Water Adventures in the Alpine

When you think of adventures in British Columbia, particularly the Kootenays, kayaking, swimming, tubing, or just kicking back on a beach might not be the first thing that comes to mind. Yet B.C. offers up amazing water-based activities for locals and visitors alike.

Nelson and Kootenay Lake

This bustling outdoor-centric mountain town also sports a beautiful sandy beach on Kootenay Lake. Nelson is a jumping off point for all things outdoors, and in the summer tourists and locals swim, float, and doze in the sun with the majestic backdrop of mountains and massive skies. When I asked Dianna Ducs from Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism why those of us in the Inland Northwest should go north for our water adventures this summer, she said, “Here’s why: clean, glacial-fed water on a quiet lake that is known for paddling, sailing, fishing and mellow boating. Accessible white sand beaches all around the lake and even remote camping spots and lodging with lake views.” I’m convinced! (CC)

Millennium Park in Castelgar

According to Destination Castlegar, Millennium Park in Castlegar “is arguably the best urban recreation area in the interior of British Columbia.” The reason for that has a lot to do with water: it’s a few blocks from downtown, has the biggest bike park in the region, but also offers plenty of Columbia River frontage for paddling, swimming in natural river-fed pools, fishing, and beach chilling plus playground structures, beach volleyball, an outdoor gym, walking trails, and many more park amenities. (DK)

Lower Slocan River

With class II rapids, and an exciting class III near the take-out, this whitewater run is not for the faint of heart. Nor, as I learned the hard way, for someone in a recreational kayak. Be sure to take (and wear) a PFD and the right whitewater-worthy boat or board. Enjoy Crescent Valley Beach Park with parking, restrooms, and picnic facilities at the put-in, and Shore Acres Beach Park at the take-out. For an added adventure, use bikes to shuttle back to your car on the Slocan Valley Rail Trail. (CC)

Nemo Beach on Slocan Lake

If you’re like me, and love to combine various outdoor activities with overnight camping, check this place out. This remote beach is accessible via a moderate to difficult hiking trail, or flatwater paddling from Silverton, north of Castlegar. It’s a little over 3 miles of paddling each way, and, while the lake is typically calm, the open water nature of this trek could mean wind and whitecaps on the wrong day. The Nemo Creek hiking trail is a great way to round out your day of exploration. (CC)

Pend Oreille River

Slow-moving and dam-regulated where it enters the Columbia River outside of Trail, B.C., the river provides endless opportunities for flatwater paddling, fishing, or swimming as it meanders east to west along the border with Washington State. Access points exist all along Seven Mile Dam Road and Waneta-Nelway Road. Removed from cities, towns, and most communities, you’ll have few others with which to contend. (CC)

The Elk River through Fernie

Flowing out of the Canadian Rockies, the Elk River is an oasis after a day of hiking or mountain biking the local trails. Book a whitewater rafting trip, bring your own kayak for a DIY whitewater thrill, or float the more lazy stretches near town on a paddleboard or kayak (rentals and guided trips available in town). Confirm the best stretch for floating/paddling with the locals if going on your own and beware of logjams and other river hazards. (DK) //

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