Lake & River

Perfect Place to Paddle

Kootenay Lake is one of the largest lakes in British Columbia, and is perfect for sailing, kayaking, windsurfing, SUP (Stand Up Paddle), canoeing, leisurely boat rides and of course, fishing. Nearby rivers provide chill and casual floating experiences.

This massive lake is nestled between the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains, and is divided into three sections: North End, West Arm and South End.

  • North End runs from Lardeau to Balfour and is 64kms long, with remote beaches banked by deep evergreen and deciduous forests
  • West Arm runs from Balfour to Nelson and is 33kms long, winding alongside rugged cliffs, beaches and local residences
  • South End runs from Balfour to Kuskonook and is 63kms long, with an endless stream of beaches, on both sides of the arm

Kootenay Lake flows into Kootenay River, and at Castlegar into the Columbia River. The Columbia River Treaty, established in 1964 between Canada and the USA, coordinates flood control and optimizes hydroelectric energy production for both sides of the border. 

We are thankful to Friends of Kootenay Lake, a local organization focused on keeping Kootenay Lake pristine and clean for our future use, animals and vegetation. When exploring the region be safe where you play and reduce human-wildlife conflicts. Stay informed through WildSafeBC.

Marinas on Kootenay Lake

There are marinas all around Kootenay Lake of various offerings: boat rentals, fuel, boat repair and moorage. Kootenay Lake Sustainable Boating Society has a wealth of information showing marina listings, digital maps, pump outs and educational material. 


The local Kootenay Lake Sailing Association (KLSA) holds several annual sailing regattas each year, and offers friendly support to people learning to sail. Sailing on the lake is generally accepted to be relaxed and friendly. Sail Nelson also offers sailing tours and various courses. Gray Creek on the East Shore, at The Lakeview, hosts an annual fall regatta. Even if you don't sail, it is a spectacle of beauty and fun. 


Windsurfer on Kootenay Lake, with treed mountainside and snow-covered mountain in the background

Rentals and More

The lake is perfect for water adventures and sports such as boating, kayaking, sailing, windsurfing, SUP, and canoeing. Rentals are offered at businesses along the lake in Nelson, Kaslo and Balfour.  

Preventing Invasive Species

We want to keep Kootenay Lake pristine and free of invasive species. If you are on a paddle board, kayak, or sailboat we remind you to CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY your watercraft and equipment. For more information of how you take action and prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species, please visit the CKISS website.

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Read our visitors guide online or order a copy of the official visitor's guide and map for our region.