Rent a Boat in Manning Park

Rent a Boat in Manning Park

Rent a Boat in Manning Park on Lightning LakeE.C. Manning Park is such a fantastic Provincial Park, East of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. I have visited several times now (in all kinds of weather conditions), mostly so we could go hiking. However on our last visit, we thought it might be fun to rent a boat and go paddling on Lightning Lake. The boathouse by the day use area at the lake will let you borrow a paddle boards, canoes, or kayaks. We hired canoes for a couple of hours to paddle through this beeeautiful scenery.

It turned out to be the prefect way to spend a day in the sun – plus we got to see otters and a beaver!

Rent a boat in Manning Park – the basics

What kind of boats are available:
Regular boats : 2 seater canoes, rowboats, kayaks or stand up paddle boards
Big Boats: 5 seater McKenzie canoes

Can you book in advance:
We were told it is first come first served. But there were price lists for multiple days, so you could pay for that if you want to ensure they’ll be a boat available.

Regular boats: $25 (1 hour) $38 (2 hours)
Big boats: $35 (1 hour) $48 (2 hours)

Dates you can rent a boat:
May long weekend until Thanksgiving

The boathouse has plenty of life jackets (PFD), in various sizes which are included in the price. Make sure you wear one.

Firstly, I should probably mention that we had not really planned to hire a canoe. Our original plan had been to hike the Lightning Lake loop that I had done once before in the snow. We woke up, had a leisurely breakfast at the Lightning Lake campground and then set off for this short(ish) walk around the lake.

Once we made it around to the Lightning Lake day use area and boat house it was around 10am. That’s a late start for hiking, but it was early for people who hire boats, so there were only a couple of people out on the lake.

Our friends were planning to leave after lunch, so I stopped to speak to the Manning Park boathouse staff to enquire about renting a boat later in the afternoon. The lady I chatted to said that if we fancied it, it might be better to go straight away while it was still quiet.

We were pretty easy to persuade! It was a hot day, so heading straight out on the water sounded like a great way to spend the morning. We chose to hire 2 canoes so we could chase our friends around the lake.

Paddling on Lightning Lake – tips for newbies

If you are not used to canoeing or kayaking, don’t worry too much! I don’t even remember the last time I have paddled, but the staff told us the basics, and then you can work it out pretty quickly. These were the main things that helped up paddle speedily with the least amount of effort:

  • Try to keep the paddle blade vertical as you swoosh through the water. It maximizes the forward propulsion with each stroke.
  • Paddle on the opposite side of the boat to your partner (it’s more stable)
  • Keep in synch with your partner

Lightning Lake Shape

If you have ever been to Manning Park, you may already know the wibbly shape of Lightning Lake – it is more like two lakes, linked by a narrow section where you can cross over on Rainbow Bridge. You can see the map of the shape on my other post here. We started off by seeing how far we could paddle; Heading towards the second, long skinny lake, where there were fewer people.

End of Lightning Lake

It took us around 40-45 minutes to paddle to the furthest part of the lake. So, if you are only planning to paddle for an hour, you may not be able to make it all the way here and back.

Wildlife in Lightning Lake

We saw plenty of fishes (I think they were trout) jumping out of the lake. However the best part was seeing a pair of otters, just as we were turning around to head back. I have never seen otters before, so I spent my time going “squeeee,” rather than taking good photos! You can sort of see them in this photo!

We have also seen ground squirrels, pikas, a bear, snowshoe hares, eagles and plenty of cheeky whisky jacks close to this lake. Later that afternoon I saw a beaver too. E.C. Manning Park is fabulous for spotting wildlife.

Swimming in Manning Park

Looking at these photos, the water looks like it should be warm and tropical. However it was actually pretty chilly. Just be aware, if you think of jumping in the water while you paddle, you may end up colder than you expect! Marc and I swam a few times here – our favourite spot is in the calm area near the campground.

If you are planning to swim, please don’t wear insect repellent that includes DEET, and choose a mineral based, lake-friendly sunscreen.

Our favourite area of Lightning Lake

One of the nicest spots for paddling is the little bump at the top of the lake, near the Lightning Lake campground. It can be hard to spot the opening to this quiet section from the main lake, but it’s close to the boathouse. It’s calm, shady and has great views of Frosty Mountain.

This is heading back to the main lake – you can see that this little area is slightly hidden. Do watch out for it as it was a pleasure to explore.

