‘Lake Life’ takes on a new meaning in the vast landscapes of British Columbia’s Land of Hidden Waters. This region isn’t just home to hundreds of these tranquil bodies of water; it is defined by them. Both locals and visitors here are captivated by the allure of lake life – it’s a promise of relaxation and laid back fun intertwined with nature. Whether they’re the secluded, glacier-fed havens tucked away amidst towering pines, or the sprawling freshwater expanses that mimic the vastness of the sea, BC’s lakes are as diverse as they are numerous.
When exploring the lakes within BC’s Land of Hidden Waters, you’ll find plenty of water activities to enjoy. Whether it’s gliding on a stand-up paddle board at sunset, fishing for your dinner, or just floating and relaxing, this place offers a peaceful break from our busy lives.
With so many choices, one could easily be overwhelmed. But fear not, as we’ve embarked on a journey to bring some of these treasures to light. Delve into this guide to discover 12 of our most cherished lakes in BC’s Land of Hidden Waters, and perhaps, in doing so, you’ll find your next idyllic lakeside retreat.
Best Lake off Fishing Highway 24 and the South Cariboo
Right, it’s aboat time! Let’s dive into a curated list of some of the most stunning lakes that BC’s South Cariboo has to offer.
1. Canim Lake
Location: Approximately 43 km northeast of 100 Mile House.
Situated in the South Cariboo region of British Columbia, Canim Lake stands out as one of the larger lakes, stretching an impressive 37 km (23 mi) in length. This expansive water body is framed by pristine forests and inviting beaches, making it a haven for those who live and breathe lake culture.
While its scenic beauty alone is captivating, the lake’s appeal is enhanced by the myriad of activities it offers. From paddling, swimming, and exceptional fly-fishing to the thrills of speed boating, waterskiing, and tubing, there’s no end to the aquatic adventures awaiting visitors. For those inclined towards a more leisurely experience, pontoon rentals from the lake’s resorts provide a perfect way to soak in the serenity. On land, a world of exploration awaits with numerous hiking and horseback riding trails. A must-visit is Canim Falls, accessible from the lake’s southern side, offering a breathtaking spectacle.
2. Sheridan Lake
Location: Situated on Highway 24, known as the Fishing Highway, and part of the Interlakes Area of the Cariboo.
Nestled along the middle of ‘Fishing Highway 24’, Sheridan Lake stands as an epitome of natural wonder, blending serene beauty with a wealth of recreational activities. This pristine water body, with its crystal-clear expanse, is an angler’s dream, celebrated for its exceptional lake and fly fishing. It’s not uncommon for enthusiasts to boast catches of Rainbow Trout exceeding 20 lbs, attesting to the lake’s rich aquatic bounty.
Beyond its reputation as a fishing paradise, Sheridan Lake is a hub for various water activities, from boating and swimming to paddling around its intriguing little islands. Those who prefer to remain on solid ground aren’t left wanting either. The lake is skirted by over 208 km (130 mi) of mapped and signed trails, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
Additionally, the lake is dotted with picturesque campsites, cabins, and panoramic viewpoints. It’s a destination that invites visitors to dive into adventure, or simply relax and soak in the tranquility. Whether you’re navigating its waters, exploring its trails, or enjoying a serene lakeside picnic, Sheridan Lake guarantees an experience that rejuvenates both body and spirit.
3. Green Lake
Location: Near the town of 70 Mile House in BC’s South Cariboo region.
Green Lake is a breathtaking marvel of nature, drawing visitors with its shimmering green hue from which it derives its name. This large and expansive water body, stretching about 14 km (8.7 mi) in length and 1.5 km (0.93 mi) across, is known for its distinctive turquoise-green tint, a magical interplay of sunlight reflecting off its marl and calcium carbonate deposits.
The surroundings of Green Lake are a picturesque blend of open rangeland and mixed forests of aspen and lodgepole pine, interspersed with inviting guest ranches. An ideal destination for both adrenaline seekers and those looking for serene getaways, the lake offers activities ranging from boating, swimming, paddling, and waterskiing.
Beyond the water, visitors can take a scenic drive around the lake. Indulge in picnicking, bird-watching, or set out on nature trails that promise both leisurely strolls and adventurous bike rides. With a tapestry of experiences wrapped in its vibrant coloration, Green Lake truly epitomizes the enchanting beauty of BC’s ranching landscape.
Places to Stay On the Lake: Flying U Ranch
4. Loon Lake
Location: Situated between the Bonaparte Plateau and Arrowstone hills just a short drive after Cache Creek, in the Lower North Thompson Valley.
