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10 Top-Rated and Best Lakes in British Columbia to Visit

Best lakes in British Columbia

Explore the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia’s stunning lakes. From crystal-clear waters to majestic mountain vistas, discover the top-rated beautiful lakes in BC, offering adventure and tranquility in nature’s paradise.

British Columbia, with its stunning landscapes and abundant natural beauty, is home to a plethora of magnificent lakes (beautiful lakes in BC) that beckon travelers from far and wide. From tranquil alpine lakes nestled amidst towering peaks to expansive bodies of water offering a myriad of recreational activities, the province is a haven for lake enthusiasts.

In this article, we will explore the top 10 beautiful lakes in BC (British Columbia) that have garnered high ratings and captured the hearts of visitors. Each lake offers a unique experience, whether it’s the awe-inspiring turquoise waters of Garibaldi Lake or the sun-drenched shores of Osoyoos Lake. So, grab your gear, pack your sense of adventure, and join us on this journey through British Columbia’s finest lakes.

10 Best Lakes in BC (British Columbia)

1. Garibaldi Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Garibaldi Lake is one of the best and most beautiful lakes in BC (British Columbia) you may visit to see. Tucked away within the pristine Garibaldi Provincial Park, Garibaldi Lake stands as a testament to the breathtaking beauty of British Columbia’s wilderness. Renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters and awe-inspiring mountain vistas, this alpine lake offers an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts.

Nestled amidst the rugged Coast Mountains, Garibaldi Lake boasts a vibrant hue that is a result of glacial sediment suspended in its waters. The contrast between the vivid turquoise lake and the surrounding snow-capped peaks creates a postcard-worthy scene that will leave you speechless.

Garibaldi Lake in British Columbia

Once you arrive at Garibaldi Lake, you’ll find an inviting shoreline perfect for picnics and relaxation. The calm waters beckon visitors to take a refreshing dip during the warmer months, while avid anglers can try their luck with fishing for rainbow trout in the lake’s depths. Additionally, camping is available near the lake, offering the opportunity to spend a night under the starlit sky, surrounded by the peaceful ambiance of the park.

Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or simply a place to reconnect with nature, Garibaldi Lake delivers an experience that will leave an indelible mark on your memory. Its unparalleled beauty and pristine wilderness make it one of the top-rated lakes in British Columbia, deserving of a spot on any nature lover’s bucket list.

2. Osoyoos Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

One of the many beautiful lakes in BC is Osoyoos Lake, which displays a dramatic contrast between the luscious blue waters and the semi-arid temperature of the area because of its attractive setting surrounded by barren desert hills. The lake’s length of nearly 27 kilometres (17 miles) offers plenty of room for a variety of recreational pursuits all year long.

During the summer months, Osoyoos Lake becomes a playground for water enthusiasts. The warm water temperatures make it ideal for swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. Relax on the sandy shores, build sandcastles with your family, or set sail on a leisurely cruise to soak in the breathtaking views.

For nature enthusiasts, the nearby Osoyoos Desert Centre offers a chance to explore the unique desert ecosystem of the area. Take a guided tour through the interpretive trails and learn about the fascinating plant and animal life that thrives in this arid landscape.

Osoyoos Lake British Columbia

As the day winds down, visitors can relax in one of the lakeside resorts or enjoy a meal at one of the many waterfront restaurants, savoring delicious cuisine paired with breathtaking sunset views over the lake.

Osoyoos Lake’s blend of natural beauty, warm waters, and a welcoming lakeside community make it a top-rated destination in British Columbia. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or a delightful wine-tasting experience, Osoyoos Lake offers a memorable getaway that showcases the best of the province’s diverse landscapes.

3. Williston Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Spanning an impressive 1,761 square kilometers (680 square miles), Williston Lake is the largest reservoir in British Columbia and the seventh-largest man-made lake in the world. Created by the W.A.C. Bennett Dam on the Peace River, this vast body of water offers a unique blend of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and a glimpse into the province’s hydroelectric power generation.

You’ll be welcomed by a spectacular span of brilliant blue seas surrounded by unspoiled wilderness when you reach this beautiful lake in BC. The lake’s shoreline is lined with hidden bays, sandy beaches, and craggy cliffs, creating an eye-pleasing variety of scenery.

