Maybe that’s why the locals are such a laid-back, food-loving, fun-seeking, chit-chattn’ sort of bunch. Just something in the water, perhaps.
Whether it’s the perfect plunge, the scenic view, or a picturesque paddle, water tends to be awfully generous: It gifts good times, warm feelings, and great memories. There’s something about staring into water, while standing adjacent to nature, that makes life a little more clear, and minds a little more calm.
Day 1: Relax! You're on lake time
This day trip, starting from Cranbrook, brings you to four different lakes, two of which are within provincial parks, and covers a distance just short of 70 kilometres; about an hour of driving time.
You’re going to need to fuel up on good food to get ready for your big day. Visit Hot Shots Cafe in Cranbrook, which is an all-time local hot spot serving up breakfast and lunch. From their hot beverages, such as lattes, blended teas, and traditional coffee, to their all-day breakfast, this place offers a place to hang out, meet, and relax while enjoying one of Cranbrook's culinary gems.
Pick up snacks or a picnic lunch! There’s several options downtown Cranbrook, including Two Birds Deli, Max’s Place, and Kootenay Grounds Café & Book Store. All offer fresh food to-go, such as salads, sandwiches/wraps, specialty beverages, and baked treats.
First lake of the day is Jimsmith Lake Provincial Park, great for swimming, paddling, fishing, picnicking and wildlife viewing. From Cranbrook, head south on the Crowsnest Highway 3/95. Turn right onto Jimsmith Lake Road and follow it about 4 kms to Jimsmith Lake Provincial Park.
Next destination, a short 25-minute drive away, is Mineral Lake, which has a day use area, small dock, and offers excellent swimming, fishing and a rugged walking trail that loops the lake.
From there, it’s less than a 10-minute drive to get to Monroe Lake, a secluded day-use only site with a special “hidden-gem” vibe.Here, you’ll find picnic tables, a boat launch, dock, and opportunities for fishing, swimming, paddling, boating, and just being.
End your lake day on the sandy shores of Moyie Lake. This provincial park features 1,300 metres of developed sandy beach, backed by a large grassy area. Swimming, windsurfing, sailing, boating, wildlife and bird viewing are all popular. The sandy beach becomes a sandy lake bottom that deepens gradually, resulting in a large swimming area of shallow waters.
Head back to Cranbrook and grab dinner at Sakura Sushi & Grill, open seven days a week and specializing in Japanese and Korean dishes.
DAY 2: Find Your Happy Place
From Kimberley, this full-day trip takes you to six different lakes and covers a driving distance of about 230 kilometres; about three hours of driving time. It’ll be a BIG day, but for the ambitious adventurer in search of bragging rights, this is a fun-filled day of racing to the water’s edge.
Eat like the locals and grab breakfast at Our Place restaurant in Kimberley, specializing in homemade traditional fare. Here, you’ll find friendly service, good prices and great food.
Grab a picnic lunch and some snacks at Stoke Market, which has local, homemade and organic food options, seasonally-inspired, that will keep you powered up throughout the day ahead.
Your first destination, about 30 minutes away via Kimberley Hwy/BC-95A, is Wasa Lake Provincial Park. Promoted as the warmest swimming lake in the East Kootenay, Wasa has four buoyed swimming access areas and 2,000 metres of developed gently sloping beaches, as well as change rooms, picnic tables and washrooms. The park also has an 8 km “Wasa Lions Way” paved path and secondary road trail around the lake for both hikers and cyclists.
From there, take the short 30-minute drive to Peckham’s Lake, situated within Norbury Lake Provincial Park. Known for its sparkling blue green waters and view of the Steeples mountain range, Peckham's Lake also offers picnic tables, changerooms, nature walks, and even a dog friendly beach!
Your next stop, which takes about 25 minutes (31.9 km), is North Star Lake, a rugged BC Forest Recreation Site popular for swimming, paddling, camping and fishing. There is a boat launch, picnic tables and washrooms.
