While most travellers flock to Kelowna during the summer months to enjoy optimum Okanagan Lake chilling and unbroken sunny days, these people miss the wonderland transformation of Kelowna in the winter.

As well as providing the majesty of smaller frozen lakes (like Wood Lake) and snow-blanketed hillsides, winter opens up a world of new sporting opportunities around Kelowna.

Best Things to do in Kelowna in the Winter

Kelowna in Winter

Kelowna in Winter (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – Seger Nelson and Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association)

Kelowna Snowshoeing

Kelowna Snowshoeing

Kelowna in Winter (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – Seger Nelson and Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association)

For the uninitiated, snowshoeing is basically hiking with extra-large footwear and mandatory hiking poles. The increased surface area of snowshoes makes traversing the snow a breeze and the poles mean you won’t need to worry about losing your balance.

If you want any hope of enjoying Kelowna’s best trails between November and April, snowshoeing is the answer. A trip out to nature at this time of the year is its own reward; there is nothing quite like the frozen Okanagan landscape, blanketed in a serene quiet broken only by your own crisp footfalls.

If you have your own snowshoes (or rent some), many of Kelowna’s best trails are completely transformed during the winter months. The Kettle Valley Railway of Myra Canyon becomes something from a children’s Christmas story. The waterfalls at Bear Creek Provincial Park freeze to a crystal photograph. The views from Knox Mountain Park are devastatingly beautiful in the snow-packed silence.

Then there are the places with dedicated snowshoeing trails. Big White Ski Resort offers interpretive snowshoe-based tours, allowing you to learn about and witness wildlife amid snowdrifts and powdered pines. Telemark Nordic Club boasts a staggering 60 km of trails, all designed for snowshoeing and varying in difficulty level. They also rent all the appropriate gear if you don’t have your own.

Kelowna Skiing

Big White Ski Resort

Big White Ski Resort (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – Geoff Holman & Big White Ski Resort)

With the Monashee Mountains in their backyard and ideal dry powder snow conditions for a good quarter of the year, it’s no surprise the residents of Kelowna love to ski. Travellers love it here too, with devoted shredders making the pilgrimage here year in, year out.

Thanks to this popularity, Kelowna has two ski resorts just a short drive outside the city, multiple active cross-country ski clubs, and stunning ski-ready trails under constant winter maintenance.

Big White Ski Resort is the most local resort, as well the largest ski-in/ski-out village of its kind in the whole of Canada. The slopes here receive more than 750cm of optimum dry powder snow each year, and the resort can kit you out with the skis or boards to make the most of it.

Alternatively, you could opt for SilverStar Mountain Resort, who have the persuasive bragging point of being voted Best Ski Resort in the Okanagan for the last five consecutive years! It’s not hard to see why, with 132 ski runs across four different mountain faces, all maintained by a fleet of glades backed by secret extra powder stashes. For pros, the slew of black and double black diamond runs on the mountain’s backside are hard to beat.

You can also take part in these fun winter activities at Big White:

Dog Sledding at Big White

Dog Sledding at Big White

Dog Sledding at Big White (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com –  Jeff Bassett, Sproing Creative)

Ice Climbing at Big White

Ice Climbing at Big White (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com –  Jeff Bassett, Sproing Creative)

Tubing at Big White

Tubing at Big White (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com –  Jeff Bassett, Sproing Creative)

Kelowna Nordic Skiing

Cross Country Skiing Kelowna

Cross Country Skiing at Kelowna Nordic Centre (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – David Vassiliev)

Nordic skiing, which you may know as cross-country skiing, is something the lands around Kelowna lend themselves naturally to. This is aided by the enthusiasm of locals and their clubs, who come together to maintain more than 250 km of well-groomed skiing trails each year.

Big White Ski Resort, mentioned above, provide 25 km of cross-country trails. The rest can be found across the following three clubs, all of whom provide day lodges or warming rooms for you to thaw out in after a long day of gliding in bliss.

Telemark Nordic Club contribute 50 km of trails that vary from easy little loops to tricky tracks packed with elevation changes – they also have dog-friendly trails for the ultimate in unique bonding experiences with man’s best friend. They also offer rentals, as well as lessons for beginners.

Kelowna Nordic Ski and Snowshoe Club offer day rates across 75 km of trails if you bring your own equipment. They can also set you up with a guided tour from a club member if you contact them ahead of time.

Finally, Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre receive the crown for the biggest network of Nordic skiing paths in all of Canada, clocking in at an impressive 105 km of excellently maintained track-set trails.

Stuart Ice Rink in Kelowna

Stuart Park Skating

Stuart Park Skating (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – Matt Ferguson)

Winter travellers get the treat of seeing this iconic waterfront plaza (home to Dancing in the Park during summer) transformed into the go-to local ice rink.

Whether it’s an unforgettable family Christmas or romantic bliss you’re searching for, gliding along while taking in the views of the snow-capped Okanagan will provide it.

The best thing is that using the rink couldn’t be easier. They offer drop-ins and shockingly cheap gear rental to ensure casual spontaneous ice skating is always a possibility.

Winter Hiking in Kelowna

Winter Hiking in Kelowna

Winter is one of our favourite seasons to go on the best Kelowna Hikes! Winters are fairly mild here in Kelowna which make it the perfect temperature for longer hikes, as long as you have the proper gear, especially microspikes as it gets super icy on many trails around Kelowna in the winter.

Most trails don’t require snowshoes if you don’t head up to higher elevations however, you never know what the trails will be like, so always be prepared to cut your trip short if you run into deeper snow without snoeshoes.

Winter Wine Tours

Quails’ Gate Winery in the Winter (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – Meghan Reading)

While some Kelowna wineries close down for the winter, many stay open to provide their guests with winter tastings and tours. In fact, winter wine tours are preferable to some as the wineries are less crowded and take on a quieter beauty under the soft snow.

Our Kelowna Wineries Guide has a list of tour companies you can check out, or you can also visit West Kelowna Wineries or Wineries in Lake Country as they are very close to Kelowna as well.

Go Fat Biking

Fat Bike in Kelowna in Winter (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – Seger Nelson and Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association)

Fat Biking is very popular in Kelowna in the winter. Not only on do you see many commuting to work in the winter on their fat bikes, but the trails are full of fat bikers.

Crawford Trails in Myra Bellevue Provincial Park is Michelle’s favourite place to hike, but it is also very popular for fat bikers in the winter and mountain biking in the warmer months. You can also go to Big White or the Trestles.

Visit the Best Kelowna Breweries

Kelowna Craft Beer

Fredy’s Brewpub (Courtesy of tourismkelowna.com – BC Ale Trail)

After a day on the hill, the trails, or the rinks, get cozy inside at some of the best Kelowna Breweries to taste some delicious food and locally made craft beer, cider, or even spirits.