Best Outdoor Activities in Kelowna: Kelowna, BC Outdoor Activities & Recreation Guide

Posted by Dave Kotler on Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021 at 2:30pm.

Best Outdoor Activities in Kelowna

Kelowna is the most prominent city in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley. Boasting about 142,146 residents, with a greater metro population of around 217,000, Kelowna is one of Canada's fastest-growing urban centres.

The city's natural beauty and comfortable climate have made it a favourite of outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Kelowna is dominated by expansive Okanagan Lake and several smaller inlets, offering residents the opportunity for waterfront homes, luxury properties, and expansive condos. In addition to water recreation, residents and visitors to Kelowna enjoy hiking, biking and golfing in warm weather months, while the snowy season brings hockey, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. Here are some of the best outdoor activities in Kelowna.

Water Recreation in Kelowna

Kelowna Water Recreation Opportunities

  • Watercraft and water skiing on Okanagan Lake
  • Swimming in the lake
  • Yacht clubs
  • Fishing in the lake

Kelowna's natural landscape is dominated by Okanagan Lake, with the city set about halfway down the lake's eastern shoreline. Varying in width between four and five km, the 135-km fjord lake was formed by repeated glaciations.

The lake's shores are home to numerous parks and beaches and are a favourite of boaters and other water recreation enthusiasts. Paddleboarding, sailing, charter boating, pedal boating, kayaking, and canoeing are all popular on the lake.

With over 30 beaches, swimming is also a favourite pastime at Okanagan Lake. Many of the beaches also feature playgrounds, concessions, and restroom facilities.

Water skiing has a long history on Okanagan Lake, dating back nearly as far as the invention of the first water skis and ski boats. In the 1960s, the lake featured a water ski club, which held slalom, jumping, and trick exhibitions. Today, the lake is too busy for large, organized water skiing events, though a few private slalom runs are located on the lake. Some of the city's smaller lakes still hold water skiing competitions.

Sailing also has a long history in Kelowna, going all the way back to the turn of the century. Several yacht clubs hold their own regattas throughout the sailing season.

Okanagan Lake is also popular with anglers and is home to several fish species, including kokanee and rainbow trout.

Kelowna Hiking & Biking Trails

Popular Trails in Kelowna

  • Paul's Tomb at Knox Mountain
  • Kettle Valley Railway at Myra Canyon
  • Apex Trail at Knox Mountain

Like many modern urban centres, hiking and biking trails are an important part of life in Kelowna. Those seeking to enjoy some of the area's natural surroundings will find canyons, lakes, waterfalls, mountains, and forests all an hour or less from Kelowna's downtown.

Located just five minutes from the city core, Paul's Tomb at Knox Mountain is perhaps the city's most popular trail, as well as one of its easiest. The five-kilometre trek takes hikers out past a popular Okanagan Lake lookout, ending at a secluded beach cove.

Cyclists and hikers looking for a longer trail for all ages may want to check out the Kettle Valley Railway trail at the steep Myra Canyon. As the name suggests, the trail follows the old railway converted into a walk-and-bike trail. The canyon features 18 trestle bridges along the trail's 24-kilometre loop.

Another of Kelowna's most popular trails is the Apex Trail, starting at the city's landmark Knox Mountain base. The mountain is considered a focal point of downtown Kelowna. Though steep at times, hikers meeting the challenges of this 2.1-kilometre trail will be rewarded by breathtaking, panoramic views of the city and lake below.

Kelowna Parks

Popular Kelowna Parks

  • City Park
  • Waterfront Park
  • Boyce-Gyro Beach Park
  • Bear Creek Provincial Park

Kelowna's natural surroundings are the perfect backdrop for the city's parks. Some of Kelowna's most popular parks make generous use of Okanagan Lake's shoreline. The city is home to about 16 regional and provincial parks.

A favourite among locals and visitors alike is City Park, a beachfront public park offering a sprawling sandy beach. Activities at the park include lawn bowling, a waterpark, running track, concessions, aqua park, and fitness stations. It also features playgrounds, picnic areas, an amphitheatre, tennis courts, public sculptures, and more.

Another popular park, and one that offers several athletic fields, is Waterfront Park. This park also features playgrounds, a dog park, an aquatic center, rolling green spaces, a boardwalk, and sandy beaches. Visitors can also enjoy easy restaurant access, paddle boat rentals, and public art set amidst breathtaking, natural scenery.

Emphasizing its lakefront location, Boyce-Gyro Beach Park offers recreational space for swimming and beach volleyball, watersport rentals, an inflatable waterpark, and picnic areas. Other features include snack venues and outdoor gym equipment.

Those looking for a place to sleep under the stars may want to opt for Bear Creek Provincial Park, located on the west side of Okanagan Lake in the Central Okanagan Basin. In addition to lakeside campsites, the park features 400-plus metres of sandy beach and five kilometres of hiking trails.

