For five months we have explored Canada from the water, the air, hiking trails and our van’s windscreen. With our road trip nearing its end, I wanted to add another perspective to the list – from horseback!
One picture perfect late summer day, the lovely people at the family-run Kelowna Stables (at Myra Canyon Ranch) were not only able to help out with this, but also gave us the chance for more outdoor fun of another kind, at the nearby Myra Canyon Adventure Park.
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A break from the city
While Kelowna may not be quite the sprawling metropolis of Vancouver, it’s still a bustling place. Myra Canyon Adventure Park and Myra Canyon Ranch feel a world away from the traffic and busy strip malls, yet are only a short 20 minute drive from the centre of town.
Perched on the edge of the rugged Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, the Canyon offers some of the best views in the Okanagan. Having not been anywhere near a saddle at least 15 years, this was a perfect place to literally ‘get back on the horse.’
A trail ride
After meeting our horses (Decker for me, Billy for JR) at the stables, it wasn’t long before we were on the trails, following our friendly guide Gina.
Thanks to our amazingly responsive and almost-serenely calm horses, there was little instruction needed on our two hour ride. Decker did however have one clear weakness – food. Thinking about it now, I reckon that we were well matched.
Usually while hiking or canoeing, it is inevitable that I spend a fair bit of time looking down, concentrating on what I’m doing and how I’m doing it.
With this trail ride, I could just relax and enjoy the journey, and that wonderful view. We learned about the devastating 2003 wildfire which consumed over 200 homes in the area, as well as lots and lots of trees.
The burnt trees were a stark (and somehow eerily pretty) contrast to the lush vineyards and orchards a little further down the valley.
A successful ride at Myra Canyon
So what was the verdict after a couple of hours on the trails? Well, I now wouldn’t mind my own horse, though I’m not sure our van would be able to pull a trailer! As for JR, who has never been too keen on horses…well, he’s a bit of a changed man.
I may well be able to get him on horseback again another day – progress! After returning our horses to the stables for a feed, we headed a couple of kilometres down the hill to Myra Canyon Adventure Park. We didn’t want to leave those beautiful views just yet.
Myra Canyon Adventure Park
The Adventure Park is a recent development at Myra Canyon. The main attraction is an incredible ropes and challenge course for adults and youth, built as a non-invasive structure.
Nothing is permanent, keeping the natural outdoor environment pristine. Unfortunately, the course did not open this summer season due to devastating vandalism in July, so the launch is postponed until 2015.
It’s such a shame – there are some really interesting features and the vistas that I could see just from below the course are pretty nice indeed.
For now, there is an awesome ‘Kindercourse’ open, a smaller version for children aged three to twelve. Being the best adventure playground I’ve ever seen, the age recommendation didn’t stop us from having a go!
Slacklining at Myra Canyon
Aside from the Kindercourse, there is also a surprisingly long slack line course (14 in total!) including a couple of lines especially for beginners (read: me), with training ropes.
Something else I tried for the first time was Disc Golf, which is a bit like Frisbee with baskets. JR enjoyed it a lot more than me, maybe because he kept actually getting it reasonably near the target.
We picked up some tips from a couple of experienced disc-golfers, who arrived with their own equipment and a lot of experience. Turns out that it can be quite a serious sport.
Myra Canyon Trestles
Not far from the Adventure Park is one of the key entry points to the Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park, home of the Myra Canyon section of the Kettle Valley Railway trail and its 18 trestles.
We finished our day with a short hike to see one of the wooden trestles, resolving to come back one day to walk or cycle the whole trail (24km return).
Combining a visit to the Myra Canyon Adventure Park or a trail ride with Kelowna Stables with a cycle or hike on the trestles makes for a great day out of Kelowna.
Better still, you can finish your day with a glass of wine or two at one of the many local wineries, or even stay overnight at Myra Canyon Ranch. Can you tell that I would have been quite happy to stay longer? Alas, it was time to pull myself away from the view; the end of our road trip was near.
Trail rides at Kelowna Stables range from one hour trips to full day adventures. A two hour trail ride costs $99 plus tax. There is a $5 fee at the Adventure Park for the slack lines and disc golf. See pricing for the rope courses here.
We were guests of Myra Canyon and loved the sustainable ethos of the company and dedication to preserving the beautiful local environment. Many thanks to the von Andrian family as well as Gina and James.