Loon Lake is a tranquil retreat cherished for its pristine waters and scenic surroundings. Named after the common loons that grace its waters, the lake offers an intimate experience with nature. Anglers are particularly drawn to Loon Lake for its exceptional fishing opportunities, especially its renowned stocks of rainbow trout.
Besides fishing, visitors can indulge in kayaking, canoeing, and swimming, or simply lounge by its shores to soak in the peaceful ambiance. The verdant forests around the lake provide ample opportunities for hiking and wildlife spotting, with deer, beavers, and of course, loons, being common sights. For those looking for a longer stay, various accommodations, ranging from campsites to cozy lodges, dot the lakeside, offering panoramic views of this BC gem. Whether you’re casting a line, paddling its calm waters, or enjoying a sunset by the lakeside, Loon Lake promises a rejuvenating escape from the everyday hustle.
5. Bridge Lake
Location: Situated along ‘Fishing Highway 24’ in the Interlakes area
Situated directly between Sheridan Lake and Lac Des Roches in the South Cariboo region, Bridge Lake stands as a testament to the region’s rich history. This sparkling jewel, conveniently located along Highway 24, known as the “Fishing Highway,” once lay along the historic Fur Brigade Trail. Used by early pioneers and fur traders, this trail lost its prominence with the construction of the Cariboo Waggon Road in the 1860s, paving the way for Bridge Lake to evolve into a picturesque vacation town.
Today, it’s clear blue waters, home to rainbow trout, lake trout, and kokanee, beckon anglers and adventurers alike. With 27 small islands dotting the lake, visitors have ample opportunities for exploring whilst boating, kayaking, and canoeing. Away from the water, the Bridge Lake Ice Caves Interpretive Trail offers a fascinating glimpse into the Indigenous history of the region.
The surrounding forests and meadows provide trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and photography. As winter drapes the area in snow, activities like ice fishing and cross-country skiing come to the fore. Whether staying in lakeside campsites, cabins, or resorts, visitors are treated to panoramic vistas of this BC gem, making Bridge Lake a year-round destination for both history enthusiasts and those seeking the serenity of nature.
Places to Stay On the Lake: Cottonwood Bay Resort
6. Lac des Roches
Location: Just off ‘Fishing Highway 24’ in the South Cariboo region.
Embrace the majestic backdrop of mountains and towering pine forests at Lac Des Roches. Truly a haven for nature enthusiasts, its position is beautifully situated along the picturesque ‘Fishing Highway 24’. This expansive, clear-water lake boasts breathtaking reflections, where the dense forests and rolling hills cast perfect silhouettes onto its placid waters. This visual spectacle has etched Lac Des Roches as a photographer’s dream destination.
An angler’s paradise, the lake is abundant with rainbow trout, inviting fishing aficionados from near and far. Apart from fishing, the serene waters beckon activities like canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. For those eager to delve deeper into its wilderness charm, numerous hiking trails meander through the forests, offering panoramic vistas of the lake and the surrounding landscapes.
Several cozy resorts pepper the lake’s surroundings, each exuding a sense of secluded tranquility. A standout attraction for many visitors is the Lac des Roches Rest Area. Located just off the highway, this rest spot presents epic views of the lake and hills, complete with picnic tables for a memorable outdoor feast. Whether you’re seeking the thrill of a catch, the perfect snapshot, or just a moment of lakeside tranquility, Lac Des Roches envelops visitors in its alluring embrace.
7. Deka Lake, Hathaway Lake & Sulphurous Lake
Location: Situated in the Interlakes Area (for obvious reasons) in the South Cariboo region off ‘Fishing Highway 24’.
Deka Lake, Hathaway Lake, and Sulphurous Lake form a trio of natural gems along the renowned Fishing Highway 24. Each lake boasts its own unique charm, yet together, they offer visitors a multitude of recreational opportunities. Deka Lake, known for its expansive size and interconnectedness with several smaller lakes, is a popular spot for boating and fishing, especially for those chasing after the prized rainbow trout.
Hathaway Lake, with its serene ambiance, lures visitors seeking a peaceful escape, making it perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and quiet reflection along its shores. Sulphurous Lake (which doesn’t exude any sulfur scents by the way!) offering pristine waters, beckons swimmers and anglers alike, promising a refreshing dip and abundant catches.
The surrounding region is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, with a plethora of hiking trails winding through dense forests, leading adventurers to panoramic vistas and providing opportunities for wildlife spotting. All lakes are within a small radius of each other, perfect for those wishing to ‘lake hop’ and visit more than one in a day.
