Vernon offers many unique places to explore the natural world.
The Okanagan Science Centre inspires scientific inquiry through dynamic and interactive educational programs and exhibits. Perched atop the grasslands just south of Vernon the Allan Brooks Nature Centre (ABNC) is your place to satisfy your natural curiosity and reconnect with the joys of nature. The Centre offers an interpretive centre with activity rooms, display space, indoor and outdoor classrooms, picnic and play areas, an artist studio, native plant gardens, viewpoint sitting areas, and a wheelchair friendly grasslands trail around the grounds.
More than 80 parks and playgrounds are scattered throughout the Greater Vernon area, providing plenty of options to explore in your own neighbourhood or across town. For a complete list of parks, see the Greater Vernon Recreation Services website.
Vernon is fortunate to be located in close proximity to several Provincial Parks. These include Kalamalka Lake, Ellison, Kekuli Bay, Silver Star and Mabel Lake Provincial Parks.
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park has an abundance of trails that wind through grasslands, providing stunning views and access to some of the region’s best beaches on Kalamalka lake.
Ellison Provincial Park, located on the northeastern shore of Okanagan Lake, has a mix of forested hillsides and open areas and offers excellent camping and numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking.
Kekuli Bay Provincial Park, located on Kalamalka Lake, offers camping and easy access to the Okanagan Rail Trail.
Silver Star Provincial Park, 22 kilometres northeast of Vernon, includes Silver Star Mountain Resort and Sovereign Lake Nordic Trails and is ideal for year-round recreation.
Mabel Lake Provincial Park, located north of Lumby, has camping and beautiful beaches.
In addition to the trails in the provincial parks, numerous trails wind in and around the community. Because of the variety of distance and terrain, you will be able to plan enjoyable outings that take less than an hour or all day. For a comprehensive list, description, and maps of the trails, visit the Ribbons of Green Trails Society website.
The network of trails provides endless opportunities for walking, hiking, and getting out on your mountain bike. The North Okanagan Cycling Society maintains over 200 km of mountain biking trails throughout the region. If you prefer to stay off the trails, you can find maps of cycling routes on the Greater Vernon Recreation Services website. These maps are also available for no charge at locations listed on the website.
Summer in Vernon means sunny days relaxing at one of the local beaches. The two largest beaches are Kin Beach, at the north end of Okanagan Lake, and Kal Beach, at the north end of Kalamalka Lake. Soak up the sun, sit in the shade, play beach volleyball, build sand castles, take a dip in the lake, or try stand-up paddleboarding.
You can also find a number of smaller, quieter beaches dotted around Okanagan Lake and in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. Swan Lake, at the north end of the city, does not have a public beach. Swan Lake is a popular fishing spot, especially for ice fishing during the winter. In spring and summer you will also see rowers and dragonboat teams working on their skills.