Mountain Adventures in Kelowna

Kelowna Climbing Destinations

  • Mount Boucherie
  • Lonely Crags
  • John's Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park
  • Boulderfields
  • KLO Creek

Outdoor enthusiasts would be amiss if they didn't take advantage of the city's surrounding mountains, cliffs and canyons with rock climbing and bouldering. So perfect is the Kelowna surrounding landscape that there are hundreds of climbs, ranging from less than 5.9 to over 5.12 on the Yosemite Decimal System in difficulty.

Among popular mountain adventure destinations include Mount Boucherie outside West Kelowna, near Mission Hill Family Estate Winery. On the opposite shoreline, Lonely Crags consists of four small crags found in the Upper Mission in Kelowna, with a total of 31 climbs under 20 metres.

Not far from Lonely Crags is the John's Family Nature Conservancy Regional Park, offering various cliffs featuring over 120 distinct climbs. Several of the climbs are multi-pitch, and trad climbs up to 30 metres.

Located about 40 minutes south of Kelowna, Boulderfields represents a sprawling region for climbers, offering various rope climbing and bouldering opportunities. The area's rugged terrain features about 150 rope climbs, in addition to hundreds of boulder ventures. Because of the area's size, a guidebook is recommended.

KLO Creek climb provides several sport climbs and a few trad climbs along KLO Creek. There are about 70 climbs in total, averaging up to 30 metres.

Snow Activities in Kelowna

Kelowna Snow Activities

  • Telemark Nordic Club trails
  • Big White Ski Resort
  • Stuart Park Ice Rink

Kelowna is known as a four-season playground—and for good reason. While spring, summer, and fall provide a wealth of opportunities for biking, mountain climbing, water recreation, and more, the snowy season also offers up its fair share of things to do.

While warmer times of the year provide ample opportunity for hitting the area's many hiking and biking trails, winter's snowy weather opens many trails up for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Telemark Nordic Club manages 60 kilometres of developed trails, making their way through wooded areas and logging roads, ending with a summit view.

Downhill ski enthusiasts will be happy to note that Big White Ski Resort is only an hour's drive southeast of Kelowna. Representing the highest summit of the Okanagan Highland, Big White lays claim to being the largest resort night-skiing area. The resort's central village offers guests an array of bars, shops, and eating establishments.

Kelowna's Stuart Park Ice Rink offers free skating for the public, beginning in November and lasting until late February. The facility rents ice skates and helmets, and several coffee shops nearby provide warm cocoa or coffee for those enjoying the chilly air.

Other Kelowna Outdoor Activities

Additional Outdoor Kelowna Activities

  • Public swimming pools like H20 Adventure + Fitness Centre
  • Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market
  • Winery tours
  • Golf

In addition to enjoying a swim at the lake, residents can enjoy a relaxing afternoon at one of the city's public swimming pools. These include H2O Adventure + Fitness Centre, Johnson Bentley memorial aquatic centre, Parkinson Recreation Centre, Parkinson Recreation Centre, YMCA of Okanagan and YMCA of the Central Okanagan.

The Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market takes place each Saturday, operating indoors from early January to late March, then outside beginning in early April through October. In addition to its main outdoor market at the corner of Dilworth and Springfield, it also offers a satellite market in downtown Kelowna.

Kelowna and the Okanagan Valley are also wine country, offering visitors and residents the opportunity to tour wineries, learn more about winemaking, and enjoy wine tasting. Guided tours are available, although guests are also encouraged to explore wine country on their own. Similarly, orchards and farm-to-table establishments offer opportunities for enjoying the valley's beautiful scenery as well as its bounty.

Kelowna is considered one of Canada's leading golf destinations, with over 19 courses in the area. The city averages over 2,000 hours of sun annually, providing one of the country's lengthiest, driest golf seasons. Courses are set among rolling hills of the valley, with the surrounding landscape and lakes providing a picturesque backdrop for golfers and golf course homes alike. The courses provide challenges for a range of skill levels.

Come Home to Kelowna

Referred to as a four-season playground, Kelowna offers outdoor enthusiasts a combination of favourable climate and unique natural setting that provides beautiful surroundings and varied geography that lends itself to outdoor recreation. It is a major golf destination, and its many parks and trails encourage residents and visitors to stay active while enjoying the outdoors. Outdoor activities are some of the most popular things to do in Kelowna.

With its location on the shores of the sprawling Okanagan Lake, the city is also known for its many water sports, including boating, water skiing, sailing, swimming, and paddle boating. While hiking, biking, and mountain climbing dominate warm weather months, the region offers a whole host of winter activities during cold weather months, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing, ice skating, and snowmobiling.

If the opportunities in Kelowna excite you, contact the agents at at 250-999-9844 to get in touch with a local real estate agent who can help you find the perfect home in Kelowna today.

Dave Kotler

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