Spot the Difference: 'Spotted Lake' in British Columbia

Eight kilometres out of Osoyoos, British Columbia, there rests a lake on native reserve land. It is a small lake, surrounded by desert scrub and grasses, unsuitable for swimming, boating, or even wading. You aren’t even allowed to walk down to it, currently, because of its location on native land. So what’s the big deal, you say? Well, this lake is Spotted Lake, and it is the only one of its kind in the world.

Spotted Lake is truly a sight to behold.

The natives call this lake Khiluk, and it is believed to be sacred because of its healing powers. The lake indeed may be therapeutic, because it is a mineral lake. The waters contain high levels of magnesium sulfate, calcium, sodium sulphates, and many other minerals, including silver and titanium. The lake’s minerals were actually harvested for use in World War I to create ammunition!

In the summer, when waters from the lake evaporate in the semi-arid desert ecosystem around Spotted Lake, the minerals harden to form natural walkways between the leftover pools of water. Depending on the mineral content within each pool, the waters take on different tints.

The different mineral pools give this lake its distinct pattern.

To view this marvel, you have to pull over to the side of the highway. There is a gate and fence preventing you from wandering down to the shore (although, I’m sure you could climb the gate or fence if you truly wanted to, but I don’t recommend it because you will anger the natives and could possibly get arrested for trespassing.)

The view from the road is good enough to see what the big deal is about Spotted Lake. Watch for traffic, as the pull-out area is not very big. There is a sign by the gate that explains the history and the science behind Spotted Lake as well.

You are not allowed to walk down to see it up close - just yet, at least.

According to the sign, eventually Parks Canada and the Osoyoos Band will work together to create a scenic path around the lake, as well as a information center on the land around Spotted Lake. I feel this would be nice - to have a path and an information center would be beneficial in a) sharing this amazing place with the rest of the world, and b) preventing destructive trespassers by allowing access in a controlled way. Hopefully, in two years, you will be able to see this marvel of nature up close and personal!


  1. Now that place is pretty damn cool, would love to visit!

  2. It was cool - but a little out of the way for us to try and hit next summer... unless you're up for a road trip to Osoyoos with me!

  3. I've been there September 2015.
    The lake surely looks special and inviting, but the fence is very clear and certainly NOT inviting. So prepare to watch it from a distance. A good place to stop for 5 minutes, but plan no walk or lunch break there.
    Hopefully the promise of accessibility can be made true one day...

    1. I agree. I understand why the fence is there - who would want a bunch of tourists tromping around on the lake and ruining it? I get that. But I certainly hope they do finish a track around the lake so people can view it up close and enjoy its beauty NOT from a busy highway! Right you are!