We all really enjoyed canoeing on Lightning Lake. Two hours was the perfect amount of time (much longer and I would probably have looked like a lobster, even with oodles of sun cream!) The cold water helps to keep you cool, even on very warm days, so paddling was an absolute pleasure. My arms were pretty tired that evening though.

Hike the Lightning Lake Loop

Once you have finished paddling, if you still have some energy, you can also hike around Lightning Lake. The hike is only 8.5 km, so you can walk the whole way around in a couple of hours. We were a bit too hot to walk after paddling, so we ate lunch, spent a few hours in our hammock; Before doing this walk in the late afternoon once it started to cool down a little.

Meeting a Beaver

I was very happy to see the otters while we paddled on the lake; However the real highlight of my day was seeing a beaver. This was in the late afternoon, so there were no other walkers at the far side of Lightning Lake. We came around a bend to see a beaver munching on some flowers at the edge of the lake! He watched us for a couple of minutes, then swam off towards rainbow bridge.

Marc and I were so excited to see him (or her!?) that we ran along the path to try to keep up and see the beaver swim. He was taking his time, so we kept getting ahead, and were able to watch him swim up. The path is not always close to the lake, so we’d run through the trees, only to cut back to the lakeshore to spot for him (hoping he didn’t change direction…)


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When we saw other hikers, we told them we were watching for a beaver, so by the time the beaver swam through the narrow section of the lake, there was a small crowd of humans waiting to watch him pass. This may not be exciting for most Canadians, but I was soooo happy to see this little fella!

If you are thinking about renting a boat one summer, E.C Manning park is a fantastic place to do this. The lake is large enough to make it feel like you are going on a mini adventure. The scenery is beautiful, the forest is calming and there is plenty of wildlife for you to see by the water. Hiking will always be my favourite activity, but it turns out paddling is fun too!

If you are Camping at Lightning Lake and would like some more ideas of things to do nearby. I have a few other posts that you might enjoy.

Paddling on Lightning Lake in Manning Park Rent a Boat in Manning Park - Perfect place to paddle near Vancouver Rent a Boat in Manning Park on Lightning Lake

61 thoughts on “Rent a Boat in Manning Park

  1. Looks like a lot of fun. The water is so very clear. I love that you saw both otters and a beaver. Very nice find.

    I like to talk to the wildlife too. I was glad to hear you greeting him in the video!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    1. Thanks Patricia! Hehehe I always chat to the animals we meet (I forgot I was filming so just kept chatting!!)

      p.s. I hope you are well! You just reminded me that I didn’t catch up with your blog for a while. I’ll pop over now.

    1. ooh I bet you have kyaked in some epic places as you have visited so many tropical spots! I’d like to try kayaking too…just on this occasion we wanted to share the effort and paddle together.

  2. what a great experience, and it was interesting to read about a new activity of yours. I did kayakings one in NZ in the sea and love it. I hope to do this more in the future and Manning park sounds like the perfect place.

    1. Oooh that must have been fun. We saw people kayaking near Milford sound – I would looove to go back and do that. Is that where you paddled in NZ?

  3. Lightning Lake looks sooo beautiful Josy! Your pictures are incredible – the crystal clear water and the reflection of the mountains in them, wow!

    Your excitement for the beaver is infectious – now I want to see one!

    1. You know, we’ve been trying to see beavers and otters for aaaages! Sometimes lakes/coves are named after animals here…so we always visit those places just in case we see one. It made me want to go back to Manning Park again for sure! 😀

    1. It’s not quite as high (or as crazily blue/green) as glacial lakes…but in some ways that is good as it wasn’t quite as cold as those lakes either!!

    1. Oooh really? In that case maybe it’ll be even easier once we try kayaking. It was quite nice going in a canoe so we could share the effort. We both had moments when we’d stop paddling and let our partner do all the work.

    1. Thanks Aradhana. Although, I think the beaver won at sliding through the water effortlessly. He made it look like he was having such a relaxing day! 😂

  4. How cool is it that you found a Beaver swimming around Lightning Lake! That would be really fun to see in person! Though I love hiking, it looks like renting a boat in Manning Park is the way to go to see all the sights along Lightning Lake and the amazing forest of Manning Park!

    1. I knoooow! I was so happy to see that little dude! Although we did see him while we were hiking (rather than paddling) but I guess normally you have a better chance to see beavers in the water.

  5. Oh my gosh, how cute is the little beaver?! What a beautiful place to go paddling. Looks like you had the place to yourself!

