Wineries to high desert trails in the Thompson Valley

Leaving the Shuswap, we turned west to follow the scenic South Thompson River down towards the city of Kamloops. Surrounded by dazzlingly barren hills, Kamloops sits at the confluence of the South and North Thompson Rivers in a stunning landscape of hoodoos and grasslands, lush vineyards and craggy gulches, and sparkling lakes and golden rolling rangeland. And with a bustling downtown full of great shops and cafes, you'll find plenty to do in the city as well.

Looking out over Kamloops from the Tower Trail
Hoodoos and beautiful river views in Kamloops, BC
Scenic downtown Kamloops


We fell in love with the landscapes around Kamloops, and especially so with the open terrain of the Lac du Bois Grasslands. Home to important species like bears, bighorn sheep, rattlesnakes, and nesting birds, the Protected Area plays an integral role in conserving some of BC's important grassland biomes. With sweeping vistas, dry montane forests, spectacular cliffs and canyons, there is a lot to see in the park, and few better places to start off than with a hike to Battle Bluff.

At the southwestern edge of the park framed by rugged mountains, Battle Bluff offers expansive views of the lake and surrounding hills. It's a moderate-to-easy trail, meandering from the Dewdrop Flats through a little meadow then up a short sparsely-forested ridge where you'll get your first glimpse of the lake. Bare rolling hills and sagebrush steppe fan out in all directions, and to the east is a contrasting cliff of columnar basalt hinting at the area's ancient volcanic past. From here its a short descent into the sage and a quick climb to the summit where the full vista awaits.

Towering mountains over the grasslands of Kamloops
Sunlight cascading onto the Lac du Bois Grasslands
Hazy hills on the trail down to Battle Bluff
Hiking to Battle Bluffs in Kamloops
Watching the sunset over Kamloops Lake from the Battle Bluffs
Watching the sunset from the Lac du Bois Grasslands Provincial Park
Trail textures in the Kamloops desert
Hiking up Battle Bluff in the Lac du Bois Grasslands


For something a bit closer to town, check out the beautiful Kenna Cartwright Park. The largest municipal park in BC, there are a web of trails to explore and we hiked both the Tower Trail and the popular Sunset Trail. The Tower is short but relatively steep, offering views over the city, and the Sunset Trail takes you a out along the ridge to an expansive vantage overlooking Kamloops Lake. Both are stunning hikes, and perfect for an evening outing.

Hiking up the Tower Trail in Kamloops' Kenna Cartwright Regional Park
View over Kamloops and the Thompson River from the Tower
Golden light on the Sunset Trail above Kamloops Lake
Evening on the Sunset Trail in Kenna Cartwright Park
Evening light on Kamloops' Kenna Cartwright Park


Just east of town on a scenic bench above the river, Monte Creek Ranch Winery is the newest addition on the Kamloops Wine Trail. With a beautifully modern tasting room that nods back to the area’s early pioneers (and train robbers!), Monte Creek is also a working cattle ranch, with berry fields and beehives and horse trails alongside the organic vineyards.

The striking modern tasting room at Monte Creek Ranch Winery
The vineyards of Monte Creek in Kamloops
Tasting wine on Monte Creek's scenic patio
Tour of the Monte Creek Winery
Visiting the Monte Creek Ranch for a wine tasting


Nestled among the hills of the North Thompson Valley, Privato Vineyard & Winery is a hidden gem. Specializing in Burgundy style wines including their flagship Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, stop by for a personalized wine tasting, or take a stroll in the garden.

The grand entrance to Privato Vineyards wine tasting
Wine tasting at Privato Vineyards in Kamloops
At the Privato Winery in Kamloops
Strolling the grounds of Privato Vineyard in Kamloops
Having fun at Privato Vineyards


From spring through fall, swing through downtown Kamloops for the Wednesday and Saturday morning farmer's markets. It's a fun way to pick up some food, help support local farmers and producers, and maybe even meet some friendly neighbours. And with fresh coffee and delicious baked goods on offer, it can also be a quick and easy breakfast on the go.

Morning at the Kamloops Regional Farmer's Market
Fresh brewed coffee at the Kamloops Farmer's Market
Picking up some fresh baked bread at the Kamloops Farmer's Market


For a unique slice of the area's history, the abandoned sanatorium at the edge of town is a fascinating excursion. Called Tranquille (or sometimes Padova), it was constructed as a hospital during the tuberculosis outbreak of 1907 and soon grew into a sprawling little self-sufficient village. There were 40 buildings spread across almost 200 acres, including 4 state-of-the-art hospitals, a firehall, massive steam plant, large kitchen and laundry facilities, residences, and a network of underground tunnels connecting everything. By the late 1950s tuberculosis was on the sharp decline, and in 1959 the provincial government turned it into an asylum to treat the mentally ill. The institution shut its doors for good in 1984, marking the end of an era for the almost century-old hospital. Given its storied history, it isn't surprising that many people believe it is haunted.

In its heyday, Tranquille also included a bustling little farm with orchards & vegetable gardens, substantial cellars and canneries, dairy cows, and a piggery and abattoir, producing food for almost 1000 staff and patients. After a couple decades of abandonment and decline, today Tranquille continues that tradition as an urban farm with plans to become a master-planned and sustainable village community on Kamloops Lake. Tours are available through Tranquille Farm Fresh.

Abandoned buildings at the Tranquille Sanatorium in Kamloops
Haunted tour of the Tranquille Sanatorium
Creepy abandoned industrial building in Kamloops
Urban exploration in Kamloops

Thanks to Thompson Okanagan & Kamloops for making this trip possible!

Thompson Okanagan
Tourism Kamloops