Experience the Desert
“Amazing to see the ecology so closely. Inspiring!.”
M. Lineham, Sooke BC
Many visitors bypass our movies and exhibits and just want to walk out on the trails to smell the sage grasslands and pine forests along our trails. We have worked hard to create two kilometers of walking trails that explore the antelope and sage desert, Ponderosa Pine forest, rugged hills and shady creek habitats.
At the entrance to the trails is a map and display of plants that are in bloom. Visit us in May and June to see the best wild flower displays. In early May the air is scented with the cinnamon and cloves smell of blooming antelope-brush, while pink phlox dot the ground. June is Mariposa Lily month; this beautiful purple lily was an important food plant for Okanagan people. During the hot summer months many plants are dormant and animals hide during the heat of the day. Mornings and evenings are the best time to see wildlife such as coyotes, deer, and snakes. Make sure you bring a hat, sunscreen and something to drink if you are on the trails in the summer.
September and October are good months to see fall colours in the trees and the yellow blooms of rabbitbrush, and purple tansy aster. At this time of year, snakes are slowly returning to their winter dens in the hillsides. By the first frosty nights of October the snakes are in their dens and our biologists have packed up to return to university classes. Bears have fattened up and wandered to their winter dens to sleep and dream of spring.
A desert or not?
Expecting to see tall cactus and sand dunes? Although we share the same dry conditions as Phoenix Arizona, and many desert dwellers such as prickly-pear cactus, scorpions, rattlesnakes and Canyon Wrens live on our site, the jury is still out about whether we are a true desert. What is a desert— low rainfall, hot weather, cactus? Osoyoos does have years with precipitation below 10 inches but we often have rainy and snowy spells which support areas of lush vegetation.
This area is locally coined locally as Canada’s “pocket desert.” Whichever way you look at it, Osoyoos is a unique area with a precious habitat that should be celebrated and protected.