Seasons of Osoyoos, the South Okanagan, Similkameen and Boundary

There was lots of snow at Mount Baldy in mid-October, but it was still autumn, with yellow larches in the valleys below. (Richard McGuire photo) (194)

 

There are few parts of Canada with such a diversity of pronounced seasons than the area surrounding Osoyoos, BC. Winter temperatures sometimes drop to around -20C, although the norm is in the -10C to +10C range. Summers are often in the high 30s, though temperatures climbed to 47C in the summer of 2021.

Most people from elsewhere think of the busy summer season when they think of Osoyoos, but my favourite seasons here are spring and autumn. It’s less crowded, and in spring there are beautiful blossoms in the orchards, and in autumn the orchards and aspens turn golden.

Winters are generally much milder than the Prairies, but the Okanagan Valley is often socked in by clouds, sometimes the result of a thermal inversion. The valley is overcast, or even thick with fog, but you can drive to a higher elevation and blue skies.

I’ve been photographing the ever-changing seasons of Osoyoos, the South Okanagan, the Similkameen and Boundary for almost 10 years. This is a collection of some old favourites and new material on the theme of Seasons. All 38 of these photos are available exclusively through The Art Gallery Osoyoos during the Summer Artisan Market of 2022, although only a smaller subset are displayed on the walls.

Please see the slideshow by clicking the thumbnail images below and using your arrow keys.

You can also see a slideshow on Flickr at full screen without captions, or see the images below with captions.

A bee feeds on nectar in an Okanagan orchard. (Richard McGuire photo) (124)

In April, the orchards of the South Okanagan bloom with the pink blossoms of cherries and other fruits. (© Richard McGuire Photo) (284)

From late April until well into May, a yellow flower blooms on the mountains and grasslands of the South Okanagan. Arrowleaf balsamroot is a native species related to the sunflower. (© Richard McGuire Photo) (280)

The rushing waters of Ashnola River rage down in the May freshet – the time when snowmelt in higher mountains plunges down this creek, swelling its size. The Ashnola is a tributary of the Similkameen River near Keremeos. (© Richard McGuire Photo) (295)

It’s called Blue Lake, but this lake next to Kruger Mountain Road is very green in colour. It is surrounded by flowering bushes. (Richard McGuire Photo) (126)

Kilpoola Lake is a small lake surrounded by grasslands. On a May weekend, a number of people came to fish for rainbow trout, which the lake is stocked with each year. (127)

Yellow balsamroot, a cousin of sunflowers, is abundant in the South Okanagan Grasslands in May. (Richard McGuire Photo) (218)

Osoyoos Lake is calm on a summer evening in a view that shows the Main Street bridge, Hotel Row, the Cottonwood area, Nk’Mip Campground and Spirit Ridge. (© Richard McGuire Photo) (227)

In summer, the population of Osoyoos swells as tourists move in. Through traffic also clogs Main Street, making it hard to find parking spots and harder still to make turns or drive or walk across the street. (Richard McGuire Photo) (250)

Haynes Point (Swiws) stretches out into Osoyoos Lake with vineyards and orchards of the Osoyoos East Bench in the background. (Richard McGuire Photo) (238)

There were some incredibly moody skies Wednesday evening as a storm passed over Osoyoos Lake. We weren’t hit, but we saw rain falling and lightning in the distance. (131)

As I headed off on my journey, it alternated between rain and sunshine. Near Cawston in the Similkameen Valley, a beautiful rainbow appeared. (Richard McGuire photo)

The Similkameen River winds through yellow trees in the autumn of November in the southern B.C. Interior. (144)

An autumn evening in October descends on the town of Osoyoos and Osoyoos Lake. (Richard McGuire photo) (200)

A vineyard turns to shades of yellow, orange and red in late October north of Osoyoos, B.C. Behind is the north basin of Osoyoos Lake. (308) (Richard McGuire Photo)

Grape leaves turn colours as some of the red varieties still remain to be picked. (141)

Fallen leaves lie below the trees in an orchard near Osoyoos. (Richard McGuire photo) (195)

This old house near Anarchist Summit east of Osoyoos probably saw many Thanksgivings over the years before it was abandoned. I’ve photographed it in many seasons, but it looked particularly appealing in the glowing autumn sunlight with yellow aspens behind. (Richard McGuire photo) (193)

