British Columbia Travel Guide
The unofficial BC Travel & Tourism Guide

White Lake Grasslands

One of the driest regions of the province is also one of the most fragile and endangered. Grasslands are a unique ecosystem supporting species adapted to the unusual conditions. The subtle beauty of the White Lake Protected Area, with its significant changes in elevation, includes grasslands, rock outcroppings, alkali ponds and stands of old growth Ponderosa Pine. Considerable effort has been spent over many years to preserve sections of the South Okanagan region, which has come under considerable pressure for human development. It is contiguous with Vaseux Lake region, the adjacent provincial park, White Lake (managed by the Nature Trust of British Columbia) and other protected areas that together form a significant habitat for threatened flora and fauna. It also contains a wealth of First Nation history including pictographs.

White Lake Grassland provides important winter range and lambing areas for mule deer and California bighorn sheep. Red- and blue-listed amphibians, reptiles, insects, bird and plant species, as well as badger and three species of bats also call the area home. The mature ponderosa pines are also critical to the survival of the white headed woodpecker.

The raison d'être for this area is the preservation of habitat for threatened or endangered species. However, there are recreational opportunities as well. Premier locations for wildlife viewing are Kearns Creek, Mahoney Lake, Rattlesnake Lake, McIntyre Bluff and Myers Flats. Other activities include hiking and cross-country skiing as well as limited horseback riding. Cycling is also possible around Kearns Creek, Mount Hawthorne, McIntyre and Keogan Bluffs. Hikers should be aware that trails are not well mapped and orienteering skills are necessary. Of further interest is First Nations’ history, including eight archaeological sites, rock shelters and pictographs, as well as remnants of early European exploration including remnants of the Fur Brigade Trail.

The west side of Vaseux Lake and much of the land west of Okanagan Falls from Mt. McLellan and Mount Hawthorne are included in the protected area. Green Lake Road and Fairview-White Lake Road provide access off Highway 97 between Penticton and Oliver.

Contact White Lake Grasslands