. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Owners are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
There are no lifeguards on duty at provincial parks. Swimming opportunities are plentiful along the undeveloped shoreline. There are many bays easily accessed by boat that make for a great place for snorkelling.
There are opportunities for waterskiing and wakeboarding on Okanagan Lake.
There are fantastic views from the Rim Trail, the Pinnacles and the viewpoint just west of the south parking lot. The rugged terrain and steep canyons in the park make viewing an option just about anywhere for sheep, goats, elk, and birds of prey.
Facilities Available at this Park
Cabins / Huts
There is an old cabin at Divide Lake that was built before the park was established. They are not to BC Parks standards and are user maintained. Visitors planning on staying in these cabins should be self-sufficient and able to camp outside should the cabin be full.
While campfires are permitted and campfire rings are provided at some campsites, we encourage visitors to conserve wood and protect the environment by minimizing the use of fire and using camp stoves instead. Firewood can be purchased when a park operator is available on the marine campsites, or you may bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary from park to park. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented during the operating season when fire restrictions are in place.
This park is popular amongst Kelowna residents for day-hikes and mountain biking.
Pit or Flush Toilets
This park only has pit toilets; no flush toilets.
Wilderness camping is allowed at Baker Lake and Divide Lake, where limited facilities like pit toilets and fire rings are provided. There are 7 marine boat-in campgrounds; Buchan Bay, Commando Bay, Goode’s Creek, Van Hyce Beach, Reluctant Dragon Cove, Halfway Bay and Halfway Point along the lake. Additional camping is allowed at the South parking lot where there are two tables, two fire rings, space for two tents (no tent pads) and a pit toilet.
Mooring of uninhabited vessels is not permitted at anytime within the park. Vessels that are found uninhabited, tied to a mooring buoy or tied on shore could be impounded and removed at the owners expense. For additional information on mooring and marine concerns, please contact the area supervisor directly for clarification if needed.