How to Visit Lake Kliluk (AKA Spotted Lake) in Osoyoos, Canada

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Curious about Canada’s mysterious Spotted Lake, AKA Lake Kliluk? Are you maybe interested in “spotting” this marvel for yourself? Here is a detailed guide to Spotted Lake, Osoyoos in British Columbia, Canada. (Mouthful, sorry)

It’s a sad fact of life that the Internet is wickedly deceptive. Filled with Photoshop geniuses and crafty editors, many of our Pinterest boards are peppered with sights in the world that don’t actually exist…

So excuse me for being a bit skeptical these days. Often I’ll see a photo and immediately laugh at the clear edits, then move on with my life pinning photos of pies and cats like the rest of the Internet.

But, every so often, you’ll come across worldly sights that, against all odds, are real…

And Lake Kliluk (AKA Spotted Lake), British Columbia is one of them.

Read on to learn all about this amazing marvel of nature in Osoyoos, Canada, with an explanation of why the lake has spots, the best time to visit, and how to find the famous “BC lake covered in polka dots” for yourself!

A guide on how to visit amazing Spotted Lake, a hidden gem in Canada and a must-see when you're travelling in Canada and the Okanagan. #travel #canada #spottedlake

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Lake Kliluk (Spotted Lake): A Brief Introduction

Located in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Lake Khiluk (known coloquially as Spotted Lake) is a natural marvel unique to the world because of its spotted pattern, caused when the lake’s water evaporates in the summer, leaving colourful mineral deposits that settle around the lake like spots.

Known as Klikuk by the local Okanagan First Nations people, Spotted Lake has long held a reputation for being a mystical lake with healing powers.

And while visitors aren’t allowed to soak and bathe in these waters, they are free to pull over, gawk open-mouthed at the incredible sight, and naturally take a million photos. (As I shamelessly did)

Canada has no shortage of amazing lakes, but Spotted Lake is unique in the country (and the world) for its colourful pattern, and is one of the best things to do in Osoyoos (about 4.5 hours away from Vancouver).

With that brief introduction out of the way, let’s now tackle a very common question: what’s the cause of the unique pattern of the Spotted Lake in Canada?

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

So… What makes Spotted Lake in Osoyoos spotted?

To answer this common Lake Kliluk question, we need to put our science caps on.

The reason why Spotted Lake looks the way it does is because it’s a saline endorheic alkali lake. 

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

If you’re wondering how Spotted Lake was formed to look like this, in normal English, essentially what you need to know is that the lake contains a bunch of highly concentrated minerals.

When the water on the lake evaporates in the summer, all these minerals remain and crystallize to form the otherworldly polka dot pattern. So yes, this means that the polka dots are NOT a year round phenomenon.

But hey, if that’s not enough mindblowing info for today, the colours of the spots also change throughout the summer in tandem with changes in the mineral composition.

[Brief pause for your minds to explode]

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada


But wait for it – there’s actually more. Spotted Lake is also a sacred site that carries a deep significance for the area’s First Nations people.

According to them, the lake’s waters carry special healing powers, with each of the 365 spots boasting specific and unique healing properties.

That’s right – 365, just like how many days there are in a year [minus leap years, but who even counts those?]

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

How to see Lake Kliluk (Spotted Lake) in Osoyoos for yourself

Alright, now that your curiosity is piqued, I’m sure you’re itching to see the incredible Lake Kliluk (AKA Spotted Lake) for yourself. Here are some practical pieces of info hat will help you out.

Spotted Lake, BC Location

Canada’s famous Spotted Lake can be found in the South Okanagan Grasslands Protected Area in the British Columbia province of Canada.

This places it in close proximity to BC’s best vineyards, and the only desert in the country.

NOTE: While Lake Kliluk is in the same province as Vancouver and Victoria, visiting the lake as a day trip from either of these cities would be nearly impossible due to long driving distances. From Vancouver, the drive is about 4.5 hours.

