Did you know that Canada has its very own desert? The country's only arid ecosystem exists just outside the town of Osoyoos, B.C., and you can explore it entirely on a boardwalk.
The Osoyoos Desert is actually an extension of the Sonoran Desert, which stretches as far south as Mexico. Just like any other desert ecosystem, the 67-acre area is subjected to hot temperatures, very humid air, drying waters and salt-stained red earth from the evaporation.
Often times, it's the hottest place in the country during the summer, with seasonal temperatures averaging around 38 C. It's so hot here that one of its lakes, Osoyoos Lake, is considered the warmest freshwater lake in Canada. Every year, locals take the trip to the lake to enjoy its sandy beaches.
The Osoyoos Desert Centre is an on-site nature interpretive facility where visitors can learn about the unique dry landscapes in the Okanagan Valley. It features a 1.5-kilometre boardwalk that runs through the desert, as well as a native plant garden and several hand-on exhibits.
As you walk along the boardwalk through the dry grasslands, you'll come across bare hills, rare plants and even some desert critters like painted turtles, scorpions, lizards and pygmy horned toads. You might even hear a couple of snakes hissing about. Consider it a little taste of the Australian Outback in the Great White North.
The Osoyoos Desert Centre usually opens in late April and runs until early October. An admission fee of $7 will gain you access to all of the facility's features, including the self-guided boardwalk tour, the interpretive centre and that native plant garden.
For more information, visit desert.org.