Amazing Places to Paddle in BC's Interior

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There’s nothing like paddling on the water to give you a new perspective on wild places and a deeper connection to your natural surroundings. Whether you kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard, this feeling of inner peace and sense of adventure is just a stroke away in BC’s Interior, where thousands of lakes, rivers, and streams pepper the landscape.  Here are just a few amazing places to paddle in BC’s Interior. 

Paddling at Paul Lake Provincial Park | Tourism Kamloops/Justin Moore

PAUL LAKE PROVINCIAL PARK

Paul Lake Provincial Park is a scenic camping, hiking, and paddling spot just 30 minutes east of Kamloops. Fringed by lush forest of Douglas fir, pine and aspen, Paul Lake makes for a scenic and interesting paddle. Its marquee attraction is Gibraltar Rock, a 900-metre cliff face with commanding views of the lake—you can paddle right up beside the copper-coloured rock, or hike to the top of the bluff to look out over the lake (watch your step). 

Visit for the day or camp overnight to extend your adventure (note: some of the group campsites are closed for the 2020 season, so arrive early). Launch your craft from the west end of the lake and head out to explore from there. Note that you’ll have to bring your own watercraft here but it’ll be worth it.

Sunset from atop Battle Bluffs overlooking Kamloops Lake | Andrew Strain

KAMLOOPS LAKE

There are plenty of hidden gems sprinkled along the 29 kilometre-length of Kamloops Lake—if you know where to look. Paddle out to explore this lesser-frequented BC lake which rests on the Thompson River, just west of town. Discover old train bridges, hoodoos, a balancing rock, and spectacular bluffs—surrounded by desert grasslands, juniper, and sagebrush. You may even come across evidence of a little mystery hiding beneath its surface—boaters have reported strange ripples from unidentified creatures (though, truth be told, they suspect it was a sturgeon).  

Bruker Marina, about 30 kilometres west of town, has a rental fleet of watercraft and makes for a great launch. The second launch is at the far west end of the lake in Savona. There are motorized boats on this lake, so be sure to practice all safety precautions. 

Crooked Lake Resort in the Cariboo Mountain range | Michael Bednar

CROOKED AND LOON LAKES

BC’s “Land of Hidden Waters” is peppered with pristine lakes, primed for paddling and fishing (or both). This lake-rich area stretches from Horsefly, to Cache Creek, with lakes dotted between Highways 97 and 5. Though they are nearly three hours apart, both Crooked and Loon Lakes are signature paddling stops—and the good news is that they aren’t so hidden once you know to look for them. 

Crooked Lake in the north, lies about one hour east of Horsefly, just outside of Wells Gray Provincial Park. Popular for anglers and paddlers alike, Crooked Lake is home to a remote wilderness resort and recreation sites. There’s also a boat launch and recreation site on the Crooked Lake South area of the lake.

 

Eastward, about 45 minutes from Clinton, lies Loon Lake, tucked between Bonaparte Plateau and Arrowstone hills. The area is home to a number of ranches and resorts and has a historic feel, with many heritage buildings and sites along the Gold Rush Trail recalling frontier days when the Hudson’s Bay Company brought settler activity to the area. Loon is best-known for its rainbow trout fishery, though the paddling is prime. The Marigold Fishing Resort has a limited selection of canoes, row boats, and pontoon boats for rent. 

Canoe portage | Andrew Strain

MOOSE VALLEY PROVINCIAL PARK

With its radiant wildflowers, abundant wildlife, and shallow lakes, Moose Valley Provincial Park makes for a moderate and fun single-day or overnight paddling trip for all ability levels. The Moose Valley Canoe Chain consists of 12 lakes dotted throughout 2,322 hectares of wetland. Paddlers may spot moose, birds, deer, and amphibians in their natural habitat. 

The park is about a 50-minutes drive west of 100 Mile House along the Exeter Station Road to the canoe route at Marks Lake (a four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle is recommended). If you need gear, swing by Cariboo Canoe and Kayak Rentals, which is located about 40 minutes from Likely

A view of Tatlayoko Lake from the Niut Range | Kari Medig

TATLAYOKO LAKE

Situated on the traditional territories of the Tsilhqot’in People of Xeni Gwet’in, Tatlayoko Lake is fed by the Homathko River, which winds its way to the Pacific Ocean via the spectacular Bute Inlet. Feel the powerful energy of the land with a serene paddle on this peaceful lake. 

This is a very remote place, so you’ll want to stay and explore. How about a pioneer-themed cabin on a working ranch at the Homathko River Inn and B&B

Taking in the tranquil views of Murtle Lake | @alanpronger

MURTLE LAKE

Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park (near the town of Blue River), is the largest paddle-only lake in North America, making this an incredible place for a multi-day canoe, paddleboard, or kayak tour. With no motorized boat access allowed on the lake, all you’ll hear is the dip of a paddle in the pristine water, as you look out at the surrounding mountains. You may wish to explore the hiking trails that fringe the park, or throw a hook in the water along the way.

Sandy Point on the West Arm lives up to its name, with a gorgeous swath of inviting white sand. 

 

 

Get to Murtle Lake via the Shell Road Access, a gravel 27-kilometre road off Highway 5 near Blue River. The canoe put-in location is a 2.5 kilometre portage from the parking lot. With approximately 100 kilometres of shoreline to paddle, Murtle Lake is definitively large and can be subject to strong winds, so be sure to check the weather forecast ahead of time. Canoe and cart rentals are available at the Blue River Campground. Call ahead to check availability. 

