Would it surprise you to know that some of the world’s oldest legendary historical and holy landmarks are wet, spotty or made of metamorphic rock and found right in the South Okanagan Valley?
It’s easy for tourists to recognize holy ground when standing next to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. We respect the Colosseum in Rome as a historical landmark. It’s understandable that some may look in wonder at the Egyptian pyramids (dating to 2589 BC) and think nothing could possibly be older than that. These legendary landmarks are a big reason why we love to travel.
Yet the fact is a wall doesn’t have to be in Jerusalem to be holy and a building doesn’t have to be constructed by Romans to have historical significance.
British Columbia’s Interior has several important landmarks that may not be recognizable to many people but are important to the Osoyoos Indian Band (OIB), among the first groups to call the region home. If you plan to travel to the Okanagan this fall, add these stops to your itinerary and be inspired.
Hike nʕaylintn (McIntyre Bluff)
Previously named McIntyre Bluff after a local settler, nʕaylintn (pronounced nigh-lin-tin) is a towering pillar of metamorphic rock that has been known to the OIB for millennia.
Elder Sheri Stelkia hopes future generations will see the land as her ancestors did, as the mother of all things.
“All living things come from the land and that’s what we are now,” Stelkia says. “This was a gift and it’s our responsibility.”
Feeling bold and fearless? This fall challenge yourself to a three-hour stomach-burning, calorie-crushing, leg-cramping round-trip hike to the top of n?aylintn (673 metres, 2,208 feet) above the valley. You’re certain to love the colourful scenery while you take your time at the top to catch your breath.
Kliluk (Spotted Lake)
Another legendary stop in Osoyoos is Spotted Lake, known as Kliluk to the OIB. Considered a cherished place of healing for centuries, Spotted Lake is so named because it is literally a body of water with several odd looking spots covering the surface. Members of the OIB believe each circle holds its own unique medicinal and healing properties. For this reason, Kliluk is one of the Indigenous community’s most important landmarks.
So what causes the spots? Kliluk is known for containing minerals like calcium, sodium sulphates and magnesium sulphate that create the look of the lake and gives it medicinal qualities.
Another interesting fact is the spots are constantly changing throughout the summer as the mineral content in the water alters with evaporation. This phenomenon can even cause the colours to vary from green to yellow.
Spotted Lake is located in the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area. To reach the lake, follow Highway 3 west out of Osoyoos for (10 km, 6 miles). If you were hoping to go for a dip before the weather turns cold you may be out of luck as Spotted Lake is protected from overuse. But the good news is it can be admired easily from Highway 3.
Check Out Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Taylor Baptiste, an Indigenous education advocate with Southern Okanagan Secondary School, OIB member and artist, says the cultural centre is a direct link between her past, present and future.
Her grandfather went to the NK’Mip day school and excelled in the arts, painting, sketching, leatherwork and carvings. She continues his tradition of artistry and has had her work exhibited next to his.
“It was very special to have my drawings displayed along with the sketches done by my grandfather. I had grown up looking at what he had done my whole life,” she says.
The cultural centre features a 67-acre nature interpretive facility and has an indoor and outdoor gallery, inspiring educational displays, multi-media theatre experiences and self-guided tours through the desert along a beautiful 1.5-kilometre wooden boardwalk.
Experience the legends of Sen’klip (the coyote) at one of the two multi-sensory theatres. Discover the desert ecology and wildlife in the “Living Land” display. Gutsier guests can head to “Critter Corner” and look into the eyes of a Western Rattlesnake and a Great Basin Desert Snake.
Admission costs go to the Osoyoos Desert Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving BC’s biologically rich habitats.
Vineyard Gems of BC Wine Country
Fall brings intense excitement to the province’s principal wine region. NK’Mip Cellars winemaker Justin Hall says the process of harvesting grapes “is like a new-born baby again every year.”
“You get all this excitement going. You’re wondering what you’re going to get when harvest comes,” says Hall, who works with senior winemaker Randy Picton to create the winery’s award-winning vintages. “Everything is about the fall. That’s your crunch time. You’re looking constantly at the fall, at the fall.”
Not surprisingly, NK’Mip is home to some of the finest vineyards in the province, gifting Hall and Picton with outstanding grapes to spin their magic from barrel to bottle to glass.
NK’Mip Cellars, noted for being North America’s first Aboriginal owned and operated winery, is not only a great place to purchase outstanding wine but also a living example of how land has been passed down to our generation in perfect condition.
The South Okanagan towns of Oliver and Osoyoos have turned harvest season into a special time for area locals who want to unwind and have fun. If you want an insiders’ view and enjoy the local scene, then the South Okanagan is the place to be this fall.
MORE ABOUT VISITING SOUTH OKANAGAN
Where to Stay: Spirit Ridge Resort, Unbound Collection by Hyatt.
Location: 1200 Rancher Creek Road, Osoyoos, BC (see map below).
Website: spiritridge.hyatt.com. Telephone: 250-495-5445.
Room Rates: A search on the property’s booking engine returned a nightly rate of $165 for an October weekend. In addition, the property is offering 100 resort credits when a guest books three nights or more.
2019 FOOD & WINE EXPERIENCES IN SOUTH OKANAGAN
Upcoming fall culinary events in Oliver and Osoyoos include:
Cask and Keg: On October 5 at Oliver Community Park, the region celebrates breweries, distilleries and cideries.
Garlic Festival at Hester Creek: A culinary feast will be held on October 5 at this Italy-inspired winery with many accolades to its name.
Crush Party at Oliver Twist: Join the annual harvest party, taking place on October 5, at this fun-loving property.
Festival of the Grape: The annual wine stomp is filled with laughter and cheer, and takes place on October 6 this year.
Note: This article is the fourth in an expanded content series focusing on travel to Osoyoos and the Oliver. It was created in partnership with Destination BC, the Osoyoos Indian Band, Arterra Wines Canada, Spirit Ridge Resort – Unbound Collection by Hyatt, Destination Osoyoos, and the Oliver Tourism Association. Read the previous three entries on the language of the Silyx people here, executive chef Murray McDonald’s take on Indigenous cuisine, and 6 Ways to Enjoy Your Indigenous Vacay.