Scenic Stop: Haynes Point Provincial Park

Osoyoos, British Columbia

Haynes Point Provincial Park - Osoyoos, BC

We didn't know what to expect when we stopped in Osoyoos, Canada's only pocket desert. Could it really be as hot & dry as a typical southern desert? Unlike the temperate rainforests of coastal BC, the Osoyoos area is unique in Canada. Towering dry mountains sparsely peppered with trees frame the deep arid valley. Even though the deep blue Osoyoos Lake looks quenching to the area, the surrounding uncultivated land is brown and dry and dotted with Ponderosa Pine trees.

This photo was taken in the fall, with all the leaves changing colours at Haynes Point Provincial Park. This beautiful park closes during the fall season when the tourists are gone and the town goes quiet. When we were there, the temperature was only +14 C yet the ground still radiated the summer heat.

Canada's only desert lies in the rain shadow of the Cascade Mountains and receives less than four inches of rainfall a year even though it's only 250 kilometers (3.5 hours) from the fertile & soggy Fraser Valley. The Osoyoos area boosts the lowest rainfall, highest temperatures and warmest lake in the Canada.

 

Summers in Osoyoos are hot with temperatures regularly topping +40 °C and winters are barely below freezing. As a part of the Okanagan Valley, the area has orchards and vineyards. Rattlesnakes and scorpions find refuge around Osoyoos. With the blazing summer sun, I would have thought that solar power would have been more popular in this desert-like region, yet we didn't see any such installations.


View Canada's Pocket Desert in a larger map

 

Haynes Point Provincial Park

Located on a sliver of a sandspit, Haynes Point Provincial Park juts into Osoyoos Lake. The surrounding water is warm and the beaches are sandy & narrow. Marshes just offshore act as a natural buffer and wildlife haven for birds.

This 38 hectare park is popular in the summer and offers swimming, boating (there's a boat launch) and fishing. There aren't any real hiking trails, but walking is available along the paved road that extends the entire length. An interpretive trail along the shoreline follows the beach line. It's a great place to hang out on a hot summer day, or to enjoy a quiet walk in the cooler seasons.

Discover more about British Columbia, including awesome hikes and other things to do, spectacular scenic stops, and interesting (and sometimes wacky) roadside attractions.