A 22 km hop, skip and a jump from North Star Lake, Suzanne Lake is your next destination. Like North Star Lake, this recreation site is heavily treed, and known among both visitors and locals as a great fishing, swimming, camping, and picnic spot.
Back in the car for 20 minutes to make your way to Surveyors Lake, situated within Kikomun Creek Provincial Park. Once you reach the Kikomun Creek Park Entrance, follow the signs to Surveyors Lake, which is a warm, non-motorized lake with tree-lined sandy beaches open for day use visitors. There is a trail that goes around the lake where you can spot Painted Turtles.
It’ll take you less than 10 minutes to get to your last beach of the day, found on the sandy shores of Lake Koocanusa, just after the Kikomun (Bailey) Bridge, at Koocanusa Campsite & Marina. Here, you’ll find a sandy dayuse public beach and swimming area. While you're there, grab an ice cream at Marina Beach Café! Note: Due to Covid, some capacity restrictions for the beach may be in place. Visitors are welcome to call ahead 1 (250) 529-7484 to confirm public availability.
Return to Kimberley (it’ll take you about an hour) and wrap-up your two-day lake adventure at Kimberley’s local watering hole The Shed Beer & BBQ, a family-friendly low and slow BBQ Smokehouse that is uniquely Kootenay.
Cranbrook and Kimberley businesses cater to the outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re looking to rent a paddle board or bicycle, buy some hiking shoes, or find trail maps, these are the stores you’ll want to visit.
- Just Liquid Sports offers sales, service, rentals and even instruction for all things watersports.
- Bootleg Bike Co has bike sales, service and rentals.
- High Country Sportswear is an independent retailer of premium outdoor clothing, equipment, and accessories.
- Gerick Sports sells top-quality outdoor sporting and recreation equipment and has an all-season tech shop to ensure your gear is tuned up and ready to rock.
- Purcell Outdoors is Kimberley’s outdoor gear, apparel, and trail-running store.
- Northstar Bicycle Co. is Cranbrook’s local source for all things bicycle, including rentals.
If you want to take your water-based adventure to the next level, these businesses will get you out on the water, at whatever pace you want to play.
- Sunshine Houseboats & Marina on Lake Koocanusa has everything you need to level up your lake day, from their family fun waterpark to their kayak, paddleboard, houseboat and speedboat rentals.
- Kootenay Raft Co. in Kimberley offers guided water adventures and mountain biking tours. Whether you want to experience extreme whitewater rafting down the river or gentle paddle boarding on a nearby lake, they’ll hook you up. They also rent stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks.
You’re here to play. We get it. Here’s some area accommodations that offer unique activities and opportunities, whether it be a great pool, championship golf, the chance to sign-out sports equipment, or other experience-based prospects.
- Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort in Cranbrook is conveniently located just off the main highway, close to Cranbrook’s downtown core. Guests have access to complimentary bikes, sporting equipment, board games and beach toys for added enjoyment.
- St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is located five minutes away from the Canadian Rockies International Airport, and a quick 10-minute drive from Cranbrook (20 minutes from Kimberley). The full-service seasonal resort offers a variety of suites, free Wi-Fi, a fitness centre, heated outdoor pool and sauna, multiple resort dining options and 360-degree views of rugged beauty. Other amenities at your doorstep include Casino of the Rockies, a championship golf course, spa, and a riverside RV Park.
- Looking for a central hotel with a waterslide? Check out the Best Western or Super 8 in Cranbrook. Alternatively, the Days Inn has a popular outdoor pool and patio lounge area for warmer months.
- Kimberley Alpine Resort has a diverse selection of rooms, condos, and chalets. Here, you’ll find elevation without any of the uppity, and there’s plenty of Kootenay-cultured ambiance, amenities, and activity to enjoy, year-round. From mountain to main street, all you need is six minutes.