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Welcome to a place where the mountains tower and the lakes and rivers shimmer. A place where jewel-bright valleys stretch as far as the eye can see. Where the people are friendly and time is relaxed. Where small towns meet big dreams. Welcome to the Columbia Shuswap.

There’s always something afoot here. Visitors can kick up their heels on a houseboat, or put their feet up at a resort, or start a small revolution and place their best foot forward on a mountain bike. Don’t forget boating, golfing, nordic skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, skiing, hiking, walking, swimming or cycling. Those just discovering the Columbia Shuswap might also be interested in savouring pie and sipping espresso; exploring museums, art galleries and amazing events and festivals; dining on incredible local produce, visiting farms, tasting local wines and chatting with the friendly folks who call this home. Or they might simply deliciously stumble on the best activity: putting their feet up and doing nothing at all.

Welcome home, friends

The Columbia Shuswap story is not an urban centre story. Here, we enjoy a gentle, human pace of life and a deep connection with our surroundings. We are practical, and we’re not afraid to roll up our sleeves and work hard, but our time with friends, family and nature is absolutely invaluable. We place great value on freedoms and relationships and community spirit. We celebrate together, look after our region together, and continue to grow and develop stories together that shape our present and our future.

We also love to share this amazing place that we call home. We love to tell our stories and to hear those of our visitors. Ours are communities of old-timers and new imports, of young families and young-at-heart individuals. We are people of irresistible warmth and infectious energy. We are adventurous, resourceful, creative, optimistic, and down-to-earth. And we would love to welcome you to our communities.

A pioneering spirit

The story of the Columbia Shuswap area is one of hardy, resourceful souls in a land rich with life and beauty. The area has long been home to a number of distinct First Nations communities, now associated through the Shuswap Nation Tribal Council and the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Treaty Council. In the western part of the district, Shuswap Lake is named after the Shuswap First Nations — the Secwepemc — an important Salish nation of tribal bands whose ancestors have always lived in the BC interior.

The legendary explorer David Thompson first traveled through this area in the early 1800s, and the mid-century gold rush along the Columbia River sparked some interest, but not until the late 1880s did it see significant settlement. The construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1885 was central to the establishment of the region’s three main cities – Golden, Revelstoke and Salmon Arm. It allowed connections with steamboat traffic to the south and opened the area to the rest of the province and country. Upon completion of the railway, the area saw rapid settlement and development: farms and stores were established, and brisk trade evolved as businesses served the needs of resource industries such as logging and mining. The Last Spike — the area where the railway’s east and west portions were finally linked together— is located at Craigellachie, in the eastern most area of the Shuswap.

Spectacular natural beauty

The Columbia Shuswap is as diverse as it is beautiful. With 29,000 square kilometres of glorious mountain terrain, including three national parks and three mountain ranges, it is a vast and inspiring place in which to live, work and play. Our natural surroundings are the envy of many and the lifestyle we are afforded by the country in our region is highly desired. We’d like to keep it that way.

But there’s more than just mountains to be found here. At the western edge of the region, Shuswap Lake shines as the dominant feature of the landscape, an integral part of local life and culture and the reason for existence of several communities and industries. Enchanting orchards and farms provide evidence of a proud agricultural tradition. In the centre of the region, near Revelstoke, is the world’s only inland temperate rainforest, predominantly old growth and similar in composition and structure to coastal rain forests. And let’s not forget the storied rivers winding their way through the wilderness – like the Columbia River and the spectacular valleys and wetlands that accompany it, or the Adams River, whose normally peaceful waters turn turbulent and crimson every year as over two million sockeye salmon return to their home waters to spawn and to die.

The wild terrain provides exceptional opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Columbia Shuswap’s two world-class ski resorts – Revelstoke Mountain Resort in Revelstoke and Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden – draw skiers from around the world and feature some of the most exciting runs to be found in BC. The Columbia Mountain ranges provide endless mountaineering and climbing routes, and hiking ad mountain biking trails suitable for all ages and levels can be found throughout the region’s three national and numerous provincial parks. The lakes and rivers are perfect for fishing, rafting, kayaking, and canoeing, whether close to town or remote.

Small town charm, big time excitement

From its wild west beginnings, the Columbia Shuswap has evolved into a friendly, relaxed and eclectic area, boasting many charming towns and cities well worth exploring. From art galleries, theatres, boutique stores, and fine restaurants to world-class ski resorts and sports facilities, the region features exceptional amenities to suit every taste. Farmers’ markets provide visitors with a bounty of locally grown and organic meats, fruits and vegetables, and artisan and locally crafted arts and wares.

The Columbia Shuswap’s biggest city, Salmon Arm, is home to the Salmon Arm Roots & Blues Festival, an event that draws over 30,000 visitors to the region once a year for a weekend filled with some of the world’s best blues, world, folk, zydeco, alternative, funk and reggae music. The beautiful SAGA Public Art Gallery in Salmon Arm, with its ivy-covered walls and Palladian windows, is renowned in Western Canada as an exquisite space for exhibitions and performances.

Revelstoke is gaining renown as a cultural and heritage tourism destination, and its beautiful downtown core is comprised primarily of buildings constructed before 1914 and lovingly restored in recent decades. Stately brick and elegant wood exteriors give the town a unique character, which combines with its stunning mountain backdrop for an incomparable old-fashioned scene.

Golden, the City of Opportunity, takes great pride in its riverfront location and history. The bustling downtown area sits right along the banks, with a colourful, winding path leading from the main street to the banks of the Kicking Horse River and Canada’s longest freestanding timber frame bridge. Its flourishing performing arts scene draws locals and visitors alike, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds are everywhere.

The Columbia Shuswap features many more unique, engaging smaller communities, and the urban and the natural blend throughout the region in amenities like spectacular golf courses and award-winning wineries and breweries. Because the area is so vast and varied, each place has its own distinct character and feel.

Ready for a visit?

We’re happily situated in the central lower third of British Columbia, and pretty conveniently located mid-way between Vancouver, BC and Calgary, AB. Canada’s central roadway, Trans-Canada Highway 1 runs right through the Shuswap region, and Highway 97 joins us from the Southern Okanagan. Direct flights from Vancouver and Calgary are available to airports in Kamloops and Kelowna, located nearby in the North Okanagan. There are also smaller municipal airports located in Salmon Arm, Revelstoke and Golden. Additional travel information is available on the Getting Here page. Drive here, fly here, or jolly well sashay on over. We’re ready for you!