Boating on Shuswap Lake is a family tradition

The author renews her passion for one of B.C.’s most popular vacation destinations


A man with two kids on a three-person inner tube.

Riding on a tube brings out the kid in everyone. Here is (L to R) Monte Smith and his nephews Brayden and Cole Smith enjoying every minute of it. — Kirsten Armleder photo

One of B.C.’s best lakes for water sport enthusiasts is Shuswap Lake.

Located in the Thompson Okanagan region, Shuswap Lake is blessed with clear water that is warm enough for swimming and calm enough for water-skiing. Plus, the Shuswap Lake system has more than 1,000 kilometres of shoreline, which makes it the ideal spot to rent a houseboat.

Much of my childhood was spent boating on Shuswap Lake. It was something my family did almost every summer, but somewhere along the line—between graduating from high school, finding the right career and finally settling down—the tradition had been lost.

Two summers ago, I had the opportunity to rekindle my love for this destination. This time, though, it was with my newly acquired in-laws, and instead of camping at the Shuswap Lake Provincial Park of my youth, we were staying at the Cottonwood Family Campground on the western arm of the lake.

You may have read about our journey from Cranbrook, B.C., to Shuswap Lake in the Summer 2013 issue of RidersWest, but if not, we made the trip by motorcycle, so the first order of business when we arrived at the campground was to change into shorts and hit the beach. After so many hours on the bike, it was heaven to feel the sand beneath my toes.

Activities on the lake

The next day, our family—which included three kids—boarded the speedboat my brother-in-law had rented for the weekend, and set off to have some real fun on the water.

Although it can get busy in the summer, Shuswap Lake is large enough that it is easy to find a spot of your own to make some waves.

Taking turns on the three-person tube, we all got a chance to get wet and join my nephews in feeling what it’s really like to be a kid—wild and carefree. Water-skiing was added the mix, as was the ritual of diving off the boat—which, to me, almost seems like a rite of passage on Shuswap Lake.

Exhausted and sunburned, we returned to the campground several hours later to cap the day off with a barbecue and some well-deserved piña coladas.

Although we had opted out of it that night, one of my favourite activities on Shuswap Lake was always the evening boat ride. Just after sunset, we’d head out on the glassy calm water, cruise along the shoreline and enjoy living in the moment.

I can also remember visiting Copper Island. Accessible by boat only, this natural island is located two kilometres offshore from Shuswap Lake Provincial Park. There is a short hiking trail around the island that offers panoramic views of the lake.

Memories to last a lifetime

We spent the rest of our time at Shuswap Lake soaking up as much sun as possible and watching my nephews beg their dad for yet another ride on the boat. Now and then, old memories of doing the exact same thing 15 years ago would come flooding back to me.

In today’s world, life is in a constant state of change and it was nice to return to a beautiful place where the family can press pause, as it were, and remember what matters most. 

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