Williston Lake is a sanctuary for freshwater angling, according to fishermen. Numerous fish species, such as lake trout, bull trout, and rainbow trout, are abundant in the lake. Try your luck by casting a line into the lake; it’s notorious for yielding large catches. Williston Lake is a popular place for boating, and guests can explore the extensive waterways by kayak, canoe, or powerboat.

Williston Lake BC

As you explore Williston Lake, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this area home. From bald eagles soaring overhead to moose, deer, and bears roaming the nearby forests, the lake offers ample opportunities for wildlife spotting and nature photography.

Whether you’re captivated by the beauty of the reservoir itself or fascinated by the engineering marvel of the dam, a visit to Williston Lake is an opportunity to witness the harmonious coexistence of natural splendor and sustainable energy generation.

4. Okanagan Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Situated in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, Okanagan Lake is a picturesque destination renowned for its stunning landscapes, recreational activities, and world-class wineries. With its shimmering waters stretching approximately 135 kilometers (84 miles) through the valley, this lake offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and urban amenities.

The beauty of Okanagan Lake lies in its diverse offerings. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on the sandy beaches, thrilling water sports, or exploring the surrounding vineyards, there is something for everyone along its shores.

With chances for kayaking, paddleboarding, boating, and swimming, the lake is a watersports enthusiast’s heaven. Enjoy the sunshine on one of the many sandy beaches, cool off in the calm waters, or hire a boat to leisurely explore the lake. On Okanagan Lake, fishing is also very popular. Anglers throw their lines in quest of trout, salmon, and bass.

Okanagan Lake

Visit the lovely lakeside towns of Kelowna, Penticton, and Vernon for a taste of urban amenities. Explore the region’s thriving arts and cultural scene, stroll along the crowded waterfront promenades, or savour delicious cuisine at restaurants by the lake.

Nature lovers will appreciate the hiking and biking trails that wind their way through the surrounding hills, offering panoramic views of the lake and the valley below. From leisurely walks to challenging hikes, there are options for all fitness levels.

5. Emerald Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Nestled in Yoho National Park, Emerald Lake is a hidden gem that lives up to its name, captivating visitors with its mesmerizing emerald-green waters and stunning mountain backdrop. This picturesque alpine lake is a true natural wonder and a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

As you arrive at Emerald Lake, you’ll be immediately struck by the vibrant color of the water, which is a result of light reflecting off glacial silt suspended in the lake. Surrounded by dense forests and towering peaks, the lake creates a tranquil and serene atmosphere that invites you to unwind and embrace the beauty of the surrounding wilderness.

Emerald Lake British Columbia

Every turn of a leisurely stroll along the lakeside offers stunning sights. The lake’s 5.2-kilometer (3.2-mile) loop route provides an opportunity to get close to nature and enjoy the breathtaking views. Be on the lookout for a variety of animals that calls this area home, such as beavers, otters, and other kinds of birds.

Kayaking and canoeing on Emerald Lake are popular activities for individuals looking for adventure. Take in the spectacular views and the serenity of the surroundings by renting a boat and paddling through the calm waterways. For those who want to cast their lines and try their luck at catching mountain trout, fishing is also an option.

6. Lake O’Hara: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Lake O’Hara, a hidden gem located in Yoho National Park, is renowned for its immaculate blue waters, mountain scenery, and unrivalled trekking options. Visitors can enjoy a serene and unspoilt experience in this protected location, which is only accessible by a limited shuttle bus service.

Access to Lake O’Hara is restricted in order to protect the delicate environment and preserve its pristine state. The shuttle bus service requires reservations, guaranteeing that only a select few people may see this natural wonder each day. This seclusion heightens the tranquilly and makes it possible for a deeper connection with nature.

Lake O’Hara boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the Canadian Rockies. Surrounded by towering peaks, lush forests, and vibrant meadows, the lake’s emerald-green waters create a captivating sight that will leave you in awe. The calm and reflective surface of the lake perfectly mirrors the surrounding mountains, adding to its ethereal beauty.

