The best lakes in BC are diverse, ranging from the icy cold reservoirs of southern British Columbia to beautiful warm waters on Vancouver Island. Some offer easy access while others require some effort, but all provide something extraordinary!
British Columbia lakes are some of the most beautiful lakes in the world. The lakes in British Columbia offer something for everyone – from lakes in urban areas to lakes surrounded by wilderness and mountains.
Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an entire vacation, there are lakes in BC that are perfect for you! Here are 10 of the best lakes in British Columbia.
1) Johnson Lake, Barriere
Johnson Lake in Barriere is a small mountain lake located in the North Thompson Valley. The lakes in British Columbia are known for their unreal blue-green colour, and Johnson Lake does not disappoint.
The lake is surrounded by lush forest, and this lake in BC is known as the Caribbean of the North because of its crystal clear, turquoise waters.
Johnson Lake makes for an easy day trip from Kamloops. To get to Johnson Lake, take Highway 5 north from Kamloops for about an hour until you reach the town of Barriere.
Turn right on Agate Bay Road, drive for about 15 minutes, and turn left at Minnova Road until you reach the Johnson Lake Provincial Park entrance.
Access to Johnson Lake is easy, but the road is full of potholes – it’s just a short drive from the main road, and there’s a parking lot with picnic tables. The lake is popular for swimming, boating, fishing and hiking.
There is a small lakeside campground on the public end of the lake and Johnson Lake Resort on the private end if you’re looking for a place to stay.
2) Eva Lake, Revelstoke
Eva Lake is another stunning body of water in British Columbia’s magnificent Mount Revelstoke National Park. There are beautiful views all around Eva Lake – the lakeside is surrounded by forest, while there are incredible views of Mount Revelstoke in the distance.
Lake Eva was named after hiking enthusiast Eva Hobbs, who was one of the first people to explore Mount Revelstoke National Park and develop some of the Park’s most popular trails.
This is one of the most beautiful lakes in BC and is located around 25 minutes from Revelstoke. It may be reached by driving on the famous Meadows In The Sky Parkway, a 26-kilometre road that winds through the mountains in Mount Revelstoke.
The recreational area of Revelstoke, British Columbia, is a must-see destination for outdoor enthusiast. It features one of the most beautiful areas in Canada and is a great spot to visit all year round.
In addition, the National Park itself measures 260 square kilometers and offers an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts.
3) Bowron Lakes, Quesnel
Bowron Lake is the first in a series of remote and beautiful lakes in northern British Columbia near the town of Quesnel. Protected as a game reserve since 1925 and as Bowron Lake Provincial Park since 1961, the area is famous for its wildlife.
Moose and bears are frequently sighted along the shoreline. You can also spot deer, caribou, beavers, otters, and lots of bird species.
The most popular activity on the lake is paddling. You can rent a canoe or kayak from several outfitters at the north end of the lake or from the park visitor center. For a fun day-long outing, paddle down Bowron Lake and explore the Bowron River. It’s the best place to spot moose.
Bowron Lake is the jumping-off point for the famous Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit if you’re up for a longer adventure. It’s a 116km-long chain of 12 lakes that connect to form a week-long backcountry canoe trip that is beginner-friendly.
You can visit the lake on a day trip from Quesnel, but to fully appreciate the area, you should stay overnight at one of the campgrounds or rustic lodges on the lakeshore. Becker’s Lodge is the classic choice, with adorable log cabins and heritage buildings dating back to the 1930s.
Indigenous people have lived in the area since time immemorial, and the first European settlers arrived in the 1860s as part of BC’s Gold Rush. Be sure to allow time to visit the historic ghost town of Barkerville, which is just a few minutes away from Bowron Lake.
The entire gold miners’ village is frozen in time with dozens of buildings to explore and lots of exhibits explaining the history and culture of the region.
By Taryn from Happiest Outdoors
4) Lindeman Lake, Chilliwack
Lindeman Lake is a beautiful alpine lake located in Chilliwack, British Columbia. The lakes in BC are known for their unreal blue-green colour, and Lindeman Lake does not disappoint. At an elevation of almost 1900 metres, the views from Lindeman Lake are incredible.
The drive to get to Lindeman Lake is half the fun! You can reach this lake in British Columbia by driving 40 kilometers along Chilliwack Lake Road until it comes to a point where the paved road becomes gravel.
