BC Hydro rec sites: a top 10 'best of' breakdown

View of the Stave Lake reservoir

Get out and explore this summer

Whether you’re sticking close to home or traveling the province this summer, chances are you’re not far from one of BC Hydro’s recreation areas. Located throughout the province, our rec sites are some of the best places to enjoy all that summers in B.C. have to offer.

From tanning on a sandy beach, fishing for trout, or some hardcore hiking, here’s our top 10 list to help you navigate all that these areas have to offer.

If you visit one of these places, or any other BC Hydro recreation area, we want to hear about it. Tell us about your experience and share your photos on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #DiscoverBCHydro.


Best spot for camping: Jones Lake Reservoir

The view at Jones Lake Reservoir
A weekend camping at Jones Lake is a great getaway from the city without having to drive too far.

Jones Lake Reservoir is located off the beaten path about 42 kilometres east of Chilliwack. Featuring two campgrounds – Jones Lake Main and Jones Lake South with a total of 55 sites – it’s the perfect place to pitch a tent and take in the pristine surroundings. The road in is an active logging road with rough conditions. A 4x4 with high clearance is a must (cars, RVs and trailers are not recommended).

Fisherman tries his luck at catching dinner.

The Campbell River system on Vancouver Island is a popular fishing destination for people from around the world. The area around the Strathcona Dam provides excellent opportunity to catch rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden char. Make it an overnight trip and tent at the Strathcona Dam campground, located along the lower Campbell Lake Reservoir.

Bridge River recreation site
A peek at Seton Lake Reservoir through the trees.

The viewpoint at the Seton Lake Reservoir near Lillooet provides a spectacular view of the emerald-green waters and surrounding Chilcotin Mountains. Near the viewpoint you may also find evidence of kekulis, underground winter homes built by the interior Salish-speaking St'at'imc (STAH-tleum) people. A small self-guided interpretive trail is located at the viewpoint, providing information about the history of the Lillooet area and some of its modern-day features.

Best hiking and biking trails: Buntzen Lake Reservoir

The trees through Buntzen Trail
Enjoy the shade of one of the many trails at Buntzen Lake on a hot, summer day.

Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll through nature or a hard core, leg-burning climb up a mountain, the Buntzen Lake area has something for you. The 30-minute, 1 kilometre ‘Energy Trail’ offers a leisurely escape into nature with great views of the lake. Looking for more of a challenge? Try the 12-hour ‘Dilly-Dally Loop’, a 25 kilometre trek with elevation gains of 1150 metres. The Buntzen Lake Trail is a great in-between option with lots of spots along the way to stop and take a dip in the lake or enjoy a picnic lunch. The full loop takes about four hours to complete and is suitable for most fitness levels.

Designated mountain biking and equestrian trails are also easily accessible from parking areas. See a full list of trail options to plan your route. Remember to arrive early, especially on sunny weekends. Parking is limited and park gates close when capacity is reached.  

Best boating: Arrow Lakes Reservoir

Arrow Lakes Reservoir was created when the Hugh Keenleyside Dam was constructed to bound the original Arrow Lakes and the Columbia River.

Boating is certainly a favourite summer activity for many families in B.C. and Arrow Lakes Reservoir in the Columbia region a fantastic spot for it. The reservoir is nestled between the Selkirk and Monashee Mountains and stretches over 230 km from Revelstoke to Castlegar. You can also visit the provincial parks and recreation sites that are located along the shoreline of Arrow Lakes Reservoir, which provide the perfect spot for a lunch break on dry land.

Boaters are reminded that water levels can change due to inflow and the requirements for water release at Hugh Keenleyside Dam. Reservoir levels can rise or fall by approximately 30 cm in a 24-hour period at any time of the year.

Best place for a family picnic: Comox Lake Dam Picnic Area

People at Puntledge Recreation site
Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a day in and around the Comox Dam Picnic Area.

The Comox Lake Dam Picnic Area is situated on the Puntledge River, at the outlet of the Comox Lake Reservoir. It provides the perfect setting for the family to put down the devices and connect over a good ol’ fashion picnic. Afterwards, you can lace up the runners and enjoy one of the areas hiking trails. With varying difficulty levels, you’ll find something that is suitable for everyone to enjoy.  

Best dog beach: Hayward Lake Reservoir

The beach at Hayward Recreation site
Hayward Lake is one of the most popular rec sites on a hot summer day.

Fido needs some fun in the sun too. Hayward Lake Reservoir, located north of Mission is the perfect spot to enjoy a day at the beach with your pooch. With a fenced in off-leash dog area, Fido can have a romp with some new friends and swim to his heart content. Just be sure to bring some extra towels to clean him up after all the fun.

Best place to see BC Hydro’s facility up close: Dinosaur Lake Reservoir

A unique look at the spillway at the W.A.C. Bennett Dam from Dinosaur Lake.

Dinosaur Lake got its name for the fossils of dinosaur footprints that were covered when the area was flooded. Situated between the W.A.C. Bennett and Peace Canyon Dams, the lake provides boaters a unqiue perspective of the two BC Hydro facilities from the water. Also, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, which can often be seen near the water.  

Best swimming spot: Pend d’Oreille

Pend d'Oreille Recreation area
Pristine blue water of the Pend d'Oreille reservoir is the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day.

Pend d'Oreille Reservoir – located just east of the community of Trail – is the perfect spot to go for a dip and cool off on a hot summer day. Once you’re finished cooling off be sure to check out the viewpoints, which offer a spectacular look at the Seven Mile Dam.

Alexander Mackenzie's Landing at sunset
View from Alexander Mackenzie's Landing at sunset.

Looking for a little bit of everything? Alexander Mackenzie’s Landing — a day use area on Williston Lake near the town of Mackenzie in Northern B.C. has it all — a campground, sandy beach, boat launch, picnic area, hiking trails and fishing opportunities.  

Always put safety first

Remember to look for and obey all safety signage in the area you’re visiting. If you’re going to be on the water note that that water levels near BC Hydro facilities can change quickly. See more boating, hiking, and general safety tips.