Osoyoos (IPA: /ɒˈsɔɪjuːs/) (Pronounced “O-sue-use”), a town in the southern Okanagan valley of British Columbia, Canada. The Osoyoos region's semi-arid climate produces very hot, dry days, and may have Canada's hottest weather a few times each year. The chief industries of Osoyoos are fruit production, viticulture (wine making), and tourism. The town has over 5200 permanent residents as of June 2010.


The Osoyoos area has long been home to the Okanagan people (who speak the Syilx language), an Interior Salish people who still live in the valley, from the head waters of the Okanagan Lake, downstream to near the Okanagan river's confluence with the Columbia River in present-day Washington, though the traditional territory once encompasses the entire Columbia River. Like many places in the British Columbia Interior, the Osoyoos area was named by the Okanagan people. Osoyoos (O-sue-use) or (Sou-yoos) in the Syilx language describes a "narrow" waterway or where land almost meets, which refers to the cinched waistline of the 19 km long Osoyoos Lake (5 km of which is in the USA). The Okanagan people are thought to have first lived in the area around 3500 to 4000 years ago. There are indications that non-native travellers may have been here in the 1500s, and also that Spanish conquistadors came here searching for Eldorado: they got as far as Kelowna before they and most of their horses died during a severe winter. It was not until the early 1800s that trappers and traders arrived, followed by gold miners and then ranchers. A fairly young place, in terms of settlers, who found the area too hot and dry in the summer. The first commercial orchard was planted in 1890, and when the South Okanagan irrigation canal was built in 1919, the town of Osoyoos began to grow and was thus incorporated in 1946.

The Okanagan Basin area around Osoyoos is an area of notable ecological significance. Habitat types include wetland/riparian, grassland/shrub-steppe, coniferous forest, and rugged terrain. This wide assortment of habitats supports extensive biological diversity. Nearly half the bird species in Canada are found here along with many plants that exist nowhere else in North America, or in some cases the world.

Osoyoos is situated just north of the Canada-US border, and the border crossing is the busiest in British Columbia outside of the Lower Mainland.

The climate is desert-like with summers that are generally hot and very dry (just over 300 mm (12") of annual precipitation), resulting in one of the Provinces longest growing seasons, and the warmest summer daytime average temperature in Canada (27.9°C). Normally, daily temperatures in July and August average near 30°C (86°F), with overnight lows of around 14°C (57°F). September and October are usually warm and pleasant. Winters are short but can be somewhat cold with average lows around -5°C (24°F) in January. Spring arrives early with the return of warm and pleasant weather in April. Current weather conditions and historical climate data can be found online at Environment Canada .

Get in

Osoyoos is in the south central interior of British Columbia, approximately 400 km east of Vancouver at the junction of Highways 97 and 3 near the border of Washington State. Most travelers will arrive by automobile and try to schedule their holidays to coincide with the Spring and Fall Wine Festivals. Osoyoos is also a popular summer holiday destination and has gained an enviable reputation as the community of choice for retirees who wish to escape harsher Canadian winters. All in all, it's a true "lifestyle community," where people go to enjoy the good life.

By car

By plane

There is a small airport in Osoyoos, with a single paved 2,800 foot long runway running 12/30.

The closest major airport is in Kelowna BC 150 km to the north car rental available Vancouver, 400 km to the west-southwest. There is also a regional airport in Penticton, which serves domestic flights; Canada Customs services are available upon request.

By bus

Greyhound operates coach service with connections from other British Columbia cities. The local depot is west of town at the Visitor Centre (9912 Hwy 3 at Hwy 97, +1 250 495-7252).

Get around

There is no public transport, though the town is small enough that getting around on foot or bike is suitable. As with most destinations in the Okanagan, getting around by car is the best way to see all the sights.

Bike rental:

Scooter rental:


View of Lake Osoyoos and the town



The Osoyoos Art Gallery is open year round. Local artists and craftsmen exhibit and sell their work May through September. Individual and group exhibitions run Oct through April. The gallery is staffed entirely by the efforts of generous volunteers and is managed by the Osoyoos Arts Gallery Committee. The gallery is wheelchair accessible and hosts over 7000 visitors annually.

Vineyard near Osoyoos

Wineries - Vineyards

Orchards - Farm Markets



Go next

Routes through Osoyoos

Hope Keremeos  W  E  Castlegar Cranbrook
Penticton Oliver  N  S  → becomes Oroville Omak

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, May 08, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.