    1. It’s funny, the day use area was pretty busy…and by the time we gave the boats back there were lots of other people on the lake…but it is such a big lake that it always seemed like we had the space to ourselves.

  6. It all looks so beautiful! I love that you got to see some of the local wildlife while out and about.
    It also looks like there was no one else there, which is great. I always feel like I’ve hit the jackpot when I visit places without crowds!

    1. There definitely were more people around…I think we just got lucky as it was so spacious that we didn’t bump into many other people (apart from around the day use area, which was packed!)

  7. That lake is stunningly beautiful. I’m so glad you finally got to see a beaver. What a great video of it in the clear water, too.

  8. Manning Park looks so beautiful, and this boat ride seems so peaceful. And I would have never guessed there were Otters here!! So cool! You have definitely convinced me to put Manning Park higher on my bucket list! 🙂

  9. This looks like a beautiful place to canoe! We’ve had beaver surface near us and then *SLAM!* their tales on the water. It’s LOUD! (it’s a warning to other beavers that “danger” is nearby.)

  10. It appears there is no end of things to do at Manning. Looks like a beautiful place to paddle. Weather is looking better for next week…hopefully we’ll get in a few more hiking days!

      1. Hi again Josy! If all goes well, we will have time for two hikes: Frosty Mountain for the larches and one other. I’ve read your posts and can’t decide between Skyline and Three Brothers (provided sky is clear). Any recommendation? Thanks!

        1. I think you would love either one…but it might be better to go for three brothers – that way you’ll get to see two different sides of the park (as Frosty and Skyline are quite close, so you can see lots of the same mountain views from them…)

          I can’t wait to hear how much you love it!

  11. Aww, this looks like fun! I’ve been canoeing a few times–the last time was a couple years ago and let’s just say that my friend did nottt know how to steer, haha. 😛

    This lake looks absolutely gorgeous! <3 (+ thanks for including the part about avoiding DEET + using a lake-friendly sunscreen!)

  12. Love Lightning Lake! And Manning Park in general. If you feel like a longer paddle, you can even do a short portage to Flash Lake. Last time, we went onto Strike Lake too but I wouldn’t recommend that as the lake level was SO low!

  13. I loved the “chasing our friends around the lake comment” haha. Have you found a good mineral sunscreen that doesn’t hurt wildlife? The one my friend’s have purchased do not work AT ALL, so sunburns were had…
    Also, you always see such awesome wildlife! So cool.

  14. Great beaver shot! I was lucky enough to have an up close experience with a beaver like that a few years ago too. This looks like a gorgeous way to spend an hour or more 🙂

  15. I’ve been wanting to check out the Vancouver area dor ages. Canoeing on Lightning Lake looks so beautiful—it’s just been added to my Canada bucket list! Pinning it ASAP so I can refer to it when we get to that part of Canada!

  16. Oh wow! This looks like such a beautiful spot to explore. I have been exploring quite a bit in Alberta this year but looking forward to visiting BC in the Spring. Definitely going to add this to my list.

  17. Wow, Manning Park looks like a beautiful place to hire a boat! I haven’t done much boating before but we recently hired a rowing boat when we visited a nearby town and it was a beautiful and relaxing way to take in the sights. Thanks for the great guide!

  18. What a fun way to spend the day out in nature! Kayaking or boating on the lake looks so calm and relaxing with the beautiful water. I love that you got to see a beaver, it’s so cute. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in the wild, that is very cool!

  19. This is so awesome! I love all the details you’ve include for renting a boat in manning lake. This looks so wonderful. Thanks for including hiking and camping tips too!

  20. Okay you may have convinced me to try canoeing on the lake! It’s not something I’ve thought about as I tend to get a little obsessed about hiking 😁 And how great to see otters and a beaver!

  21. Oh man how idyllic, this is such a great idea to mix things up! You’ve inspired me to maybe try something similar here in Arizona, maybe Watson Lake down in Prescott. I doubt I’ll see any cute otters or beaver though 🙁 But jumping in for a swim could save my soul right now!

    1. You never know! There must be some critters out there! I’d love it if you go paddling and get to meet otters too!

      I just googled Watson Lake and it looks gooorgeous with the contrast of the red rocks and the bright blue waters!

  22. What a fabulous day you chose, weather wise. You’ve described a wonderful experience, and seeing a beaver and otters adds to the appeal. Thank you for the detail.

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