Spotted Lake

Osoyoos British Columbia Canada

If you take a drive along Okanagan Highway 3 from Osoyoos BC to Keremeos, you'll pass by Spotted Lake, a historically sacred lake in British Columbia known for it's high concentration of minerals that were believed to have healing properties.

The lake is located in the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area, a geographical region that is unique to Canada.

What's most interesting about the lake, which is sacred to the Okanagan First Nations people, and known as Klikuk, a sacred medicine lake, is how it forms and changes during the hot, dry summer weather.

As with saline lakes (or an 'endorheic alkali lake'), it forms in depressions in grassland landscapes where there is no outlet for the collected water.

Where the surrounding soils have high levels of soluble minerals, increased concentrations of salts accumulate as the lakes fill with spring runoff.

Some of the hottest and driest conditions in British Columbia are found in the Southern Okanagan Valley bottom of the Okanagan and Similkameen, in the Spotted Lake area.

spotted lake british columbia osoyoos bc

During the hot, dry weather, when the rate of evaporation is higher than the rate at which water runs into the depression, the water level drops to expose the salts as rings around the edge.

As the summer heat evaporates the natural water pools are formed that change in color and range from blue to green to yellow, depending on the type and concentration of minerals in it.

It results in very high concentrations of salts, titanium, calcium, sulphates and other minerals, and some say Spotted Lake BC has the highest concentrations of minerals in the world.

In addition to being used for their medicinal qualities, minerals from the lake were also used for the production of ammunition for the first World War.

You can learn more about the lake's history and cultural importance at the Nk'Mip Desert & Cultural Center. And you can also learn more about the desert biome, grassland plants and animals at the Osoyoos Desert Centre.

The lake remains a sacred medicine lake of the Okanagan Nation Alliance. Though there is no viewing platform and no access to the land that surrounds the lake (it's on private property), you can see it from the highway.

Stopping along the side of the highway to view the lake is risky, especially if you have children, as there is no safe parking along the highway. However, many people do stop, to take pictures.

The best time to view the lake is in the summer from about June to mid September. Also, bring along a pair of binoculars so that you can get a good look at the spots on the lake.

From Osoyoos Spotted Lake is about 9km north on BC Highway 3 to Keremeos.

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