Shuswap Lake NAM-47

Riparian Nation(s) Canada
Surface Area 310 km2 Mean Depth 62 m Volume 19.1 km3
Shoreline 1430 km Catchment Area 16200 km2 Residence Time 2.1 yr
Frozen Period Jan-Mar Mixing Type Dimictic Morphogenesis/Dam
Related Info/Site


Shuswap Lake is situated in the Columbia Mountains region of British Columbia where the landscape is characterized by mountainous terrain covered by dense coniferous forests. White birch lines settled areas of the lake shore adding to the beauty of the lake during fall. The mountains surrounding the lake are formed of granite which results in a very low input of nutrients. As a result, Shuswap Lake is very clear and relatively oligotrophic. The high mountains around this lake may reduce its annual solar radiation.

This multi-basin lake is comprised of 4 arms which are joined by a short shallow passage known as the "narrows." The two south arms are developed for recreational use while the two north arms remain undeveloped. The lake has several inflow rivers in each arm but only one outlet, Little River, which flows from the southwest arm to Little Shuswap Lake. Shuswap is a nursery lake for the underyearlings of sockeye salmon which spawn in several of the lake's inflow streams. Adams River is the most conspicuous of these spawning streams, accommodating up to 2 million spawners in dominant years.

Besides being of considerable value to the west coast salmon industry, moderate weather, clear water and easy accessibility make Shuswap Lake highly desirable as a recreational area. This is evidenced by the many provincial parks surrounding the lake and the hundreds of houseboats and pleasure crafts present during the summer months (Q).

Photo of Shuswap Lake
Photo: J.Stockner