British Columbia Wildlife Watch - Okanagan Region (South Okanagan Viewing Sites)
copyright © A.L. Mol  2003
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Within the South Okanagan area of the Okanagan Region of BC Environment, the following 16 viewing sites are identified.

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   Cathedral Provincial Park

Bounded on the south by the British Columbia-Washington State border, on the east by Ewart Creek, and on the west and north by the Ashnola River, Cathedral Park is southwest of Keremeos. Cathedral Park comprises an expanse of jagged mountain peaks, azure lakes and flower-dappled alpine meadows. Located between the dense, wet forests of the Cascade Mountains and the desert-like Okanagan Valley, this mountainous park offers a rich variety of terrain, flora and fauna.

Viewing Highlights - Mountain Goats and California Bighorn Sheep are present year-round, but they are most visible from July through September. Common small mammals include American Pika and Hoary Marmot, with viewing best from May through August. Bird life abounds. White-tailed Ptarmigan are year-round residents. In the summer watch for Prairie Falcon, Boreal Owl, Rock Wren and American Pipit.

Directions - Access is via Highway 3. Three kilometres west of Keremeos, a gravel road leaves the highway and follows the Ashnola River into the park. This road extends 48 kilometres upstream to the south end of the Ashnola Valley. There are three hiking routes that provide access into the park’s core from the Ashnola River corridor. No vehicles are permitted into the core area on the private access road. It is hike-in only to the core area. A jeep service, operated by Cathedral Lakes Resort, provides transportation between their privately owned holdings on the Ashnola River and Quiniscoe Lake in the park’s core area, a distance of 16 km.

For more information contact -

BC Parks, Okanagan District
Box 399, Summerland, B.C. Canada V0H 1Z0
phone: (250) 494-6500
fax: (250) 494-9737
e-mail

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   Chopaka Border Area

This area stretches along Nighthawk Road from Highway 3 to the Chopaka border crossing (about 21 km from the juntion of Highways 97 and 3 and about 25km from the junction of Highways 3 and 3A). This dry desert habitat is a popular location with birders and is especially good during spring migration. The land on both sides of the road is private but there is ample stopping room.

Viewing Highlights - Common birds from May to July include Long-billed Curlew, Mountain Bluebird, Sage Thrasher, Brewer's Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow and Western Meadowlark. Early morning and evening are best. Also seen through August are California Quail, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove and Common Nighthawk.

Directions - From Highway 3 between Keremeos and Osoyoos take Nighthawk Road towards the Chopaka border crossing.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Coalmont

The access road from Princeton to Coalmont is picturesque and offers some good large mammals viewing.

Viewing Highlights - This stretch of road is a good place to watch for Elk from December to February and for Mule Deer from December to May.

Directions - This site lies along the access road between Princeton and Coalmont. Turn onto the main road and Princeton and continue to the end of the orad, over the bridge and turn left onto Tulameen Road. The best viewing begins about 5.7 km from Princeton.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Ginty's Pond

This small wetland pong is home to a variety of wetlands birds from spring to fall.

Viewing Highlights - Besides nesting ducks, the pond is a good location for Yellow-headed Blackbirds, orioles, kingbirds and Marsh Wrens.

Directions - From the juntion of Highways 3 and 3A, travel about 6.3 km east on Highway 3. At Couthard Avenue turn right (southward). Continue to V.L.A. Road and turn left. The pond is a short distance near Wooden Road.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Haynes Point Provincial Park

Surrounded by warm water and sandy beaches, Haynes Point sits on a pencil of land jutting into Osoyoos Lake. Situated in the rainshadow of the Cascade Mountains to the west and protected from the worst of winter storms by the Columbia Mountains to the east, this is Canada's only true desert area.

