Would you expect to find a perfect summer beach holiday destination in British Columbia? With hot, sunny weather, nice beaches and pleasant water temperatures, Osoyoos offers exactly that. Osoyoos Lake is actually the warmest freshwater lake in Canada, with an average water temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Now combine this with a desert landscape that reminds you of the American Southwest, and you get quite a unique destination. And we have an extensive Osoyoos camping guide for your first camping holiday there!
Osoyoos is one of the best places for first time campers in British Columbia
Because Osoyoos is one of the most pleasant places to camp in British Columbia. Located in the South Okanagan, it has dry summers with balmy nights, and some spectacular campgrounds with their own beaches. It’s one of the best places to camp for beginners (hi, we were those beginners!), as the weather is not nearly as challenging and whimsical as in the mountains, and you’re certainly not out in the wild on your own. You find plenty of places to eat and shop nearby, many campgrounds have amenities that make your stay more comfortable, and there are the countless beaches and waterfront promenades to help you chill by the water.
We enjoyed camping in Osoyoos, swimming and playing on the beach with a toddler. In this post we collected the best places to camp in Osoyoos, along with other useful tips that make your family camping holiday a breeze.
Looking for more outdoor adventures in BC? Check out these posts:
What to pack for camping in Osoyoos?
First thing first: to make the most of your camping trip, camp responsibly, do your research (we’ve done that and we’re sharing the result with you in this post) and pack appropriately.
Here are some essentials you absolutely want to have with you on your Osoyoos camping trip:
- Water! Don’t underestimate the amount of water you need on a hot day. Bring a hydration daypack for hikes, use an insulated water bottle when driving or camping, and store water in a cooler on the beach.
- Sun protection: you don’t only need sunscreen, but prepare covering as much of your skin as you can: hat, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses, and rash guards when in the water.
- Moisturizer & lip balm: you’re in a desert, your skin will dry out. Apply plenty of moisturizer.
- Shorts, dresses, flip-flops: it’s that kind of holiday, yes!
- Beach towels
- Beach blanket
Osoyoos camping basics
There are plenty of public and private camping opportunities in and near Osoyoos, and they’re easily accessible, no 4WD required (it’s not a straightforward thing in British Columbia). They offer varied amenities, some are more basic (and cheaper) than others, some offer hookups for RVs or accommodate only RVs (we have a specific section about those). Some parks have beach access, others have comfy cabins for glamping.
Camping in Osoyoos: the best campgrounds
Sẁiẁs Provincial Park (Haynes Point)
our private little beach in Sẁiẁs Provincial Park
We’re biased about Sẁiẁs Provincial Park campground (pronounce as “s-wee-yoos”) – and provincial parks in general. They’re nicely maintained and usually the most affordable camping options in British Columbia. The drawback? Provincial park campgrounds are very popular, and you need to book them months in advance, basically as soon as you can, to get a spot.
But it’s worth it, especially a waterfront site in Sẁiẁs Provincial Park. This park is essentially a sand spit in Osoyoos Lake, less than two kilometers long and about 18 meters wide. It has a day use area with picnic benches, a beach and a boat ramp, but if you continue on the one-way loop road around the sand spit, you find the campground.
Most of the 41 campsites are located on the lake, and there are some inner sites that connect to the nearest beach with a short trail. The sites are suitable for both tents and RVs, but offer no hookup. You’ll also have a fire ring and a picnic table for each site.
It might not be the most well-equipped campground (there’s no shower block), but having your own beach on Lake Osoyoos is such a great perk that who cares about showers, anyway? 🙂 You can watch the sunset over the lake while eating your dinner or launch a paddleboard right after you wake up in the morning.
However, reserve your site if you go between May and September. It’s not a huge campground and is extremely popular. A limited number of overflow spaces are available, but only for RVs.
The small park offers easy strolls through the Haynes Point Wetland, with a marsh viewing tower to see the rich bird life, or a trail to Haynes Point at the end of the sandy spit. Since 2015, the Osoyoos Indian Band has been managing the park.
- 41 vehicle-accessible sites for tents and RVs
- flush toilets
- cold water taps (drinking water)
- boat launch
Nk’Mip Campground & RV Resort
Nk’Mip (pronounced as “ In-ka-meep”) Campground & RV Resort also offers lakefront sites and beach access for both tents and RVs. It even has a 4-bedroom lakefront cabin with a private beach to rent, a clubhouse, boat launch and dedicated dog beach.
It’s more expensive than Sẁiẁs Provincial Park, but it’s not just a simple campground, rather a resort where you can connect with nature. With 400+ sites, it’s by far the largest campground in Osoyoos, owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band.
Your recreational opportunities are almost endless here: swimming and beach time, boating, paddleboarding, other watersports or short desert hikes. You can visit the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre and a reconstructed village where you can learn about the culture of the Osoyoos Indian Band. Due to the close proximity to the desert, campfires and wood burning is prohibited, only propane fire pits are allowed.
