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Mountain Biking on Big Money Trail above the Elk Valley near Fernie

(Kari Medig photo)

Trip Ideas

Mountain Town Culture

BC’s mountain towns are an extension of their natural surroundings. Residents embrace the wilderness around them, and it is reflected in the arts communities that thrive here. Visitors to the BC Rockies find themselves inspired by stunning national parks, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. All within close proximity of small mountain towns alive with friendly people, rich local history, and a laid-back, free-spirited vibe.

Things to Do

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Nelson

Charming, historic and artsy, Nelson is a popular stop on the edge of Kootenay Lake. Bursting... Read more with sidewalk cafés, boutiques and heritage buildings, it's also a gateway to gorgeous hikes in the surrounding mountains. Named as the "best small arts town" in Canada by author John Villani in his book The 100 Best Art Towns in America, Nelson’s Victorian shop fronts are filled with galleries, studios and craft shops, and festivals run throughout the summer. Great day trips include pretty lakeside Kaslo, home to the SS Moyie, a historic sternwheeler and, across the lake, the artisans' studios of Crawford Bay.

Province of BC photo

Art in Nelson

Known as one of the top arts communities in the country, Nelson boasts an impressive number of artists per capita and a wide range of studios and galleries open for browsing. In the summer months, Nelson’s Artwalk sees the work of 65-70 artists rotated among several local shops and restaurants, which become miniature galleries. A visit to Touchstones Nelson – Museum of Art and History, housed in a gorgeous building dating back to 1902, is a must.

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Jesse Woodward photo

Cottonwood Market

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.

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Andrew Penner photo

Art in Crawford Bay

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.

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Rossland

Once a gold mining town, Rossland has morphped into an outdoors mecca. Mountain bikers flock... Read more here for some of Canada’s best tracks, including the legendary Seven Summits trail. The town itself has buckets of charm, with its main street of Victorian shop fronts tucked beneath the peaks of the Monashee Mountains. After a day on the trail, take a dip in nearby Christina Lake’s warm water, or lounge on the sandy beaches at Champion Lakes Provincial Park.

Chris Dadson photo

Seven Summits Trail

Rossland's legendary hiking and mountain biking trails include hundreds of kilometers of trails for all levels. The flagship route is the Seven Summits trail. A spectacular point to point traverse of the Rossland Range, it follows a ridge line to link seven mountian peaks along its 30km/19 mi route.

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Sara Rainford photo

Rossland Mountain Market

Thursday afternoons check out the Rossland Mountain Market, named BC’s “Farmers’ Market of the Year” for 2015 in the small markets category by the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets. Vendors here offer everything from fresh local produce to delectable baked goods to unique arts and crafts. The third Thursday of each month through the summer brings a special theme and live music.

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Bruno Long photo

Mountain Biking in the Kootenay Rockies

Mountain bike movies are made in the Kootenay Rockies for a reason. In Nelson or Rossland, ride the many trail systems near town. The Seven Summits trail is one of the few trails in Canada to achieve “epic trail” status by the International Mountain Bike Association. At Fernie Alpine Resort, 42 lift-accessed trails range from easy cruisers to challenging steeps and technical single track.

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Fernie

The historic mining town of Fernie, with its Victorian brick heritage buildings and mountain... Read more backdrop, has become a major outdoors destination without losing its small town vibe. In summer, visit Fernie for hiking, biking, and especially rafting. On a hot summer day, nothing beats shooting the class IV rapids through the Elk River Canyon. In cooler weather, bike up to 659m/2,162ft of vertical at Fernie Alpine Resort. And fantastic hiking trails are everywhere you look, both in town and close by.

Mark Gallup photo

Mount Hosmer Trail

A popular wilderness hike just north of Fernie, the Mount Hosmer trail offers fabulous mountain and valley views in return for a moderately challenging uphill trek to the peak of Mount Hosmer.

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Island Lake Lodge Hiking

Walking and hiking in our pristine wilderness and old growth forest relaxes and renews the spirit and provides excitement for the body and mind. Explore the wonders of Island Lake with a Discovery Walk, Adventure Hike or privately guided trip.
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Kimberley

The mountain town of Kimberley is a four-season resort community with a European alpine theme.... Read more Kimberley Nature Park, one of the country’s largest municipal parks, offers dozens of kilometres of hiking and biking trails, and there are championship golf courses with spectacular mountain scenery. Catch a ride on Kimberley’s Underground Mining Railway as it chugs along a scenic mountain valley before heading underground to the Sullivan Mine. Nearby, visit Fort Steele Heritage Town for a taste of local pioneer history.