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

How to get to Spotted Lake

Finding directions to Spotted Lake can be a bit of a pain because it’s not really a publicized attraction. In fact, you could easily drive past it by accident if you’re not paying attention… so here are some directions for you to follow:

BY CAR: Once in the Okanagan, follow Highway 3 west out of Osoyoos for 10 km. You will then reach Spotted Lake. The drive takes over 4.5 hours from Vancouver.

BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT: Unfortunately it is not currently possible to visit Spotted Lake by public transport. Canadian trains don’t service this area.

BOOK A TOUR: If you want to get more cultural context and history around the lake, you also have the option of visiting the lake with a Syilx guide through a guided cultural tour. Click here for more information.

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

When to go to Spotted Lake, Osoyoos

Is there a best time to visit Spotted Lake?

Yes, absolutely!

If you are planning to visit Spotted Lake, you should make sure that you go during the hot months of the summer, when the water of the lake evaporates to reveal the magical spots.

If you go during another time of year, you might not even see the spots at all.

Other Awesome Things to do in Osoyoos

While you can’t do much at the Spotted Lake besides take photos, the Okanagan itself has a bunch of awesome activities to offer, from world class wineries to watersports and even Canada’s only desert.

Here are some of the other great things you can do in Osoyoos:

Visit Nkโ€™Mip Desert Cultural Centre. Learn more about Spotted Lake’s history and significance at this cultural centre run by the local Indigenous people of the Okanagan.ย Click here to learn more.

Go flyboarding. Embrace your inner Ironman with a watersport you’ll never forget! Click here to check availability and prices. 

Go winery hopping. One of the perks of being in BC’s wine country is (virtually) unlimited access to gorgeous wineries and even more gorgeous booze. There are tons of different tours and wineries to choose from. Click here to compare options.

Aerial view of Osoyoos, BC, Canada with the town in view

Lake Kliluk/Spotted Lake, Osoyoos FAQ

Still have some questions about seeing Spotted Lake for yourself? Whether you’re looking for Lake Kliluk facts, an address or whatever else – hopefully this section can answer them for you.

Who owns Spotted Lake?

Spotted Lake is property of the Okanagan Nation.

What is Spotted Lake’s address?

Like most natural wonders, Spotted Lake doesn’t have an exact address, but if you type “Spotted Lake” into Google Maps, there is a location pin there that you can use to get to the lake.

NOTE: The Spotted Lake address written on Google Maps is “Okanagan-Similkameen A, BC, V0H 1V5”.

Is it possible to walk on Spotted Lake?

No, the lake is a sacred medicine lake of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and the area surrounding it is private property.

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

… Can I swim in Spotted Lake?

Again, Lake Kliluk is private property belonging to the Okanagan Nation, so no.

When the spots are visible, you won’t be able to swim in it anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ Osoyoos Lake is nearby and much more pleasant to splash around in.

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

Is it possible to get up close to Spotted Lake?

Usually there is a gate barring members of the public from entering the area around Spotted Lake without permission.

As mentioned, it is private property so hopping the fence would 100% be trespassing and illegal.

On the day of my visit however, there seemed to be a special event and the gate was wide open, with many people (visitors and members of the local community alike) who were in the area behind the gate, so we got to be a little closer than usual!

That said, use your common sense – if the gate is closed, obey the rules and simply look at it from the highway.

What colours are the spots in Spotted Lake? 

The colours vary between shades of yellow, brown, green and blue depending on the exact mineral composition of that spot.

NOTE: These colourful spots aren’t visible year round. If you visited Spotted Lake in winter for example, what you’ll see is very different to what you would see in summer.

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada
Spotted Lake in British Columbia, Canada

How many spots are there on Spotted Lake?

There is said to be 365, one for every day of the year.

Are the spots there at Spotted Lake year-round?

No actually – these spots are usually most pronounced during the summer when the water in the lake evaporates. Visitors coming during other times of yearmight be disappointed because water covers up the spotted pattern.