Canoers paddling through banks in Bowron Lake Provincial Park | Adam Wells

BOWRON LAKES PROVINCIAL PARK

Located about 20 minutes northeast of Wells and Barkerville on the edge of the Cariboo Mountain Range, the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit this 116-kilometre paddling circuit is a popular multi-day wilderness paddle that can take between six and 10 days to complete (the west side of the circuit takes two to four days).

This 116-kilometre paddling circuit is a series of 12 lakes and rivers, with connecting portages, which takes backcountry paddlers on an adventure through remote and challenging waterways with a little bit of everything: scenic views, waterfall sightings, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. This is one adventure that will leave you in awe of the natural world—filled with a sense of accomplishment after having completed a challenging self-supported paddling journey. 

 

Your journey begins at the Bowron Lake Registration centre, at the end of Bowron Lake Road off Highway 26. From there, it’s a 2.4-kilometre portage to Kibbee Creek. Canoe and cart rentals are available in advance at Bowron Lake Canoe Rentals. Reserve a permit online ahead of time to access the park, or take a guided tour with Pathways Canada instead (and especially if you’re new to wilderness canoeing). 

Fly-fishing at Ghost Lake | Blake Jorgenson

GHOST LAKE

Despite its supernatural name, Ghost Lake, situated in Cariboo Mountains Provincial Park, is more hauntingly beautiful than frightening. The lake is situated in the wet belt between Bowron Lake and Wells Gray provincial parks. Experienced wilderness paddlers can expect a diverse landscape of mountain peaks, tarn lakes, and wetlands fringed by meadows and ancient hemlock and cedar forests. 

There are two ways to get to the Ghost Lake: via Likely or via Barkerville. Both routes take more than 1.5 hours of driving and include active logging roads, so bring adequate wheels. From the parking lot, there is a short (but rough) trail to the launch spot, where you can put in and explore this remote mountain lake. Given its distance from nearby communities, plan to camp for a night or two. 

Paddling in Tweedsmuir Provicinal Park, @deeswondercafe

TURNER LAKE

The Turner Lake Canoe Circuit in Tweedsmuir Provincial Park is a high-elevation network of lakes located on the east slope of the Coast Mountain Range. With so much to explore, paddlers often pair their canoeing trip with a few extra days of alpine hiking—including a visit to Ptarmigan Lake, which sits high above Turner.  

To get to this awe-inspiring destination, you can either charter a floatplane in, or hike the challenging 16-kilometre Hunlen Falls Trail. Camp and paddle Turner Lake, or opt to do the entire circuit, which includes six portages. 

 

Water may seem clear and inviting, but there are risks associated with paddling. Always check water conditions and weather before you head out for a paddle. Remember to wear a life jacket and have a cold water plan, which can include a waterproof bag with dry clothes, in case you fall in.  AdventureSmart and Leave No Trace are great resources to help you get informed before heading outdoors. Follow the three Ts—trip planning, training, and taking the essentials. 

Featured Image: Couple canoeing with views of the mountains in Bowron Lake Provincial Park. Photo: Chris Harris

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

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Phone: (250) 459-2579

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Phone: (250) 994-3332

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Phone: (778) 414-8014

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Phone: (250) 674-3530

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Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 982-2662

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On the beach at Kamloops lake, Bruker has rental for 220 marina slips, Boat rentals, sea-doo's, double decker 18 person fun ship, kayaks, paddle...

View Listing

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Crooked Lake Resort

Phone: (866) 614-1690

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Boating, Cabins & Cottages, Campgrounds & RV Parks, Accessibility

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Marigold Fishing Resort is located on the pristine shores of Loon Lake, 45 km N.E. of Cache Creek. We are Tourism BC approved, pet friendly &...

Phone: (250) 459-2579

View Listing

Cabins & Cottages, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Blue River Campground

Blue River Campground is located in beautiful Blue River, British Columbia, Canada. We can be found on Highway #5, halfway between Jasper, Alberta...

Phone: (250) 673-8203

View Listing

Museums & Heritage Sites, Attractions, Bed & Breakfasts, Accessibility

Barkerville Historic Town & Park

Billy Barkers legendary gold strike on Williams Creek triggered a multi-billion dollar industrial revolution that literally built a province....

Phone: (250) 994-3332

View Listing

Hiking, Paddling, Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Bowron Lakes Provincial Park

Phone: (778) 414-8014

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas

Wells Gray Provincial Park

This large scenic park and wilderness area contains five major lakes, two river systems, many small lakes, streams, waterfalls and rapids, which...

Phone: (250) 674-3530

View Listing

Parks & Wilderness Areas, Campgrounds & RV Parks

Tweedsmuir Provincial Park

Phone: (250) 982-2662

View Listing

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Amber Turnau in Squamish
WRITTEN BY: Amber Turnau

From: Squamish
Amber is a freelance storyteller and outdoor adventurer who has spent nine years living in the beautiful Sea-to-Sky Corridor. When she's not writing, she spends her spare time snowboarding, hiking, biking, and SUPing her way through the wilds of BC. Fun Fact: Amber spent the first seven years of her life living on a sailboat and travelling the world with her family. Now, she has the best of both worlds, splitting her time between ocean and mountains—and loving every minute of it.