Get Out There

Plan your “staycation” in the Thompson Okanagan

 | June 1, 2012

As we’ve come to know in the past few years of economic flux, “extra” money for a highfalutin holiday is very rarely the reality for many. Yet summer, and vacation season, is approaching, and whether the destination is near or far, a break from the daily grind of work, business and even family can be more necessity than luxury.

The inability, or unwillingness to spend a lot for some rest and relaxation has spawned a new brand of holiday dubbed “staycation.” A hybrid of “stay” (as in stay-at-home) and “vacation,” a staycation involves staying at home and doing day trips to local destinations or making an overnight or weekend trip to somewhere close by.

The Thompson Okanagan region, with its broad spectrum of sights and attractions, is benefitting from this shifting vacationing trend, confirms Glenn Mandzuik, CEO of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association.

“Very few places in the world can really say they have the diversity of (vacation) product that we have in our region and we have it in spades. International travel’s tightened over the last couple of years and the growth has really been in the near-in markets and communities an hour or two away,” he says. “Some industry people I talk to in the region have seen booking increases up to 50 per cent over last years and a lot of those are from the near-in markets.”

Without emptying a tank of gas, vacationers can travel North of Sun Peaks to Wells Gray Park near Clearwater, B.C. This park is renowned for Helmcken Falls, a waterfall three times the height of Niagra Falls as well as Murtle Lake, the largest canoe-only lake in North America. Other draws to the park include white water kayaking and rafting, hiking the mountains and old-growth forests, fly fishing, camping and horseback riding.

To the East, staycationers can visit Shuswap and Adams Lakes. There are dozens of provincial parks in the neighbourhood, waterfalls, hiking trails and campgrounds. Shuswap Marine Park alone features 26 campgrounds, most of which are water accessible only. Cyclists can tackle the 38 kilometre Larch Hills traverse, a cross-country journey between Sicamous and Salmon Arm.

If getting dirty isn’t your cup of tea, the area’s also acclaimed for its arts and culture scene, with many summer events on the calendar including one of Canada’s top roots events—the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues festival.

Journeying only a few hours South of the Sun Peaks/Kamloops area brings travellers to the world renowned climbing area, Skaha Bluffs near Penticton, ziplining and bungee jumping opportunities in Oyama and Peachland, and the chance to cycle the trestles of Kettle Valley Railway. Visitors can also slow down and learn a little in one of the area’s 120 wineries.

And, for those who truly value proximity, Sun Peaks Resort and Tourism Sun Peaks are working hard to up the number of attractions to the resort municipality this summer. The resort has long been a successful mountain biking destination, with lift access biking on 29 trails to over 2,000 vertical feet of terrain, and plenty of cross-country trails for those who prefer the slower pace. The last few years have also seen growth in alpine hiking and cultural events, with over 30 music, sporting and cultural events slated for the summer.

“I’m a little spoiled because I live and work in a vacationland right here at Sun Peaks,” says resident Calvin Doyle. “There are lakes everywhere to fish and swim in, mountain biking, hiking or just driving the backroads, whatever you can do on holiday elsewhere, you can do here.”

Whether your idea of a vacation is tent camping and trout fishing beside a pristine lake, getting Eggs Benedict delivered to your luxury suite or simply taking your better half on a Sunday drive, a staycation can give you the break you need, without breaking the bank.