Flowing through the town centre of Fernie, the Elk River is just begging to explored. Taking out a canoe, kayak, or Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) are some of the best options, but if you don't have kit you can hire from some of the providers in town.
If you're of the angling type bring your fly rod as well (and a license to fish). Local fly fishing companies know the river best and offer guided tours throughout the spring, summer and fall season on the most pristine waters in North America. Float trips are also available from local providers, allowing you to relax and take in the scenery whilst they handle the organisation, navigation, and even lunch.
If you're planning on taking a self guided tour on the water, always remember to check the conditions on the day. ‘Elk Valley Whitewater’ Facebook page.
Lake Koocanusa: This is a local hot spot for camping, water skiing, tubing, and overall great beach time! This lake is over 100km long and crosses into the U.S. Lake Koocanusa has a numerous beaches and campsites from which to launch watercraft; campgrounds and resorts include Newgate Sandy Shores Resort, Koocanusa Lake Campground and Resort, Oestrich RV Ranch, and Kikomun Creek Provincial Park. This is a great option for a summer day paddle and picnic! Located 30-45 minutes outside of Fernie.
Surveyors Lake: Adjacent to Lake Koocanusa, part of Kikomun Creek Provincial Park, is Surveyors lake. This is a smaller lake with two main beach sites; Surveyors Lake is a great place for families with kids to enjoy the water. If you’re lucky you may be able to see turtles, crawfish, and many different types of water-fowl.
Baynes Lake: Again, adjacent to Lake Koocanusa is Baynes Lake, about 30 minutes from Fernie. This small lake features excellent fishing and wildlife sighting opportunities. Baynes lake is best suited for canoes and SUP boarding. Baynes Lake is part of a small rural community; be sure to take part in their local Farmer’s Market on the weekends! This is a great area for beginners and fishing enthusiasts.
Island Lake: Located 35 minutes away from Fernie, this beautiful lake is overlooked by the Lizard Range mountains. You can hire canoes at the lodge, or use your own, though be mindful that there is no road leading to the lake, so you will need to carry it down from the parking area.The restaurant deck is the perfect spot to enjoy drinks or a meal whilst watching the sunset when you come off the water.
Maiden Lake: With easy access from the highway, and nearly parking, Maiden Lake is convenient to reach on foot and by car, not to mention a beautiful spot with the iconic Three Sisters backdrop. There is a small beach area perfect for a picnic, and catching minnow off the jetty is popular with younger children.
Hosmer to Fernie (I-II): This scenic section of river has great views of Mt. Hosmer and Mt. Fernie. Starting at the Hosmer Bridge and taking out at the first bridge entering Fernie, this section of river is typically a meandering float with some sections of swift water where the river changes course. There are often logjams and sweepers, so paddlers and floaters should still use caution. At high water levels tubing is discouraged and paddlers should be experienced and well prepared.
Fernie to Morrissey (I-II): More great views of the Lizard Range and country hill sides can be expected for this section of river. Paddlers and floaters can put in at either of the Fernie bridges, or the Fernie boat launch. The take out is at the Morrissey bridges. This is a longer float; depending on river levels and watercraft can take anywhere from 3-5 hours. Alternatively, there are other take out option off of Highway 3 just past the ski hill turn off or at Stanford Inn for a short ‘after work’ trip. This is a wonderful section of river to fish and float.
See the Guide/Rental/Retail section for more details on guided trips for SUPing, rafting, and fishing.
*Special Note: Due to the increased popularity for SUP on river, please note that the Elk River can often be very shallow in certain locations; falls can cause head, neck, tail-bone, and other injuries. Helmet and lifejacket are considered mandatory but please consider additional elbow, knee, and spine protection.