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Rockies & Ranchlands Circle Route

Idaho Peak, Selkirk Mountains

(Dave Heath photo)

Kootenay Rockies

Climate & Weather

Southeastern BC is dominated by the Monashee, Selkirk, Purcell and Rocky mountain ranges.

The climate and physical terrain is ideal for year-round outdoor adventure, from skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter to hiking, mountain biking and river rafting in the summer. No wonder this region is called "British Columbia's Mountain Playground".

The weather here can fluctuate over short distances and change suddenly, depending on altitude, wind flows, proximity to lakes as well as the rain-shadow effect on high mountains.

As you can see from the charts, precipitation, as well as high and low temperatures, can vary considerably within the Kootenay Rockies. These two charts are most indicative of the weather within the region. Revelstoke is situated within the region’s Columbia Shuswap district; Cranbrook is located in the southeastern corner of the province.



Spring

During the spring, snow pack from the mountains melts into cascading creeks that feed into the Columbia and Kootenay river systems. Flowers start blooming in the valleys in April. Daytime highs during this time average 17° C but drop to around 4° C in the evenings. Hiking season in the higher mountains usually doesn't begin until July, as routes can be snow-covered or muddy until then.

Summer

In summer, the valleys – home to most of the region's towns and cities – maintain mild temperatures with refreshing breezes from the many lakes and rivers. Temperatures can be surprisingly warm during July and August, with average daytime highs of around 25° C. Summer is also a time of dramatic lightning storms, often accompanied by high winds.

Autumn

The Kootenay Rockies is in the mountains where autumn sets in early. You may see snow in the higher mountains as early as mid-September. In October, average daytime highs are between 10-12° C, with temperatures dropping down to near-freezing in the evening.

Winter

Winter temperatures typically range from lows of -5 to -11° C to highs around the freezing mark. Precipitation falls mostly as snow. These mountains are known for their magnificent champagne powder.

What to Wear

During the summer, t-shirts and shorts are fine, even when hiking at higher elevations. But weather can be quite localized and unpredictable in mountain country. Evening temperatures are also known to drop by up to 15° C from the daytime highs, so pack warm clothing such as warm pants and sweaters in any season. A wind jacket will also come in handy.

In the winter, you'll need a heavy coat, micro-fleece or wool sweaters, scarves, hats, warm gloves or mittens and boots. Bring a bathing suit whenever you visit so you can enjoy one of the Kootenay Rockies famed hot springs.