Vaseux Lake is a relatively small lake that lies between the towns of Okanagan Falls and Oliver in the South Okanagan, British Columbia. It is a good spot for shoreline fishing and reknown for its small and large mouth bass. Motorized boats are prohibited on the water because the lake is small and home to a significant number of endangered wildlife and plant species. However, row boats, canoes, kayaks and stand-up-paddle boards are allowed and make for a great way to explore the lake. The north end of Vaseux lake is an Environment Canada Waterfowl Sanctuary and can be explored by taking a quick stroll along a short boardwalk at the Vaseux Lake Wildlife Centre. The south end of the lake, which is my favourite part, is overshadowed by the dramatic cliff of McIntyre Bluff and home to one the best swimming holes in the South Okanagan.
To access the south end of Vaseux Lake drive along Highway 97 towards and turn left on Sundial Road. Go down this road until you spot a small boat launch on the right hand side. Watch out for poison ivy! There’s a bunch of it close to the water’s edge. From the boat launch the swimming holes are not far off. Paddle left along the shore and then south towards the Okanagan River and the imposing McIntyre Bluff. Soon the first of the small bays will appear on the right hand side; this is the larger of the two. A little further down is the second bay, a small cove with beautiful deep clear blue water. This is where its at! These two bays are actually kettle lakes, holes made by blocks of ice left behind by retreating glaciers, that eventually joined up to Vaseux Lake. Yet, unlike the chilly waters of Okanagan Lake, these swimming holes are deliciously warm.
At the far end of the second bay there is a small clearing. This is the great spot to lay out a blanket and enjoy a picnic. But that’s not all. This open area is actually a trailhead to pictographs! Yes, only a short hike up the hill (10 minutes) and you’ll be rewarded by a series of gorgeous images. Here’s how to get there: From the open area follow the trail straight through the ravine. There will be many side trails breaking off from the main trail, many are game trails, ignore them all and keep on forwards until you reach an old two track road. Turn left on the road and continue walking for about 30 feet (10 meters) looking for a trail on the right side. Follow this right veering single track trail towards the cliffs ahead. The trail climbs up, then swerves left a little through a clearing and then right to a large rock outcropping. And voila! The pictographs!
If you are visiting the South Okanagan, or are a local, I highly recommend taking the time to visit this special place during the summer. You will not be disappointed!