On the right side of the road, a sign indicates the beginning of the Lindeman Lake trail, and you will find the Post Creek Parking Lot.
Lindeman Lake offers some incredible recreation opportunities, including fishing, hiking and canoeing. In addition, there is a lakeside campground that offers stunning views of the Cascade Mountains.
The hiking trail to Lindeman Lake is extremely popular, so plan to go early or during the weekdays if possible.
5) Boya Lake, Dease Lake BC
Boya Lake is a beautiful alpine lake in British Columbia’s Cassiar Mountains. At an elevation of almost 1900 meters, the views from Boya Lake are incredible.
The beautiful Boya Lake is a perfect place for a day of relaxation, swimming, and fishing. This unique body of water in British Columbia’s north features different types of soil that create its clear waters because they are full of shell pieces from years ago when there was an ancient shoreline here.
This one-of-a-kind place in Canada has great views of the mountains around it, whether you’re sitting by the lake or walking along one of the many hiking trails. Because of the many folds in its shoreline, Boya was once known as Puzzle Lake.
This lovely Lake is one of the few lakes found throughout Canada with a warm enough temperature level during summertime. As a result, it is possible to engage in leisure activities such as water-related sports such as boat riding over reefs (in some cases, even reaching the island).
Boya Lake lies in the Dease River, which flows through British Columbia and Yukon. It’s located around 220 kilometers (140 miles) south of Telegraph Creek on Alaska Highway, also known as Klondike Highway. To get there, you must travel along Stewart Cassiar Highways until you reach Dease Lake Junction.
There are many lakes in British Columbia, but Boya Lake is one of the most beautiful.
6) Emerald Lake
One of the most beautiful lakes in British Columbia is Emerald Lake. Emerald lake gets its name and color from light, reflecting off the white marl deposits, a mixture of clay and calcium carbonate.
Emerald Lake is part of the Canadian Rockies mountain range and is located inside the Yoho National Park. This lake is accessible all year round.
The Emerald Lake is the iconic site inside Yoho National Park, and I highly recommend visiting it on a road trip. National park entry fees (starting at $19 per vehicle per day) are payable at the gate to visit the Yoho and the Emerald Lake.
Emerald Lake makes for a lovely Yoho National Park when staying in Banff or Lake Louise on a day trip. The distance is about 40 minutes to an hour to reach Lake Louise and Yoho.
In terms of accommodation, one can stay at the Lake Emerald Lodge, which is perfect for a weekend getaway. In addition, there are campsites and other affordable lodging options near the lake, including the small town of Field.
Visit Emerald Lake in the summer when it showcases its bright colors, and enjoy a stroll or a canoe tour. You can snowshoe or venture on short hikes near the lake in the winter.
By Mayuri from Canada Crossroads
7) Cheakamus Lake
Cheakamus Lake is a beautiful glacial lake in Garibaldi Provincial Park near Whistler. Due to suspended sediment in the water, Cheakamus Lake is a turquoise blue and shimmers in the sunlight.
Add in the snow-capped mountains behind it and the towering pine trees in the foreground, and you’ve got yourself a panoramic view. Cheakamus Lake is deep in the provincial Park, so there are no services at the lake. Just you, nature, and some peace and quiet!
You can access the lake from the parking lot at Garibaldi Provincial Park via the Helm Creek Traverse hiking trail. Round trip, this is a 28 km hike with 1500 m of elevation gain, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
An easier way to view the lake would be from the top of Whistler Mountain (you can take the gondola to the top). From here, you can hike the Half Note High Note trail, which provides stunning views of the bright blue glacial waters, and is one of the best trails near Vancouver.
Since Cheakamus Lake is in Garibaldi Provincial Park, the nearest accommodation would be camping within the Park. Garibaldi has several backcountry campsites and even a few huts within its borders. If a proper bed is what you’re after, the closest lodging is in the nearby town of Whistler.
Whistler is a vacation destination with hundreds of hotels and Airbnbs. The most luxurious option is the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which looks like a palace underneath the snowy mountains. The most budget-friendly option would be the Whistler Lodge Hostel.
By Mikaela of Voyageur Tripper
8) Clearwater Lake
Wells Gray Provincial Park is well-known as a waterfall-chasing paradise, with 41 named waterfalls and plenty more waiting to be discovered. However, that is not all you will find within Wells Gray.
