Kelly Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Lake Locations:

Canada - British Columbia -

Kelly Lake has secrets. But the biggest secret is a secret no more – and has put small Kelly Lake on the international radar. Both NASA and the Canadian Space Agency are hanging out at Kelly Lake these days, in preparation for exploring Mars in the future. So, what does this remote 115-acre lake have that other lakes don’t? It has microbialites that have created rare freshwater carbonate rock formations on the bottom of the lake. Microbialites are found in a handful of places around the globe, yet these lakes are the only environment where they are found at such a variety of depths and thus varying access to light. Found first in nearby Pavilion Lake, a few miles due south, scientists are using both diving and one-person submarines to study and sample these fascinating structures which they hope will help them identify and learn about possible life-forms in space. It is hoped that the research of the microbialites will help them in future study of near-Earth asteroids, Mars, and other extreme environments.

The research project has done more than put little Kelly Lake on the map, however: currently the project group includes a member from Google, who will help the team evolve its use of mapping activities and develop cutting-edge data integration platforms based on Google Earth. Also intended are activities to allow local teachers to participate in hands-on field activity workshops so they can share what they learned with their students and inspire the next generation of space enthusiasts. Because the research team has invited the cooperation of the local citizens, they’ve been welcomed whole-heartedly by the small population of nearby Clinton, whose residents appear regularly to watch the activity and admire the amazing deep-water exploration vehicles. It may seem odd to see kayaks and one-man submersibles sharing the same small water body, but it’s become a common sight on Kelly Lake.

Surrounded by Downing Provincial Park, Kelly Lake is fed by springs, with very little outside water intruding. The space exploration researchers suspect this may be the reason the two lakes still have active colonies of the microbialites which were one of the first forms of life on a developing earth. Because the lake is entirely within the park, there are almost no private homes along the lakeshore. However, the small rustic campground is popular with those who wish to enjoy the swimming beach, the many hiking and cycling trails and paddle sports on the water. The lake is also very popular for fishing, with rainbow trout, cut-throat trout and bull trout the most commonly sought-after species. Personal boats may be launched from the single gravel boat launch site. A popular spot to canoe or kayak, Kelly Lake can be treacherous, with high winds arising quite suddenly.

Many different types of wildlife found around the Kelly Lake area include deer, moose, cougar, bear and upland game. Photography is a popular activity among visitors. A guest ranch, one of several in the area, provides lodging opportunities very near the lake where guests can reach the lake by walking or horseback riding the short distance. Downing Provincial Park hugs the eastern boundary of much larger Edge Hills Provincial Park. Edge Hills is a 29,000-acre undeveloped wilderness park with no facilities except a network of unmaintained and unmarked trails. The park stretches to the eastern slope of the Frazier River and offers true wilderness experiences to the experienced hiker. Only a few miles east of the lake, 44,000-acre Marble Range Provincial Park offers a completely different type of geology, with limestone caves, sinkholes and disappearing streams, as well as cliffs, chasms, and crenellated ridges.

The closest town to Kelly Lake is the Village of Clinton. Clinton is a small friendly community with much to offer visitors to the area. Well over 100 years old, Clinton was founded as a direct result of the “boom” of the Cariboo Gold Rush. After the discovery of gold in the Cariboo, Royal Engineers were commissioned to build a road through Fraser Canyon to the Cariboo to join the already existing wagon road from Lillooet to 47 Mile. The junction was 47 miles from Lillooet and thus 47 Mile was the name used until 1863, when 47 Mile officially became Clinton.

Well-supplied with local craft shops and historical buildings, the Clinton area offers rodeo grounds, a baseball diamond, community park for picnicking, recreation center, curling rink, hiking and cross-country ski trails, and fishing and recreational lakes. A number of guest ranches in the area provide lodging and the high-country western experience to visitors with a yen to enjoy traditional ranch life. Events occurring in Clinton that attract visitors include one of British Columbia’s oldest continuously running events, the Annual Ball, a May Ball Rodeo and Dance, the Clinton Outdoor Sportsmen Auction and Dinner in April, Canada Day Celebrations on July 1st, Clinton Country Jamboree and Family Fun Fest Day in August, and an art show in the fall.

Those looking for lodgings in the Kelly Lake area can find modern hotels and motels at Clinton, with bed-and-breakfasts and guest ranches near the lake itself. Some real estate is available, both in the small towns nearby and as small ranches. But first, prospective buyers will want to make a visit to the area the people of Clinton call the ‘Gateway to the Cariboo’. Come stalk the wily trout, swim in the beautiful lake and see for yourself some of the unusual microbialite structures. You’ll quickly see why Kelly Lake is the best of all worlds.

Things to do at Kelly Lake BC

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Provincial Park

Fish species found at Kelly Lake BC

  • Bull Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Kelly Lake BC Photo Gallery

Kelly Lake BC Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 114 acres

Shoreline Length: 2 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,503 feet

Maximum Depth: 135 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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