Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake

Buntzen Lake Reservoir's amazing setting, adjacent hiking trails and cooling waters make it a popular destination year round. Particularly on hot weekends, get there early to ensure you get a parking spot and a nice spot on the beach.

Access and directions

Need directions? View a map of BC Hydro recreation areas and get directions to Buntzen Lake, just north of Port Moody in the Lower Mainland.

Please note that parking lots are located about two kilometres past the entrance gate. Parking is on a first-come basis only. When parking lots are full the entrance gates will be closed for the day. No re-entry is permitted.

Gate opening and closing times change throughout the year. To find out the current times, please call the Buntzen Lake Warden's office at 604 469 9679.

The C26 bus operates from Coquitlam Centre to Buntzen Lake daily. Normally this bus stops at the turnaround before the recreation area entrance gate. It is a 1.8-kilometre or 15 to 20 minute walk to the South Beach area. During weekends and holidays between July and August, the C26 bus will continue all the way into the South Beach area. For bus schedules and information, visit the Translink website.

Find out about recreation area closures and restrictions.

Parking guidelines

Buntzen Lake Reservoir is one of the most popular BC Hydro recreation sites in the province. We encourage the public to enjoy the area, and be familiar with the parking policies. They’re in place to ensure public safety and emergency access.

Why does BC Hydro limit parking access?
BC Hydro limits visitor parking to ensure emergency vehicles have access to the site. Long line-ups can block Sunnyside Road in Anmore and access to the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Hall. 

In cooperation with the Coquitlam RCMP who have policing authority for the area, BC Hydro does not permit line-ups for parking outside the gate because the line-ups impact emergency access.

What is the policy?
Once the parking lot is full, the gate is closed, until enough spaces are available to handle visitor capacity for the rest of the day. Parking lots may have a number of spaces available while the gates are still closed. Other non-BC Hydro regional parks in the Lower Mainland have similar policies.

Why can’t the public drop-off and pick-up people inside the gate?
Drop-offs and pick-ups also cause line-ups, preventing emergency access to the park. Public safety is a priority for BC Hydro.

Although Buntzen Lake Reservoir has close to 600 parking spaces, BC Hydro encourages visitors to arrive early.  Parking is on a first-come basis only.  No re-entry is permitted.

Visitors are reminded that footpath access to South Beach is 2.3 kilometers.

Facilities and activities

Today BC Hydro's Buntzen Lake Reservoir serves not only as a source of hydroelectric power but also as an attractive recreation area for public enjoyment.

To add to your enjoyment of the area, BC Hydro provides the following facilities:

  • picnic tables, shelter and grass play areas
  • cartop boat and canoe launch areas and dock
  • Canoe rentals are available at the Anmore Store located on Sunnyside Road. Call 604 469 9928 for rentals
  • hiking, mountain biking, equestrian and nature trails
  • developed viewpoints and interpretive displays
  • parking and equestrian staging area
  • designated area for dogs
  • drinking water
  • pay phone 

History and hydroelectric operation

Buntzen Lake, located just north of Ioco approximately 30 kilometres (km) from Vancouver, is a BC Hydro reservoir. It is 4.8 km long and covers an area of 182 hectares.

Formerly known as Lake Beautiful, the lake is named after the first general manager of B.C. Electric Co., Johannes Buntzen. In 1903 the Buntzen hydroelectric project was put in service by the Vancouver Power Company to provide the first hydroelectric power to Vancouver. Previously, the city had to depend on a 1,500-kilowatt (kW) steam plant for its power supply.

The project involved raising the level of the dam on Coquitlam Lake and excavating a 3.6 km tunnel to carry water from Coquitlam Lake to Buntzen Lake. The tunnel runs under Eagle Mountain, reaching a maximum depth of 1.2 km below the surface, and empties into the north end of Buntzen Lake.

Water from Buntzen Lake flows through penstocks down the steep mountain slope to two power plants located on Indian Arm. Buntzen No. 1 was constructed in 1903 with an initial capacity of 1,500 kW. A second powerhouse, Buntzen No. 2, was completed in 1914 with three pelton wheels delivering a total of 26,700 kW to meet Vancouver's continually increasing demand for secure electricity.

