Personally speaking, there is no better season than spring. The warm weather is returning, flowers are blooming, trees are sprouting and the grass is greening — all unmistakable hints to restart the farmer’s tan, hit the links and swap a few fun bets with close friends.
Me? I’m still holding tight to winter, especially since there is still so much snow in the high country. It’s skiing one day and golf the next, something I reverently call the Spring Double. And one of my all-time favorite places to do just that is in British Columbia, Canada.
Among the amazing facts about this popular travel destination is that southern BC is actually the northernmost outskirts of the Sonoran Desert, classified as the same wilderness that shapes much of Mexico and Arizona. You won’t find any 15-foot saguaros, but what you will discover is the Okanagan Valley, a stunning and transcending countryside brimming with crystal blue lakes, Napa-beating wineries, sweet-scented fruit orchards, basket-overflowing vegetable farms, late-closing ski resorts and early opening golf courses.
What’s up in the Great White North? Here are the Okanagan’s four most compelling spring experiences:
1.) Set mountaintop high with breath-stealing views of 80-mile-long Okanagan Lake, the 149-room Sparkling Hill Resort in Vernon anchors a pure-luxury vacation underscored by fine dining, fitness and yoga studios, indoor saltwater pool, 3.5 million Swarovski crystals and a 40,000-square-foot spa that features a 166-degrees-below-zero cryotherapy room. For top-ranked golf, go play the 36-hole, Les Furber- and Doug Carrick-designed Predator Ridge Golf Resort, located minutes from the property. Fun fact: In downtown Vernon is a collection of 27 massive outdoor murals that depict the city’s history, culture and folklore.
2.) Okanagan Lake forms Kelowna’s western boundary and bids heavenly access to beaches, water sports, bike trails and illusive views of Ogopongo, the water’s legendary serpent. Even more enticing are the immediate area’s 40 fabulous wineries like Cedar Creek, Gray Monk, Mission Hill, Quail’s Gate, Sandhill and Summerhill Pyramid. Golfers’ choose from among 18 nearby courses including Harvest Golf Club (crafted by Graham Cooke), Kelowna Springs (Les Furber), 36-hole Okanagan Golf Club (Nicklaus Design), The Rise (Fred Couples) and Tower Ranch (Tom McBroom).
3.) At the Okanagan’s southern tip, Osoyoos’ vast hillsides have been transformed by many of North America’s more feted wineries, among them VQA-rated Burrowing Owl, Jackson-Triggs, Nk’Mip Cellars and SunRock. This true desert region is also a playground for sun worshipers, boaters and anglers, and shopping for authentic First Nations art like hand-carved masks and painted drums is becoming increasingly popular. If time is short, go test your game on the par-35 Sonora Dunes Golf Course at Nk’Mip Resort.
4.) The Okanagan Valley delivers late-season skiing and snowboarding at Big White and SilverStar (both 45 minutes from Kelowna), and at Sun Peaks (45 minutes from Kamloops). For more epic ski and golf terrain, drive six hours west to world-famous Whistler’s glaciated mountain and its four sensational valley courses including top-ranked Fairmont Chateau Whistler (Robert Trent Jones Jr.) and Nicklaus North (Jack Nicklaus).
What are your favorite Okanagan Valley memories? Share your comments below.
Chris Duthie is a Durango-based contributor to Colorado AvidGolfer. Colorado AvidGolfer is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.