Clearwater Lake is one of the prettiest lakes and one of the best options for canoeing and other water activities in British Columbia. Clearwater Lake is found near the entrance to Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Lake tours, canoe rentals, and a water taxi service are available. There is also a boat launch if you want to bring your boat.
The town of Clearwater is located north of Kamloops, almost halfway between Vancouver, BC, and the breathtaking Canadian Rockies.
Clearwater Lake is one of six lakes within Wells Gray. Glaciers scoured the lake over several ice ages. Beware that the water can be quite cold since it is glacier-fed. However, on a hot summer day, a swim in the lake is very refreshing.
The breathtaking scenery will leave you speechless. Clearwater Lake is also a great option because it is less busy since it is a bit more out of the way (though still accessible by any vehicle during the summer).
In addition, the Park is still very underdeveloped and wild, giving more of an authentic experience in nature.
At Clearwater Lake, there is family-friendly camping available within Wells Gray Provincial Park. However, if camping is not your style, you can also find plenty of Airbnb’s and cabins near the park entrance.
In addition to waterfalls and beautiful lakes, there are several other recreational opportunities, like guided hiking tours, fishing, white-water rafting, and alpine meadows covered in blooms.
There is a day-use picnic area. Since the Park is more on the wild side, you will not find flush toilets, only outhouses. If you need additional amenities, you can find it all by driving into the town of Clearwater.
Contributed by Debbie Fettback from WorldAdventurists.com.
9) Berg Lake
Berg Lake is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful lakes in all of Canada. This lake is bright turquoise and features Mount Robson as its backdrop.
Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, so as you can imagine, this is a pretty dramatic landscape that you genuinely have to see to believe.
One of the things that distinguishes Berg Lake from other picturesque lakes in the Rockies is that it is significantly quieter and more peaceful. This is due entirely because it is a bit of a mission to get there.
You cannot drive to Berg Lake, and the only way to get there is to either book a helicopter tour or hike. Although harder to access, this keeps Berg Lake tranquil and a stunning escape in the mountains.
Helicopter tours typically depart from the Mount Robson Visitor Centre. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for the tour, and they should be booked well in advance (tours for the summer months are often fully booked months ahead of time.)
The hike to Berg Lake also starts from the Mount Robson Visitor Centre. It is a grueling hike about 21 km long and climbs over 800 meters in elevation.
For this reason, most hikers complete the trail over a couple of days. It is required to book your stay in campsites along the trail well in advance as they book up months in advance as well.
You are not allowed to camp outside of the allocated campsites. It is possible to hike to the lake and back in one day, but it makes for a long day, and only experienced and prepared hikers should try this.
Most people stay in the nearby town of Valemount, BC, when planning to visit Berg Lake. It is located only a short 25-minute drive from the Mount Robson Visitor Centre, and in town, you can choose from a variety of hotels.
By Bailey from Destinationless Travel
10) Joffre Lakes, Pemberton
Joffre Lakes is located just north of Pemberton, BC. These BC lakes are a popular day-trip and hiking destination from Vancouver, Squamish, and Whistler.
The lakes get their turquoise colour from glacial till deposited in the lakes thousands of years ago. Mountains surround the lakes, and it is a short 5km hike to get to the farthest lake of the three lakes, Upper Joffre.
The lakes are most beautiful in July and August when they reach their warmest temperatures and reflect shades of blue and green. The water looks gorgeous, but it remains cold during the summer and isn’t ideal for swimming.
In recent years, the route was reconstructed, and parking has improved. In any case, anticipate crowds in the peak summer months, plan your excursion ahead of time, observe parking regulations, and be a responsible trail user by packing out what you pack in.
The Most Popular Largest Lakes in BC
Kootenay Lake, Nelson
Kootenay Lake is the largest lake in British Columbia and a popular lake for boating, fishing and swimming. Kootenay lake is surrounded by lush forests and mountains, making it a beautiful spot to relax and take in the scenery.
Kootenay Lake is located about an hour and a half from Nelson. To get to Kootenay Lake, take Highway 31 south from Nelson. The lakes in British Columbia are known for their unreal blue-green colour, and Kootenay Lake does not disappoint.
There are several Provincial Parks located on the shores of Kootenay Lake, as well as resorts and campgrounds if you’re looking for a place to stay. Kootenay Lake Provincial Park is an ideal place to camp as it has prime beachfront right on Kootenay Lake.