BEST LAKES IN CLEARWATER & WELLS GRAY PROVINCIAL PARK
8. Clearwater and Azure Lakes
Location: Wells Gray Provincial Park
Clearwater and Azure Lakes are embodiments of untouched wilderness, epitomizing the untamed Canadian ideal. As their names suggest, these lakes offer crystal-clear waters that provide stunning reflections of the surrounding rugged mountains, dense forests and cascading waterfalls. While they are by far the most remote lakes on this list, situated at the terminus of Clearwater Valley Road, their seclusion only adds to their allure.
These lakes are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering incredible backcountry kayaking, canoeing, and boating. For those looking to delve deeper into the wonders of this pristine environment, guided boat tours are available through Clearwater Lake Tours. These tours not only provide an intimate exploration of the lakes but they also offer glimpses of iconic landmarks, including the majestic Rainbow Falls.
Hiking trails of diverse terrains meander through the area, leading explorers to breathtaking vistas and secluded beaches. While seasoned adventurers might opt for multi-day camping expeditions along the lakeshores, those seeking a more structured experience, given the lack of cell service and limited facilities, are encouraged to make use of the water taxis, rentals or lodging experiences available. Whether you’re a seasoned explorer or a day-tripper, Clearwater and Azure Lakes promise an immersive journey into Wells Gray’s wild heart.
9. Dutch Lake
Location: In Clearwater, BC.
Surrounded by the vast forests and mountains of Wells Gray Provincial Park, Dutch Lake seems as though it is deep in the wilderness despite being only minutes from the small, quaint town of Clearwater. With a small beach area complete with a playpark, dock, and washroom facilities, Dutch Lake is perfect for a family getaway. Please note, however, that the one beach area can get crowded and so it is advised to book a stay at one of the lakefront cabins or RV resorts. Some unique features of Dutch Lake are its flowering water lilies that line the shores as well as its resident-painted turtles you might see swimming around! In the fall, the lake is also home to spawning salmon that you can often see even right from the dock.
BEST LAKES IN THE LOWER NORTH THOMPSON VALLEY
10. Johnson Lake
Location: Situated about an hour from Barriere and near Adams Lake
Often referred to as the “Caribbean of the North,” Johnson Lake features water so clear that you’ll think you’re in Bora Bora or the Maldives! The turquoise colour is a result of runoff from nearby melting snow on the mountains, as well as an underground spring filtered by limestone. Activities at Johnson Lake include fishing, paddling, and swimming (although it is chilly!), however, there are limited facilities. With only rough logging roads to drive in, no parking lots, no beach areas, very few areas to camp, and zero boat or large RV access, this is an isolated wilderness lake with a fragile ecosystem. Visitors must be extremely respectful when visiting. Visit our responsible travel page for more information.
11. Adams Lake
Location: Situated around 125km Northeast of Kamloops.
Renowned for its impressive depth ranked 6th in the world, Adams Lake is a glacial lake that stretches over 63 km (39 mi). Surrounded by forests of aspen, birch, willow, Douglas fir and cedar, this lake and Provincial Park offers windsurfing, waterskiing, and scuba diving, as well as the more typical lake activities. A favoured destination for fishing aficionados, Adams Lake is abundant with trout and salmon, particularly the famous sockeye salmon, which undertake a remarkable journey back to their spawning grounds in the Adams River.
Its numerous beaches are perfect for sunbathing, picnicking, and lakeside camping. The surrounding wilderness is replete with hiking and mountain biking trails that offer explorers the chance to witness local wildlife and panoramic vistas.
Places to Stay On the Lake: The Point Resort & Marina
12. Kamloops Lake
Location: Found at the confluence of the North and South Thompson Rivers, west of Kamloops.
Lastly we have Kamloops Lake, an expansive and picturesque stretch of water framed by undulating hills and dramatic terrains. Surprisingly, despite being the largest body of water in the Kamloops area and appearing every bit a lake, it’s technically a broad and deep section of the conjoined North and South Thompson Rivers.
This unique geographical feature, spanning approximately 29 km (18 mi), is a popular oasis, especially during Kamloops’ hot summer days. Both locals and tourists flock here to indulge in a variety of water activities, including boating, paddling, and swimming.
A focal point of this aquatic haven is Bruker Marina, a hub where visitors can lounge on the beach or rent boats for a day of adventure. Visit our rentals page for more information on this. Beyond the water, the lake’s perimeter offers hiking trails, revealing panoramic vistas of its vastness, with glimpses of Kamloops city in the distance.
Places to Stay On the Lake: Lakeside Country Inn
Places to Stay Nearby: Other Kamloops Accommodations
For more information, visit our Lakes & Swim page, Rafting, Paddling, & Boat Rentals page, Responsible Travel page, and take a peek at our 5 Ways to Enjoy the Water in BC’s Best-Kept Freshwater Secrets story.