by Crai S. Bower | Photo Aerial view of Osoyoos
Osoyoos is a sleepy town of 5,000 residents located less than 10 minutes from the U.S. border.
Though the hottest temperatures in Canada may have faded away, the shrub-steppe desert environment of Osoyoos reveals dry skies that are among the clearest in all of North America. The night sky produces such spectacular star displays, the Canadian government once planned to build the national observatory on nearby Mount Kobau. The observatory never was constructed, but the area remains one of the best amateur stargazing spots anywhere.
Of course, desert conditions in the Northwest translate into vineyards, and Osoyoos offers several of the best wineries in the Canadian Okanagan, beginning with La Stella and Black Hills Estate wineries. Route 97 between Osoyoos and Penticton has come to resemble Napa Valley’s famed Route 29, with gorgeous tasting rooms and restaurants at Burrowing Owl and Tinhorn, among many others.
But we don’t have to leave town to enjoy a late fall getaway to Osoyoos. The lakeside Watermark Resort serves a great menu and offers a toasty ambience to complement the crisp nights and starry skies. Because it serves most of the region’s finest vintages, the Wine Bar is almost as educational as a tour of this wine region’s tasting rooms.
Culture here is not restricted to viniculture however, The Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre and Osoyoos Desert Centre combine to provide an intimate investigation of the fascinating anthropology and environment that’s the northernmost reach of the Great Basin.
Crossing the longest unprotected border in the world always feels special. Slipping from Washington into the Canadian Okanagan reveals an emerging and ever engaging travel destination.