Polka dotted lake with blue and yellow spots in Osoyoos, BC, Canada

Have you been to Lake KLiluk?

I hope you enjoyed that guide to Lake Kliluk, AKA Spotted Lake in Osoyoos, Canada!

What are some of the coolest natural sights you’ve ever come across? Would you ever want to visit Spotted Lake for yourself? Share away in the comments.


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45 thoughts on “How to Visit Lake Kliluk (AKA Spotted Lake) in Osoyoos, Canada”

  1. Fascinating science here, we were in Canada from the UK a couple of years ago and would have loved to have seen this. Still maybe next time. My memory that might compare to this as far as natural wonders would be our helicopter flight to White Island in New Zealand where we walked around on an active volcano, Wow that was amazing and fun!

    Reply
    • An active volcano? You are far braver than me haha. Canada is a huge country with lots to see, so I’m sure you’ll be back ๐Ÿ™‚ The surrounding area (the Okanagan) of this lake is absolutely gorgeous and the vineyards are superb. Hope you get to make it out there soon!

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  2. Damn. this looks beyond fantastic! More like something..i dunno..you’d expect on Mars or Saturn. lol. Great inspiration.

    so did you try out the healing properties for yourself? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • ‘Slightly alien’ is the best way I can think of to describe it haha. And nooo the harsh smell of sulphur wasn’t the most inviting, so I steered away from taking a dip ๐Ÿ˜›

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  3. Whaaattttt!!!! This is so cool!!! I can’t believe it has 365 spots, each with its own healing powers. What an awesome discovery. I have to admit, I’m similar to you – quite skeptical at times when I see all these gorgeous photos that have clearly been heavily photoshopped. But wow this looks incredible! What a natural wonder!

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  4. I had no idea that you could do this in Canada. I thought the lake was actually water and the minerals were floating on top! Thanks for clarifying this. I really like all the colors of the lake and this definitely makes for a great pit stop! I would also love to learn about the natural healing properties of these spots!

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    • Yeah I had no idea why it looked that way until I dug into some research haha. Apparently the colours change throughout the summer, which is super cool too.

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  5. Very cool article. That lake looks like something you’d find during a Star Trek expedition. I only have one problem with this piece… OF COURSE WE COUNT LEAP YEARS!!! haha. (Leap year baby right here!)

    Reply
    • Hahaha I’m so sorry! I was (of course) joking, but wow leap year baby… that’s so cool! You must get sick of hearing the jokes about how you’re really a quarter of your actual age, eh?

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  6. I agree many photos these days are so edited it deceptive. Spotted lake looks amazing. It’s just a pity Canada is so far away! I was last there 5 years ago and hope to make it back one day.

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  7. There are so many gorgeous lakes and seas in the world – and this is clearly one of them (although I must admit it does freak me out a little hahaha)

    The science behind it is fascinating though! I must ask my friend in Vancouver if he has visited here.

    Reply
    • Yes! This area is quite a few hour’s drive from Vancouver but the Okanagan is a really popular destination in the summer so it’s totally possible that he has.

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  8. it really looks out of this world! I would have thought it was an image from a movie and not an actual real place. No wonder people think that it has special powers. I wonder, did anyone actually counted the 365 spots? ๐Ÿ˜€

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    • Hahah that’s a good question! People have done stranger things, so I’m sure someone has :p It was just a fact I found online though, not based on my personal counting experience haha.

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  9. Wowzers, I feel super smart now haha! Thats really cool about the Spotted Lake, it’s kinda freaky to look at but the mythical & scientific facts are great to know. I think the Alps have been the most scenic natural sights, I’ve come across!

    Reply
    • Ah can’t beat the Alps… a very different kind of beauty, but stunning nonetheless! I agree that the lake is a little freaky haha, mostly because it doesn’t seem at all like something you’d see on Earth.

