The incredible, magnificent beauty of Okanagan lake is a wonder to behold. The blue water stretches 351 kilometers long and reaches a depth of 232 meters. Stretching north from Vernon to it’s southern most point in Penticton B.C. The lake passes through through Kelowna, Summerland, Peachland and several other quiet communities in between. Okanagan Lake is the heart and center of the Okanagan Valley. All sports and other water based activities can be safely enjoyed in this astoundingly beautiful area. It isn’t called the ‘California of Canada’ for nothing.
Whether you’re looking for a place to blast around on a motorized watercraft or have a quiet, peaceful trek you are guaranteed to find a spot which suits you best. Tourists come from the prairie provinces, U.S.A and other northern areas to appreciate good times to be enjoyed all around Okanagan lake. Bring your own boating and paddle sport accessories or save yourself the hassle by renting the equipment upon arrival. Okanagan lake is a paradise to all boat, swim and hiking nature lovers. Protected and provincial parks range all around Okanagan lake. Camping, hiking, cycling, horseback riding and wildlife viewing are just a few of the exceedingly enjoyable activities you can partake in. Be sure to check B.C. Parks websites for more information.
Okanagan lake began from glacial activity approximately 10,000 years ago. Sediment deposits across the Okanagan valley are what the cities of Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton sit on. In the early 1800’s Okanagan lake served as the main travel connection for European pioneers. Fur traders, ranchers and miners were the first to settle and treat with Aboriginal peoples. Such opportunities also encouraged missionaries and the Hudson Bay Company to settle across the northern valley. By the late 1800’s communities were established in this agriculturally rich land made fertile by Okanagan lake waters. Even to this day orchards and vineyards in the region produce more fruit than any other area of Canada. Underwater life lush with Kokanee, rainbow trout and other varieties of fish made settlement all the more appealing for it’s new inhabitants.
Travel over water was the only mode of transportation across Okanagan lake for many decades. Steamboats served to carry cargo of every variety as well as accommodations for passengers. It was not until 1958 that a bridge was built crossing Okanagan lake. From Kelowna to West Bank, now called West Kelowna, the William Bennett Bridge remains the only bridge to cross the lake. It began as a floating bridge but by 2008 was replaced by a solid structure. This six lane bridge serves as a connection along highway 97, is 650 meters long and 2100 feet tall. The W.R. Bennett Bridge is also referred to as the Okanagan lake bridge.