Beautiful British Columbia, Canada, is known to many for its massive mountains and rocky ocean shores, but it is also home to thousands of gorgeous lakes, some of which are turquoise gems located in the Great White North. They provide tranquil sites for fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming and more. Fortunately, for locals and visitors alike, some such treasures are quite accessible. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit a handful of them, including Johnson Lake which is North of Kamloops and Kentucky Lake & Alleyne Lake – both located in the Nicola Valley near Merritt, a few hours East of Vancouver by car.
These lakes have an almost surreal look to them and relaxing on their shores on a hot summer day in BC I could let my mind wander to the blues hues of the tropics. And, where else would you want to be on a summer day, really? That is, unless you’re spending it on or in the lakes like several others were doing on the weekend I was visiting. The larger lakes have easy entries for launching small boats to fish from or paddleboards or kayaks. All of these activities are peaceful ways to enjoy the beautiful, verdant BC scenery that swells around the lakes.
Crystal clear Johnson Lake, with its proximity to Kamloops (about an hour and a half by car), a campground and good boat access did get quite busy after noon so if you are planning on going on a weekend during peak season (summer) then get out there early to really enjoy the tranquility. And if you’d like to camp here the same advice applies. We were able to find a spot in a little bay area for the day that was adjacent to the campground but all the sites were spoken for. There were some unmarked sites that people had set up in but they aren’t an ideal solution. The waters are brisk but comfortable in the summer, but taking the proper precautions one could paddle on the lake during the quieter shoulder seasons (spring & fall). In July and August you can spend hours in the water. (And we did!) You can access the lake and campground with a typical sedan but you do want to be careful because the last 16km are dirt road.
A welcome break to the quietude while we were there was Aboriginal music/drumming coming from one end of the lake. It was far from us but carried across the water. It was the soundtrack to our carefree fun for a bit. We spent so much time in the refreshing water. Because the lake is so clear I was able to play around with underwater shots. The sun cut through the surface and shimmered in the shallows. It was super interesting playing with the lighting and refraction just under the surface. You expect this kind of water clarity for such photos in places like Tahiti or Belize, so it is really incredible to have it at our disposal right here in BC. While the lake is popular, our spot in the little bay, being one of several different access points, was left mostly to us.
Johnson Lake is not alone in its tropical vibe. Kentucky and Alleyne Lakes are snuggled about 40 minutes to an hour from Merritt and very accessible by vehicle, connected via the Merritt-Princeton Highway. Because they are relatively small “pocket lakes” they warm up to a very comfortable temperature and like Johnson Lake have easy access for all types of small watercraft and offer up some fishing opportunities – trout, like you’ll find across BC. These two lakes are only minutes from each other – hence why they are often named together – and have an even smaller lake, a pond really, between them that is known to be a great place for children to fish in. We didn’t make it to nearby Bluey Lake this time, but judging by its name, it deserves a mention in an article about BC’s Caribbean-esque turquoise waters. It also has a Recreation Site and seems very well-known for its fishing.
There are many other beautiful lakes around the province to enjoy including the kaleidoscopic waters f Kalamalka near Vernon or the striking hue of Muncho Lake off of the Alaska Highway in the Northern Rockies. While I may be a mountain boy at heart these waters are absolutely enchanting.