About Lake Koocanusa

Lake Koocanusa is located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Fernie and 41 miles (65 km) southeast of Cranbrook in the BC Rockies region of British Columbia.

The landscape features open grasslands, Ponderosa pine forests and many small lakes. The grasslands in the area were used historically as grazing areas for the horses of the Ktunaxa people and the cattle of early settlers. Throughout the area evidence of glacial activity thousands of years ago is evident in the form of ridges, valleys and water-filled depressions.

Kikomun Creek Provincial Park is home to one of the British Columbia’s largest populations of western painted turtles, which are named for their distinctive red and yellow markings on their undersides. These turtles are often seen sunbathing on logs on Hidden Lake and Surveyors’ Lake. The wetlands provide habitat for beaver, muskrat, long-toed salamanders, blue herons and mallards. Other wildlife in the area includes badgers, elk, black bears, coyotes, cougars and deer. For birdwatchers, the area is also home to osprey, owls, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and American kestrels.

The area is great for all family activities: camping, swimming, hiking, mountain biking and fishing, making it one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the East Kootenays. The lake has sandy beaches and there are some easy hiking trails throughout the area — there are many old roads and railway beds that are perfect for mountain biking that lead to some interesting geological features.

For those interested in fishing, Hidden, Surveyors’, Engineers, Muskrat, Skunk and Fisher Lakes contain smallmouth bass, eastern brook and rainbow trout. Koocanusa Lake contains cutthroat trout, kokanee, Dolly Varden and Rocky Mountain whitefish. Watercraft are permitted on the lakes, however powerboats are restricted to Koocanusa Lake, which also has the only boat launch.

There are only 105 vehicle accessible campsites and two group campsites at provincial parks in the area.

History

Lake Koocanusa was formed by damming the Kootenay River at Libby, Montana in 1972. It was named in a contest won by Alice Beers of Rexford, Montana by using the first three letters of the Kootenay (alternately, Kootenai) River, Canada, and USA.

There are 75 km of navigable waters from the US/Canada border north to Wardner, BC. The north end of the lake’s shore is surrounded by forests with spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains. As you journey south, the shoreline becomes more arid and sandy beaches abound. With almost 80% of the shoreline being crown land, this is a boaters paradise.

Lake Koocanusa is located 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Fernie and 41 miles (65 km) southeast of Cranbrook in the BC Rockies region of British Columbia.

The landscape features open grasslands, Ponderosa pine forests and many small lakes. The grasslands in the area were used historically as grazing areas for the horses of the Ktunaxa people and the cattle of early settlers. Throughout the area evidence of glacial activity thousands of years ago is evident in the form of ridges, valleys and water-filled depressions.

Kikomun Creek Provincial Park is home to one of the British Columbia’s largest populations of western painted turtles, which are named for their distinctive red and yellow markings on their undersides. These turtles are often seen sunbathing on logs on Hidden Lake and Surveyors’ Lake. The wetlands provide habitat for beaver, muskrat, long-toed salamanders, blue herons and mallards. Other wildlife in the area includes badgers, elk, black bears, coyotes, cougars and deer. For birdwatchers, the area is also home to osprey, owls, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks and American kestrels.

The area is great for all family activities: camping, swimming, hiking, mountain biking and fishing, making it one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the East Kootenays. The lake has sandy beaches and there are some easy hiking trails throughout the area — there are many old roads and railway beds that are perfect for mountain biking that lead to some interesting geological features.

For those interested in fishing, Hidden, Surveyors’, Engineers, Muskrat, Skunk and Fisher Lakes contain smallmouth bass, eastern brook and rainbow trout. Koocanusa Lake contains cutthroat trout, kokanee, Dolly Varden and Rocky Mountain whitefish. Watercraft are permitted on the lakes, however powerboats are restricted to Koocanusa Lake, which also has the only boat launch.

There are only 105 vehicle accessible campsites and two group campsites at provincial parks in the area.