Adams Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Located in southern British Columbia amid the Columbia Mountains, Adams Lake is a more remote and less developed neighbor to nearby Shuswap Lake. Covering 34,000 acres with 93 miles of shoreline, Adams Lake reaches depths of 1,502 feet, making it the second-deepest Lake in British Columbia. Despite its awe-inspiring size, Adams Lake has little development compared to Shuswap Lake. Steep lakeside slopes make it hard to access much of the northern shoreline to build waterfront housing.

Although the northern shores of Adams Lake are hard to reach by road, a forest service road nearly completely circles the lake, often at some distance from the water. Other area roads belong primarily to the lumber companies that own or lease most of the nearby forested slopes. The lumber companies tow cut logs down the lake and anchor them offshore, awaiting their turn at the sawmill near the south end. The few relatively level areas at the south end of the lake hold cottages and homes in several widely separated pockets of land. A cable ferry crosses the south end of the lake between the lumber company and the residential settlement on the opposite shore. The City of Kamloops is about 50 miles to the west. The attractiveness of living on this pristine lakefront is reflected in high real estate prices for a few luxury homes. Wide expanses of open water make water sports such as water-skiing, windsurfing, power boating, sailing and pontooning favored activities among the residents.

Six public boat launch areas maintained by the Adams Lake Provincial Park system allow access to the waters, but it doesn’t appear that these launch areas can handle larger boats. Some are car-top-only boat launch areas and favored for canoes and kayaks. Most are used by fishermen who come to Adams Lake to pursue their favorite cold-water prey: Chinook salmon, sockeye salmon, coho salmon, kokanee salmon, mountain whitefish and rainbow trout. In years past rainbow trout were stocked in Adams Lake, but they now seem to be self-sustaining. The lake holds some trophy fish, but anglers complain that the shear size of the lake makes it hard to catch them. Only the most experienced anglers know where to cast their lures to gain the attention of these elusive fish. This doesn’t deter the hundreds who sign up to participate in annual fishing tournaments on Adams Lake. All fishermen must have a British Columbia fishing license on their person and adhere to all regulations. The unmanned boat launch sites are open each year until deep snows make the gravel roads impassible.

Forest-covered mountainsides provide scenic canoeing and kayaking opportunities. A wealth of wildlife inhabit the area, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, mountain lion and numerous smaller mammals. Grizzly bear can sometimes be seen during the fall salmon runs along the river. The inflowing creeks and river mouth are often the place to see bald eagle, osprey, Canada geese, swans, green-winged teal, mallards and other waterfowl.

Several sections of Adams Lake Provincial Park hold primitive campsites accessible only by water. A total of six separate park sections hold varying degrees of services. The Honeymoon Bay site along the western shore is one of the most popular, providing room for RV camping and a sandy beach area. Two other sites possess sandy beaches, but the rest of the access points have typically rocky shorelines. Many of the forestry and park roads are available for hiking, ATV riding and mountain biking. In the fall, hunters arrive to take advantage of specific locations where hunting is permitted.

There is little in the way of services at Adams Lake. An occasional gas station or convenience store is sometimes located in a community of homes near the lakefront. Fortunately, the many amenities at Shuswap Lake are only a few miles away, as are more commercial lodgings. Adams Lake itself has a few private rentals that can be rented for daily or weekly rates. Some are available year-round and benefit those who enjoy winter trekking and snowmobiling. It is obvious from the popularity of Shuswap Lake nearby that Adams Lake development would grow quickly if land were opened for building. A few level lots are still available and can be found for sale. Those who live here value their remote privacy and are in no hurry to encourage major development.

Adams Lake is fed primarily by the Adams River flowing in at the north end. Many smaller tributaries add their snowpack-born waters to the usually cold lake. Adams River flows out of the lake at the southern tip, where it empties into Shuswap Lake less than seven miles downstream. This portion of the Lower Adams River is one of North America’s most important salmon spawning grounds, its gravel bed ideal for salmon hatching. At one time, logging interests built a temporary dam across the river mouth, raising water levels to facilitate floating logs. The dam would then be opened and the cut logs washed downstream by the rushing water. That practice was stopped as the annual ‘floods’ destroyed the gravel beds needed for salmon spawning. The river bed has recovered and salmon runs have returned to near-normal levels.

Provincial parks bordering Adams Lake are smaller and less developed than the parks at Shuswap Lake. Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park along the Lower Adams River covers 2,659 acres and hosts about 150,000 visitors a year, most of whom never visit the lake itself. River visitors come primarily for the famous salmon runs in October. In 2010 nearly four million sockeye salmon completed their three-year life cycle in the northern Pacific and returned via the South Thompson and Frazier Rivers to return to their birthplace in the Adams River. Trails and viewing platforms within Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park allow visitors to watch this amazing natural cycle. Other nearby park systems such as the Momich Lakes Provincial Park and the Upper Adams River Provincial Park protect nearby streams and sections of old-growth forest.

Visitors desiring pristine, quiet waters and plenty of natural fauna will find Adams Lake a favorite vacation spot. Come view the spawning salmon who endure a 2,500-mile trek to return to the Adams River, a once-on-a-lifetime sight.

Things to do at Adams Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Snowmobiling
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Provincial Park

Fish species found at Adams Lake

  • Chinook Salmon
  • Coho Salmon
  • Kamloops
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sockeye Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Adams Lake Photo Gallery

Adams Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 34,001 acres

Shoreline Length: 93 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,338 feet

Average Depth: 555 feet

Maximum Depth: 1,502 feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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