Let me admit it.
I am obsessed with reading about the weird natural formations worldwide. And it’s an endless list out there that this teeny-weeny article cannot contain!
The first time I heard about The Spotted Lake, it sounded pretty unique and exciting to read and add to my bucket list book.
Being a huge fan of polka dots, I feel it’s quite extraterrestrial for an entire lake to be full of them.
But it’s totally real, and you must visit to believe it!
However, visitors are not allowed to soak and bathe in the lake; they are free to jaw-drop their mouths and take over a million photographs!
So, jump in to explore the live terrain of the unusually natural polka-dotted lake to unravel the mystery!
1. Unleashing the Secrets of the Dotted Lake
Huddled between the Okanagan and Simikameen Valley lies this dotted lake.
It’s just half a mile away from Osoyoos town in British Columbia.
The ariel view of the entire lake appears to be in a kidney shape. And to put it plainly, it’s unlike any other usual lakes you see during winter and spring.
It unfurls its bizarre coloured spots during summer when heat straws up the lake’s water, leaving behind hundreds of dotted pools with different hues.
Now you might wonder how the spots appear to be colourful.
This is a no- ordinary lake, my fellas, as this particular lake has a high concentration of minerals.
To be more precise, they have a dense accumulation of calcium, magnesium and sodium sulphates with eight other minerals that include lower amounts of titanium and silver.
Magnesium sulphate, the prime mineral deposit in the lake, significantly contributes to its hue when it crystallizes during summer.
The remaining minerals solidify, forming the natural walkways or paths in and around the spots.
Different hues like blue, green and yellow are a mineral makeup of that particular spot.
During World War I, the lake’s rich minerals were employed to make ammunition.
But the First Nations people considered sacred possessing healing powers, and have retrieved the land under their possession and are protecting it to date.
So, if you take Highway 3, there is a roadside sign explaining the cultural and economic importance of the lake for visitors.
Also highlighting its purpose in the local Okanagan Sylix people’s traditional medicine.
2. How was the Spotted Lake Formed?
Covering an area of 15 hectares, this lake is quite shallow, with a maximum depth of around 3 meters.
You can call this a saline endorheic lake. Now don’t get agitated reading this technical term.
In simple terms, it’s just a lake without any outflow. Its source is from underground springs, falling snow and rain and precipitation.
The unique feature of the lake is its mineral deposits created at the edges that form a stunning pattern of mosaic spots.
These have been formed over centuries with constant evaporation and precipitation.
Colouring of the spots depends on distinct mineral composition, the amount of sunlight and water present in the area.
For instance, blue spots arise from magnesium sulphate. Green spots comprise a combination of magnesium sulphate and calcium carbonate.
Due to this unusual mineral composition and remarkable patterns, this lake has been a crucial site for scientific study.
Still, it has amazed scientists who are constantly trying to study the reason behind the formation and change of mineral deposits over time.
This is to know about the geological process and to identify the shape of the Earth’s surface.
Ultimately the Spotted Lake is a fantastic geological wonder that reveals the complex interaction between water and minerals.
Even today, it is awe to visitors and scientists alike for its unique patterns and mineral-rich waters.
3. The Spotted Lake History
As always, it was a sacred lake to the First Nations, who initially called it Kliluk.
For many centuries, it was revered by these Okanagan Nation indigenous people for its therapeutic properties, says the British Columbia Visitor Centre.
They believed each circle had a unique healing property to treat skin diseases, wounds, muscle pain and sprains.
The Osoyoos Chamber of Commerce website also has a legend stating that as a truce, the warring tribes allowed their wounded tribesmen to get healed in the lake.
It is said that the older version of the lake gives you a more eye-catching picture than what is seen today.
However, with the setting of World War I, the minerals on the lake’s surface were skimmed by Chinese labourers and shipped to the munition factories all over Eastern Canada.
Salts up to a ton were harvested every day at the lake.
3.1 Owners Change
Then the lake was owned for 40 years by the Ernest Smith family as a ranch.
Ernest Smith, in 1979, wanted to rezone the lake and construct a spa facility.
This was opposed by the Okanagan elders and chief, emphasizing that the lake was historically sacred to the Osoyoos Indian Band.
This opposition was rehearsed amidst politicians like Bill Vander Zalm, BC minister of municipal affairs that year, and the federal minister of Indian affairs, John Monroe. They eventually supported the natives.
Monroe wanted the Okanagan people to donate funds to purchase the lake for their use.
Also, he sent a negotiating team to approach the owners to convince them about selling the property.
But the Ernest Smith family refused to sell the property, and the negotiation was put on hold for some time.
3.2 Okanagan People Get the Lake Back
In November 2000, 20 years later, the Supreme Court lifted up the barriers developed on the Spotted Lake.
