Top Five Outdoor Activities in Oliver, BC

by Amy Sztupovszky / Jul 23, 2013 / 0 comments

Oliver, British Columbia is situated in the very top boundaries of the Sonoran Desert, the only desert in Canada.   Our mountains are filled with sagebrush, prickly pear cactus, and pine trees while our valleys are teeming with lakes and rivers.  As with almost any place in British Columbia, Oliver is an outdoor enthusiast's playground with ample opportunities for watersports, bike riding, and hiking.


If you are looking for things to do in Oliver, BC,  here are our top five picks for outdoor activities:


1.    The Oliver Hike and Bike Path

Running straight through the heart of Oliver and along the picturesque Okanagan River, The Oliver Hike and Bike Path is a great place to enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride.  The 18.4 km flat path extends to the North and South of Oliver and over ten kms of it is paved.  While exploring the path you will hug the shores of the Okanagan River, passing rural farms, wildlife protection areas, ponds, marshes, and orchards.  Keep your eyes open for Kokanee Salmon in the river, painted turtles in the ponds, deer in the brush, and bald eagles in the trees!


Hike and Bike Path, Oliver, BC


2.    Hiking McIntyre Bluff

Also known as Indian Head Mountain because of its shape, McIntyre Bluff is a South Okanagan landmark.  While the view from the valley below looking up towards the bluff is stunning, a hike to the top for a bird’s eye view of Oliver is spectacular.  The most popular trail ascending the mountain starts at Covert Farms and gently meanders up the backside of the bluffs.  The hike takes you through mountain meadows, past small lakes, and up and down a few steep inclines.  Be sure to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy from the very top of the bluff as you breath in the beauty that surrounds you!


McIntyre Bluff, Oliver, BC


3.    Canoeing on Vaseux Lake

We consider Vaseux Lake the best place to canoe or kayak in the South Okanagan.  Because the west side of the lake is a protected park and bird sanctuary, motorized boats are prohibited on the water.  This makes it a dream destination for those of us who enjoy paddling in peace!  On a calm day the waters of Vaseux provide a mirror for the sky as you paddle under the backdrop of McIntyre Bluff. Paddle along the Western shores as you scout out the small beaches for a place to picnic and have a swim in the cool clean waters.


Canoeing on Vaseux Lake, Oliver, BC


4.    The Vaseux Lake Wildlife Centre

Enjoy a leisurely stroll down the boardwalk at the Vaseux Lake Wildlife Centre.  This protected area and bird sanctuary offers you the opportunity to walk through a marshland without disturbing the wildlife.  Suitable for all fitness levels the boardwalk meanders through the cattails offering glimpses into the life of an undisturbed marsh.  The trail ends with a bird blind where bird watching enthusiasts can break out the binoculars to watch flocks of Canadian Geese, ducks, and songbirds.


Vaseux Lake Boardwalk, Oliver, BC


5.    Searching For Pictographs

First Nations People have lived in the South Okanagan Valley for centuries and it is still possible to find pictographs on the rock faces of cliffs and mountains in the area.  One of the most notable and easily accessible examples of pictographs is just off McIntyre Creek Road.  Follow the dirt road up the mountain and park at the second sharp curve where you will see a sign describing the habitat of the area.  There is a path here and pictographs are visible on the rocks within the first hundred yards.  Continue on this path up to the knoll for a beautiful view of the valley below.


Pictographs, in Oliver, BC


Whether you are passing through Oliver BC on a road trip or staying for your vacation, we hope you take the time to explore the beautiful, natural surroundings of Canada’s only desert!




Full time mother, part-time gardener, passionate family traveler, and local food enthusiast, Amy Sztupovszky is happiest in her garden, watching her chickens (it’s free therapy!) and being entrenched in her community.  Amy writes about her home town of Oliver and the importance of a localized economy on her website,