Aspens give off a golden glow in the grasslands above Osoyoos on an October afternoon. (Richard McGuire photo) (201)

The sun tries to cast a warm glow as storm clouds move in over Kilpoola Lake, west of Osoyoos, B.C., on a November afternoon. (Richard McGuire photo) (90)

Viewed from Anarchist Lookout, a massive sea of cloud covers the Okanagan Valley and Osoyoos. It’s the result of a thermal inversion in which fog fills the valley, but there is sunshine and blue sky above. The rays from the sun are an artifact of shooting at an aperture of f/14 to obtain a deep depth of field. (Richard McGuire Photo) (318)

Thick fog fills the Okanagan Valley and covers Osoyoos as the result of a thermal inversion. Above, peaks of hills poke through and a bright sunset lights up the scene. (Richard McGuire Photo) (319)

Osoyoos was socked in with a thermal inversion in January 2021, saturating the valley bottom in thick fog while a brilliant sunset scene shone above. Cars descending from Anarchist Summit entered the pea soup just below the Anarchist Lookout. (Richard McGuire Photo) (320)

When the level of Osoyoos Lake is lowered in winter, a long sandspit extends from the end of Haynes Point almost across the lake. (152)

The lines of vineyard rows slice through the snowy rural landscape north of Osoyoos. They tumble down the bank to a frozen Osoyoos Lake. (Richard McGuire Photo) (315)

The Ashnola River surfaces from under a thick bank of snow and ice on a cold day in early January. Icicles form like stalactites of jewels around the edges. (Richard McGuire Photo) (317)

Horses feed on hay next to an abandoned house near Anarchist Summit to the east of Osoyoos, B.C. Snow falls gently at this higher elevation, even though there is no snow in the valley below. (149)

A December dusting of snow covers the old 19th century buildings of Haynes Ranch, just north of Osoyoos, BC. With a semi-arid year-round climate and a relatively mild winter, Osoyoos gets less snow than many parts of Canada. (Richard McGuire Photo) (59)

This old log barn adds a photogenic feature to a country road landscape near Anarchist Summit, east of Osoyoos, B.C. In the distance, clouds rise from the overcast Okanagan Valley, but this area is in sunshine. Fifteen minutes later, this area too was engulfed in a dense fog. (Richard McGuire photo) (162)

An old log barn on Wagon Wheel Rd. sits in a farmed area with many evergreen trees all around. On this late December day, the top edge of a foggy thermal inverson was lit by the afternoon sun. The Okanagan Valley below was covered in clouds and fog. (Richard McGuire Photo) (259)

The sun lowers on a clear afternoon in early January, casting shadows of a tree onto the deep snow in the foreground. The 2021-22 winter was more severe than usual, and there had been several recent snowfalls here along the hiking and biking trail that follows the Okanagan River channel north of Osoyoos towards Oliver. (Richard McGuire Photo) (316)

The fountain by the bridge in Osoyoos has frozen in interesting shapes in the blast of cold weather. When we stopped by on Thursday, there were photographers practically lining up to photograph it in the glistening sun. Those strong north winds were very nippy, even if the thermometer was only down to about minus 3 at the time. (Richard McGuire photo) (204)

It may have one of the warmest average annual temperatures in Canada, but a white Christmas in Osoyoos is quite common. Most of Osoyoos Lake is still open water, but there are large areas that are now frozen, following a recent cold spell. (Richard McGuire photo) (196)

Two people walk on the ice of Osoyoos Lake near open water on New Year’s Eve of 2021-22. Current passing under the Highway 3 bridge keeps the water open and the ducks happy, but it can mean weak ice and danger. The long lens compresses the distance and makes it look like the people were closer to the water than they actually were. (Richard McGuire Photo) (314)

In February in the South Okanagan, sometimes the cloudy skies break up to let in sunlight. Spotted Lake, which is sacred to Okanagan First Nations, is already a magic place. This day was especially magic. (Richard McGuire photo) (207)

A horse took a walk through virgin snow onto a small lake outside Osoyoos. Surrounded by snow-covered ice, the horse teaches about “negative space” in photography.. (Richard McGuire Photo) (321)

 

 

 

About Richard McGuire

Richard McGuire is a photographer and photojournalist based in Osoyoos in the South Okanagan region of British Columbia, Canada.

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