The mud extraction costs were put out for public tender as it was stated that the mud in the lake was allegedly mined up to 10,000 tons for spa purposes.
Now the Okanagan Nation Alliance was brought into remembrance, and they were asked to provide the funds for the purchase on April 13, 2001.
However, this date was extended to October 2001, when the deal was final.
It was announced that the Federal Government and the local natives purchased the 22 hectares of land surrounding Spotted Lake.
$705,000 was paid towards the property by The Indian Affairs Department, and the remaining $720,000 was paid by the Okanagan Nation Alliance.
Curious about its scientific significance?
Here’s an insightful article for that!
4. Is Spotted Lake Dangerous?
No, the lake is not dangerous as it looks to be!
You might get the feeling of danger because of the fences that surround the lake.
But you cannot drink the water from the lake as it can cause stomach trouble.
This is because of the minerals sodium chloride, calcium and magnesium carbonate found in the lake.
And you must note that they were used by the Indigenous people for their medicinal properties to treat the body externally. So, the lake is entirely safe!
5. Can You Swim in Spotted Lake?
No! You cannot swim here.
The lake is a private property exclusive to the Okanagan Nation.
You cannot go beyond the ranges provided unless you get special permission from the Osoyoos Indian Bands.
But don’t worry. You have the pleasant Osoyoos Lake close by to swim and splash around!
6. Spotted Lake Best Time to Visit
The downright answer is summer!
You might find the lake no different from the other water bodies throughout the other seasons.
Also, the Spotted Lake in April doesn’t provide precise round cuts. So, the best time to see the lake in its full glory is between May and August.
However, if you cannot bear the intense heat, try booking your trip between June and September.
You must also note that this is the time when crowds tend to increase.
Here’s a tip for you!
The higher the heat, the different hues of spots you can see on the lake’s surface to capture some stunning photographs.
Check out Google Maps to head straight to the polka dot lake!
7. How to Get to the Lake?
Finding your way to the lake might be challenging, especially if you are going there for the first time.
You must note that this is not a publicized attraction, and you can easily cross the spot without noticing the lake.
But follow these directions to reach the spot without any hassle!
You have to start your drive from Okanagan.
Then stay on Highway 3 west outside Osoyoos for up to 10 km to reach the lake.
For those coming from Vancouver, it can take a 4.5 hours drive.
7.2 Public Transport
Sorry, there are NO public transport services to this area.
That’s the case with Canadian trains too!
7.3 Take a Tour
There are unlimited options for this choice.
Also, you can take guided tours by the Syilx guide to learn about the history and cultural context around the lake.
For more information regarding the modes to reach the lake, click here…
Staying around the lake? Check the list of hotels for all budgets here!
8. Other Activities than Gazing and Photo shooting the Lake
How long can you take photographs and admire the lake under the hot sun?
Okanagan offers many fantastic activities, from watersports to world-class wineries and even Canada’s only desert.
So, here’s a small list you can try out on your trip to Osoyoos:
8.1 Visit Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Here’s a complete library that gives you complete knowledge of the Dotted Lake’s past and significance.
This is a cultural centre solely run by the Okanagan Indigenous peoples. See more here…
Hiding an Ironman within you?
Then you are the perfect match to take up this water sport that will offer you some unforgettable memories.
Check the availability and prices here!
8.3 Winery Hopping
This is the greatest perk offered at British Columbia- limitless access to gorgeous wineries.
You can find tons of diverse wineries and tour options to choose from.
So, compare options here!
9. The Spotted Lake Facts
Before we end, here are a few facts to mull over about this bizarre lake!
- Lake Khiluk (the other name of the lake) is considered the world’s highly mineralized lake, with each spot having a unique antidote.
- The lake is 0.25 km wide and 0.7 km long, with an integrated shore length of 1.7 km.
- In the native tongue, the lake is called the sacred medicine lake or ‘Chliluk,’ ‘Kliluk,’ and ‘Khiluk.’
- It is said that there are 365 individual pools of water in the lake during summer ranging in yellow, orange, purple, green, and blue hues depending on the mineral content.
- Today, the lake is considered a protected area owned by the indigenous communities and the Canadian Government!
- There is a constant shift in the size and colour of the pools as each mineral content changes with evaporation.
- The lake is highly salty, and you can never find life thriving in it except for a few algae that are compatible with salty waters.
- This sacred lake for the native communities treated pains, warts, and skin diseases.
- The lake is really a drainage basin with no outflow.
10. End to the Spots
Like the trip through this article? You can fancy the better one if you are actually there!
Ensure to follow the rules to respect the property of the Indigenous people and carry back loads of memories leaving behind your footprints…
What are some of the most remarkable natural vistas you’ve ever encountered?
Do you wish to take a trip to Spotted Lake all by yourself?
Let your thoughts flow into the comments!
Also, check out our website for more bizarre places and information you might have never encountered!