We love the Alberta Rockies and tend to spend most of our time camping in the Alberta Parks but at least a few times each summer we like to hop across the border into British Columbia and explore new places. We always find the best beaches when we head west, and this time we found something even more precious - TURTLES. We camped at Surveyor's Lake in the Kootenay Rockies which is well known for it's high population of Western Painted Turtles, an animal on the list of "wildlife at risk" in British Columbia.
|The Western Painted Turtle at Kikomun Creek Provincial Park|
We hiked around Hidden Lake from our campground at Surveyor's Lake and saw dozens upon dozens of the painted turtles sunning themselves on logs around the shoreline. The kids got very excited and it was a highlight of the trip for sure! In fact, it was the major reason I had wanted to camp in this provincial park.
|Just one of the many logs in Hidden Lake, covered in turtles|
|It was fun to watch the turtles swimming|
|Pointing out turtles to the kids|
We also saw lots of turtles while out paddling which was absolutely surreal! I was on my stand up paddleboard the fist night at camp and as I paddled across the calm waters of Surveyor's Lake, I looked down at the water and a turtle swam right by my board. I screamed and yelled at my husband and son in their kayak to hurry up to where I was. As it turned out, one didn't really need to rush over when somebody saw a turtle because sightings were extremely common throughout the whole weekend. We typically saw a few each time we headed out to paddle.
|Kayaking on Surveyor's Lake - looking for turtles|
|SUP'ing on Surveyor's Lake at sunset|
We loved the turtles, and we loved paddling at Surveyor's Lake. The water was like glass each morning and evening and we just left the boats down by the beach so that we could jump out of bed and head out before breakfast each day. There was also a mist over the lake each morning that was wicked cool to paddle through and the water was warm enough for swimming. The kids loved the beach and spent hours playing in the sand. The campground had its own little beach area which was uncrowded much of the time we were at camp.
|Dawn on Surveyor's Lake|
|Paddling through the mist|
The other thing we enjoyed at Surveyor's Lake was biking. There was a great 45 minute mountain bike loop around two small lakes at our campground and the ride could be extended onto the Great Northern Rail Trail for an additional 1.5 hours of mountain biking on a converted rail bed. We were proud of our 4 year old son for completing the short loop on his new pedal bike with Daddy running alongside to give a push up some of the steeper hills.
|Riding on the 45 min. loop trail around camp|
|The happy biker on his Spawn Cycles bike|
|Learning to ride down hills|
|Great family bike ride!|
The Surveyor's Lake campground was family friendly, quiet at night, and very peaceful. We heard loons at dawn and dusk from the lake, and had a nice campsite with adequate space separating us from our neighbors. Our only complaint if I have one, is that we had what I would call the smallest double site I have ever seen. In most parks, it would have been considered a single. We had actually hoped to fit two trailers and two tents on our double site. It ended up being pretty crowded and we ended up purchasing the next site over when it vacated Saturday morning for the tents.
|Group meals were awesome!|
We were only at Surveyor's Lake for two nights but it was two more nights than I thought we'd spend there this summer. We were supposed to have been camping in Kananaskis at the beginning of July but due to the big flood that closed the majority of campgrounds in the park, we had had to find other options. I looked further west in BC and was shocked when I saw a free double site open at Kikomun Provincial Park. I presume it had been a cancellation because one typically needs to book sites for Surveyor's Lake exactly 90 days in advance, and if you are even half an hour late getting to your computer you don't get anything. I know because I had tried to get spots for August. I wasn't able to click fast enough to get a single site at that time. Horseshoes fell on our heads with this trip and are grateful we got to go - even if it was only for 2 nights.
|Family canoe rides were very popular|
|This little guy loved his kayak ride with Daddy.|
As a campground, there's nothing not to like about Surveyor's Lake. There was hot showers, a playground for the kids, a beach, great paddling (with NO motor boats allowed!!!), and hiking/biking trails. For those more interested in water skiing than canoeing, nearby Lake Koocanusa has boat launches and space to zip around with your boat. There are also group campgrounds and cabins located within Kikomun Creek Provincial Park. For more information, visit the BC Parks website which has maps, a link to reserve sites within the park, and information on all activities within the park.
|Lots of fun paddling!|
|Great family biking!|
What's your favourite campground in British Columbia?