Houseboating on Glacial Shuswap Lake

A vacation of a different sort, houseboating on Shuswap Lake, a trip for everyone. Even the geography buff in the crowd!

When I lay my head back on the edge of the hot tub, I could see the stars without straining my neck. And wow, were there stars! I felt so close to those celestial bodies, I felt as though I could see every detail one can with the naked eye. Nothing could tear me away. Nothing was going to. I was floating on a lake, sitting in a hot tub, in comfortable silence shared only with my animal neighbours. I couldn’t see them but I knew were there. I could memorize the stars, and enjoy the silence, in peace. It was a place of timelessness, a deep history of which only scientists could unravel, but I could belong to despite its element of mystery. It seemed I had been given the gift of relaxation.

Historical Evidence of a Glacial Deposit

You may have to know what you’re looking for but it seems to be of no surprise that the glacial advance didn’t neglect the interior of British Columbia. Much of the landscape in and around Shuswap Lake is dominated by glacial remnants. Meltwater streams drain into the lake, the bottom of which has been filled with glacial till and other sediment placed there neatly by the erosive forces of glaciers in the area 10,000 years ago. The lake and the surrounding hills are all the result of glacial scouring. Large alluvial fans, gravel deposits, bogs and swamps are all present, allowing the imagination to visualize those massive bodies of ice and snow slowly limping along, leaving a fascinating topography in their heavy wake.

Interior British Columbia is Proud of the Largest Houseboating Fleet in Canada

Many refer to this massive glacial lake as the Shuswap Lake. What most don’t recognize is that the Shuswap is one of four arms of the same watershed basin. Shuwap Lake, Salmon Arm, Anstey Arm and Seymour Arm are all connected by the same water; each arm offering quite a different experience. If you seek peace and quiet, you may have to drive your boat a little further than the boats of partying teenagers (or not quite-teenagers), but the distance traveled is worth its weight in gold. Only hiking into a remote locale to camp can equal the serenity you can find just around the elbow of the arm.


One of the many ways to enjoy the more than 1000 kilometers of shoreline on Shuswap Lake is via houseboat. The name describes it best; a floating house, with a motor. Taking you anywhere you’d like to go on the lake, with a near guarantee of never capsizing. With a large variety of sizes, shapes and accommodation, there’s certainly something for everyone.

Sicamous Hosts the Starting Gates

There are a number of towns on the perimeter of the massive lake, but most houseboating outfits are located in or just outside the town of Sicamous. Picking a houseboating company to trust your vacation with doesn’t seem to be the risky part, and their websites lay it all out for you, anticipating all of your questions. Once committed and ready for your trip, you start by loading all of your stuff into plastic carts and hauling them down the dock to your boat. Or, dare I say, your ship! Once you’ve unloaded, put away all your perishables, hung your pirate flag, and pushed away from the dock, your fate is in your hands. Your destination unknown, your days’ activities are of your own creation, you are free. You’ve learned how to operate this vessel, having had to obtain a marine license before being dubbed Captain. So you know what you’re doing. In theory!

Combination Camping and Cabin Stay

Next step is camping at the lake. Pardon me, ON the lake. The result is my personal definition of the perfect camping experience. You don’t have to pitch a tent. You can easily get out of the rain, unless you want to enjoy the rain whilst sitting in your hot tub! You can cook on a REAL stove, store food stuff in a fridge instead of a cooler, hoping the ice won’t melt too quickly. All the comforts of a cabin and yet, you have the ability to move from camping spot to camping spot each night. Without having to break up camp. Brilliant!

Activities All of Your Choosing

Can you picture yourself fishing off the back of your vessel in the still, cool morning, competing only with the eagles? Watching them rocket toward the water, reaching in and plucking a fish out of the water, flying away with the fish in their talons and then listening to the mighty birds crunch the bones of their latest catch. A remarkable, awe-inspiring way to welcome a new day. Later on, when the sun reaches its zenith, you stop the boat in the middle of the lake, turn on the waterslide and slide off the back into the refreshingly cool water to the whoops and cheers of your crewmates. Should you need supplies, you can stop at one of the floating stores and stock up for your next day’s fun. Have they thought of everything, you say? It seems as though they have.

Have I Convinced You to Try Houseboating?

Groups of all shapes and sizes will find this to be a memorable experience. Houseboating should be something to consider next time you contemplate a vacation of a different sort. Waterways Houseboat Vacations and Twin Anchors Vacations are two of the popular houseboat rental companies and they will likely be able to answer all your questions. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!