By Heather Pardon
In hearing others speak of cycling in British Columbia, I’d heard many stories of the joys of cycling through the Rockies and along the Columbia Icefields Parkway. But I had not realized that the west would offer another jewel for cycling, a path less travelled, that of the region further to the west, in the heart of the Canadian desert.
I stumbled upon the area upon leaving Penticton where I’d spent a couple of nights. As I drove through Vernon and Kamloops, I had not yet found a campsite or spot to stay for the night that suited me so I kept driving. And I am so grateful that I did.
Just past Kamloops, perhaps a 30 minute drive on Highway 97, I stopped in a village called Savona and settled in for the night at a campsite I would rate as my favourite thus far on the trip. Steelhead Provincial Park offered an unbeatable view of the neighbouring lake and desert landscape that characterizes the area. All for only $19 a night! And, as I would find out the next day, it also offers wonderful cycling; just be prepared that the wind will likely be your constant companion in these parts.
It was quite hot during my stay, as you are in the desert. The soil is dry and sandy, and dotted with desert vegetation and cactus, something I’d not known we had here in Canada. In chatting with the campsite manager, she told me that during the summer months of July and August temperatures can hit 40C. So if you’re planning to venture to the area, plan accordingly. My ride was hot but tolerable. You will need to drink plenty of fluids while here so plan for that as well.
To the east of Savona, about 12 kms past the village, is a wonderful viewpoint picnic grounds that makes a perfect place to stop for a bite to eat and vantage point from which to savour the panoramic view. You can’t miss it as one of its features is a plaque which commemorates the area for its historic role in the gold rush.
To the west of Savona, you are treated to rolling hills which offer some “easier” climbs relative to the Rockies. However, chances are good you’ll have the added challenge of a strong headwind to face at some point which will be offset by the fact you’ll be sailing with a nice tailwind at another point. Thankfully I’m a Libra so respect the balanced experiences that life often presents us.
The Rockies offer a rugged, strong beauty that draws us with their power and glory. The mountains near Savona offer a unique beauty of their own that I am glad I was able to experience. They may appear more “soft spoken” in their appearance and nature but it was an area that sang to my heart for the beauty, quiet and solitude that it offered.
There have been many places along my travels that have offered up their own cycling “gold”, offering ride experiences to last a lifetime. But nothing will compare to the “gold rush” that I felt visiting and cycling around Savona. Some of the best treasures are found off the beaten path and Savona, the jewel of the Canadian desert gets my vote as being one of them.
Heather’s Cross-Canada Cycling Adventure
Join Ottawa author, personal trainer and life coach Heather Pardon who recently sold and packed up her home, downsized her life, bought an RV and is taking her belongings and bicycle for an adventure across Canada this summer. Each week, Heather will be sharing photos and stories from her cycling adventures en route. You may also visit her personal blog at http://wilddaisy.ca/Blog/ for more frequent updates from the road.
Read Heather’s Previous Posts:
A Day with the Gurlz
A Day on Manitoulin Island, Ontario
There is Cycling Gold in Thunder Bay
Muddy Waters 100
A Prairie Perspective
Cycling in Banff National Park: The Mountains Will Take Your Breath Away
I Couldn’t Pass Up on Rogers Pass