After 29 years of running Smiling Otter, Jim and Lorraine are stepping back a bit to enjoy retirement.  We are pleased to announce that Smiling Otter has found a new home in Slocan and will continue to offer trip support, kayak, and canoe rentals! 

For the Summer of 2023 we will be busy moving the business to its new home and training the new owners. For the transition period, kayak or canoe rentals will not be available June-August 2023, but we look forward to continuing to offer private shuttles throughout the summer months.  Rentals will be available starting August 31st for the Labour Day Weekend and we will resume full operation from that point forward. 

Exciting things are happening at Smiling Otter and we look forward to supporting you on your future adventures.  Details on the new Smiling Otter operations will be posted soon.  

We appreciate your patience as we move through this transition.
Advanced reservation is required for Summer 2023 Shuttle Services. 
Contact Jim & Lorraine for shuttle service reservations at (250) 505-6817 or

We offer private shuttles on Slocan Lake to make your experience more convenient.  We can shuttle you and your gear in your vehicle to the North end of the lake.  We simply send a driver with you in your vehicle to drop you off and drive your vehicle back to Slocan.  Then you can paddle and camp along the Western shoreline to our site where your vehicle will be waiting for you.  This service can save you the hassle of arranging rides or hitchhiking once you are here. The cost of a shuttle is $120 per driver. This includes tax plus parking.

Kayak and Canoe Rentals Starting August 31st, 2023 and Summer 2024:  

Please contact Smiling Otter at or (250) 505-8020
to reserve shuttle service, kayak or canoe rentals
for dates beginning August 31st, 2023, and Summer 2024.


Above all else, otters love to play

Come & play with us today!



Phone (250) 505-6817

Box 92, Slocan BC Canada

V0G 2C0

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    Slocan River Information

    • SEASON: April through November
    • RATING: Various sections - Class 1 through 3 (2- 2+ during high water, Class 3 below Crescent Valley to Shoreacres
    • HAZARDS:  Pilings from old logging operations which can be misleading and dangerous; cottonwood sweepers scattered along river
    • MAPS: Canadian NTS 82 F/5
    • ACCESS:Halfway between Castlegar and Nelson is the junction of Highway 3A and Highway 6. Highway 6 runs along the Slocan River to Slocan City in the North. Seven bridges cross the Slocan River. All of them provide good access and parking for take-outs and put-ins. Shuttle service may be available from Smiling Otter Kayak & Canoe in Slocan City.
    The Slocan River flows out of Slocan Lake which lies nestled between the Goat Range and the Valhalla s in the mighty Selkirk Mountains. The river runs approx 55 km to its confluence with the Kootenay River between Castlegar and Nelson. The river formed a major transportation link to the bustling gold and silver mining areas of the Silvery Slocan in the 1890s. In the 1920s and 1930s again it played an important roll in the area development as a means of transporting logs from the mountains to sawmills in the south, hence the numerous pilings along the river. Pilings were used to prevent log jams. Today the river has become a playground for recreational canoes and kayakers. Canoes and kayakers ply the waters of the rivers while hikers, cyclists and cross country skiers take advantage of an old abandoned rail line which runs along the side of the river.Whether gliding down the river on a hot sunny day or skiing along the old rail line on a crisp, cold, clear winter day, the stunning scenery of the Slocan Valley makes it a worthwhile respite from a busy congested world.

    Paddling Options

    • Slocan City to Lemon Creek
    • Perry Siding to Winlaw Bridge
    • Winlaw Bridge to Vallican Bridge
    • Vallican Bridge to Crescent Valley
    • Crescent Valley to Shoreacres

    Slocan City to Lemon Creek

    This is a very peaceful stretch of the Slocan River. Enjoy the pastoral farmland set against the backdrop of spectacular mountain vistas. The shallow reed and rush choked waterway teems with the waterfowl and wildlife of the Walter Clough Wildlife Reserve. Watch for osprey, eagles, geese, ducks, beavers and otters or stop and swim and the many beaches along the way.
    • Peaceful section on the Slocan River

