Staying Cool in the South Country

My partner is from Ontario and often talks about cottage country. I get it – it’s absolutely beautiful. I spent a week on a tiny island within the Thousand Islands and while I enjoyed it, I found after day two I was in need of space, silence and movement (it must be the mountain girl in me). Fortunately, not far from Fernie we have our own cottage country that offers the best of both worlds - the South Country! 

Having grown up here, and now raising a family here, I have visited the many beautiful lakes in this area, as well as the popular stops along the way. Here are a few of our favourites. 

3 & 93
Heading west on Highway 3 just past Elko, you’ll find the iconic 3 & 93 Dairy Bar. Popular for their burgers, fries and ice cream treats, with new ownership come some exciting changes, including staying open until 9pm in May and June and 10pm in July and August. A great stop to power up before or after a lake session. 

A little further afoot in the small town of Jaffray is First Perk. Expect friendly staff, homemade food, and delicious drinks to keep you cool and caffeinated. They also have items for purchase including jewellery, mugs, and clothing. I may have stuffed a tank top into my bike jersey after refueling during a gravel ride! 

A soft, sandy beach gently sloping toward the refreshing water of Lake Koocanusa, with docks to swim to and logs creating a protective area from boats coming and going, to fill up or grab a snack at the store. We suggest bringing buckets, shovels, floaties and an umbrella!

A tad off-road in behind Elko, Silver Springs has become extremely popular which is not surprising. The striking blue-green water, various cliffs to jump from, and a trail providing access to the second and third lake make it a must. It’s a short but steep walk so appropriate footwear is recommended, along with bug-spray and lots of water! Weekdays are less busy.

The first time we went to this water park, my face hurt from smiling and laughing so much. Adults and kids slipping and sliding, it felt as though we were on an episode of Wipeout! 

Open June 20 to Sept 4, booking ahead is recommended as is going early to find a spot to set up. Bring snacks and water.  

The most family-friendly lake around, with two beaches and a trail in the trees circumnavigating Surveyors, this is another fantastic day-trip option. There are picnic tables, sandy beaches and grassy areas. Going early ensures you get to choose your zone and set up! Snacks, sunscreen, water… you know the drill!

While exploring the South Country, keep an eye out for Out N’ Aboat who provide hourly or daily rentals of paddle boards, kayaks and pedal boats. 

Krista Turcasso is half Finnish, so thoroughly enjoys the crisp, cold waters found in the South Country as well as exploring this region with her BC Backroads App by bike. 

Photo Credit: Oliver Thorlakson