In the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada, there is a lake called Okanagan Lake, a fjord, or a lake made by a glacier cutting through cliffs.
It descends as deep as it can, 232 meters, not far from Grant Island. Such bodies of water are always energizing and reviving. But did you know Okanagan Lake could provide you with more than just chilly water that splashes?
From kayaking and some mystery to swimming in the chilly lake and parasailing. There are a lot of amazing local attractions and facts that will make your trip to Okanagan Lake exciting and unforgettable.
10 Amazing and Interesting Destinations
Here are interesting places that you can consider visiting on your trip to Okanagan Lake.
1. The William R Bennett Bridge
This is a 5-lane bridge that glamorously connects the east and the west side of the lake. This bridge is the only bridge passing over the lake connecting Kelowna to West Kelowna.
It is a pontoon bridge, which means a bridge supported by floats. Out of the five lanes, three are for managing westbound traffic, and the remaining 2 for eastbound traffic.
Okanagan Lake is 60 meters below the surface in the bridge’s center.
You may be surprised to learn that the bridge is supported by nine concrete pontoons and can carry 80,000 vehicles daily. It also features a dedicated lane for cyclists and pedestrians.
2. Beautiful Beaches and Parks
You’d be surprised to know that Okanagan Lake in Kelowna has 30 beaches for you to choose from.
The Hot Sands Beach features volleyball and basketball courts, a skateboarding park, grass fields, and live music in the summertime.
Also, Boyce-Gyro Beach, the most known and famous snack venue, and the inflatable waterpark are worth visiting.
Rotary Beach Park is a well-liked location for the activity if you want to go kitesurfing. Strathcona Park has picnic tables, designated swimming areas, and a children’s play area for a wonderful family picnic.
Above that, it offers the lush green freshness of tall oak trees and grassy areas. You will surely find a different beach for each mood.
3. The Grant Island
Okanagan Lake houses two islands, one being Grant Island, which is a bird sanctuary. This island has its beautiful mystery.
It was earlier known as Whiskey Island. A legend says that an Interior Salish used to store lots of food and supplies here so the bears would not destroy it.
The island has also been known earlier as Nahun Wenox, which means ‘Child of the Rock.’ This name was given to the island because it had been a part of a large rock North of Nahun across the lake.
In present times, this island is home to a remarkable colony of Ring-billed Gulls. Even the other species of Gulls, viz.
California Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, and Herring Gull are known to be nesting here. Even Canadian Geese come here to raise the young ones of their species.
4. Rattlesnake Island
This small island on the lake in British Columbia’s beautiful Okanagan valley, much farther south by Squally Point, was developed in the 1970s as a tourist attraction.
A man named Eddie Haymour had purchased this island. He wanted to attain the attraction by establishing a mini-golf course.
The thing which added to its glory was the replica of the Great Giza Pyramid and a giant camel. However, this project was soon shut down by the provincial government.
It was a great plan to establish an Arab-themed tourist spot with ferries, a pyramid, a golf course, restaurants, and much more.
Though the plan was shut, you can find a few remains showing signs of the beginning of construction. Around eight to nine golf holes can be stumbled upon on this island. You can even find steps that lead upwards and are carved from rocks.
5. Reluctant Dragon Cove
South Okanagan is where you find the Rattlesnake Island on Okanagan Lake, there is a camping area called Reluctant Dragon Cove.
A small peaceful block of an area with a rocky beach makes a perfect and secluded picnic spot.
The area also has an outhouse, a few benches, and some spots dedicated to putting up the tents. A place to warm the soul with a sunbath is worth a credit with soothing sounds of splashing water.
6. The Monster Island
This is not a different island but another name, Rattlesnake Island. This deserves a separate consideration as the name has a good reason behind it.
According to a legend, a lake monster called Ogopogo resides in a cave on Rattlesnake Island.
Ogopogo, the Okanagan Lake monster, has a history behind it. The ancient natives of Secwepmc and Sylix regarded the Ogopogo as Naitaka.
This meant “an evil supernatural entity with immense powers but ill will.” According to the legend, Naitaka, i.e., the lake monster, used to demand a live sacrifice to let the people cross the lake safely.
