Columbia Lake Provincial Park
While you are visiting in the Fairmont Hot Springs area, take a short trip south to Columbia Lake Provincial Park and enjoy a relaxing day at this lovely spot. Pack a picnic lunch and your bathing suits and be prepared to have some great family fun.
Columbia Lake Provincial Park lies along the eastern shores of the lake. Although there is no boat launch, the park has approximately 3 km of undeveloped beach area which is a good public access point from which boaters can put their crafts into the water. Although there are no formal facilities such as picnic tables, toilets, fire-pits, etc., and the park is user-maintained, it is nevertheless. popular with local residents and tourists visiting the valley.
The area surrounding Columbia Lake Provincial Park was used for over 10,000 years by Ktunaxa and Shuswap First Nations and, within its boundaries, there are ten known archaeological sites that could have been used at some point for tool or weapon making, storage pits, lodging, etc. The historic Spirit Trail, also known as the Fairmont Trail and the Plains of Nativity, passes through the park. It was used by First Nations and early European explorers as a means of travel along the lake and into the Whiteswan Lake and Kananaskis Country areas.
Eroded rock formations called the Dutch Creek hoodoos can be seen above the south end of Columbia Lake and there are places along the highway near the Dutch Creek bridge where you can stop to view these strange formations.
Wetlands, marshes and grasslands offer excellent opportunities for nature appreciation. Great viewing and photographing opportunities are afforded by the abundant avian, reptilian, mammalian and insect wildlife species in the Columbia Lake Provincial Park area. There are several endangered species like the badger, the great blue heron and the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, who winter there from Kootenay National Park. The wetlands, themselves retain one of the last intact portions of Pacific flyway in western North America and are a key migratory route for waterfowl of all descriptions.
At more than 10.5 sq mi (2,758 ha), Columbia Lake is the largest warm water lake in the East Kootenay. It is fed by several small tributaries, being the primary lake at the headwaters of the mighty Columbia River, which empties into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon in the USA, 2,000 km (1,243 miles) later.
The average temperature of the lake in July is 18 degrees C. Its typical depth is 15 ft and its waters are crystal clear, making it ideal for swimmers. windsurfers, paddlers, and motorized water craft.
Fishing is a popular year-round sport on Columbia Lake. There is an abundance of mountain whitefish, burbot (also called lingcod), kokanee, rainbow trout, bull trout and cutthroat trout.
The upland areas are pristine and provide a magnificent panorama of Rocky Mountain majesty. Derelict logging roads as well as the park access road are favorites for hiking and mountain biking.
How to get there
To get to Columbia Lake Provincial Park from Fairmont Hot Springs, turn east at Fairmont Creek Road, across from the Riverside Golf Resort. At 0.4 km, turn right on the Columbia River Road. The park is 1.6 km south along this gravel road.
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