We strongly recommend reserving your site if you visit in the summer. The sites that are not reserved are available as first-come, first-served sites, and there are discounts available outside of the high season.
- 415 sites, including sites with full hookup and 120 lakeside sites
- bathrooms with showers
- free wifi
- boat launch
- indoor pool
- watersport rental
Cabana Beach Campground & RV Park
The private, family-operated Cabana Beach Campground & RV Park is open from June to September and has been operating for nearly 50 years. It’s right on Osoyoos Lake and has its own beach that’s reachable from any campsite in about one minute.
It offers amenities beyond basic camping. Open-style cabanas with a fridge, kitchen sink and covered picnic table can be reserved, most RV sites come with full hookup, and if you don’t have a tent or an RV at all, you can still be close to nature while staying in one of the rustic cabins. They come with a bedroom, a cooking area and a covered patio.
Contact them on their Facebook page for questions and reservations.
- 76 sites and cabanas
- full hookup for RV sites
- coin-operated showers and laundry
- wifi in the picnic shelter
Brookvale Campground & RV Park
Brookvale Campground and RV Park is a family-owned business on the east shore of south Osoyoos Lake. It’s open between April and October, offers powered sites for tents and RVs, cabanas, and access to the public beach of Osoyoos Lake Regional Park in front of the campground. The beach is mostly sandy and has willow and cottonwood trees that provide some shade on the hot summer days.
Wood fires are not allowed, only propane fire pits. You can check current rates and reserve here.
- 52 sites and cabanas
- flush toilets
- coin-operated showers and laundry
- wifi anywhere in the campground
- children’s play area
- boat ramp
Arosa Ranch is about half an hour drive from Osoyoos on Highway 3. It’s in the highlands, surrounded by rolling hills, so temperatures are cooler. It has campsites, rustic cabins and simple suites in the lodge. Sites blend into nature, some are shaded by Ponderosa pine and spruce, and some have sun umbrellas. All campsites come with a fire pit and picnic tables (but you should expect fire bans in the dry summer months).
Arosa is a real working ranch with free-ranging chickens and horses. If that’s not enough to make kids excited, there’s also a trampoline and small play area with a slide, a teeter-totter and swing set. There’s also a seasonal pool for guests, and you can directly access forest trails from the ranch. You can make a reservation here.
- sites and cabins, including 9 full-service RV sites
- flush toilets
- wifi near the lodge
- children’s play area
- seasonal pool
Kettle River Recreation Area
The Kettle River Recreation Area is a 45 minutes drive from Osoyoos, but it has 114 vehicle accessible camping sites in a Ponderosa pine forest. It might be further from Osoyoos Lake, but you can easily add some exciting activities in the Kettle Valley to your itinerary, like Kettle Valley Railway trail, or swimming, kayaking or tubing in Kettle River.
Most sites are reservable, but some are first-come, first-serve. It has lots of amenities (like showers), and there’s a large adventure playground for kids which makes it ideal for families.
- 114 vehicle accessible campsites
- pit and flush toilets
- drinking water
Free camping in Osoyoos
So our experience about free campsites in British Columbia is that you often need to drive on a forest service road to get there, and it might not be manageable with just any car. The other option is a parking lot or street where overnight parking is not forbidden. This would only work for campervans, obviously, and it doesn’t necessarily mean camping is encouraged there, or that residents won’t complain. Overnight parking is not allowed in provincial parks, unless you stay at their campground (which has a fee).
So where to go for free camping in Osoyoos? Drive out of the city towards the east on Highway 3, and take a turn on Halls Road. It’s a dead end road with an asphalt parking area at the end. It’s a quiet place with no facilities. Not really comfortable with a tent, but it could work with an RV for a few nights.
On the west side of the lake, you find several informal campsites on crown land. Honesty, we are not sure whether low-clearance cars could access them, but we wouldn’t try with ours. You should search for a cattle guard at the end of Fairwinds Drive. See more info here.
RV campgrounds in Osoyoos
Some campgrounds offer sites for RVs only. Like Island View RV Resort, which is an all-season RV park with access to a sandy, shallow beach on Osoyoos Lake.
The Orchard at Oliver is located in the town of Oliver, in the south end of Okanagan Valley, 15 minutes drive from Osoyoos. It’s a campground inside a fruit orchard and offers large, level RV sites, cabanas, motel rooms and even an on-site RV to rent. Desert Gem RV Resort is also located in Oliver. It offers paved sites with pull-thru parking, so it’s obviously for RVs only, but there’s an option to rent an on-site RV.
Map of the best places to camp in Osoyoos
For your convenience, here are the best Osoyoos campgrounds on a map (click to see the interactive map):