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  10. This article forgets to mention that you CANNOT go down to the lake or get anywhere near it.
    It is on private native land.
    You can park your car along the highway and take photo’s.
    So forget about the healing properties and all that.
    Take a good camera/lens with you and take photo’s from afar.
    It is beautiful. Go once a month through the summer and watch the colous change!
    I have heard thet the natives are developing it as a tourist destination at some point in the future. Don’t know if that is true or not though.

    Reply
    • Yes, definitely an oversight on my part, Carol! I’ll add that in now. And I agree with you for sure! I wasn’t recommending that people test the healing properties out for themselves haha – I just thought it was a neat fact. It’ll be really interesting to see in the coming years whether or not they decide to turn the lake into a larger tourist attraction… I definitely think there would be a market for it!

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  11. We spent last winter in Osoyoos and we marvelled at the bountiful sites to visit while we were there. The Spotted Lake was a very interesting place to visit, it is so “alien-like” the only thing was that it is a First Nation sacred place and it is gated off, so you can not get any closer to it than about 500 meters. It’s amazing how many people disregard the signs and they jump the fence and go down to the lake.
    Another beautiful site is the lookout over Osoyoos up the very, very high winding Hwy.#3 east.(Crowsnest Pass)
    A must is to visit is Spirit Ridge and the accomodations, brewery and golf course right smack within city limits. It includes an RV park with all the modern hook ups and beautiful Okanogan Lake.
    One more thing that I must share with you is the Osoyoos Railroad Museum, this place is so amazing, that if you choose not to visit it, you have missed seeing the ultimate replication of railroad stations, and sights from around the world. For a very small fee you can go inside and I’m sure you will spend no less than a couple of hours enjoying the intricate detail.

    Reply
    • Ah awesome – thanks for those recommendations, Elaine! I’d love to head back to Osoyoos soon. I’ve only been to the Okanagan once and had an amazing time. And great point about the gated area. Strangely enough, when I visited (a few years back), the gates were open and there were plenty of people coming in and out. Not sure what the occasion was.

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  12. Nothing fake about this photo. I grew up in the area and my aunt and uncle have a view of Spotted Lake from there property. Never realized it had 365 spots though.

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  13. I’ve never heard of spotted lake and I’ve even been to Osoyoos . I am so sad I missed it!! The whole area is absolutely beautiful though and well worth a second visit. Thanks for pointing out this cool spot. No pun intended! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Reply
    • Ahh that’s always the worst – when you realize you missed something that was right there. Well guess that just means you have to come back!! And heh as a pun enthusiast, I definitely appreciated that.

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  14. I had to stop by your blog to read this wonderful post of yours. Well, firstly, I love polka dots and the reason why my blog is named ‘Polkajunction’! Secondly, I have never read about the science behind this beautiful and sacred lake. So, ya…thanks a ton for bringing this to my notice through this post ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  15. Ok how do I live in BC and have never heard of or seen this place?! Lol
    It looks so interesting!! Never even heard of a polka dot lake before! Thanks for all the info!

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  16. 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…

    Reply
  17. WOw! This place is unreal, I canโ€™t believe
    I had to stop by your blog to read this wonderful post of yours. Well, firstly, I love polka dots. โค๏ธ
    Secondly, I have never read about the science behind this beautiful and sacred lake. So, yaโ€ฆthanks a ton for bringing this to my notice through this post ๏ฟฝ๏ฟฝ

    Reply
  18. Iโ€™ve never heard of spotted lake and Iโ€™ve even been to Osoyoos . I am so sad I missed it!! The whole area is absolutely beautiful though and well worth a second visit. Thanks for pointing out this cool spot. No pun intended!

    Reply
  19. I had to stop by your blog to read this wonderful post of yours. Well, firstly, I love polka dots and secondly , I have never read about the science behind this beautiful and sacred lake. So, yaโ€ฆthanks a ton for bringing this to my notice through this post

    Reply

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