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Explore Arrow Lakes

Explore the Arrow Lakes region starting in Castlegar, following the waterway north past Fauquier and Burton to Nakusp, and onward to Halcyon. Complete the loop by heading south on Highway 6 through the Slocan Valley back to Castlegar.

Named for the 232 Km long Arrow Lakes system and the deep clear Slocan Lake and meandering Slocan River, the region encompasses three valleys resting on either side of the Selkirk Mountains, connected by the Columbia and Kootenay rivers.

Find hot springs, lakeshore hikes, mountain bike trails, vineyards, a ski resort and nordic trails, innumerable paddling opportunities, museums and galleries, a ghost town, and plenty of fishing holes for every type of angler.

Along the Arrow Lakes there are provincial parks and recreation sites, as well as many private campgrounds to set up a tent or park an RV. Find a basecamp with more amenities in the many hotels, inns, lodges, B&Bs and cabins available to suit a range of group sizes and needs.

Find more ideas about what to do in Castlegar.

Check out these itineraries:

Locally Grown Fall fare

The fertile lands of the Slocan Valley and Arrow Lakes attracted pioneers to the area a century ago and small-scale farming traditions continue here. There are now about 40 farms and food producers located in the Slocan Valley alone.

  • Start your tour in Castlegar with a visit to Tailout Brewing, which offers a variety of beers made on site as well as a spacious setting and custom art reflecting the staff’s love of fishing.
  • The next stop is Tonik Distillery in the southern Slocan Valley, famous for its flavored vodkas and “Old Tom” gin.
  • At the northern end of the valley is the appropriately-named Valley of the Springs Winery. Lounge in their tasting room or by the outdoor fireplace, take in views of the surrounding mountains and enjoy a bottle of red, white or rose, all made on site.
  • If your taste buds prefer something a little more tart, visit the nearby Burton City Cider. Located on a 30-acre farm with sheep, chickens, a llama, and an orchard, the family-run business offers pizza nights and lunches, with a variety of made-on-site ciders on tap.
  • Hit up the local farmer’s markets in Slocan, New Denver and Nakusp.
  • Visit the Slocan Valley producers by following the Slocan Valley Grown farm map.

Fish the region

Hire a Castlegar guide to show you the secret fishing holes on the Columbia River or Lower Arrow Lake where you’ll find some of the largest kokanee salmon in the world, as well as rainbow trout and walleye. Or cast your line into any other river or lake in the Slocan Valley, including Summit Lake and the stocked Box Lake, both perfect for family outings. The northern end of Arrow Lakes is popular for its quiet spots to fish from a boat launched at the Nakusp Marina.

Read more about fishing in Castlegar.

Hikes for any Adventurer

Hiking is a popular autumn pastime in this region because the larch trees turn yellow and the alpine slopes become canvases of every shade of green and gold. There are many places throughout the Slocan Valley where you can hike high into the mountains, but for trails closer to the road.

  • There are seven excellent trails near Nakusp Hot Springs ranging in length from 1.5 to 5 kms.
  • Explore the family-friendly Yellow Pine Nature Trail in Syringa Provincial Park near Castlegar that offers views of Arrow Lake from a terraced hillside.
  • Explore the region’s five provincial parks boast everything from beautiful waterfalls, rock climbing cliffs, lakeside camping spots, as well as plenty of wildlife, from bighorn sheep and elk to bufflehead ducks and ospreys.

Find more Arrow Slocan hikes. Check out hikes near Castlegar.

Bike the Trail Networks

There are innumerable biking trails in the area from downhill to mellow rail grade. Try them all!

  • The Mt. Abriel Recreation Area is a lakeside campsite at the foot of a mountain biking zone that now includes more than 60 trails ranging from beginner to expert.
  • Nakusp is connected to the Slocan Valley via converted railway beds which are perfect for bikers and walkers looking for mellower terrain with monumental views. Check out the Arrow Slocan Rail Trail map.
  • Closer to Castlegar, another former rail bed, the C&W Trail, runs alongside Lower Arrow Lake and through tunnels before veering south and west for 150 kms.
  • Castlegar’s Merry Creek and Rialto mountain bike trail networks are also popular with riders of all levels and age groups.

Learn more about biking in Arrow Slocan and also about trails in Castlegar.

On the Water

With all the lakes and waterways there are endless opportunities for fishing, paddling, boating, swimming, and beach-side camping. Here are some ideas of what to do:

  • Swim in the natural ponds on the shores of Columbia River at Millennium Park in Castlegar.
  • Check out the beautiful waterfalls and lake-side camping spots at Syringa Provincial Park on the shores of Lower Arrow Lake.
  • Fish for trout and walleye on the Columbia River.
  • Join a guided rafting trip with Endless Adventure.
  • Rent kayaks, paddle boards and safety equipment from Endless Adventure, then explore the Slocan River or Slocan Lake.
  • Stop at Summit Lake and Box Lake to enjoy trout fishing.
  • Visit the hot springs – community-owned Nakusp Hot Springs or the luxurious Halycon Hot Springs Resort.
A boy and his dog at Wragge beach, Slocan Lake, British Columbia. Photo by Steve Ogle
Paddling Slocan Lake

Silver Explorers

Silver mining is what drove development in the Arrow Lakes region in the mid to late 1800’s, leaving behind historical locations and mining memorabilia.

  • Visit the Railway Museum and Doukhobor Discovery Centre in Castlegar, home to 10 historical buildings that recreate the culture of the pacifist farming people who shaped this region in the early 1900s.
  • Enjoy the historic downtowns of the silver boom in Slocan, Silverton, and New Denver.
  • Visit the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre in New Denver to learn about Japanese Canadian internment in this location.
  • Explore the ghost town of Sandon and the many old buildings still standing, including the old city hall and powerhouse.
  • Dive into the Arrow Lake’s history at the recently remodelled Nakusp Museum to view artifacts from homes impacted by flooding of the valley in 1960s when the Hugh Keenleyside Dam was built on the Columbia River.

Find more stops on the Silvery Slocan Tour.

Photo by Adrian Wagner of Slocan Beach
The sandy Slocan Beach and swim area.

Outside Adventure

Arrow Lakes has everything from hiking and biking to golfing and climbing. Get into the outdoor spirit and enjoy everything the region offers.

  • Rock Climb at the on of the rock climbing areas around Castlegar, Lower Arrow Lake and Slocan City with hundreds of routes for beginners to experts, as well as a burgeoning bouldering scene.
  • Golfer in Castlegar at the three courses (as well a disc golf course), plus the two other golf courses in the Slocan Valley, one in Nakusp and one in Fauquier. 
  • Enjoy a family-friendly hike near the Nakusp Hot Springs and visit the wooden footbridge.
  • Check out the Galena Cable car along the rail line from New Denver heading toward Sandon.
  • Mountain bike the hundreds of kilometers of singletrack, including adaptive and regular trails at Mt Abriel south of Nakusp and the Merry Creek Trails in Castlegar, famous for their hand-built structures and stunts. 
Skiing at Summit Lake Ski Hill
Skiing at Summit Lake Ski Hill with Rugged Peak in the background.

Rest and Rejuvenate

Upper Arrow Lakes, including Nakusp are well known for their hot springs. Rejuvenation seekers are called to the springs to soak away tensions and leave feeling renewed.

Let life’s stresses melt away at one of these locations:

Relax at Halcyon Hot Springs on Arrow Lakes