British Columbia has some of the most stunning lakes and national parks the country has to offer – and many can be checked off the list within a weekend. Before the summer comes to an end, be sure to make a trip out to any one of these breathtaking turquoise lakes.
With the smoke and haze finally cleared up, it’s the perfect time to take one final summer road trip. We’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of our favourite blue-green lakes – so grab your friends, your favourite tunes, and hit the road.
For your own safety, please make sure you are well prepared before heading out on your next adventure.
Anyone wishing to use the waters as a swimming hole should make sure they’re experienced swimmers, as no lifeguards will be on duty.
Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe whilst out hiking is available from North Shore Rescue and AdventureSmart. You can also check out our guide to safe hiking in Vancouver and a list of the top safety items to bring on hikes.
What: One of the most popular lakes near Vancouver, Joffre Lake is one of British Columbia’s most beautiful hikes and is relatively easily accessible compared to other alpine lakes in the region. There’s a hiking trail that reaches all three lakes – and if you aren’t an avid hiker, the lowest lake is just a short walk from the carpark.
Remember though, you’ll have to leave your furry friends at home if you decide to make the hike – BC Parks announced earlier this year that domestic pets are no longer allowed in the Pemberton-area park.
How long: The full hike is 4-hours or 10 km, however, the Lower Joffre Lake is just minutes from the parking area
Where: Just off Duffey Lake Road north of Pemberton
Get there: Approximately a 3-hour drive from Vancouver
What: A true hidden gem located just outside of Barriere, and about an hour and a half away from Kamloops, Johnson Lake is nestled high up in the mountains. The water from these lakes runs so clear that you can see 50 metres down to the lake bottom.
How long: Visitors can drive straight up to Johnson Lake Resort, which sits on the edge of the lake
Where: Located in the heart of the wilderness an hour outside of Barriere
Get there: Approximately a 4.5-hour drive from Vancouver, with flight options to Kamloops as well
What: Located in the city of Vernon, Kalamalka lake is the perfect weekend trip. During the summer months, dissolved limestone crystallizes, giving the lake its distinctive blue and green colour. When the lake cools off in the winter, the limestone crystals disappear, taking the green colour with it – which is why summer is the perfect time to visit this particular lake.
How long: There are several trails around the lake, however the lake itself is a short walk from the parking area
Where: Around 8 km south of the city of Vernon
Get there: A 5-hour drive from Vancouver
What: Emerald Lake is located in Yoho National Park, and is the largest of Yoho’s 61 lakes and ponds. On the border of British Columbia and Alberta, it is one of the most well-known lakes in the area – and with good reason. Nestled between the Rocky Mountains and surrounded by mountain peaks, the lake is a beautiful sparkling green.
How long: There is a 5 km hike around the lake, but visitors can see the beautiful green waters straight away
Where: Located on Emerald Lake Road
Get there: An 8-hour drive from Vancouver
What: Boya Lake is the perfect spot for canoeing or kayaking, with its clear waters allowing you to see all the way to the bottom of the lake. Its unique aqua-green colour, as well as relatively warm waters, make it a must-visit lake during the summer. There is also an abundance of wildlife around the area, as well as beautiful sandy beaches.
How long: The campground is located beside the lake itself
Where: Northern British Columbia
Get there: A full day (24-hour) drive from Vancouver
What: One of the hidden gems of Squamish, Watersprite Lake has only become popular with tourists more recently. It is one of the most awe-inspiring hikes, with breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and creeks – all along a well-marked route.
How long: 7 hours or 17 km
Where: East of Squamish
Get there: Approximately a 1-hour 45-minute drive from Vancouver
What: Lake O’Hara is a lake located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Yoho National Park. There is a limited bus service that takes you to Lake O’Hara, as the road to the lake is closed to outside vehicles – and it is in extremely high demand. The limited availability of the bus service maintains the unique alpine experience of the lake.
How long: The bus service takes you to the lake, where there are several trails to explore
Where: Located in Yoho National Park on the western side of the Great Divide
Get there: Approximately a 9-hour drive from Vancouver
What: Far less busy than the more popular Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, Lindeman Lake has become increasingly popular this season. The lake itself is a beautiful turquoise blue and is surrounded by dense forest and mountain peaks – it really is the perfect daytime hike. Be warned, the water looks inviting but is extremely cold.
How long: 2 hours or 3.4 km
Where: The hike to the lake starts at the end of Chilliwack Lake Road in Chilliwack
Get there: Approximately a 2-hour drive from Vancouver
What: This is one of the most popular destinations in Strathcona Provincial Park, with the Elk River Trail leading to the beautiful teal Landslide Lake nestled at the base of the majestic mountain peaks. Landslide Lake truly is a piece of paradise on Vancouver Island.
How long: From the parking area, the distance to Landslide Lake is approximately 11 km or 6 hours one-way to the lake
Where: Located in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island
Get there: Approximately a 5-hour drive from Vancouver
What: The hike to Berg Lake is one of the most rewarding hikes in British Columbia – and also one of the most beautiful hikes in the world. Berg Lake, hidden deep within the mountains, is an incredible blue and green colour that you have to witness to believe. This is also one of the few places in the world you can truly feel lost in nature.
How long: 23 km
Where: On the Robson River located within Mount Robson Provincial Park
Get there: Approximately a 7-hour drive from Vancouver
Lake Lovely Water
What: Located in Tantalus Provincial Park, Lake Lovely Water is a remote alpine lake hidden away in Squamish. To access the trailhead to the lake, you must cross the river either by canoe or cable – but the adventure to the lake is worth it. With little to no crowds, you can enjoy the pristine lake with few people around.
How long: The hike to the lake can take up to 4-8 hours depending on fitness level
Where: Located just outside of Squamish, north of Vancouver
Get there: Approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver