Fairy tale BC mountain village is home to an adorable gnome roam

You don’t need to visit Europe this summer to experience a fairy-tale village nestled in the high alpine.

Centrally located in the heart of BC’s Okanagan Valley, Silver Star Mountain in the Monashee mountain range is a beacon for adventure and bucket list travel experiences — a perfect road trip destination this summer to cross off your bucket list.

Silver Star Gondola

Silver Star Gondola (Destination SilverStar)

While the resort community is bustling during winter months with downhill and cross-country skiing, snow tubing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing, it’s quickly becoming a must-visit town in the spring and summer. With world-class food and beverage showcases, trail racing events, and mountain biking competitions, there’s something for everyone.

Gnome Roam at SilverStar Resort / Jordan McGrath

Gnome Roam at SilverStar Resort (Jordan McGrath)

Silver Star is also home to Canada’s second-largest bike park and a mystical gnome land set into the wilderness. You can get the full BC experience here by staying and exploring in the mountains, with the option to venture down the road to explore lakes, golf courses, trails and renowned wineries in neighbouring Vernon.

Here’s a look at why this destination is worth adding to your BC bucket list:

Mountain biking

SilverStar Bike Park is Canada’s second-largest bike park and boasts 139+ km of downhill, enduro, and cross-country trails for the whole family to explore. To a newbie, that could sound intimidating, but the resort offers a Bike School with lessons and camps to build confidence and performance for bikers of all ages. There are trails for all skill levels: Beginners can use green trails that meander through flowering alpine meadows, while more advanced riders can rip their way down blues and blacks — all while taking in the breathtaking scenery of the Monashee Mountains.

Mountain Biking Silver Star

Mountain Biking at Silver Star Mountain (Lianne Viau)

This summer season begins June 21-23 with opening weekend celebrations and launches several new features, including tech trail updates and new progression-based jump lines with blue and black options in the Vault Progression Zone.

Because of where the mid-mountain village is situated, many accommodations are positioned for ride-out access to the bike park and are just a short walk away from the Des Scheumann Summit Express gondola or Comet Express chairlift.

This year, on the August 2-4 long weekend, you can check out the Crankworx Summer Series, a three-day mountain bike festival, which will return with a brand-new women’s event along with slopestyle and BC/Canada Cup Downhill events.

Hiking and running and gnome spotting

SilverStar Mountain Resort is home to more than 16 km of picturesque hiking and running trails, just a gondola up the mountain. Bonus: Kids under 12 ride free. Spend the day foraging for wild berries and spotting alpine critters as you wind your way around the trails, which take in absolutely stunning vistas of BC’s Okanagan.

One of the cutest attractions is surely the Gnome Roam, which takes you into the mountain village’s mystical gnome world.

The resident gnomes are hidden in the trees around Brewer’s Pond, not a far skip away from the village.

Gnome Roam at SilverStar Resor

The Gnome Roam at SilverStar Resort in Vernon, BC (Daily Hive)

Pick up a map and the visitor’s centre and see how many you can spot around the scenic pond. The elevation gain is minimal, and the map is full of cute riddles, making this the perfect activity to involve the kiddos (and young at heart!).

New to the resort this year is the “Bear Stewardship Trail,” which features life-sized bears installed around Brewer’s Pond on the Bear Byway Trail. Each is crafted by a BC artist, and they can be seen climbing trees and performing other bear-like behaviours, like rubbing against tree trunks. Funded by the Silver Star Bear Stewardship Group (SBSG), with the support of the Silver Star Property Owners Association, the bears are an initiative to raise awareness about Bear Smart practices and interesting facts about bears and their behaviours.

Trail Running Silver Star

Trail Running at Silver Star Mountain (Alam Lam)

If you like trail running, the annual Slay the Dragon race offers courses over 13.6km, 25km, or 50km (!). Designed for all levels of trail runners, it weaves through the best of the mountain’s trails, including technical and cruisey single-track, crazy fun climbs and long thigh-shredding descents. Truly a must-do for anyone who loves trail running!

Take in a wine or beer extravaganza

Silver Star Wine Festival

Tastings at the 2023 Silver Star Wine Festival (Darcy Matheson)

Silver Star Village hosts a number of signature wine and beer-tasting events throughout the summer months that draw visitors from near and far.

