Winter can be a challenging time for many of us. Short days and lack of light can leave us feeling unmotivated. Add a pandemic to the mix and the effects intensify a hundredfold. It’s time to reign in those winter blahs before they blow the roof off the house!
If you currently live in or are staying in Oliver this winter, here are ten fun things that you can do safely outside of the home that will help perk you up on those humdrum days.
1. Hike to McIntyre Bluff (nʕaylintn)
McIntyre Bluff (nʕaylintn) is one of Oliver’s most prominent landmarks characterized by sheer cliffs on three sides and topped with ponderosa pine, sagebrush, and desert grasses. From the top, you’ll get one of the best views of Oliver, Canada’s Wine Capital!
Due to the pandemic, the Covert Farms trailhead is temporarily closed. However, you can still access the trail through Willowbrook Park. The trailhead is located on Johnson Crescent. See map! Please note that this is a private park and a $5 donation is requested to help cover trail maintenance costs.
You will hike along forested trails, through grassy meadows, past Rattlesnake Lake, and enjoy lovely views of the surrounding rocky landscape. The trail is marked with pink flagging ribbon however we advise you to use a GPS or trail app for backup. There is a large system of interconnecting trails and sometimes trail markers go missing!
Bring a picnic and a thermos of hot tea, or bevy of your choice, to enjoy at the top. It’s a perfect place to relax and take in the view or sit and meditate. Bring your journal and start 2021 off with some good self-reflection!
2. Hike at White Lake Grasslands Protected Area
If you’re curious about what the Okanagan used to look like before it became developed, White Lake Grasslands Protected Area is a beautiful and expansive landscape of rolling desert hills blanketed with golden grasses and sagebrush in summer. In winter, it can be a desert winter wonderland.
Conservation efforts have been put in place to protect the dry grassland, open pine forest, alkali ponds, and rock outcroppings. It provides important habitat for many wildlife and plant species.
The White Lake Loop is an easy 12.9 km hike where you will experience the quiet and subtle sounds of nature, see different varieties of birds, and discover pretty backcountry tarns and lakes. You can bring your dog as long as it’s leashed.
NOTE: It’s highly recommended to use a trail ap as there are lots of trail forks!
3. Stroll or Bike Along the Okanagan River Channel
Bundle up this winter and go for a stroll along the beautiful Okanagan River Channel, but first, grab yourself a hot bevy from the Cock & Bull Cappuccino Shop or any of the other local cafés. It kickstarts those “warm and fuzzies” and makes chilly outdoor experiences that much better don’t you think?
The Oliver Hike and Bike Trail is an 18.4 km path that runs from Tucelnuit Drive in Oliver all the way to Osoyoos. Much of it is paved. It turns to dirt between Road #22 and Osoyoos.
You’ll see a variety of bird species and discover interesting seasonal foliage. In the fall, you can even watch the salmon run!
You can access the trail at various places including the Oliver Tourism Visitor Centre. One of my favourite entrances is at the end of Park Hill Road.
4. Snowboard or Ski at Baldy Mountain Resort
Ski or snowboard one of BC’s powdery hidden gems! Baldy Mountain Resort is the third-highest ski resort in BC and receives approximately 35 feet of dry, light powder snow each year. Lifts run to 2,123 metres. It’s really a must-do if you’re a ski or snowboard junky! Plus, the ski passes are more affordable than many other ski resorts in BC.
If you’re a Nordic skier, you will find five kilometres of groomed terrain as well as untouched, more advanced trails. Or, if snowshoeing is your thing, you can explore kilometres of marked trails. View map! The trails are free to use and the views are lovely!
Drop-in at Guest Services before you head out to check trail conditions and to grab a map. Note: Nordic skiers must fill out a waiver.
What’s even better than a fun-filled day playing in the snow? Celebrating your day with a bevy and lunch at the Baldy Bar!
5. Explore Nature Trails On Nordic Skis or Snowshoes
McKinney Nordic Ski Club, a locally operated, non-profit cross-country ski and snowshoe organization, manages nine kilometres of groomed cross country ski trails for novice, intermediate and advanced skiers, and also five kilometres of marked snowshoe trails.
These trails are maintained by club volunteers. To help with expenses they kindly ask that trail-users either purchase an annual membership or contribute a day-use donation.
6. Play A Round of Golf at Fairview Mountain Golf Club
You don’t need to be a seasoned golfer to have a blast up at Fairview Mountain Golf Club this winter. You don’t even need to have your own golf clubs! They’ll supply them. Grassy fairways and greens? Meh, you don’t need ‘em.