      Peaceful section on the Slocan River

      DISTANCE: 8 kilometers
    • TIME: 1 hour to ½ day
    • RATING: Flatwater
    • HAZARDS: Very few. The major hazard involves taking out at Lemon Creek. Log jams are below Lemon Creek. A small rapid at the take-out makes capsizing a possibility. At high water this is a serious outcome.
    • PUT-IN: Slocan City Public Beach or Smiling Otter Kayak & Canoe or Bridge on Gravel Pit Road Paddle upstream close to shore back to Gravel Pit Road or Smiling Otter to take-out.
    • TAKE-OUT: Lemon Creek - below creek confluence or above dependent on skill level and water level
    • UPPER TAKE-OUT is safer. It requires a longer walk up along Lemon Creek on a rudimentary trail with no markings to railway grade (approx. 200-300 meters). Please avoid stopping at the developed private property above the creek.
    • LOWER TAKE-OUT is a very narrow 4 x 4 accessible road.  It is found at the Lemon Creek rail trail parking lot on Kennedy Road and allows paddlers to drive close to the river. The danger at this take-out involves paddling through the confluence of Lemon Creek and the Slocan River, which at a higher water level is a Class 2 rapid immediately above an 8 km stretch of rapids and log jams.

    Lemon Creek to Appledale - Not recommended

    The section below Lemon Creek to Appledale is not recommended due to faster water, small rapids and various log jams and sweepers. It is deceptively dangerous.

    Appledale to Winlaw

    Appledale to Winlaw is a very good run for the total beginner. It is a calm moving water section through a reflective green pastoral setting. There is a sandy bottom and numerous beaches in the late season. Just before the Winlaw Bridge is a beautiful sandy beach on river right. This is the Winlaw Nature Park complete with bathrooms, picnic tables and a series of interpretive trails through a heavily treed wetland area.
    • TIME: 1½ to 3 hours
    • RATING: Flatwater
    • HAZARDS: Virtually none - some sweepers
    • PUT-IN: Perry's Bridge
    • TAKE-OUT: Above Winlaw Bridge or Winlaw Nature Park

    Winlaw Bridge to Vallican Bridge

    This section is typified by small to medium rapids and strong current differential, numerous sweepers and some log jams. With moderate moving water canoe skills all can easily be avoided. During times of average water levels there are numerous sand and gravel beaches to stop and languish in the sun. Human development is much less visible along this section of the river. This section is a very nice introduction to wilderness river paddling.
    • TIME: 2 ½ to 3 hours
    • RATING: Class 2, 2+ in high water This is NOT a novice run in high water
    • HAZARDS: Many log jams and sweepers. Moving water skills are required.
    • NOTE: Use added floatation in canoes in moving water. Without added floatation rescue of your boat may be difficult on this section during periods of high water levels.

    Vallican Bridge to Crescent Valley

    This section is just great fun with many places to practice ferrying, eddy turns and surfing small waves. Intermediate moving water skills are required. This section of river is perfect for teaching both white water kayaking and canoeing.
    • TIME: 2 to 3 hours
    • RATING: Class 1 with some Class 2+ rapids
    • HAZARDS: Some sweepers and small log jams are easily avoided.  The main hazard on this section are wood pilings. They are deceptively dangerous to you and your canoe - AVOID THEM!
    • TAKE-OUT: Crescent Valley Public Beach. This is the first point the river is clearly visible from Highway No. 6 traveling North from the junction of Highways 3A and 6.

    Crescent Valley to Shoreacres

    The lower Slocan River is a warm, clear, clean river with good fun for most of the year. Intermediate through expert paddlers always seem to be able to find some thrills on this section of the river. This section of the river has many large surf waves and holes which can keep you busy for hours.This is a white water run. The biggest drop can be portaged on river right by trail. All other rapids can be walked. Be aware that the trails cross private property and access may become an issue. There is almost always someone on the river on the weekends for information. Bring your gear and enjoy great fun!
    • TIME: 1 to 3 hours
    • RATING: 2+ to 3+ in high water
    • HAZARDS: Some large holes and rocks but generally a clean safe run. Moderate to advanced moving water skills are required.

