Slocan Lake is located in the unique Inland Temperate Rainforest area of southeastern British Columbia, Canada and is the only relatively pristine and undeveloped major lake remaining in the southeastern corner of the province. Slocan Lake lies between the Valhalla, Kokanee and Goat Mountain Ranges and is fed by pure mountain creeks and streams from its mostly steep shores. Ninety three percent of Slocan Lake’s 83 kilometers of shoreline remains unaltered by human impact and its near-pristine waters are the pride of 2000 permanent and part-time residents who live within 5 kilometers of its shores. Slocan Lake’s waters flow, undammed, into the Slocan River and then on to the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. Valhalla Provincial Park borders much of the west side of Slocan Lake. Highway 6 roughly parallels the eastern shore, connecting the unincorporated communities of Hills and Rosebery and the three villages of New Denver, Silverton and Slocan from the north to the south of the lake.
Slocan Lake is a powerful and timeless natural presence whose unspoiled beauty impresses itself on the senses as much as on the intellect. The lake is popular with canoeists and kayakers, hikers, anglers and sightseers, many of whom return, year after year, drawn by the tranquility and beauty of this area. The lake is a focal point of local history and culture and, in many ways it anchors the local economy, as it attracts visitors, recreationalists and prospective residents.
The Lake supports a variety of sport fish such as Kokanee salmon, whitefish, burbot, rainbow trout and bull trout. Sturgeon is a protected species in Slocan Lake, as their population is in decline due to damming at various points downstream along the Columbia River system.
Road access to the west side of the lake is limited to one forestry road which terminates at a Forestry Services campground at the northern end of the lake. Boat-camping around the lake is popular as there are a number of user-maintained campgrounds and hiking trail-heads along the west shore. Large power-boat use in Slocan Lake is far less popular than on the nearby and much larger Arrow Lakes and Kootenay Lake.
Slocan Lake is deep, with depths averaging 150 meters and a maximum depth of 275 meters. As it rarely freezes over and lies in a narrow, steep valley, the lake creates a moderating effect on valley temperatures in all seasons, but particularly in the coldest months, with the result that the entire valley is frequently shrouded in cloud in winter. An oligotrophic lake – relatively poor in nutrients – its waters are exceptionally clear except during spring runoff when mountain creeks and streams flush silt and sediments into the lake.
Although largely undeveloped at present, it is anticipated that Slocan Lake will experience increasing development pressures and challenges to foreshore integrity, ecosystem health and water quality. At present, Slocan Lake water quality is unequalled and watershed health remains go good that many residents continue to depend on surface water for drinking. Forward-thinking residents are anticipating demographic and land-use changes, however, and are working to ensure that measures are in place to monitor and maintain the integrity of the watershed and lake-related ecosystems.