Aimed at protecting the blue-listed British Columbia population of California bighorn sheep, the 25,889 hectare area is representative of the Okanagan Ranges ecosystem, which includes grasslands, old growth forests, including Engelmann Spruce and Subalpine Fir, as well as alpine lakes and meadows.
The area also provides protection and habitat for grizzly bear, cascade mantled ground squirrel, fringed myotis, spotted, townsend and pallid bats, the red-listed badger, as well as the blue-listed Sandhill crane and canyon wren, and two red-listed falcons.
Established in 2001, the area is of immense importance in sustaining an ecosystem rarely found in British Columbia.
Activities include fishing, wildlife viewing, hunting and backcounty hiking and camping.
Facilities are undeveloped and trails are not marked or maintained. However, care should be taken to lower impact from backcountry travel. Several guide outfitters operate and use cabins in the area; the cabin at Joe Lake is open to the public.
Location and access:
Snowy Protected Area is approximately 30 km southwest of Keremeos. The best access is provided by starting on the Ewart Creek Trail in nearby Cathedral Park. After it leaves the park, this trail is not marked on maps, but by following it on the south slopes of the Protected Area, hikers are able to reach the alpine.