Nestled against the west slopes of the Rocky Mountains, Premier Lake is one of the key recreational fishing lakes in the East Kootenay. The emerald green lakes of Premier and four smaller lakes, Canuck, Yankee, Cats Eye and Quartz offer a unique and varied fishing experience in a secluded and pleasant park atmosphere.
The area is rich in wildlife. Premier Ridge, west of the lake, is an important wintering range for elk, whitetail and mule deer, and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. Forests of Douglas fir and western larch are common in the park. Osprey, eagle, heron, king fisher, numerous forest birds and water fowl can also be seen.
Premier Lake Park, situated 72 km north of Cranbrook, contains 57 vehicle/tent camp sites and is located at the south end of the lake. There are no drive-through sites. There is an information shelter located at the entrance to the park but no telephone.
Established Date: April 26, 1940
Park Size: 837 hectares
Know Before You Go
Mountain and lake weather can change rapidly – be prepared. Visitors should be aware that high winds can come up quickly.
No skiing or towing is permitted at the south end of Premier Lake. There is also a boat speed restriction of 16 km/hour at the south end of the lake.
Parking for trucks and trailers in the day-use parking lot is limited
This park is becoming increasingly popular with boaters; parking for trucks and trailers in the day-use parking lot is limited and on some busy days there may be no parking spaces available.
To avoid this problem, all visitors are encouraged to use car-top boats that don’t require the use of a trailer, and overnight users with trailered boats are encouraged to store boat trailers at their campsites, rather than in the day-use parking lot, if the site size allows it.
All campsite reservations must be made through Discover Camping. When reservations are not available all campsites function as first come, first served.
Campsite Reservations: Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available.
Location and Maps
Please note: Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
Access is from Highway 93/95, 72 km north of Cranbrook; the well marked turnoff leads east to a 12 km paved and gravel road to the park. The smaller communities of Skookumchuck – 12km south and Wasa 16km further south are nearest the park. The larger communities are Cranbrook, 72 km south, and Kimberley, 60 km northeast, of Premier Lake on Highway 93/95.
Maps and Brochures
Any maps listed are for information only – they may not represent legal boundaries and should not be used for navigation.
History: Established in 1940, this park was named after Mr. William Smithe’s title, who was the Premier of B.C. from 1883 to 1887.
Cultural Heritage: This site was used by the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) First Nations as a camp area and food fishery.
Conservation: Forests of Douglas fir extend from the shoreline while stands of Western larch are common along the ridges. Premier Lake Park also contains four smaller lakes: Canuck, Yankee, Cats Eye and Quartz. Staples Creek fish ladder and fish collection station provides eggs for the Kootenay Fish Hatchery Signs along Staples Creek interpret the life cycle of the rainbow trout. Bird and ungulate wildlife viewing opportunities abound and the Douglas Fir and Western Larch forests exemplifies East Kootenay ecosystems.
Canoeing and kayaking are welcome on Premier Lake and Quartz Lake. Canoes, kayaks, and car-top boats may be launched into Premier Lake at either the Rod and Gun day-use area or at the main boat launch located adjacent to the campground. Small watercraft may be launched into Quartz lake via an undeveloped access point at the north end of the lake at the day-use area.
Cycling is permitted on all park roadways as well as on the Yankee-Canuck Lakes Loop Trail. Cyclists riding the Yankee-Canuck Lakes Loop Trail are asked to be courteous to other trail users and practice ‘low impact cycling’ by avoiding the trail in wet conditions, minimizing skidding, and by not shortcutting switchbacks. Bicycle helmets are mandatory in British Columbia.
Fishing is good year-round in this park. Anyone fishing or angling in British Columbia must have an appropriate licence. Ice fishing is popular at Premier Lake. Please check the BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis for current angling regulations. During the winter, access through to the boat launch is maintained by Ministry of Transportation and Highways.
The hiking trails in the park connect Yankee, Canuck and Turtle lakes. They are short loop trails offering easy access for families to these picturesque lakes. The duration of the hike can be between 1.5 to 4 hrs. For your own safety and the preservation of the park, obey posted signs and keep to designated trails. Shortcutting trails destroys plant life and soil structure.
Pets/domestic animals must be on a leash at all times and are not allowed in the playground, beach, day-use areas or park buildings. Exceptions: Pets are permitted at the Rod and Gun day-use area and the Quartz Lake day-use area; dogs may be off leash at these sites but must be under control at all times so as to not disturb wildlife or other park users. You are responsible for their behaviour and must dispose of their excrement. Backcountry areas are not suitable for dogs or other pets due to wildlife issues and the potential for problems with bears.
Enjoy a refreshing dip in the cool water of Premier Lake. The wharves provide an ideal enclosed swimming area, with a small sandy beach. The water is warmest during July and August. There are NO LIFEGUARDS on duty at provincial parks.
Signs along Staples Creek and a viewing platform at the fish ladder, interpret the life cycle of lake trout and the valued work of the Kootenay Trout Hatchery.
Facilities Available at this Park
The boat launch located at the far end of the day-use area, is concrete slab with limited moorage at the floats. The boat launch is most suitable for small boats and trailers. Users are advised to use caution on the ramp and to avoid backing off the end of the concrete slab.
This park is becoming increasingly popular with boaters; parking for trucks and trailers in the day-use parking lot is limited and on some busy days there may be no parking spaces available. To avoid this problem all visitors are encouraged to use car-top boats that don’t require the use of a trailer, and overnight users with trailered boats are encouraged to store boat trailers at their campsites rather than in the day-use parking lot if the site size allows it. Please note that boating restrictions are in place on the southern half of the lake. In this area towing (waterskiing) is restricted and boat speeds are limited to 15 km/h or less. Please refer to the BC Freshwater Fishing Regulations Synopsis.
Firewood can be purchased from the Park Operator in some parks or you can bring your own wood. Fees for firewood are set locally and may vary. To preserve vegetation and ground cover, please do not gather firewood from the area around your campsite or elsewhere in the park. Dead wood is an important habitat element for many plants and animals and it adds organic matter to the soil. You can conserve firewood and air quality by keeping your campfire small. Limited burning hours or campfire bans may be implemented and some parks may use communal fire rings. Bring a portable stove for cooking.
There are three cold water hand pumps located throughout the park – the day-use area, the overflow camping area and the main campground.
The day-use area at Premier Lake has 6 lakeside picnic tables. You can enjoy a picnic at any of the other four smaller lakes in the park but there are no picnic facilities.
Pit or Flush Toilets
This park only has pit toilets – no flush toilets. There 10 pit toilets in the campground, two pit toilets in the day use area and one pit toilet at Quartz Lake.
A large playground facility is located near the entrance to the park.
There is one solar shower enclosure for camper use; user must supply shower bag.
Vehicle Accessible Camping
The campground has vehicle accessible sites. Campsite reservations are accepted and first-come, first-served sites are also available. During the winter, campers are permitted to camp in the campground areas if accessible. Ministry of Transportation maintains access to the area.
Vehicle Accessible Camping Fee: $25.00 per party / night
BC Senior’s Rate (day after Labour Day to June 14 only): $12.50 per senior party/night. Read the User Fees Policy for information on Senior Camping Discounts.
A wheelchair accessible picnic site is located at the lakeside day-use area of the park. This includes a paved pathway to a picnic table. There is also an accessible pit toilet located in the day-use area.
During the winter, campers are permitted to camp in the campground areas if accessible. Ministry of Transportation maintains access to the area.