Lake O'Hara BC Canada

The meadows surrounding Lake O’Hara burst with colorful wildflowers during the summer months, creating a vibrant tapestry that enchants the senses. Keep an eye out for wildlife sightings, as the area is home to various species, including mountain goats, pikas, and marmots.

Lake O’Hara’s pristine beauty, limited access, and exceptional hiking trails make it a highly sought-after destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its unspoiled landscapes and serene ambiance provide a true retreat from the modern world, allowing visitors to reconnect with nature and witness the unparalleled beauty of the Canadian Rockies.

7. Joffre Lakes

Nestled in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park is home to a series of stunning turquoise alpine lakes known as Joffre Lakes. Renowned for their vivid colors, breathtaking mountain vistas, and cascading waterfalls, Joffre Lakes offer a truly enchanting and picturesque experience for outdoor enthusiasts and hikers.

The park features three interconnected lakes: Lower Joffre Lake, Middle Joffre Lake, and Upper Joffre Lake. Each lake is a gem in its own right, with crystal-clear waters reflecting the surrounding glaciers and towering peaks.

Both the travel and the final destination at Joffre Lakes are rewarding. Hikers set out on a well-kept track that meanders through old-growth forests, across wooden bridges over rushing creeks, and gradually ascends to expose the breathtaking lakes. You’ll be treated to breath-taking views of the nearby mountains along the journey, as well as glimpses of waterfalls gushing down the craggy cliffs.

Joffre Lakes Bc Canada

The trek continues to the Upper Joffre Lake, the biggest and most beautiful of the three lakes, for those looking for a more difficult experience. The lake’s glacial waters sparkle in the sunlight, with the adjacent Matier Glacier and Joffre Peak serving as a striking background. Hikers who complete the journey to Upper Joffre Lake are rewarded with an authentic alpine experience and breathtaking panoramic vistas.

It’s important to note that Joffre Lakes is a popular destination, especially during the summer months. To avoid crowds and secure a parking spot, it is advisable to arrive early or consider visiting during weekdays or the shoulder seasons.

8. Eva Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

It’s another one of the top lakes of British Columbia. Tucked away in the heart of Mount Revelstoke National Park, Eva Lake offers a serene and picturesque retreat for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Surrounded by towering peaks, lush forests, and alpine meadows, this hidden gem showcases the beauty of the Columbia Mountains and provides a tranquil escape into the wilderness.

The trail to Eva Lake begins at the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, a scenic drive that winds its way up Mount Revelstoke. As you ascend, the landscape transforms from dense forests to subalpine meadows, offering glimpses of wildflowers in vibrant hues during the summer months.

The hike to Eva Lake is a moderate trek that spans approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) roundtrip. The trail weaves through old-growth forests, crossing babbling streams and cascading waterfalls. As you hike, the soothing sounds of nature accompany you, creating a sense of serenity and tranquility.

Eva Lake British Columbia

Upon reaching Eva Lake, you’ll be rewarded with a sight that captivates the senses. The crystal-clear waters of the lake reflect the surrounding mountain peaks, creating a stunning mirror-like effect. Situated in a picturesque alpine basin, Eva Lake is a perfect spot to rest, have a picnic, or simply immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance of the wilderness.

For those who wish to extend their stay, there is a backcountry campground near Eva Lake. Camping permits are required, allowing you to spend the night under the starry sky, surrounded by the natural beauty of the park.

9. Shuswap Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Located in the interior of British Columbia, Shuswap Lake is a recreational paradise that offers endless opportunities for water-based activities, relaxation, and exploration. With its pristine waters, sandy beaches, and surrounding lush forests, Shuswap Lake has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Shuswap Lake is one of the province’s biggest freshwater lakes, spanning a vast area of over 1,550 square kilometres (600 square miles). With nearly 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) of meandering shoreline created by its multiple arms and inlets, there is plenty of room for boating, fishing, and lakeside activities.

Shuswap Lake BC Canada

On Shuswap Lake, boaters will be in their element because there is a vast network of waterways to discover. The lake’s quiet waters and picturesque surroundings make it the perfect location for aquatic experiences, whether you enjoy sailing, jet skiing, kayaking, or canoeing. It is simple to start your aquatic tour because there are several marinas and boat rentals available.

