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Home / Kootenay Rockies / The Arrow Lakes and Silvery Slocan / Nakusp



When the glaciers of the last ice age receded from the Arrow Lakes, the Sinixt (Arrow Lakes People) were the first to inhabit this valley. They have a 10,000 year history of occupation that is verified by the archaeological and historical records. For various reasons, in the last two centuries they have all but vanished from the landscape. They are fighting back from the edge of extinction to once again become an integral part of their homeland.

In August 1811, Finian McDonald (one of David Thompson's men) came up the Arrow Lakes and went just above Revelstoke. He was the first white man on the Arrow Lakes. The first steamers to the area arrived during the 1865 Big Bend Gold Rush, and the first settlers arrived in 1890.

Nakusp's settlement history began in 1892, when it became part of the fur trade route, as well as the jump-off point for some of the early silver, lead, and zinc mining in the Slocan Valley.

In 1882 the Nakusp Townsite was put up for sale by the Rand brothers. Twenty-five feet lots sold for as much as $30 each. The demand was fueled by the speculation that Nakusp would become a mining town if the Slocan Valley mining boom continued.

Since there were no roads or railways between the Kootenay mining areas and Vancouver, goods had to be shipped via waterways from Nakusp, up the Arrow Lakes to Revelstoke, where the main CPR line was located. For a time Nakusp became a thriving community on this shipping route.

In 1905 Nakusp had a population of 300 residents. This number steadily grew until the 1960s, when BC Hydro began studying the possibility of damming the Arrow Lakes. The Lakes were dammed in 1969, thereby raising the level of the Lake to the 1446' contour.

The Village of Nakusp was incorporated on November 24th, 1964 with Joseph Parent as its first mayor. The area around the airport was annexed in 1979 and the Brouse/Glenbank areas were annexed in 1994.


Nakusp is located on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake at the junction of Hwys 6 and 23 in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia, 99 km (61 mi) south of Revelstoke, 146 km (90 mi) north of Castlegar, 507 km (315 mi) west of Calgary, 755 km (470 mi) east of Vancouver.

Nakusp has a 3,000-foot Asphalt Runway ideal for smaller planes. 

Places to See
  • Waterfront Promenade & Gardens
  • Through a combined effort from the BC government, BC Hydro, the Historical Society, Village Works, the K-40 Club, and many families, a beautiful walkway consisting of gardens, grassy areas, a picnic area, gazebo, and a bathroom/concession building has been constructed along the waterfront. Come and relax on any of the 27 benches along the walkway.

  • Nakusp Hot Springs

Although the area is blessed with several fine natural hot Nakusp - Nakusp Hot Springs - Rory A. McLeodsprings, the accessibility and quality of the Nakusp Hot Springs continues to attract thousands of tourists every year. The pools are open year-round and there is a relaxing coffee shop offering many kinds of refreshments. 

Things to Do
  • Golfing

The Arrow Lakes region proudly boasts two excellent 9-hole public golf courses, awaiting your visit. Imagine the joy of golfing amongst the beautiful mountain and lake scenery. You will find yourself planning your route and scheduling your trip to hit the courses at your favourite tee time. However, no need to worry if you get distracted along the way, as pre-booked tee times are not necessary at either course.

  • Fishing

Fishing opportunities in the region range from fly-fishing in the creeks and small lakes on the east and west sides of the Arrow Lakes, to trolling on the expansive Arrow Lakes themselves. The Arrow Lakes offer Dolly Varden, Kokanee, and Ling Cod (burbot), and trophy fishing for Gerrard Rainbow Trout. Also check out Summit Lake, just 12 km east of Nakusp for some good fly fishing, as well as nice family picnic areas.

  • Kayaking

Kayaking opportunities in the Arrow Lakes region include white-water kayaking, peaceful exploration of the smaller lakes, and exploring 100 miles of lakeshore on the main lakes. In addition to the virtually guaranteed wildlife sightings, one can discover sandy beaches and waterfalls.

  • Hiking

Hiking opportunities are plentiful in the Arrow Lakes region. The Selkirk Mountains in the east, and the Monashee Mountains in the west, provide many different types of experiences for those wanting to explore the backcountry. Trails lead to alpine lakes and meadows, prominent peaks and fire lookouts, and beautiful groves of majestic old growth Western Red Cedar.

  • Horseback Riding

For those who prefer a horseback ride over other modes of transportation, the Arrow Lakes region offers many adventures. Backcountry roads and trails throughout the region can be accessed for exploring the wilderness in anticipation of wildlife sightings and discovery of alpine lakes and meadows. Those who challenge the mountain summits will be rewarded with spectacular views in all directions.

  • Snowshoeing

The lightweight, metal variety of snowshoe today makes the sport enjoyable and easy to learn, while still providing great exercise. The terrain in the Arrow Lakes region is perfect for snowshoeing, with access to many spectacular views.

  • Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing is a popular winter activity in Nakusp and the Arrow Lakes region, as it is an easy way to get a workout while also enjoying the beautiful winter scenes and fresh, crisp air. Popular trails near Nakusp can be found near Nakusp Hot Springs, at the Wensley Creek Cross-Country Ski Area, and along the abandoned railbed at Summit Lake.

  • Heli and Cat Skiing

Heli-Skiing provides access to terrain that is otherwise inaccessible without a long and difficult trek. Powder-skiing enthusiasts from all parts of the world arrive in Nakusp from January through March to enjoy the ultimate ski holiday: no crowded lift lines, fresh powder snow on breathtaking slopes, and apres-ski, which includes a soak in the nearby hot springs.

Nearby Communities
Contact Information

Nakusp & District Chamber of Commerce
Box 387, 92 - 6th. Ave. NW
Nakusp, British Columbia V0G 1R0
Toll Free: 1-800-909-8819
Tel: 250-265-4234
Fax: 250-265-3808
E-mail: nakcom@telus.net
Website: www.nakusparrowlakes.com



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