The Nature of Kelowna
Set against the backdrop of Okanagan Lake, natural spaces and wildlife abound
When I was growing up on the north coast of British Columbia, we often travelled to Kelowna for summer vacation. My mom grew up in Kelowna and my grandparents also lived here, having moved from the Prairies in 1941. It was the perfect place to spend a few hot summer days. The beaches right in town were a favourite spot. We would always go home with cases of fruit for canning. Over the years, Kelowna has grown a lot, but it is still known for its beaches and orchards. Now it is also well known for its wineries. My husband Bill and I have lived in Kelowna since 1996, but it’s only been in the last five or six years that I have started walking more and exploring what I think of as the “nature of Kelowna.” Set along the shore of Okanagan Lake, it is a beautiful city that has many orchards, vineyards, beaches and parks.
I love to take my camera and photograph nature in action. There are many places throughout Kelowna that I visit regularly— parks, wetlands, bird
sanctuaries and nature trails. The city of Kelowna, the Regional District of the Central Okanagan and various community groups have done a great job of making these places accessible and enticing. It isn’t difficult, and you don’t have to travel far to find a peaceful place to walk, hike and bike in a natural environment. It’s easy to escape street noise and “busyness.” Mission Creek Greenway is
a 16.5-kilometre linear trail that follows the meandering of Mission Creek through town, and has many access points. The terrain varies from mostly flat, easy walking through cottonwood and pine forests to a medium-difficulty stretch through Scenic Canyon that has spectacular views and lots of opportunity to encounter wildlife in the form of wildflowers, bees, butterflies, many bird species, deer, coyotes and even black bears (also, very rarely, cougar). A highlight of Mission Creek is the late-summer spawning of the kokanee salmon that live in Okanagan Lake. At the north end of town is Knox Mountain Park overlooking Okanagan Lake, with many trails crisscrossing up and down the mountain. There are also numerous parks, ponds, streams and wetlands throughout the city that are a nature lover’s and birdwatcher’s paradise!
I feel very thankful to live in a community that promotes, maintains and enhances natural spaces. ■
Clockwise from top: Bald eagle on Knox Mountain; partial view of Kelowna from Dilworth Mountain Park; black bear in Scenic Canyon Park; a cactus in bloom.
At left: a beautiful sunny morning along a local canyon trail; kokanee salmon spawning in crystalclear Mission Creek.