Take the plunge in waters rumoured to be shared by the legendary Sasquatch. This geologically diverse area offers interesting and unique opportunities for cooling off in natural waters.
photo credit: crestonvalleytrails.ca
Do you love to dip in a clear cold river with a stunning mountain backdrop? Or is a meandering pebbled beach next to a deep blue lake more your style? The Creston Valley Kootenay Lake Route offers an overabundance of choices. We've distilled it to our favourites.
Budget: Free Difficulty: Impress your friends by conquering cold water Time: All day if you are up for it (bring sunscreen) Highlights: Spectacular views, beaches are not crowded, pristine water Where:
Your best option for swimming close to town is the Goat River. There is also the Kootenay River but its muddy banks lends itself more to bird watching and boating. It's a great option for non-swimming water activity with the family as the Old Ferry Landing offers picnic tables and an easy boat launch into calm serene water.
Just a 20 minute drive from Creston you get your first access to Kootenay Lake at the Kuskanook harbour. There are several different options to explore the shoreline all along the lake. If you are looking to overnight on the lake there are several paid camping spots with beach access.
Goat River, photo credit: Jensen Shields
The Goat River Located on Highway 21 just a little south of town, accessed at the 1 st bridge along highway 21 minutes from Creston.
It's accessible both by car or by bicycle – though there is always a hill to ride up to get back to town! Parking is along the highway so be cautious of cars travelling fast when entering or leaving your vehicle. Every year the river creates new swimming holes and beaches along the riverbank, both sandy and pebbled, deep or shallow. You can bring a picnic or your favourite floating toys. This swimming spot is a long time destination for every local and visitor in the valley. It's the fastest and easiest place to get to. Spring run-off creates wonderful sandy spots to relax on. The river itself is rocky bottomed, so water shoes are recommended. You can hang with the rest of the river-goers at the bridge, but if you’re looking for privacy, a short walk along the shoreline either up or downstream will provide privacy and your own little temporary piece of heaven. Water temperatures are warm, usually warming before the lake, making this a great early summer swimming spot after spring run-off has completed. Thanks to the efforts made by Trails For Creston Valley Society, the park area is expanding making it even more accessible. You can find the latest news on the project at this link. Twin Bays Located at 10242 Twin Bays Rd, Sanca...
Twin Bays is by far one of the most beautiful beaches on the East Shore with soft sand, epic scenery, and jumping rocks for the kids to enjoy. There is a public day use area set up with outhouses and garbage receptacles. The waters are usually a tad warmer in this sheltered little cove, yet it seems to maintain water quality even during the hottest of months. No dogs are allowed on this beach, so if your furry friend needs a swim, you’ll have to find another spot to frolic in.
Along the banks of Kootenay Lake, you’ll find many access points that are not designated recreation sites to enjoy if you do want to bring Fido along. About five minutes past Twin Bays, along Highway 3A you’ll find a short pull out on the road on the lakeside that provides access to six little-secluded beaches. Excellent for privacy and family fun, it’s best to get up early to secure one of these spots. There is no garbage receptacle so please pack out what you pack in. The lake bottom is quite rocky, so water shoes are recommended.
Crawford Bay The artisan town of Crawford Bay has a lovely protected sandy cove. The beach is in the Crawford Bay Regional Park and is accessed by a small road at the airstrip landing near to Kokanee Chalets. Crawford Bay and Gray Creek are your best options on the lake for stocking up on food in one of the small grocery stores. There are also many fine restaurants to choose from there and in Kootenay Bay as well, everything from seasonal tapas to dim-sum or wood-fired pizza.
Lockhart Provincial Park This a part of our world-class BC Parks system. As such, there are rules! But also a ton of information on how to get there on their website. Try not to get lost when tumbling down the BC Parks rabbit hole! Located about 40 min up highway 3-A, is another favourite in the area. The beach is unique for the rocky shoreline is covered primarily in soft rounded pebbles. The parking lot is on the east side of highway 3-A, while the day use area on the west with a tiny path to the beach front. In early July the southern tip of the lake can get a little overboard with mosquitoes. Lockhart beach seems to be far enough up the lake to avoid some of the mosquitoes when times are thick.
Moyie River Access to the river can be gained from the day use area in Yahk Provincial Park located in the heart of Yahk, B.C. You can also stay overnight in one of the 25 campsites at the lovely forested campground on the scenic Moyie River. You’ll find many swimming holes to dip in and cool off. Summer water levels make for an enjoyable float that is fun for the whole family. Into the month of August, river floating may be hampered due to low water levels and a rocky bottom, but the river still provides ample fun and opportunities to cool off in the deeper pools.
But it's ugly outside! The Creston and District Community Complex has a lovely indoor swimming pool that includes a lazy river, a weekly Ducky Swim where they release 3000 plastic ducks and a hot tub with one of the best views of the mountains.
They offer family rates as well as lots of great summer activities and classes.
Why do I keep coming back? The east shore of Kootenay Lake is carved sandstone that is 1.5 billion years old while on the west side, the Selkirk Range is decidedly younger at only 300-700 million years old and made up of sandstone, limestone and shale. The lake is 150 metres deep and over a 100 kilometres long.
History lesson aside, this lake is beautiful from every angle. Not long ago, friends from Vancouver came to visit. As we sat on the beach one of them looked out onto the lake and said, "Man, I miss the Koots."
There's a sense of tranquillity a person gets when they take the time to chill out next to these glacier-fed waters.