The Shuswap Lake system in Southern Interior of British Columbia offers more than 1,000 kilometres of shoreline to explore, amidst spectacular scenery and a pristine environment.
The Shuswap boasts the largest houseboat fleet in Canada, and one of the largest in the world, offering a fabulous way to vacation with family and friends, lazily drifting along the lake gazing at blue skies and gorgeous mountains.
Shuswap Lake is shaped like an addled letter H and is made up of four large arms: the Shuswap Lake Main Arm, Salmon Arm, Anstey Arm, and Seymour Arm. The product of the glacial scouring that also rounded the surrounding Shuswap Highlands, all four arms converge at Cinnemousun Narrows, northeast of Sicamous.
One of the best places to begin exploring Shuswap Lake is at Sicamous, the Houseboat Capital of Canada and the service centre for Shuswap marine park. Marinas and watercraft rentals are located here.
The following towns are located on or near Shuswap Lake (west to east):
View map of the area
Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park is among the most popular boating and canoeing locations in the Southern Interior. Shuswap Marine is comprised of sites located around the perimeter of Shuswap Lake. All locations are popular for fishing and water sports; hiking and nature study are popular at some sites. Some sites are road accessible, but most are water-access only.
Shuswap Lake Provincial Park is wildly popular. Everything you need for summer fun is right here: camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, paddling, swimming, hiking, windsurfing, sailing, houseboating, water-skiing, nature study, photography, visitor programs, and bicycling. With 7 miles (12 km) of paved trails, Shuswap Lake may also be the cycling capital of the BC Parks system. The park is open in the fall during the Adams River salmon run. (Don’t confuse this park with Shuswap Lake Marine Provincial Park; see above). Take Hwy 1 about 56 miles (90 km) east of Kamloops, turn off towards Scotch Creek, then go about 12 miles (20 km) farther.
Silver Beach Provincial Park is located at the end of a long, gravel road at the head of Seymour Arm on Shuswap Lake. Its size and distance from Highway 1 keep many visitors at bay. Check it out for yourself; it’s worth it. This part of the lake is blessed with sandy beaches. Houseboaters come here to get away from it all. The park’s forest setting is lovely – Douglas fir interwoven with aspen. Paddle around the mouth of the Seymour River to watch the salmon spawn from mid-August to mid-September. Also nearby are the remains of a gold-rush town. Go almost 11 miles (17 km) on Hwy 1 from Chase northeast to Scotch Creek, then take the 40-mile (65-km) logging road to the park.
Herald Provincial Park is also situated along the shore of Shuswap Lake, on Salmon Arm. The park is very popular and fills up quickly during July and August. For these months, reservations should be made well in advance. Campsites are located both at lakeside and a short distance uphill in the cool forest. Swimming, fishing, and bird-watching are the order of the day here. For picnickers looking for a break from Hwy 1, it’s worth the short drive to reach the park, situated on the grounds of an old homestead; there’s a feeling about the place as if you’ve come to visit your grandparents. Take Hwy 1 east of Tappen for about 7 miles (12 km).
Yard Creek Provincial Park lies just east of Sicamous on Hwy 1. Despite its roadside location, the park offers quiet, shady camping and is a pleasant stopover camp or even base camp when exploring the Shuswap. The icy temperature of Yard Creek precludes swimming on even the hottest days. Conversely, for much of the year, moist conditions prevail here in the eastern reaches of the Interior wetbelt. Take Hwy 1 almost 10 miles (15 km) west of Sicamous.
Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park: Roderick Haig-Brown was a magistrate, writer, angler, and conservationist dedicated to preserving, among other wildlife, the sockeye salmon so key to British Columbia’s economy. This 2,440-acre (988-hectare) park encompasses the entire length of the Adams River, the site of the largest sockeye salmon run on the West Coast. There’s an excellent interpretive area that explains the whole phenomenal trek. Many wild critters live in this park, among them bears, beavers, and river otters. To get to Roderick Haig-Brown Park, travel east on Hwy 1 from Kamloops for 41 miles (66 km) to Monte Creek. Follow the signs north to Squilax. The park is about 3 miles (5 km) north of here.
