Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Camping Across British Columbia - Wasa Lake

We like to visit at least one new campground each year, and this year it was Wasa Lake that was at the top of the list. Located in the sunny Columbia Valley south of Invermere and Fairmont Hotsprings, Wasa Lake Provincial Park is a great spot for a long weekend camping trip. 

Wasa Lake Provincial Park, BC

The park can be reached in 4 hours from Calgary, making it much closer than the Okanagan or Vancouver Island for families with young children.  We also like the proximity of Wasa Lake to other vacation towns in the Columbia Valley.  One could easily spend a week in the valley and split a camping trip between Wasa Lake and Radium Hotsprings. 

Wasa Lake is shallow and great for families

Best Things to Do at Wasa Lake

I've already had friends asking me what we did while we were at Wasa Lake so below are my top picks for day trips, activities, and adventures to be had while at Wasa Lake.


Swimming and Playing at Wasa Lake

This should be the obvious thing that you will do while camping at Wasa Lake.  The lake is shallow with several day use areas and beaches.  The sand is great to play in as well and a paved trail connects all of the beaches.

From your campsite at Wasa Lake Provincial Park you will have to drive or bike/walk to the beach.  It is not right in the campground.   Fortunately, it is a short bike ride down to the beach and there is a playground at Campers Beach.

Dog owners will rejoice that there is also a separate beach for pets located right beside Campers Beach so you won't have to leave Fido tied to a tree up on the grass. 

One of the scenic beaches at Wasa Lake

Personal opinion of Wasa Lake:  While this lake is warm and shallow with great sand, we personally liked Surveyors Lake near Fernie better.  We enjoyed paddling and looking for turtles at Surveyors Lake, and we liked the solitude found without motor boats.  We also liked the dock at Surveyors Lake for jumping off of.  Wasa Lake on the other hand is a popular spot for water skiing and wake-boarding so it is noisier and not safe for families wanting to canoe or kayak.

Overall, enjoy Wasa Lake for swimming, but it isn't a spot for families to enjoy paddle sports, and you won't find any docks or jumping platforms at any of the beaches.

Using our kayak as a jumping dock at Wasa Lake

Biking at Wasa Lake

There is a beautiful bike trail called the Wasa Lion's Way Loop that we thoroughly enjoyed while camping at Wasa Lake.  It might have been the highlight of the trip in fact.  The short little 8km loop combined paved bike paths with quiet rural roads.  It was well signed, relatively flat and we enjoyed biking around the Village of Wasa. 

Biking the Wasa Lion's Way Loop
Family biking at Wasa Lake

In addition to the paved bike loop, there was also a bike park in the Wasa Lake Provincial Park Campground. We camped right beside the bike park and were very excited to spend hours each day playing in the park.

Biking at the Wasa Lake Bike Park

What Noah liked best about the Bike Park:   The Half Pipe!  He had never biked in a half pipe before and I appreciated that it was made of dirt rather than concrete!

Biking in the Half Pipe at Wasa Lake

What Noah did not like about the Bike Park:   It was sandy in spots and he fell quite a bit when his bike hit sandy patches.  It was also a challenging bike park and he was a bit intimidated by many of the jumps, features, and general terrain.  Personally, I think he was just really tired from our previous 6 nights at Surveyors Lake and wasn't up for pushing himself while at Wasa.

My boys biking in the Wasa Lake Bike Park

Day Trips from Wasa Lake

The closest day trip from Wasa Lake would be to the nearby Fort Steele Heritage Town but we chose to pursue free activities instead.  We drove to Premier Lake Provincial Park to go swimming one day (in search of a dock to jump off of) and it was a lovely drive.  The lake was stunning and it was a great place to cool off on a hot day.

Premier Lake Provincial Park Day Trip
We love lakes with docks for jumping!

The other day trip we took was to Kimberly so that we could bike the North Star Rails to Trails path from Kimberly to Cranbrook.  This 28km long trail connects the mountain town of Kimberly with the City of Cranbrook and is predominantly downhill if you start in Kimberly, riding one way.

Biking the North Star Rails to Trails path down from Kimberly

Noah and I rode to Cranbrook in the downhill direction while Dad drove to Cranbrook to park and bike back up to meet us.  He met us about half way and then biked back down to Cranbrook with us.

It was a scorcher of a day but we managed to complete the ride and it was a lovely trip.  To shorten the ride, bike one way from Kimberly to Marysville (all downhill) and have a second vehicle waiting at the bottom (or have an adult bike back up for the car.)

Kimberly to Wycliffe would also be a great ride and would enable you to ride 90% downhill without the climb back up from the St. Mary's River Bridge to Cranbrook. All trail maps can be seen here for plotting out your ride.  There are many options for jumping on and off the trail as it parallels roads much of the time.

North Star Rails to Trails Trailhead in Cranbrook

Wasa Lake Campground Review

Wasa Lake was one of those places we are glad that we visited once.  Our curiosity is now satisfied and we will most likely move on to try out other campgrounds.  We found that we were easily able to explore the area around Wasa in 3 nights of camping, and don't feel the need to go back for further exploring.

Noah didn't enjoy the bike park as much as I thought he would (which is strange given that he loves pump tracks and skills parks) and we weren't as fond of the lake as we are of other lakes we've camped at.

Go for a long weekend, but you likely won't need to camp at Wasa Lake longer than that.

Best time of the year to camp at Wasa Lake:  June or September would be a great time to camp here.  It was a bit too hot when we were there in July, and we found it hard to enjoy the biking in 30+ degree heat.   The campground is also very dry and exposed (read: sun baked and hot!!) This would be a great place to camp when temperatures are still chilly in the mountain parks.  Mountain bike season would also start earlier here too permitting a lovely April or May bike weekend.

In support of this campground and provincial park, these were the highlights for us:
  • The campground was exceptionally quiet!  There were no generators near us and quiet time was respected.  Maybe we just got lucky but it was a very pleasant camping experience when we were there.
  • The campground was family-friendly.  Kids ran around in packs everywhere and it would be fun to camp here in a group with other families.
  • The lake is shallow and great for families playing in the roped off swimming area.  (Just be careful with non-swimmers because it does drop off in spots and some beaches were more shallow than others.)
  • The Lion's Way bike loop was lovely and we enjoyed biking around the Village.

Biking in Wasa Lake Provincial Park

Additional Reading on the Columbia Valley and East Kootenays

Another Great Camping Trip to Surveyors Lake

Exploring the Columbia Valley Wetlands - by Boat, Bike, and Hike

Kids on Wheels - Biking the Columbia Valley 

The Best Family Bike Trails in Fernie

First Summits - Polar Peak, Fernie Alpine Resort 

Paradise in the Columbia Valley

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your time and effort to put together this information about a beautiful part of the world! We hope to go there and your blog/article really helped:)

    All the best!!