    Slocan Valley- a hidden gem

    Outstanding scenery and wilderness
    • Relatively low usage levels and an easy going, laid back attitude
    • Away from the crowds
    • Clearest, cleanest water
    Nature & wildlife viewing on Upper Slocan River        
    • Upper Slocan River – Pastoral Beauty
    • Walter Clough Wetland wildlife area
    • Indian Archaeological Site
    • Large Beaver Lodge
    • Hiking, bird watching, range of activities, bike trail
    Variety of Paddling opportunities
    • Lakes – small and intimate
    • Rivers – flatwater or  whitewater
    Safety for novice to intermediate paddlers. 
    • Crossing Slocan Lake is not necessary.  Paddle close to the shoreline – if you are not comfortable with the weather, pull over and wait it out!
    • Warmer water
    • Smaller lake
    • No navigational skills required – it is hard to get lost!
    Nature’s Playpen – a lot of activities in one area
    • Fishing in creeks, river, lakes
    • Cliff jumping.  The water is so clear you can easily scout for obstacles
    • Swimming.  Many secluded swimming sites accessible only by boat or hiking.
    • Nature and wildlife photography.
    • Hiking.  From a gentle walk along the lake to the challenging mountain trails and traverses.  View the alpine flowers.
    • Biking.  From a quick ride along the rail trail or backroads to thrilling mountain bike trails
    • River Floats.  Safe, gentle river floats on inner tubes, small rafts or canoes.
    • Camping.  One of the finest municipal campsites located on Springer Creek right in Slocan.
    • Historic and cultural experiences
    Slocan Lake Adventure by Kayak or Canoe – the icing on the cake! The scenic Slocan Lake offers a simply stunning paddling trip.  This multi-day trip allows the combination of hiking, swimming and fishing in a wilderness environment.  Paddle and camp along the West side of Slocan Lake, much of which is within the boundaries of Valhalla Provincial Park.  Eight beachfront campsites along the route provide facilities that include tables, camp pads, clean outhouses and most importantly, facilities for the safe storage of food to prevent attracting bears! The most common length of this trip is three to five days.  This is plenty of time to enjoy some of the hikes into the high country, as well as time to relax on the beach and read a book with an unbelievably gorgeous backdrop.  Sit around a campfire with your friends or family; tell stories, laugh and bond with each other.  A rare commodity – in a world away from busy, hectic lives! This is the perfect family outing for the beginners or experienced.  You are on your own but help is never too far away. 




    Slocan Lake – Day trip or Multi-day trip

    A beautiful day on Slocan Lake

    A beautiful day on Slocan Lake

    Our most popular trip is the North to South of Slocan Lake (or a “there and back” trip).  The Western shoreline is part of the Valhalla Provincial Park and there are beach campsites and hiking trails on the shoreline.  We could help you with your shuttle to the North End and you could paddle all along the shoreline to our location where your vehicle would wait for you.   3-5 days is perfect for this trip. Another resource for this adventure is the brochure & map at the BC Parks website.  There is a brief description of the hiking trails along the lake.

    Slocan River Paddling Options

    • Slocan City to Lemon Creek
    • Perry Siding to Winlaw Bridge
    • Winlaw Bridge to Vallican Bridge
    • Vallican Bridge to Crescent Valley
    • Crescent Valley to Shoreacres

    Upper Slocan River - Slocan to Lemon Creek

    Scenic Upper Slocan River

    Scenic Upper Slocan River

    Walter Clough Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Peaceful – breathtaking scenery
    • Rich aquatic plant life
    • View a beaver lodge & paths – the structure & tunnels are visible (especially in low water)
    • Home of ducks, geese, eagles, beavers . . .
    Sinnext Indian Archaelogical Site
    • Remains of pit houses
    • Calming walk in the forest

    Upper Slocan River – Appledale to Winlaw 

    Little Slocan Lake

    Spectacular camping and fishing on a small, calm mountain lake.  Little Slocan Forest Service Recreation Site 21 km from Slocan City via 3 season gravel road (Little Slocan Forest Service Road).

    What to bring

    Dress for the weather and be prepared to be active and comfortable. Make sure you wear shoes that can get wet (sturdy sandals, old runners, neoprene booties). There is lots of room in the boats for your lunch, warm clothes and other necessities. Don’t forget:
    • Hat, Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen & lip balm
    • Water Bottle & lunch
    • Camera
    • Extra clothes (warmer/cooler)
    • Swim suit, towel
    • Optional: Binoculars
    • Emergency kit.
    • drybags
    • Paddles
    • PFDs
    • Sleeping pads
    • Tents
    • Tarps