At the end of my Rocky Mountain road trip (see previous post) I arrived at Mara Lake in the Shuswap to spend some time relaxing in the sun. What better place than at a cabin (cottage for you Easterners) at Mara Lake which is surrounded by mountains and where the weather is almost always perfect.
I have been coming to this area for years and it never disappoints. This year has been a particularly fabulous summer all over Western Canada and the Shuswap was the same. Clear blue skies and sunny hot weather are the norm in the summer in the Shuswap and this year was no exception (my coldest day while I was there was 27 degrees). An ideal place to go within a beautiful half day drive from Calgary. I started out with dinner at Moose Mulligans where there is a great patio looking out over the Sicamous narrows. There is a dock if you would rather boat over than drive. It is a great place to spend an afternoon or evening with food and drinks enjoying the nice weather and watching the boats go by.
This beautiful area has so much to offer. From Mara Lake by car there are easy day trips to Salmon Arm, Enderby, Vernon, Kelowna and to the many wineries in the area. By boat the entire Shuswap is available to explore through the many lakes which are all accessible by heading through the narrows in Sicamous. Whether you go by boat or car, the beauty of the area is apparent everywhere you look. I went to Vernon one day for lunch and the drive itself was worth the trip. Vernon is great too as it has lakes, wineries, a ski hill (good for hikes in the summer) and lots of restaurants to choose from.
I also spent some time in Salmon Arm. One of my favourite things to do there is to have lunch at the Shuswap Pie Company. Warning, they are closed on Sundays so plan accordingly. The meat pies and the dessert pies are both amazing! My personal favourite is the raspberry rhubarb pie, absolutely delicious. My second favourite thing to do there is to go to DeMille’s farmers market. They have great fruits and vegetables as well as baked goods, organic meats, sauces, cheeses etc. I took my nieces for a visit so they could see the farm animals outside the market, which they loved.
There are some great walks in Salmon Arm down by the water. The pier area overlooking the marina and the lake is nice with lots of benches to hang out on and enjoy a coffee or to sit and read. The park beside the pier has picnic tables and benches as well. From the park you can continue to walk along the path, but you have to walk through the parking lot to get to the path on the other side.
Another nice place to walk around is Enderby. There is a river walk that is lovely and there are some nice cafes to stop in at, my favourite is Cliffs on the highway through town. Starting in Enderby you can float down the river in a tube, on an air mattress or in a raft, it looks like fun although I haven’t done them yet. But be warned, the river is slow moving and it can apparently take up to 12 hours to get to the next town so plan carefully where you want to get out of the river.
Although Sicamous is a smaller centre it is a nice place to stay or at least worth a visit, especially for the public beach area. The beach has a swim area as well as a kids park and a path to walk along plus there is a public boat launch. If you like trains or boats it is a great spot to watch the trains going over the bridge or the boats going under the bridge. Sicamous is the houseboat capital of Canada and there is a regular stream of houseboats going in and out of the narrows past the beach. The houseboats range from very basic to quite fancy, loaded with slides, sea doos or even speedboats. All around the Shuswap are areas for the houseboats to dock for the day or the night, there are even floating stores and gas stations.
Another nice walk is to the waterfall near Sicamous. There is a sign off highway 97A directing you to the parking area. Unfortunately the area was flooded and is currently under repair so instead of a continuous walk the walk is split into two, one down the creek and the other up to the waterfall area. It is a short, easy hike so almost anyone can do it (I went with two 3 year olds and they managed just fine), although there are some stairs on the waterfall side. Once you are at the waterfall it is very beautiful and peaceful.
Despite the many lovely things to see, I spent most of my time on the beach near the cabin or on the boat on Mara Lake. It was wonderfully relaxing to float around the lake, taking a refreshing dip in the water when I got too hot. The lake isn’t the warmest lake as it is mountain-fed, but by mid-July it is usually nice and this year it was even quite warm because of the hot weather this summer. Plus, you can’t beat the scenery!