Castlegar is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers, and is surrounded by the Rossland, Bonnington and Valhalla ranges of the Selkirk Mountains.
The Columbia River forms a huge semicircle to the north, while the Kootenay River heads south, taking a side trip through the United States. The rivers reunite in Castlegar – more than 700km/435mi downstream.
Prior to 1968, there were two separate naturally formed lakes in the Columbia River upstream from Castlegar. They were referred to as the Upper and Lower Arrow lakes. The construction of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam held back the flow of the Columbia, creating a massive lake extending 235km/146mi up the valley, and swallowing up both of the smaller lakes. Half a century later, this single body of water is known as Arrow Lakes.
Downtown Castlegar is built on a benchland on the inside of a major bend in the Columbia River. In recent years, the town has extended residentially and commercially to reach an additional distance of approximately 8km/5mi downstream.
Several smaller unincorporated communities surround the City of Castlegar, including Kinnaird, Robson, and Brilliant. The West Kootenay Regional Airport is situated on benchland in Ootischenia, across from the Doukhobor Discovery Centre and the main campus of Selkirk College.
Climate and Weather
Castlegar experiences hot dry summers and relatively mild winters. The average daily maximum temperature in July is 28°C/82°F. Winters are relatively mild, with average highs of -1°C/31°F and lows of -6°C/21°F. Colder spells are to be expected also. Castlegar receives an average annual precipitation of 75cm/30in.