By Brian Lawrence
Nestled in the picturesque Kootenays, the Creston Valley area is a haven for water enthusiasts seeking the ultimate summer swimming experience. With its three prominent rivers — the Goat, Kootenay and Moyie — and its proximity to the iconic Kootenay Lake, the area has an abundance of lakes, rivers, creeks and waterways, making it an unparalleled destination for a refreshing dip.
Whether you crave a serene day lounging on a sandy lakeside beach or prefer an invigorating dip in a refreshing river swimming hole, the Creston area has something for everyone. Some of these gems are conveniently located near town, while others require a scenic drive to Yahk or along Highway 3A, tracing the stunning eastern shoreline of Kootenay Lake. However, I know from personal experience that they’re all well worth checking out. Here are some of my all time top picks of some of the best beaches and swimming holes in the Creston Valley area in the summer!
Riverside Wilderness Park on Goat River
Located a few minutes south of downtown Creston just off of Highway 21, this rustic wilderness area offers direct access to the Goat River, creating the perfect setting for a relaxing picnic or a dip in the water. You are sure to be blown away by the colourful smooth, river-worn pebbles and rocks lining the river bottom as you bob around. Some locals even use this spot to launch kayaks, paddle boards or tubes, embarking on a downstream adventure that connects with the Kootenay River before eventually exiting at the Old Ferry Landing Boat Ramp. However, it's also good to know that there are no amenities available, and the road leading to the park can be a bit bumpy, so it's not ideal for those seeking a smooth ride!
Alternatively, another option is to park along the highway on either end of the Goat River bridge on Highway 21. From here it’s usually easy to find a spot to enjoy the Goat River on both sides of the bridge. Just note that you are parking on the shoulder of the highway, so be cautious when entering or exiting your car, and please obey the roads signs.
Beaches on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake
For those looking for a more accessible swimming experience it’s about a 20-40 minute drive north from Creston to reach a number of of beautiful beaches on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake — each a great spot for picnicking with the kids, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking or for catching up on that book you brought on vacation!
Twin Bays Beach
Without a doubt, the beach at Twin Bays is one of the most popular, largely, I suspect, because it’s one of the sandiest beaches on Kootenay Lake’s East Shore. The sand slopes gently into the water, which tends to be a bit warmer here than other places thanks to being in a bay. As a result, the beach is particularly cherished by families with children and tends to be quite bustling with activity. Located a short walk from the beach, you'll also find ample parking spaces, outhouses and garbage bins to enhance your beach experience. However, it's important to know that dogs are not allowed in this area, so it's advisable to leave your furry friends at home for this excursion.
Located just north, Mackie Beach Park in Boswell offers easy access to a beautiful south-facing pebble beach, making it a delightful spot for summer swimming. While the water may be slightly cooler, the experience is still fantastic. Unlike the bustling Twin Bays, Mackie Beach tends to be a more tranquil and serene setting. Additionally, the park provides basic amenities such as picnic tables and bathrooms. It's worth noting that this community-maintained gem relies on donations, so please remember to contribute when you exit by dropping a donation in the designated box at the entrance.
About 40km north of Creston on Highway 3A, you’ll find Lockhart Beach Provincial Park , well-known for the soft round pebbles that make up the beach, and the stellar view of the mountains on the opposite shore. I remember visiting here as a little kid (way back in the 1980s) and I still enjoy it today!
The parking lot is across Highway 3A, next to the park's campground, and near the entrance of the separate Lockhart Creek Provincial Park. If you want your beach day to include something a bit more adventurous, this one has trails leading through temperate cedar-hemlock forests to epic views of Kootenay Lake. Bird and plant lovers won’t be sorry they tried this one!
Crawford Creek Regional Park Beach
Crawford Bay is well known for its artisans making brooms, pottery and more, but it also home to two beautiful south facing sandy beaches in the newly established Crawford Creek Regional Park. With their very shallow and fairly warm water, the beaches are also hugely popular with families. Although it requires a bit of a drive from Creston, the journey to this beach it is undoubtedly worthwhile. Once you've had your fill of sun and sand, you'll also discover an abundance of delectable dining options and captivating attractions to explore in the Crawford Bay area before returning back to Creston.
Yahk Provincial Park on Moyie River
About 25 minutes east of Creston in the charming hamlet of Yahk, a day-use area in Yahk Provincial Park also offers access to the beautiful Moyie River, which is a great place for families to float in the early summer. Later in the season, the water levels drop, but there are still many deeper pools to cool off in.
Once you've indulged in a revitalizing river swim, take the time to explore the charms of Yahk itself. Don't miss the chance to visit Yahk Soap Company and Two Scoop Steve, where you can treat yourself to delectable ice cream and catch a glimpse of the goats happily residing on the rooftop!
Tips for Making the Most of the Water
While visiting the outdoor beaches and swimming spots in the Creston area, it's important to prioritize safety. You may be visiting the beach to have fun, but keep in mind that these are wild places — particularly the Goat & Moyie Rivers. In the spring and early summer, the rivers can be high and fast moving, posing potential risks for swimming. Please note that all mentioned beaches and swimming holes are unsupervised, meaning you swim at your own risk. It is strongly recommended to assess the conditions at each location upon arrival and ensure that you bring life jackets for all members of your group. The Canadian Red Cross also provides a great list of water safety tips here that is well worth checking out before heading out!
Additionally, don't forget to protect yourself from the sun's rays by applying sunblock. Also, in the early summer months, the mosquitoes can be bothersome, so bringing some form of bug spray is a good idea as well.
What To do After YOur Beach Getaway?
After enjoying a day of splashing around, you might find yourself feeling a bit peckish. No worries! Creston has got you covered with a delightful selection of pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants, which you can find in the Eat section of our website. If you're seeking more adventure after your aquatic escapades, be sure to check out our Play section for a wide range of activities and exciting experiences in the area. Looking for some entertainment? Don't forget to browse through our Upcoming Events Calendar. And of course if you are looking for a good place to stay during your trip check out our list of charming local hotels, motels, B&Bs and campgrounds.
In any case, I hope this post has been helpful in providing you with some fantastic ideas for swimming holes and beaches in the Creston area. Nothing beats summer in the Creston Valley, so have fun splashing around!
Freelance writer Brian Lawrence is a former editor and publisher of the Creston Valley Advance. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and trail running, and acting in and directing productions with Creston's Footlighters Theatre Society.