By now, you’ve already checked off all the usual suspects in local travel, from the popular mountain resorts to the idyllic island communities. This summer, you can venture somewhere new within the province and go where the wild and wondrous things are in the heart of British Columbia.
B.C.’s best-kept secrets are in the Land of Hidden Waters—found in the regions of Wells Gray to Lower North Thompson, and the South Cariboo and Kamloops area. This area is known for its access to hundreds of crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, and rivers, supplying some of B.C.’s best freshwater spots for fishing, watersports, and outdoor exploration.
There’s something for all kinds of outdoor adventurers and explorers—including bikers, hikers, paddlers, and fishers—in these destinations where the land meets the lakes and water flows of all forms.
From endless outdoor recreation on the water to stunning lakeside lodging, here are some activities and accommodations you must consider during your journey to the Land of Hidden Waters.
Harper's Trail Estate Winery: Tourism Kamloops
WINERIES TO WATERFALLS
What makes the Land of Hidden Waters ideal for roadtrippers is its close proximity to B.C.’s newest wine region in the Thompson Valley. In a single day, travellers can sip on refreshing local wine at scenic and hidden wineries, go kayaking or paddle boarding on the lake, and end the day with a hike to unnamed waterfalls — all within the same region.
The regional wine trail features top spots such as Kamloops’ largest winery, Monte Creek Ranch Winery, along with the city’s first winery, Harper’s Trail Estate Winery. You can bask in the sun and surrounding river valley views as you enjoy award-winning Thompson Okanagan grown and made wines.
At Wells Gray Provincial Park, you will feel the cool mist from cascading forces of water at some of B.C.’s best and biggest waterfalls. Highlights include marvelling at the 140 m high Helmcken Falls, the fourth largest waterfall in Canada, and walking behind Moul Falls.
Freshwater fishing in Lower North Thompson. Photo: Allen Jones
The Land of Hidden Waters surrounds B.C.’s famed Highway 24—otherwise known as the “Fishing Highway” corridor—which runs between 93 Mile and Little Fort. With the highest density of fishing resorts in all of B.C., there's bound to be a perfect spot for you in one of the many freshwater lakes and rivers.
Barriere and the Lower North Thompson is the largest fishing area in the North Thompson Valley, and the famous wild Kamloops rainbow trout is the catch of the region. The Rustic Resort at Thuya Lakes has access to 30 lakes to encounter the best rainbow trout fly fishing in the province. At Rock Island Fishing Camp, you can fish in deep volcanic holes or lakes created by beaver dams for a truly unique experience.
Kamloops boasts some of the best lake fishing in North America, with over 100+ productive lakes that are stocked year-round. Troll for Kokanee fish at Monte Lake or cast for Rainbow Trout either from the shore or on the water at Tunkwa Lake. New to fishing? Consider booking a guided fishing trip with knowledgeable locals.
Witch Lake, Cariboo Chilcotin Coast. Photo: Chris Wheeler
THE LAND OF MANY LAKES
In the Land of Hidden Waters, wide-open spaces and few faces are what the regions know best, so you can connect with nature without the large crowds. In fact, it is quite common to have an entire lake to yourself.
This fantasy is made a daily reality in South Cariboo and the famous Fishing Highway 24, where it’s very possible to have a lake that’s all yours every day of your stay. In the small community of Bridge Lake, explore the myriad lakes which surround the area to find the best fishing spots or to secluded hideaways. A stay at the Little Black Bear Lodge B&B nearby gives you an elevated view of the lake and mountains beyond.
For swimming and sandcastle building, Kamloops has many choices for going for a dip in the Thompson River. Riverside Park, located within walking distance from Kamloops’ downtown area, features a roped off swimming area, splash park, walking path, playground and tennis courts; it’s perfect for the whole family.
Canoeing in Wells Gray at Clearwater, B.C. Photo: Allen Jones
GET IN AND EXPLORE THE WATERS
From paddling to boating and every watersports activity in between, there are so many ways to discover the vast bodies of freshwater in the Land of Hidden Waters.
Set in a mountain valley in the Wells Gray Country, the glacier-fed Murtle Lake is world-famous as the largest paddle-only lake in North America. Take your craft out and come back to relax on the sandy beach surrounded by ancient cedar and hemlock trees. Canoeing, kayaking, and boat tours are also available at the nearby Clearwater and Azure lakes.
The pristine lakes and rivers of Barriere and the Lower North Thompson offer lots of options for water exploration. Adams Lake is one of the largest lakes in the area and is ideal for wind surfing, white water canoeing or kayaking. Divers can also dive into designated sites and see what lies beneath the lake’s azure surface.
Stand up paddling more your style? Bruker Marina on Kamloops Lake offers SUP rentals among their other watercraft rentals, or hit up the idyllic Heffley Lake for a SUP lesson and rental with PaddleSurfit.
Mountain biking in Kenna Cartwright Park in Kamloops. Photo: Andrew Strain
TRAILS AND HIKING
Kamloops is a mountain biking mecca in B.C. With its rugged landscape and rolling hills for cross-country to downhill biking, the region has some of the best trail networks in the entire province. To test your skills, ride over to Kamloops Bike Ranch, the nation’s largest municipal bike park. Or for scenic experience, check out the Kenna Cartwright Nature Park, B.C.’s largest municipal park in British Columbia. The park features over 40kms of trails and offers many breathtaking views of the Thompson Valley and Kamloops, especially at sunset.
With alpine exploration, waterfall viewpoints, and wildlife sightings, Wells Gray is a hiking haven. For a challenge, hike the Trophy Mountain alpine meadows, a 45-minute journey through an interior old growth rainforest of spruce and sub-alpine fir and a meadow of colourful and blooming wildflowers in the summer months.
Lower North Thompson Valley. Photo: Allen Jones
The Land of Hidden Waters is committed to responsible travel and encourages visitors to participate as well.
From "leaving no trace" through proper waste disposal and giving cultural respect to Indigenous locals and their relationship to the land, making conscious and sustainable choices during your travels ensures that B.C.’s hidden gem can be shared and enjoyed by all.
With respect and responsibility, BC’s Land of Hidden Waters invites you to explore the region sustainably to ensure the area can be enjoyed for many years to come.