Nakusp sits on a large floodplain along the shores of Arrow Lake – an unusually flat location in the mountainous Kootenay Rockies region.
The floodplain is the product of thousands of years of silt deposits from Kuskanax Creek, which flows out of the mountains to the east, meeting Arrow Lake just north of town.
The paved road that runs alongside Kuskanax Creek in town leads to the Nakusp Hot Springs, one of several natural mineral springs that surface in this geologically unique area. Other hot springs, including Halcyon, Halfway, and St. Leon Hot Springs, can be found farther north on the east side of the Arrow Lake.
Arrow Lake is a fascinating story in itself. Prior to the construction of the Hugh Keenlyside Dam, there were in fact two Arrow lakes. The Upper and the Lower Arrow lakes were separated by a 32km/20mi section of the Columbia River. Today, the water level is up to 24m/80ft higher than its historic level, with significant fluctuations.
The Monashee Range rises from the western side of Arrow Lake, with the aptly-named Saddle Mountain dominating the skyline. On the Nakusp side, the Selkirk Mountains are set well back from the lakeshore, providing a little elbowroom for the town.
Climate and Weather
Nakusp's climate is moderated by its proximity to a very large body of water. An average high in July and August is 25°C/77°F. January temperatures tend to hover just below 0°C/32°F, although Arctic outflows can sometimes bring the temperature down into the -20°C/-4°F range. Of course, if it gets too cold, the hot springs are just a few minutes from town. June is the wettest month, although precipitation is moderate, and fairly evenly distributed throughout the year.