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Fed by Canadian Cascade Mountain runoff and clear spring water, Otter Lake is a popular summer-time retreat located in southern British Columbia's Regional District Okanagan-Simikameen. Otter Lake Provincial Park is found at the northern end of Otter Lake with the historic mining community of Tulameen found on the southern shore. Considered the gateway to British Columbia's interior, the rural area is 115 miles east of Vancouver and about 50 miles north of the U.S. border with Washington State.
Hunting and trapping defined much of Otter Lake's early history. The hills surrounding Otter Lake sheltered many of Canada's First Nation people while the region's food, furs and prized red ochre filled many of their traditional needs. The same furs attracted hunters and trappers from the Hudson's Bay Company in the 1800s. A company transport route passed by Otter Lake where women resided at "Encampment des Femmes" as they waited for their men to return from the mountains. In the late 1800s the discovery of gold in nearby Granite Creek dramatically increased the number of settlers. As new communities were founded, the women's encampment became known as Otter Flat before it was renamed Tulameen in 1901.
The clear water of Otter Lake stands at an elevation of 2700 feet and covers 716 acres. At a length of three miles, the lake is ideal for waterskiing and boating. A paved boat ramp can be found at Otter Lake Provincial Park campground. A second gravel ramp is open to the public in the town of Tulameen. Canoeists and kayakers will enjoy a leisurely paddle along the tree-lined shore. If the timing is right, wildlife watchers may catch a glimpse of otter, beaver, mountain goats, moose, elk, or occasional cougar and black bear wandering the hills.
Also located at the park campground is a small public beach. A preferred second beach is located in a day-use area in Tulameen. The pleasant sandy shore leads to a grassy picnic area, a favorite of locals as well as visitors. Shaded picnic tables overlook Otter Lake and miles of unspoiled mountain scenery. No lifeguards are on duty at either beach, so swimmers are reminded to enter the water at their own risk.
Hiking through the surrounding canyons and rugged terrain is a popular pastime. A nature trail can be found near the campground, and the Trans Canada Trail lies within view of Otter Lake. Cycling is restricted to roadways around Otter Lake but is permitted within marked areas of the Trans Canada Trail along with horseback riding, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Fishing is also popular on Otter Lake. Just about any angler will enjoy testing their skills on the lake's rainbow trout, lake trout, largescale sucker, northern pikeminnow, steelhead, torrent sculpin and kokanee. Follow Otter Creek, the outlet for Otter Lake, south to the Tulameen River and you can continue fishing for rainbow trout and whitefish. The Tulameen River is a tributary of the Similkameen River, home to a number of excellent river fisheries. While at Otter Lake, consider side fishing trips to nearby Blakeburn Creek, Collins Gulch and Granite Creek.
In 1885 gold was discovered in Granite Creek. Mining for gold continues in the area of Otter Lake where visitors will find an opportunity to pan for gold or purchase a gold claim. As the availability of gold diminished, settlers moved out leaving ghost towns waiting for visitors to explore. Adventure seekers will enjoy trekking through the remnants of Blakeburn, Granite Creek and Allenby, all within an hour's drive of Otter Lake.
The delightful western community of Princeton sits 30 miles southeast of Otter Lake. With a population approaching 2,800 people, Princeton is home to unique shops and restaurants. Through exhibits and displays the Princeton and District Museum and Archives tell the history of Otter Lake, part of Canada's Mountains West Tourism Region.
If you are looking for wide open spaces where few lights are to be seen and stars glitter overhead, Otter Lake vacation rentals and real estate properties are for you. Choose from small campgrounds, lodges and rustic cabins found along the shore. Select your residence and prepare to sail the water in the summer or cross-country ski, snowmobile and snowshoe in the winter where Otter Lake blends naturally with the countryside.
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