Best lakes for boating near Cranbrook, B.C.

Moyie, Wasa and Koocanusa are prime spots for water sports enthusiasts and PWC riders


A beautiful sunset taken from a boat on Lake Koocanusa.

Bask in the glow of a summer sunset on Lake Koocanusa. @keyabythelake photo

The mercury is rising and you’re itching to take that new Bayliner for a spin—where to go? Well, if it’s crystal clear water and pristine views of the Rocky Mountains you seek, then your destination has got to be Cranbrook, B.C. The largest urban centre in the Kootenays is a gateway to some of the region’s best lakes for boating.

Moyie Lake

Just 20 kilometres south of Cranbrook are the deep blue waters and rugged shoreline of Moyie Lake. Here, boaters can spend their day swimming, waterskiing, wake surfing or fishing. Depending on the water level, some boats can also navigate the Narrows, which splits Moyie Lake in two. Most of the lake is surrounded by steep cliffs, but there are a few spots where boaters can get off and stretch their legs, including a 1,300 metre developed beach.

Where to launch: Access to Moyie Lake is through the Moyie Lake Provincial Park where there is public boat launch and parking lot for trucks and trailers.

Wasa Lake

On any given day, the warm waters of Wasa Lake will be buzzing with activity as swimmers, boaters and sunbathers all flock to this popular vacation destination. Summer cottages surround most of the lake but there are also three spacious sandy beaches. The water is usually calm but the lake is shallow in spots so boaters will need to use caution.

Where to launch: A concrete boat launch is located on the east shore of Wasa Lake, across from the campground at Camper’s Beach.

Lake Koocanusa

A man-made reservoir that is held back by the Libby Dam, Lake Koocanusa spans 90 kilometres from B.C. to Montana. Most of the surrounding area is Crown land, which means there are many alcoves and secluded sandy beaches to explore. Turquoise in colour and typically calm, the waters of Lake Koocanusa are great for waterskiing, wakesurfing and other sports. For avid anglers, Lake Koocanusa is home to a variety of fish species, including trout, whitefish and kokanee salmon.

Where to launch: The Koocanusa Campsite on Kikomun Road has a public boat launch and parking area, as well as food and fuel. Visitors can also launch at the Kikomun Creek Provincial Park. In addition, there is a gravel boat launch at Wardner, which is only 36 kilometres southeast of Cranbrook. If you launch here, you’ll need to be careful of fast moving water and then head downriver to where the Kootenay River widens into Lake Koocanusa.

Local events

  • Koocanusa Wakesurf Challenge - A national qualifying event for the World Series of Wake Surfing, the Koocanusa Wakesurf Challenge attracts some of the best riders in the world. It takes place annually at Gold Bay on Lake Koocanusa. Visit the website for this year’s dates.

Tourism info

Cranbrook boat dealers and rentals

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