The inaugural walk-about SOLSTICE SIPS happens in June and features offerings from 15 of British Columbia’s most sought-after wineries and lets you sip and socialize while taking in the scenery.

In addition to the vino tasting, the afternoon includes offerings from culinary partners and live music, making it the perfect kickoff event for summer. Solstice Sips is part of the larger Okanagan Spring Wine Festival, which runs for most of June and features wine events around the region.

Silver Star Wine Festival

The grounds of the 2023 Silver Star Wine Festival (Darcy Matheson)

Solstice Sips also marks the beginning of the Saturday music series, which will take place over 13 weeks. Local talent will take the stage every weekend alongside headline touring acts throughout the warmer months.

Silver Star Beer and Cider festival

Silver Star Beer and Cider Festival (Lianne Viau)

In September, Silver Star’s Craft Beer & Cider Festival returns for a third year to kick off Oktoberfest season in the resort community.

Grab a brew or two while enjoying the scenery of the Monashaee Mountains. There will be offerings from local craft breweries and cideries, as well as food and flavours that capture the spirit of the coming fall.

Eat your heart out

Bugaboo cafe silverstar

A cream puff on the patio at Bugaboo Cafe (Darcy Matheson)

The small village is home to 13 charming cafés, restaurants, pubs and lounges that feature something for every foodie.

Bugaboos Bakery Cafe has been making everything fresh for the past 25 years and is a must-visit before or after you hit the trails. With mouthwatering croissants, pastries, and picture-perfect cream puffs at mountaintop elevations, pair your meal with a coffee brewed with house-roasted beans, and you pretty much have yourself a perfect day.

Bugaboo cafe silverstar

Limoncello cream puffs and chocolate-covered coffee puffs at Bugaboo Cafe (Darcy Matheson)

One of the more surprising destinations for great eats is surely The Bulldog Grand Café, which is actually an extension of The Bulldog™ Amsterdam, a renowned Dutch establishment.

In fact, a lot of the interior, including the bar, tables and art, were brought over from Holland to replicate the true Bulldog experience.

The Bulldog Cafe silver star

The Bulldog Cafe (Sebastien Brule)

On the menu, you’ll find an array of Dutch and Thai-Indonesian cuisine, with a little bit of West Coast fusion for good measure. Think a spicy nasi goreng fried rice with prawn crackers and beef satay washed down with a local pilsner.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the Bittenballer. A favourite from Holland, it is thickened beef ragout breaded and fried with house-made Dutch mustard. There’s also house-made Soto Ayam, a traditional Indonesian chicken soup with cabbage and poached potatoes, and Lumpia, spring rolls with shaved green cabbage and Indonesian sweet chili reduction.

Pizzeria Gratta silver star

Pizzeria Gratta (Sebastien Brule)

For other options, check out Pizza Gratta for mouthwatering sourdough pizza with locally sourced ingredients, The Red Antler for the mountain’s best selection of beer and a sunny patio with lots of vegetarian and vegan options, and Black Pine Social for handcrafted cocktails and elevated bites.

Where to stay

While the village itself is tiny, there are a plethora of welcome and colourful accommodation options on the mountain ranging from budget to bougie. Hotel accommodations, which are bike-in and bike-out in the warmer months, include the Snowbird Lodge, Firelight Lodge and Aberdeen Hotel.

snowbird lodge

Snowbird Lodge

For the budget-conscious and adventurous, there are RV and tent camping sites on the mountain for as low as $30.

For families and larger groups, you can rent vacation homes that range from one- or two-bedroom suites to larger homes with up to four bedrooms — all within walking distance of the village.

Bookend Mountain Retreat Upper

Bookend Mountain Retreat Upper (SilverStar Stays)

For the ultimate group getaway, the Bookend Mountain Retreat Upper truly is the perfect retreat for making cherished memories with loved ones — it sleeps up to 14.

Bookend Mountain Retreat Upper

Bookend Mountain Retreat Upper (SilverStar Stays)

With a sauna, two hot tubs to soak in while overlooking the mountains, arcade games, a foosball table, a chef’s kitchen and tons of books and board games, you’ll never be bored — and you’ll never want to leave this mountain retreat!

The author of this article was hosted by Destination Silver Star