The lakeside communities of Balfour and Kootenay Bay offer a number of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy.
Kootenay Lake is also home to the famous Kokanee Salmon that swim upstream each fall to spawn – it’s rarer than seeing bears at these lakes in BC! The salmon run from mid-September to mid-October, so be sure to plan your trip around that if you want the lakes in BC experience.
Kootenay Lake is one of the top lakes in British Columbia for beginner and intermediate paddlers because it’s easy to access, incredibly beautiful and offers something for everyone.
Kalamalka Lake, Vernon
Kalamalka Lake is a gem in the Okanagan Valley, and people come from all over Canada to experience it. The waters change throughout the year due to its location just south of Vernon, BC – one popular summer vacation spot.
It provides stunning views for visitors eager not only to see these natural wonders but also to take advantage of hiking trails that offer great scenic backgrounds.
Kalamalka has become a popular spot for swimming, boating, fishing, and windsurfing. There are a number of Provincial Parks located on the shores of Kalamalka Lake, as well as resorts and campgrounds if you’re looking for a place to stay.
It has stunning turquoise-green water and beautiful beaches such As Kal Beach and Cosens Bay Beach. There are a number of public restrooms available on the beaches and at surrounding parks. It’s popular among boaters and water sports fans due to its many boat ramps.
Kalamalka Lake is one of the top lakes for beginner and intermediate paddlers because it’s easy to access, incredibly beautiful and offers something for everyone.
Osoyoos Lake, Osoyoos
Osoyoos Lake is located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. It’s the warmest lake in British Columbia, with an average temperature of 24 degrees Celsius (75F) during the summer months.
The beauty and location of Osoyoos Lake make it a popular spot for boating, swimming, and kayaking. There are a number of hotels and resorts located on the shores of Osoyoos Lake if you’re looking for a place to stay.
The Watermark Beach Resort is the largest accommodation on the lake, complete with an outdoor pool and hot tub.
Lake Osoyoos is known for its sandy beaches, making it very popular with swimmers in the summer months. Visitors will also find public washrooms and change rooms at the lakeside beaches.
Lake Osoyoos is exceptionally busy during the summer months because it’s easy to access, incredibly beautiful and offers something for everyone.
Shuswap Lake, Shuswap
Shuswap Lake is one of the busiest lakes in British Columbia, popular for boating, water sports, swimming and fishing. There are many public beaches located on Shuswap Lake that provide great views and sandy areas to spread out your beach towel or play some games with friends – like volleyball.
The City of Salmon Arm is located on the shores of Shuswap Lake and offers a number of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is also located on the shore of the lake, providing campers with lakeside views and plenty of trails to explore.
If you explore Shuswap Lake, you are bound to see numerous houseboats out on the water. Shuswap Lake is a hub for houseboat rentals.
Cultus Lake, Chilliwack
For those looking to escape from the hustle and bustles of city life, Cultus Lake in British Columbia offers an ideal destination.
As one of Canada’s most visited provincial parks, it has something for everyone with waterskiing and hiking trails that lead up into mountainsides covered by trees where you can enjoy a picnic overlooking this beautiful lake view.
Cultus Lake is popular for swimming, boating, fishing, and windsurfing. There are a number of Provincial Parks located on the shores of Cultus Lake and resorts and campgrounds if you’re looking for a place to stay.
There is also a popular amusement park on the lakeshore, which provides hours of family fun. Cultus Lake is a great place to visit if you’re looking for stunning views, plenty of outdoor activities, and easy access.
Final Thoughts on These Beautiful Lakes in BC
The lakes in British Columbia are known as some of Canada’s best lakes so if you’re looking to experience a piece of lakeside paradise, be sure to check out one of these lakes in BC. So whether you’re looking for a place to stay or want to know what the best activities are, we’ve got you covered.
So there you have it – our picks for the top lakes in British Columbia! Did your favourite lakes in BC make the list? Let us know in the comments below!
Casandra Karpiak is a travel writer and owner of Savoteur. A Toronto native with Danish roots currently residing in British Columbia, her travel writing has been seen on The Associated Press wire, MSN, FOX, CBS, NBC, Entrepreneur, 24/7 Wall St, Times Daily, and many more. When she’s not traveling, she can be found at hockey arenas all over BC cheering on her two young sons.