Buntzen Lake Recreation Area is a popular family summer getaway located just a few minutes outside of Coquitlam, about a 45-minute drive from Vancouver (depending on traffic). The park features a nice beach and dock for swimming, a boat launch (gas powered motors not permitted), a plethora of picnic tables and washroom facilities, and a fenced-in off-leash dog area. The beach also provides access to some great hiking, biking, and equestrian trails in the adjacent Belcarra regional park and surrounding mountains. The water is refreshing, and the scenic setting is so attractive that hikers used to refer to this place as "Lake Beautiful."
The lake is an active hydroelectric reservoir and once was the primary source of electricity for the city of Vancouver. Nowadays the electricity generated by this facility is a tiny portion of Vancouver’s energy consumption demands, but it is still operational and generating cheap electricity after over 100 years. For anyone curious, there is educational signage around the park explaining some of the details and the history of hydroelectricity in British Columbia.
Considering all that the park has to offer and its proximity to the city, it’s no wonder that this swimming hole is such a busy spot on a hot summer day. This place is best enjoyed on a weekday or during the slower season, but if you intend on checking out the park on a hot Saturday in the summertime, plan to arrive early. There are approximately 600 parking spots, and they often are all full by 11 a.m on the weekend, at which point park rangers will begin turning people away at the gate.