Activity: Floating the Penticton River Channel

Floating down the Penticton River Channel was one of my most favourite activities on this trip. As simple as it sounds, it was idyllic and peaceful. This float would be something I would want to do if I ever returned to Penticton, British Columbia.

This post is one chapter on our trip through the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada. This trip was booked using Marriott Bonvoy Points. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Activity: Floating the Penticton River Channel with Coyote Cruises, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada

“Easily our favourite and most relaxing floating activity on this holiday”

On our first day in Penticton at the Fairfield Inn and Suites, I spent most of the morning on the wifi organizing bookings for wine tours for the next few days. It was a bit of an exercise in logistics given the pandemic since tours were based on limited availability at the wineries. I’ll look forward to going back to the free and easy days of just turning up for most tastings. 

Today’s main activity was a floating river cruise down the Penticton River Channel on the West Bench of the City of Penticton. There are two lakes that are connected by a river channel in this part of the Okanagan Wine Country – the Okanagan Lake and the more southern Skaha Lake. The river channel is about 7 kilometers long and runs in between the two lakes on the western side of Penticton It makes for a nice afternoon of care free floating. It parallels Highway 97 for most of the route on the west side of the town.

Floating the River Channel with Coyote Cruises:

We started with an online booking for a time slot with Coyote Cruises. We didn’t’ actually need a time slot booked as it appeared that they were taking walk up customers and were not in a sell out situation on our visit on a Monday afternoon in late summer. 

The fee was a reasonable $18 CAD per person, which included a sanitized float rental and a bus transfer back.

Cruising the River Channel with Coyote Cruises

We parked the car (for free!) on the street and packed our stuff in. We had brought a dry bag with us in addition to a small cooler. There is no parking lot at the “put in” location of Coyote Cruises so allow yourself some time to park if coming through in the summer high season.

Our double float

The float started like this and was filled up with the appropriate tie ons. 

All loaded up!

I missed the safety briefing since I accidentally signed up for a Sunday Times of London newspaper sucrscription thanks to dropping my iPhone in my pocket and picking it up with the fingerprint Touch ID on (life challenges!). We were informed that we were supposed to get out of the tube after the third bridge.

Warning Signs
Start of the River Channel Float

We headed out on the river which was fairly warm, despite being a little cloudy for the start of the day. 

Floating the Penticton River Channel:

It was pretty peaceful passing down the river. It seems that the ducks take a liking to the floaters looking for food. It was neat watching them touch down after flying overhead.

The Ducks that took an interest in us
Ducks following the float looking for food

Plane Spotting Aerial Forest Fire Fighting:

Another interesting part of the float were the forest fires on the nearby hills. We were able to see many plane water bombers fly overhead. 

Forest Fire Aerial Water Bombing Operations
Forest Fires in the Hills near the town (top right)

In a somewhat entertaining but sad event for all things Canadian, our float drifted down the river into the side of the canal where a underwater beaver dam was being constructed. A twig was protruding into the air under the surface level of the water where it happened to poke MrsWT73 in the tail. She was a bit startled by this and raised her seat from the inner tube. As a result of this, by lifting her torso, she forgot that her iPhone was on her lap and it slipped through the inner tube hole into the Penticton River Channel for good. It was in a weedy area and despite MsWT73 having a PADI certification and not having any goggles under these murky conditions, we were unable to recover it. Thankfully, it was an iPhone 6 in the era of the iPhone 11 and was nearing the end of its life at three and a half years of good use.

Our trip down the channel took about 3 hours, with a stop of about 40 minutes while we assessed the loss of the telephone situation. The time quoted in the kiosk at the start was approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes end to end. The river float is reportedly faster in the early summer thanks to winter snow run off which results in greater water flow and speed, and can be completed in about an hour (not personally tested).

Drifting under Sunny Skies:

After we dealt with the phone situation and the consideration of our searching resources, the weather had turned quite favourable. I really enjoyed the latter half of the float under strong sunny skies.

The Second half of our float
Other socially distant floaters
Floating without a care
Great Sky Clouds under warm heat

We eventually made it to the end of the River Channel. Coyote Cruises had a disembarkation area set up to get out of the river channel easily and safely.

Nearing the end of bliss

Along with our cruise down, we had a packed bus ride back. Since we visited during the pandemic, thankfully we had cloth masks with us and had hand santizied before we got on the bus. Coyote Cruises was also giving out surgical masks for those that didn’t have any.

A Celebratory Dinner at Bad Tattoo Brewing:

After the day, we had dinner at Bad Tattoo Brewing. It was located a few blocks off the Okanagan Lake Beach in Penticton and earned over one thousand reviews on Trip Advisor as Penticton’s best pizza. 

Restaurants were open during our visit under socially distanced measures per the provincial health authority. We got ourselves a booking after making a phone call from the hotel. We were initially told it would be 45 minutes which actually turned out to be more like 20 minutes after we drove over.

Bad Tattoo Brewing

It was a great smell even through our cloth masks as we walked past the wood burning pizza oven. 

We were seated in the atrium. Indeed, Pizza and Beer are the only things on the menu here. There was lots of interesting options on the menu to keep any pizza lovers entertained.

Socially Distanced Dining in the Bad Tattoo Atrium
Menu at Bad Tattoo Brewing

We split a Calabrese Pizza at 12inches. It was a little small but it was a nice light 3 slices each. 

Calabrese Pizza

We took a look at some of their micro brew product on the way out with their cans for sale at the gift shop.

Bad Tattoo Brewing Cans

Penticton Channel Float Overall:

The Penticton Channel Float with Coyote Cruises was one of the most memorable events of this trip. It was a pretty relaxing float down the channels in sunny warm temperatures without a care in the world. It’s a highly recommended activity if you happen to find yourself in this part of the world.

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