Revelstoke

Surrounded by towering mountains, Revelstoke is a picturesque town that offers an abundance of... Read more outdoor opportunities. Hiking and biking trails begin in old-growth forests and climb up into alpine meadows surrounding the city. And there are plenty of places to enjoy rafting, kayaking and rock climbing. The town itself is home to charming heritage buildings, museums, shops and a plaza that features free concerts every night in the summer.

Destination BC/Ryan Creary

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Enjoy a diversity of ecosystems that include old-growth rainforests, lush wetlands and alpine meadows. Stroll among 500-year-old cedars, watch for mountain caribou, grizzly bears and mountain goats, or enjoy panoramic views as you drive 26 km / 16 mi up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway to experience sub-alpine meadows, ablaze by mid-August with colourful wildflowers.

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Destination BC/Ryan Creary

Glacier National Park

Traverse steep, rugged terrain and be rewarded with views of narrow valleys filled with old-growth cedar and hemlock trees. Hiking trails in this park provide access to alpine tundra, subalpine meadows and lush rainforest. Learn about the completion of the Canadian Pacific Railway at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre, a museum that Explore Magazine called “the best national park museum in Canada.”

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Destination BC/Carrie Cole

Yoho National Park

Glacial lakes, snow-capped peaks, and more than 400 km (249 mi) of trails make Yoho National Park a paradise for hikers. Highlights include turquoise-green Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls (one of Canada’s highest waterfalls) and the Burgess Shale, an ancient fossil bed and World Heritage Site.

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Kootenay National Park

In Kootenay National Park, a gentle hike along a self-guided interpretive trail leads to the Paint Pots, where iron-rich springs have turned the earth a brilliant orange. Another major draw is Radium Hot Springs, located at the south end of the park. This natural mineral hot springs pool is thought to cure what ails you. Looking for a more rugged experience? Trek the classic, multi-day Rockwall Trail.

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Kari Medig photo

Hot Springs Circle Route

BC's biggest concentration of natural hot springs is in the Kootenay Rockies region and the easiest way to find them is to follow the signs for the Hot Springs Circle Route. This five to seven day, 852 kilometer (529 mile) route, one of nine suggested self-drive touring routes posted around the province, takes in seven hot springs and passes through some of  BC's most stunning lake and mountain scenery.

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Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife is a big part of the scenery on a Kootenay Rockies vacation. Bighorn sheep and mountain... Read more goats can often be spotted from the road; bears, deer and moose make their homes here in large numbers; and there is a staggering amount of birdlife in the Columbia Valley Wetlands. For an unforgettable wildlife experience, head to the Northern Lights Wolf Centre in Golden where you can visit, photograph, and even walk with grey wolves. And up on Kicking Horse Mountain visit the Grizzly Bear Refuge to meet an orphaned grizzly bear named Boo.

Dave Best photo

Rafting in the Kootenay Rockies

Experience the thrills of rafting along churning white water, surrounded by heavily forested mountain canyons. Adventure seekers will love the white-knuckle challenge of the glacier-fed Kicking Horse River’s class IV rapids, as they weave their way through Yoho National Park. The Bull and Elk rivers near Fernie offer class II to IV rapids amongst lush green forests and snow-capped mountain peaks

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Getting Here and Around

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Getting to the Kootenay Rockies

The Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook has direct flights from Vancouver,... Read more Kelowna and Calgary. The airport is about 30 minutes from Kimberley, an hour from Fernie, and about 3 hours from Nelson or Rossland. Fancy a road trip? Nelson and Rossland are about an eight hour drive from either Vancouver or Calgary; Fernie is just three hours from Calgary. Revelstoke, on the Trans-Canada Highway, is about five hours from Calgary, or six from Vancouver.

Canadian Rockies International Airport

The expanded Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook hosts direct flights to two of Western Canada's gateway airports: Vancouver (YVR) & Calgary (YYC).

Get ready to head out on the Powder Highway for the winter ski safari of y...

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West Kootenay Regional Airport

Welcome to the West Kootenays, home to over 100,000 residents and a real rugged, mountain playground. With its cultural flair that delivers on the definition of happiness, it's no surprise why we call it the good life.

Offering daily flig...

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