The generating equipment in Buntzen No. 1 was modernized in 1951 to produce 55,000 kW of power. At the turn of the millennium Buntzen No. 1 was shut down. Buntzen No. 2 is monitored and operated by a remote control facility in Burnaby.

In addition to powering the two hydroelectric plants, water from Buntzen is an essential part of the operation of the Burrard Generating Station. Fresh water from Buntzen is used to produce the steam to power Burrard's generators.

The natural gas-powered Burrard Generating Station plays an important role to provide back-up for the hydroelectric system during low water years, and also to provide transmission support and electrical supply security for the Lower Mainland.

Buntzen Lake rules, considerations

To assist BC Hydro in maintaining the best possible outdoor recreational areas please observe the following rules:

  • Consumption of alcohol and drugs is prohibited on BC Hydro property and is strictly enforced by the RCMP.
  • Please help keep the area clean by placing refuse in the containers provided.
  • Dogs are not permitted in the main beach area. The map shows three areas where your dogs may picnic with you. The trail to the right leads to the dog off-leash area beside Buntzen Creek. Please do not walk your dog through the main beach area.
  • All dogs must be on a leash except in the two designated off-leash areas or on the dog off-leash trail. All dogs must be under owner's control at all times.
  • Use of the picnic shelter is on a first-come first-served basis with no formal reservations. The Warden may be contacted to inform him that a large group will be using the picnic areas and avoid many groups wanting to use the areas on the same day. The entire group must still arrive before the parking area fills.
  • Open fires are not allowed in the recreation area. A few tables are equipped with metal stands to support barbecues.
  • The use of power boats is prohibited on Buntzen Lake. Small battery-powered electric motors are allowed. While boating observe all water safety regulations.
  • For public safety, firearms are prohibited.
  • Overnight camping is prohibited. Vehicles left in the area overnight may be towed away at the owner's expense.
  • Trails are closed to all motor vehicles.
  • The consumption of liquor is prohibited.
  • Vending is prohibited.

Safety around water

Since operations of the hydroelectric facilities on Buntzen Lake and Indian Arm are remotely controlled, they are particularly hazardous to the public. Sudden adjustments in water flows can occur without warning and cause strong surface and underwater currents in the vicinity of the intake structures and the Coquitlam Lake tunnel outfall. Swimming or boating in these areas is extremely dangerous. For your personal safety, please observe all warning signs and stay well back from BC Hydro operating areas and structures.

All lakes, rivers and streams represent a potential danger to public safety. Please note the following:

  • There are no lifeguards on duty at Buntzen Lake. In the event of an emergency, contact the Recreation Area Warden or phone 911. Visitors are required to obey the safety directions of all on-site BC Hydro Recreation Area staff.
  • There is a sudden drop-off at both the North and the South Beach.  Depth of water over the drop-off varies with reservoir levels.  Parents should keep small children within arms length.
  • An approved Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is required by law for each person on board any boat or canoe. This includes inflatables. Remember that it won't work if you don't wear it. A sound signalling device, such as a whistle, is also required by law.
  • Don't overload your boat or canoe with people or gear.
  • Small boats with a rounded bottom tip easily. Keep your centre of gravity as low as possible by sitting or kneeling even when reeling in a fish.
  • Watch the weather. Check the forecast before starting out. Be alert for the wave, wind, and cloud changes that signal bad weather is approaching.
  • Cold water reduces body heat 25 times faster than air does at the same temperature. Buntzen Lake is cold enough to threaten your survival. Wearing your PFD increases your survival time.
  • Alcohol affects your ability to function in three critical ways. Your balance, judgment and reaction time are affected almost immediately with the first drink. Remember: alcohol and water don't mix!
  • Never leave children unsupervised while they are in or near the water.
  • Children and non-swimmers should wear a PFD.
  • Two-thirds of people who drown never intend to go in the water. If you are not prepared to get wet, you are not prepared to go out on the water.
  • Be back on shore 30 minutes before posted closing times.