Fishing is a popular pastime on Shuswap Lake, with the lake being home to various fish species, including salmon, trout, and bass. Cast your line from the shore or venture out on a boat to find your perfect fishing spot. The lake’s abundance of fish ensures that anglers have a good chance of reeling in a memorable catch.

10. Berg Lake: Beautiful Lakes in BC

Nestled within the iconic Canadian Rockies in Mount Robson Provincial Park, Berg Lake is a glacial-fed lake that offers a truly awe-inspiring and unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts and avid hikers. Surrounded by towering peaks, glaciers, and cascading waterfalls, Berg Lake showcases the dramatic beauty of the mountains on a grand scale.

The journey to Berg Lake begins with a challenging but rewarding hike that spans approximately 23 kilometers (14 miles) one way. The trail winds through lush forests, crosses gushing streams, and gradually ascends to reveal breathtaking vistas at every turn. As you hike, the sheer magnitude of the surrounding mountains, including the majestic Mount Robson, leaves you in awe of nature’s grandeur.

Berg Lake BC Canada

Hiking to Berg Lake allows you to witness the raw power of nature up close. Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning waterfalls, including the impressive Emperor Falls, which thunders down a rocky cliff face. As you continue your ascent, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of glaciers, pristine alpine meadows, and the rugged beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Berg Lake is not just a destination; it’s an adventure of a lifetime. The raw beauty, grandeur, and pristine wilderness surrounding the lake make it a bucket-list experience for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring landscapes and witness the power and magnificence of the Canadian Rockies at Berg Lake.

Conclusion

British Columbia is home to a diverse array of stunning lakes, each offering its own unique beauty and recreational opportunities. From the tranquil and pristine waters of Garibaldi Lake to the vibrant and lively shores of Shuswap Lake, these natural wonders showcase the splendor of British Columbia’s landscapes.

In British Columbia, the splendor of these lakes invites you to embark on a journey of exploration, adventure, and appreciation for the remarkable beauty that nature has bestowed upon this province. So, pack your bags, embrace the outdoors, and discover the magic that awaits you at these top-rated and best lakes in British Columbia.

As you explore these top-rated lakes, it’s crucial to respect and protect these natural wonders. Follow the park guidelines, practice Leave No Trace principles, and tread lightly to preserve the pristine beauty for future generations.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I access Garibaldi Lake?

To access Garibaldi Lake, you’ll need to hike the Garibaldi Lake Trail, which starts at the Rubble Creek parking lot near Squamish, British Columbia. The trail is approximately 18 kilometers (11 miles) roundtrip and is rated as moderately difficult. It takes about 6-8 hours to complete the hike, depending on your pace and stops along the way.

Can I swim in Osoyoos Lake?

Yes, Osoyoos Lake is known for its warm waters and is a popular spot for swimming. The lake’s pleasant temperatures during the summer months make it an inviting destination for water activities. There are public beaches and waterfront parks where you can access the lake and enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and other water-based recreational activities.

Are there any boat tours or cruises available on Williston Lake?

Yes, boat tours and cruises are available on Williston Lake, providing an opportunity to explore its vast expanse and scenic beauty. Several tour operators offer guided boat tours, ranging from leisurely sightseeing cruises to fishing charters. These tours allow you to admire the stunning landscapes, spot wildlife, and learn about the history and ecology of the area.

Can I rent a kayak or paddleboard on Okanagan Lake?

Yes, kayak and paddleboard rentals are widely available along the shores of Okanagan Lake. Numerous rental shops and outfitters offer a variety of watercraft for rent, including kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes. Renting a kayak or paddleboard allows you to explore the lake at your own pace, enjoy the tranquil waters, and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Are camping facilities available near Berg Lake?

Yes, camping facilities are available near Berg Lake in Mount Robson Provincial Park. There are designated backcountry campsites that provide a wilderness camping experience close to the lake. However, camping permits are required, and it’s essential to make reservations in advance. These camping areas offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the area and spend more time exploring the surrounding trails and enjoying the majestic views.

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