Camping: Those mariners interested in an extended visit will find 14 campsites, some of which are vehicle-accessible, but most are the preserve of boaters and paddlers. Good vehicle-access sites on Shuswap Lake include Shuswap Lake Provincial Park, about 12 miles (20 km) northeast of Hwy 1 at Squilax. Wilderness campsites with basic facilities include Two Mile Creek, Albas, and Fowler Point on the northeast shore of Seymour Arm; Anstey View on the northwest shore; Four Mile Creek and Anstey Beach on the south shore of Anstey Arm; and Marble Point on the south shore and Hermit Bay on the north shore of Salmon Arm.
Hiking: Head to Herald Provincial Park for some interesting hiking: two distinct topographical units (upland and flat delta) have created a great terrain; there are also Native Canadian pithouse depressions, or kekuli, in the area west of the creek, as well as some old Native cache pits. Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park on the Adams River at the western extreme of Shuswap Lake has several beautiful walks and low-key hikes; the Lower Trail System provides access to viewing the salmon run along the Adams River. You shouldn’t miss the Reinecker Creek self-guided nature walk here, which leads to Margaret Falls. Eagle River Nature Park, about 7 miles (12 km) east of Sicamous, has 10 miles (16 km) of hiking and cross-country trails.
Boat Launch Facilities: On Salmon Arm, launch at the public wharf in Canoe, about 4 miles (6 km) east of Salmon Arm on Hwy 1, or in Sicamous, 13 miles (21 km) farther east on Hwy 1. There’s also gravel-road access from Hwy 1 to Seymour Arm at Silver Beach Provincial Park.
Fishing: Well known in the area are Kamloops trout, a unique strain of trout that put on an eye-popping, acrobatic performance for fly-fishers skilled enough to hook one. These wild rainbow trout, native to central and south-central Interior regions of the province, are the prize in Silver Beach Provincial Park, at Seymour Arm. For more information on angling in the Kamloops region, contact the Kamloops Visitor Centre.
Winter Activities: The Shuswap area also offers cross-country skiing for the winter visitor. Larch Hills Cross-Country Area, near Salmon Arm, has an impressive 87 miles (140 km) of cross-country trails, about 25 miles (40 km) of which are groomed. To reach the trailhead, drive 11 miles (17 km) south of Salmon Arm on Hwy 97B, turn left on Grandview Bench Road and go 3 miles (5 km), and turn left on Edgar Road and drive 1 mile (2 km) farther. The Larch Hills Ski Club maintains a chalet, which is open to all, the site of the annual ‘loppet,’ or cross-country ski race. A map of the Larch Hills trails is available at the Salmon Arm and District Visitor Centre on Hwy 1.
Golf: Golfers can choose from a number of golf courses around Shuswap Lake. In Anglemont in the North Shuswap is the Anglemont Estates Golf Course and Country Club, and Chase has the Sunshore Golf Course on the shores of Little Shuswap Lake, where golfers can dock their boat adjacent to the 8th tee! Salmon Arm offers three golf courses: The Salmon Arm Golf Club , Sonseekers Ridge Golf Course, and Canoe Creek Golf Course. There are two golf courses in Sicamous: Hyde Mountain on Mara Lake Golf Course, and Eagle River Golf and Country Club. The Shuswap Lake Estates Golf & Country Club is a championship golf course in Blind Bay. Shuswap Golf Vacations.
Wildlife: British Columbia is one of the richest wildlife viewing areas in Canada, with diverse and extraordinary creatures. In the town of Salmon Arm, the mouth of the Salmon River is alive with breeding and nesting birds from April to June, especially Clark’s and western grebes. The Marine Park in Peter Jannink Nature Park has a public wharf and a BC Wildlife Watch viewing area and picnic site, offering good access to the river and its birds.
The MV Phoebe Ann, carries 40 passengers (and canoes or kayaks) and acts as a vehicle barge. This vessel stops at numerous lakeside locations year-round, except when ice makes travel impossible.
Circle Tours: See the best of the area on Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through the Southern Okanagan, starting and ending your sun-drenched voyage in Osoyoos, the place where two lakes come together. Circle Tours in British Columbia.