Jason Shearer: Shuswap Lake, Not Just a Summer Playground

1Life196Countries has joined forces with the MyDestination network to bring you this writing contest. Winners will be published at MyDestination and MyDestinationBC. Submissions are open until September 15th. If you have a great British Columbia story please view entry guidelines here and WRITE WRITE WRITE! 

In the meantime, please enjoy the following submission as Jason Shearer shares his experiences house boating on the Shuswap!

B.C Travel Writer, Jason Shearer: *Living in one of British Columbia’s resort towns has many perks, not least of which is that I have the opportunity to stay here 52 weeks a year, instead of two weeks for vacation.  Each summer, thousands of tourists flock to Sicamous, on the shores of the pristine Shuswap Lake to escape the hustle and bustle of their city lives and play on the lake.  Whether you’re into the newest and latest trends in watersports, enjoying an afternoon on a boat or a hike through remote areas of the forest, Sicamous is a summer playground with something for everyone.

Given that most people are only here for a few weeks in the summer, I often get the question, “What do you do in the winter?”  This question is generally followed by a look of bewilderment when I reply that I live and work here year round.  That often begs the question of, “What do you do here in the off season?”

Sicamous and the surrounding Shuswap has plenty to offer in the “off-season,” although sometimes it takes a local to show you around.  The fall is my favourite time of the year, and yet one of the least visited times of the year.  The lake is peaceful, remaining still like a mirror, the wildflowers are in full bloom on the mountain peaks, and the salmon are painting the rivers and streams red as they return home.

After spending a summer sending guests out on houseboat vacations, now it’s my turn.  In the middle of October, as the leaves are changing and a light breeze cools the Shuswap, you’ll see a few boats leaving the marinas, heading into Shuswap Lake for one last adventure before winter.  We set out on a beautiful Genesis 75, boasting four king-sized staterooms, complete with their own ensuites and TVs, as well as four double-sized walk-down pontoon rooms.  Don’t forget about the hot tub on the top deck and the tube slide!


After leaving Sicamous, it’s your job as captain to make your first decision – which way to go?  Continuing straight leads you into Salmon Arm, where you can pull into the public wharf and explore the unique shops of the downtown area.  Be careful entering the wharf, especially in the fall.  The water is shallow, making it necessary to stay between the navigational markers.  Taking a right turn out of Sicamous leads you to the rest of the lake.  You can relax for the next several hours, as there won’t be another fork in the road for a while.   Shuswap Lake boasts over a thousand kilometres of shoreline and countless possibilities for an adventure.

On our first day, we made our way almost to the end of Anstey Arm, the northeastern arm of the lake.  This arm is the quietest, surrounded mainly by provincial parks.  Any time of the year, it’s the perfect place for a quiet getaway.  This is also possibly the best arm of the lake for waterskiing, no matter the time of day.  The water is always calm and, even in October, we are in the water having that last ski of the season.


As light began to fade, we pulled out the appetizers and started dinner.  It may only be a houseboat, but the kitchen is equipped well enough to make a big turkey dinner, followed by locally made apple pie!  After dinner, we settled in around the campfire before moving up to the hot tub on the top of the boat.  By this point, everything around us, for as far as you could see, was pitch black under a very starry sky.


The next morning, we made our way off the beach and began heading back down the lake toward home.  We picked a beaching site for the evening and got ready to repeat the events of the previous night.  We hiked through the forest a bit, built a roaring campfire, and barbecued steaks.  This afternoon’s water adventure was on the paddleboards, which, yes, you can still do in October – just don’t fall in!

As quickly as it begins, a houseboat vacation soon comes to a close.  The crystal clear waters of the Shuswap, natural beauty of the provincial parks, and a myriad of activities make this destination a winner all year round.  As long as the water is not frozen, why not look into exploring the lake by houseboat?  With all the amenities and comforts of home, houseboats have become a luxurious adventure in this beautiful destination.


Outside of work, you will find Jason exploring the outdoors.  This winter, he re-learned how to ski and made his way to twenty mountains across BC, Alberta, and Montana.  In his spare time, he is exploring an interest in social media and tourism by blogging and learning twitter!  This summer, he has continued to explore the Shuswap and Okanagan Valley, taking in the many opportunities the area has to offer, while working full-time in the tourism industry.



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