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Sitting at the edge of the cliff, he watches the water swirl in ribbons of color from pale blue-green to indigo. Overhead, the sunset turns the sky lavender, salmon, and orange, exploding with color where the sky meets the water. Known as the "Lake of Many Colors," Kalamalka Lake in south-central British Columbia promises breathtaking scenery. According to the National Geographic Society, which named it one of the world's ten most beautiful lakes and called it Canada's Caribbean, Lake Kalamalka more than delivers.
One of only a few lakes worldwide, Kalamalka Lake is a "marl lake." Calcium carbonate or limestone in the water precipitates out and forms crystals depending on the water temperature. The crystals reflect sunlight, turning the lake from blue to green in a continuously shifting kaleidoscope of colors. Kalamalka Lake, or Kal Lake as it is sometimes called, is a glacial lake. It flows into both Wood Lake and Okanagan Lake through Vernon Creek. A dam at the outlet of the lake controls water levels on Okanagan Lake, which runs parallel to the west of Kal Lake. There is also a canal built in 1908 between Wood Lake and Kalamalka Lake for navigation. Previously known as Long Lake, today Lake Kalamalka is named for an Okanagan Native American chief.
There are two provincial parks on the shores of Kalamalka Lake. The Kekuli Bay Provincial Park is a 141-acre park and campground. A boat launch at the park provides access to the west side of the lake, which is popular with boaters and water skiers. Anglers can fish for the large-scale sucker, northern pike minnow, and the pea-mouth chub that live in the lake. Fishing for lake trout is catch-and-release only but there are plenty of 10- to 30-pound fish to challenge anglers. There is also an abundant population of kokanee salmon. In fact, archeological remains in nearby Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park suggest that the lake was a camp for the native Salish people during the fall kokanee salmon spawn.
Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park includes several protected areas and preserves that span over 10,400 acres of northern Okanagan grasslands, wetlands and cliffs. In the late 1800's, part of the area was a cattle ranch, and during WWII it was used as a commando training area. The Canadian government began protecting the land in 1975. The park includes over 14 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. Although there is no boat launch, there are sand beaches for swimming and launching canoes and kayaks. Quiet coves along the shore offer great places to paddle and picnic. The Cougar Canyon Climbing Area is also included in the park, giving visitor and locals a place to climb the area's cliffs. Canyon wrens, screech owls, coyotes, bobcats, black bear and deer all make their homes in the park.
Kalamalka Lake is just two miles south of the city of Vernon. The oldest settlement in the interior of British Columbia, Vernon was established by gold miners and cattle ranchers in the 1860's. Today, Vernon has restaurants, shops, and, along with lakeside vacation rentals, a variety of accommodations. For visitors that want to extend their stay, there is real estate for sale. The area around Vernon is full of orchards and several vineyards.
With all the amenities of Vernon and the spectacular colors of Lake Kalamalka's water, the "Lake of Many Colors" has earned its place as one of the best in the world.
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