Viewing Highlights - Families of California Quail are a common summer sight. From April through September watch for Marsh Wrens, Eastern Kingbirds, Gray Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Yellow-headed Blackbirds and orioles. It is not uncommon to walk one of the trails and look up to find a bird's nest hanging overhead. The best viewing occurs when there are fewer visitors in the park (ie. not July and August)

Directions - Located 2 km south of Osoyoos off Highway 97 onto 32nd Avenue.

For more information contact -

BC Parks, Okanagan District
Box 399, Summerland, B.C. Canada V0H 1Z0
phone: (250) 494-6500
fax: (250) 494-9737
e-mail

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   Hedley-Keremeos Cliffs

The soth-facing cliffs along Highway 3 between Hedley and Keremeos are an excellent place to look for Mountain Goats. More than 150 goats call this area home. Viewing is best done with binoculars as the goats are usually high up on the hillside. Once you identify a goat, or "small white blob", you will begin seeing them more easily. Remember that they move around the cliffs and may be visible one moment and not the next.

Viewing Highlights - While present year-round, the gaots are best seen from April to October. In July and August watch for young goats.

Directions - This site is located on the northern side of Highway 3 between Hedley and Keremeos. There are several large pullouts located along the highway and one located nearer Keremeos contain interpretive signs.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Inkaneep Provincial Park

Nestled in the tall cottonwoods and riverside thickets along Okanagan River, the park protects a few hectares of this rapidly diminishing habitat.

Viewing Highlights - California Quail are best viewed from April to June. The months of May and June are best for Eastern Kingbirds, orioles and Gray Catbirds. Woodpeckers are also common visitors.

Directions - Located 6 km north of Oliver on Highway 97.

For more information contact -

BC Parks, Okanagan District
Box 399, Summerland, B.C. Canada V0H 1Z0
phone: (250) 494-6500
fax: (250) 494-9737
e-mail

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   Mount Kobau

The view from Mount Kobau is spectacular. This is a good site to star watch and was originally destined for an observatory that was planned but never built.

Viewing Highlights - Mule Deer are observed year round. From May to August watch for Hermit Thrush, Brewer's Sparrow and Vesper Sparrow.

Directions - There is a good quality gravel road leading up the mountain. Access to this road is from Highway 3, about 10 km eastward from Nighthawk Road (to the Chopaka border crossing) and about 11 km from the junction of Highways 97 and 3 in Osoyoos.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Okanagan Falls Provincial Park

Just above the Okanagan River, cool deciduous trees provide a contrast to the parched hills above. This oasis is famous among naturalists for its superb birdwatching, wildlife viewing, nature study, photography opportunities and a variety of bats. A lovely array of colours in autumn.

Viewing Highlights - This is one of the best sites in the Okanagan to watch for bats. A great variety of species have been recorded here and several interpretive signs provide information. The best bat viewing is in the evening just before sunset from the middle of May through July. While California Quail are present year round, they are most visible bwteen April and October. Common birds observed in the Okanagan River are American Dipper and fish-eating diving birds such as goldeneyes, Buffleheads and mergansers.

Directions - At the town of Okanagan Falls. Located on Green Lake Road, approximately 500 m south from the junction of Highway 97 and Green Lake Road.

For more information contact -

BC Parks, Okanagan District
Box 399, Summerland, B.C. Canada V0H 1Z0
phone: (250) 494-6500
fax: (250) 494-9737
e-mail

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   Old Hedley Road

This backroad is located along the north side of the Similkameen River east of Princeton.

Viewing Highlights - Watch for Mule Deer in April and May.

Directions - This backroad is accessed from Princeton and from Highway 3 at the bridge over the Similkameen River about 6.9 km west of Hedley.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Osoyoos Desert Centre

The Desert Centre is an interpretive education and research facility offering insight into this sensitive ecosystem, its plants and animals. An elevated boardwalk trail provides access into this special desert habitat.

Viewing Highlights - The area hosts one of the largest concentrations of species at risk (over 100 rare plants and over 300 rare invertebrates) in Canada and is of international importance.