Here’s why. Throughout the winter you can play a full 18 holes of golf on your choice of 60 different golf courses around the world via their GC Hawk Simulator. It has the most advanced tracking technologies, giving you the most realistic ball tracking data via the overhead camera. It even picks up whether you are right or left-handed, as well as ball speed, launch angle, direction, and yardages. Need practice playing in the wind? No problem. You can choose that!
You can also practice the rest of your game including hitting, pitching, and putting on their 3200 square foot indoor circuit. Practice hitting into netted cages. The Trackman will give you the hitting data you need to improve your long game. Practice your short game too and pitch into targeted nets and practice putting on slow and fast greens.
Don’t play golf but want to learn? Fairview Mountain Golf Club even offers lessons for those who want to get into golf and be ready for spring!
7. Play Eye-Spy at Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad
Whether you are an adult or kid, you can literally spend hours at the Osoyoos Desert Model Railroad peeking in windows and tunnels and analyzing each detailed scene at this warehouse-sized display of trains and still life. It’s really the most ideal place to play “I Spy” with your kids! Heck, even with your significant other. Why not?
You will witness up to fifty unique trains rolling along the landscape through villages and stations, disappearing into tunnels and chugging out of mountainsides. They are all controlled by special software to ensure collisions don’t happen.
You’ll also witness villages and buildings light up as night falls across this miniature world. And, you may even witness a thunderstorm crash and flash in the mountains!
This world of trains has nearly every type of scene you can imagine, even ones that are sure to make adults smile! Twenty years of effort has gone into this amazing family-run operation. It’s a must-see hidden gem!
8. Go Wine Tasting at World Class Wineries
Discover why Oliver BC is named Canada’s Wine Capital. Next time you’re at the liquor store, browse the Canadian wines. You may notice that many are from Oliver! We have over forty amazing wineries many of which have won awards for their delicious wines. Not all are open this winter but there are some great ones that are!
Taste white and red wine varietals from the comfort of cozy tasting rooms. Each winery offers a unique experience. Church & State Wines even offers the option of comfy outdoor patio seating by a gas fire pit where you can enjoy the view of the snowy Golden Mile Bench.
Here are the wineries that are open this winter:
Black Hills, Burrowing Owl, Checkmate Artisinal Winery, Church & State Wines, Culmina Family Estate Winery, Hester Creek Estate Winery, Inniskillin, Jackson Triggs, Nk’Mip Cellars, Oliver Twist Estate Winery, Phantom Creek Estates, Road 13 Vineyards, Rust Wine Company, Silver Sage Winery, and Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.
Make sure you book an appointment ahead of time!
9. Visit Alpacas at Sunkeya Alpaca Farm
If you’re feeling a little blah, there’s nothing like a visit with a herd of alpacas to brighten your day. These long-necked cuties are curious! You can’t help but smile as soon as they lay those large, glossy, lash-framed eyes on you.
Sunkeya Alpaca Farm is a lovely tidy farm located on Green Lake Road in the backcountry near Oliver. You’ll meet twelve alpacas including young ones. Farm tours are only $5, but you must book ahead for your private visit.
You’ll also get to tour inside and see how fleece is processed and spun, plus you can browse the shop of everything-alpaca from socks, toques, and scarves to floormats, teddy bears, and yarn.
10. Experience Mexico in Oliver!
Mexico may feel a long way off right now with all of the travel restrictions, but you can still get your Mexican fix here in Oliver. We have some amazing authentic Mexican cuisine!
You may wonder “Why Oliver?” which is widely known for its world-class wines. It’s much because of the wineries actually! Mexicans come to Oliver for eight months each year to work on the vineyards. There is a strong Mexican presence in this town!
As a result, three Mexican restauranteurs saw the need for good authentic food in Oliver including TacoRiendo and Casa Luna which are both open throughout the winter, and El Sabor de Marina Food Truck which is open between April and October.
Their goal is to provide Mexicans and visitors with an authentic experience. You’ll find delicious Mexican food and drink as well as a festive atmosphere. People come from afar for the Mexican food here in Oliver, and that says a lot!
Ten Fun Things To Do!
We hope our list of ten fun things to do safely in Oliver this winter helps to brighten your day and squash those nasty winter blahs.
Get in touch with businesses ahead of time to book your visit. All are set up with the current COVID-19 protocols so you can have a great time and feel safe.
Stay tuned to Oliver Tourism for more featured lists and stories!