Splash Down into Cranbrook and the Southern Rockies Waters


Rebecca Bollwitt (aka Miss604) for #RockiesExploring

When you think of Cranbrook, what likely comes to mind is the Rocky Mountains and all of the adventures to be had, but getting out on the water is one of the most popular pastimes in the East Kootenays. There are lakes for paddling and boating, rivers for navigating and rolling through rapids, and beaches for building sandcastles or spreading out your towel and splashing in the region’s warmest swimming holes.

Go #RockiesExploring and uncover BC’s sunniest city.

“Essentially anything you can think of that’s watersport related, you can do in Cranbrook,” kayaker Neil Ross told me as he sat on the tailgate of the Just Liquid Sports pickup truck. He was heading out on the Bull River with Rob Porter, who owns the shop in Cranbrook, and a crew of friends and co-workers. “What we carry and what we do at Just Liquid is so diverse that it’s challenging to keep up with it all. There’s diving, kite surfing, kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding.” In fact, early in the summer season you can paddleboard with snow-covered mountains as your backdrop, but the water is nice and warm.

Watch Splash down in the East Kootenays warm waters this summer #RockiesExploring on YouTube.

Without a kayak, helmet, or years of experience I was going to watch Neil, Rob and crew from the shore of the Bull River as they took on stretches of white water with playful names like Bubblelicious. If you do want to get out on the water, though, Neil recommends that you drop by the local watersports shop because that’s where you’ll see where the local community hangs out. You’ll be sure to get some great tips and resources for your next adventure.

Photo: Doc Pow

The next day I ran into Rob’s Just Liquid Sports team again at the Wasa Lake Triathlon as they were setting up for the swimming leg of the race. There were two races happening that morning, both starting out in the warmest lake in the Kootenays. First was the Sprint competition (750m swim, 25km bike, 5km run), followed by the Olympic competitors (1.5km swim, 40km bike,10km run).

Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt

Crowds gathered on the beach with lawn chairs and blankets as the morning sun broke through the clouds. “Oh wow, that’s warmer than I expected,” one competitor said to another as they tested the waters before the race. Soon enough the emcee came on the loudspeaker and announced the beginning of the competition. With a horn and a whole lot of splashing, the sprinters were off!

Cranbrook Wasa Lake Triathlon
Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt

With the triathlon consisting of three elements, the crowd moves along with the racers. Once the swimmers began making their way back up the beach after completing their first leg, spectators picked up their lawn chairs and lined the running course - before walking out to the road to see the racers off on their cycling leg.

Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt

Music, a concession stand, cowbells and cheers. The Wasa Lake Triathlon had its own mini- festival atmosphere. The best part was once the race was complete, families made their way to the beach to enjoy some fun in the sun.

Photo: Doc Pow

If you are not looking to race, that's just fine. Because as Porter says, Cranbrook by the water is simply "everyday life." Within 45 mins we have over 22 lakes to enjoy. We truly live in a paddling paradise from flat water to some of Canada’s top white water,” he says. “It all comes down to living in this beautiful area with mountain peaks everywhere, and as we know those mountains fill with snow every year, and when that snow melts and starts to run off, there are a ton of tributaries."

Now add in the bonus that Cranbrook is the sunniest destination in B.C., and it all adds up to awesome.

Paddling in Cranbrook
Photo: Doc Pow

The next time you're in Cranbrook, try to make it on a Wednesday so you can get out and enjoy community paddle night, hosted by @Just_Liquid_Sports. Each week they pick a new lake to explore, an excellent way to check out the area. All you have to do is rent a boat or stand-up paddleboard if you don't have one, and they'll deliver it hassle-free to the lake of the week.

It's that easy to #ExploreCranbrook by the water. 

When You Go

Visit the Cranbrook Tourism website  for pre-trip research and to connect with the businesses listed in this story, or stop by the in-town visitor centre for more details on the region.

Check out the #RockiesExploring expedition page on ZenSeekers to see what other experiences you can have nearby.

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