For centuries, the First Nations has continued the practice of sacrificial of small animals before entering or crossing the water bodies. First Nations, being the indigenous people of Canada, brought home the same tradition.
The existence of this lake monster Ogopogo is feared as there have been instances of occupants of a canoe drowning deep, horses of a soldier being drowned, and many others.
This Ogopogo, or Naitaka, as the ancients used to call it, is said to reside in deep caves, which are located under Rattlesnake Island. There also have been a few alleged sightings of something large and lifelike, which keeps the belief of the lake monster intact.
Apart from this Ogopogo legend, and more towards the reality, Okanagan Lake is home to the rainbow trout and kokanee fish species.
Check out this video to see the proof of sightings of Ogopogo, the lake monster.
7. The Mountain Park
On the east side of Okanagan Lake lies a provincial park. Here you can experience a lot of fun with activities like hiking, camping at either north campground or south campground, campfire, boating, mountain biking, and many others.
Some campsites include around six marine camp zones and an undisturbed area full of wilderness. This is a great park for a little adventure trip.
Given the abundance of paths, you could even go hunting here. You might see coyotes, elk, white-tailed deer, and mountain goats.
It can be a perfect opportunity to unwind and partake in the pastimes of prehistoric people since hunting is permitted in this region.
The Okanagan Mountain Park’s other small yet significant species are the western harvest mouse, spotted bat, and Nuttall’s cottontail.
The park also supports the habitat of birds and reptiles like the white-headed woodpecker, western painted turtle, western skink, and to the irony, western rattlesnake on Rattlesnake Island.
So, you never know what you might come across. Check this provincial park, one of the best in Canada, near Joffre Lake.
8. The Treasures of the Deep
It is believed that many treasures have been found deep down in Okanagan Lake. These treasures come across divers as diving is very popular in the region.
To name a few items, a 100-year-old milk truck has been found, the old bridge that existed before the William R Bennett Bridge, and a Canadian Railway Barge.
This lake is a giant, but there is one person who has crossed this lake. A Peachland resident Shayn Moritz crossed the Okanagan Lake from end to end to celebrate his 50th Birthday.
9. The Winery
The Okanagan Valley Wine Region of West Kelowna houses the Mission Hill Winery on top of Mission hill. It is a great place to be, not just for wine tasting, but for the view it gives of 145 km of lake, mountains, and vineyards.
The architecture is unique: informative tours, amazing tasting bars, an informative barrel room tour, and cooperative wine shop staff.
This place also holds some events during special days and festivities like summer concerts, Christmas celebrations, and décor. You are going to find some very exclusive wines here to shop for.
10. Other Weird Things
The weirdness and wilderness of Okanagan Lake do not seem to end so soon. This huge lake, made out of a glacier, has a history of being completely frozen.
This has not happened a lot, but it has in the years 1906, 1929, and 1950. These years have no complete verification as only one picture of the Frozen Okanagan Lake can be found, which is 1929.
Okanagan Lake has been spelled 47 different ways over the years.
The list goes on and on, beginning with Okanagan in 1831 and ending with O-ki-wah-kine in 1848, Oukinegans in 1850, Okinakanes in 1854, Okinhane in 1856, O-kin-i-kanes in 1857, Okanaken in 1890, and Oo-ka-na-Kane in 1891.
Last, the spelling has been condensed to two variations: Okanogan in the United States and Okanagan in Canada.
Okanagan Lake is a masterpiece of enigmatic beauty. And one should always accept the path of adventure in pursuing beauty.
If you are looking for a perfect getaway, it is as perfect as it can be. Pro tip: we highly recommend when you visit lake Okanagan, you include lake Okanagan tours like the lake Okanagan recommended tours covering; associate lake Okanagan, boat Vernon Okanagan communities, and lake country.
Additionally, take advantage of the hotel where you can enjoy the view terraces overlooking Okanagan lake at nearby bc parks or provincial parks.
Hopefully, you get something out of the guide; Please remark if you know anything interesting about Okanagan Lake.As an Amazon Associate, Icy Canada earns from qualifying purchases.