Directions - From Highway 97 several kilomertres north of Osoyoos, turn onto 146th Avenue and follow the road to the site.

For more information contact -

Osoyoos Desert Society
P.O. Box 123, Osoyoos, B.C. Canada V0H 1V0
phone: (250) 495-2470 or (877) 899-0897
fax: (250) 495-2474
e-mail

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   Osoyoos Oxbows Fish and Wildlife Management Reserve

This management area is a must site for birders! Dyke access along the Okanagan River, road access throughout and many trails provide visitors with opportunities to visit the various habitats.

Viewing Highlights - An amazing list of wildlife species may be observed here. The management area contains the reintroduction site of Burrowing Owls to the Okanagan and some may be oberved on the eastern benchlands during the summer. Bird viewing is excellent in spring, summer and fall, especially during migration periods when many rarities are observed. Watch for Long-billed Curlew, Bobolink, California Quail, Black Swift, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Gray Catbird, Canyon Wren, Common Yellowthroat and Lazuli Bunting to name but a few of the hundreds of species recorded in the management area.

In the summer months before dusk, watch for bats. In October watch for Kokanee spawning. Great Basin Spadefoot Toads live in the area as do Pacific Rattlesnake, Western Painted Turtle and Common Garter Snake.

Directions - The management area is located alonh Highway 97 on the north end of Osoyoos Lake and along the Okanagan River. Access is via Road #22 located about 7.5 km north of Osoyoos.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Skaha Lake (East Side)

This stretch of road runs along the east side of Skaha Lake.

Viewing Highlights - Watch for California Bighorn Sheep from October to March.

Directions - Take the road along the east side of Skaha Lake between Penticton and Okanagan Falls.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314

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   Vaseux Lake Provincial Park

This park provides preserves an abundant wildlife population. There is an excellent wildlife viewing area located between Oliver and Okanagan Falls. Trails provide access to the nearby National Waterfowl Sanctuary and Provincial Wildlife Management Area.

Viewing Highlights - Best bird viewing is in spring and fall, especially during migrations. A wide variety of bird species has been recorded, including many rarities. Look for Western Kingbikrd, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Catbird, orioles, Cedar Waxwing, Black-billed Magpie and many swallow, warbler and sparrow species. Chukar reside here year-round.

Directions - Located about 25 km south of Penticton on Highway 97.

For more information contact -

BC Parks, Okanagan District
Box 399, Summerland, B.C. Canada V0H 1Z0
phone: (250) 494-6500
fax: (250) 494-9737
e-mail

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   Vaseux Lake Wildlife Area

Viewing Highlights - Best bird viewing is in spring and fall, especially during migrations. A wide variety of bird species has been recorded, including many rarities. Look for Western Kingbikrd, Eastern Kingbird, Gray Catbird, orioles, Cedar Waxwing, Black-billed Magpie and many swallow, warbler and sparrow species. Chukar reside here year-round. During the summer watch for families of ducks and geese. There area trails and some viewing structures. Watch for Canyon Wren in spring and summer.

From September to March watch for California Bighorn Sheep in the hillsides east of the parkinbg area. Caution should be taken as Pacific Rattlesnakes are common.

Directions -

For more information contact -

Canadian Wildlife Service
R.R.#1, 5421 Robertson Road, Delta, B.C. Canada V4K 3N2
phone: (604) 940-4700
fax: (604) 946-7022

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   White Lake Area

The White Lake area is popular with birders.

Viewing Highlights - Spring migration brings Sandhill Cranes in mid April. In may and June watch for Sage Thrasher, Brewer's Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow and Western Meadowlark in the sage habitat around the lake.

Directions - Access from Highway 97 via Fairview White Lake Road.

For more information contact -

BC Environment, Southern Interior Sub-Office
#201 - 3547 Skaha Lake Road, Penticton, B.C. Canada V2A 7K2
phone: (250) 490-8200
fax: (250) 492-1314