Set apart from the rest of BC by winding roads, mountain passes and ferry crossings, the West Kootenays are just off the beaten path. Communities that radiate mountain culture dot the landscape and people live in harmony with nature. This is a place nestled between high peaks and wandering valleys. A pocket of BC that thrives by way of the wild.
Nelson, a historic town on Kootenay Lake, makes a great base for adventure in the surrounding... Read more mountains or seeking culture in the lakeside communities. Hike easy trails in Kokanee Creek Provincial Park or tackle a backcountry trek in high-altitude, lake-rich Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. Launch a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and explore the clear blue water of Kootenay Lake. Take a day trip to Kaslo, the artisans’ studios of Crawford Bay, hot springs and even smaller mountain communities.
Take to the water on the calm Kootenay Lake. Explore by canoe, kayak, paddleboard or sail boat from Nelson, Balfour and Kaslo. Bring your own gear or join tours with local operators ROAM, Kootenay Kayak Company, Hellman Canoe and Kayak and more. The easiest way to get on the water is from Lakeside Park, where the Nelson and District Community Complex will rent kayaks and paddleboards during the summer months.
Every Saturday in the summer, Nelson’s Cottonwood Market is the place to be. Set in Cottonwood Falls Park, a city park complete with a waterfall, this outdoor market offers everything from woodworking crafts to home baking, live music and organic food.
Kootenay Lake is home to one of the longest free ferry rides in the world. The 35 minute trip from Balfour, just north of Nelson, across Kootenay Lake to Kootenay Bay is worth the trip. Hop on and admire the Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges that surround you. While across the lake, visit the artisans’ studios in Crawford Bay or take a road trip south, following the road to Creston and back north again to Nelson.
Crawford Bay, a tiny community located on the east side of Kootenay Lake, is home to a surprisingly large number of artisans. Studios are open daily from May through early September, with some open longer. This is the perfect place to pick up a unique memento, from hand crafted jewellery to pottery, to special brooms created using antique equipment.
On a quick walk through the forest sits one of the Kootenay’s most dramatic waterfalls. Admire this 50 foot (49 metre) waterfall from below. The trail leads to an amphitheatre of overhanging trees and rock walls. Spend a day hunting for waterfalls and hidden hikes in Kaslo with many trails and treks to choose from.
The scenery of the Slocan Valley could keep you exploring for days. Stand on top of Idaho Peak and gaze upon Slocan Lake far below. Venture into the mountains on two wheels and cruise along the Galena Trail. An adventure with cable car river crossings and winding routes through the forest. It you prefer a calmer experience, hike the easy New Denver Loop which follows the original wagon road from New Denver to Sandon.
Centrally located, we offer a full, complimentary hot breakfast, free WiFi...
The journey to the Southern Kootenays is all part of the experience and smaller communities can... Read more be easily accessed on a day trip from Nelson. The Canadian Rockies International Airport has flights from Vancouver, Kelowna and Calgary directly to Cranbrook. The airport is about 3 hours from Nelson. Fancy a road trip? Nelson is about an eight hour drive from Vancouver or 6.5 hours from Calgary.
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