Trip Ideas

Kootenay Rockies Outdoor Adventures

The Kootenay Rockies region, home to four national parks and a series of glacier-draped mountain ranges, is one big outdoor adventure playground. Ride the rapids on the Kicking Horse River, explore Rossland’s famous mountain bike trails, or hike to an ancient fossil bed in Yoho National Park. After all the outdoor activities, relax in a natural hotspring or artsy mountain town.


50.446765,-116.24922| 49.479599,-117.305342| 49.078842,-117.800095| 50.150836,-115.463419| 49.735728,-116.911195| 50.621425,-116.073833| 51.39626,-116.486628| 51.000793,-118.19541| 51.296759,-116.963289

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7 50.446765,-116.24922| 49.479599,-117.305342| 49.078842,-117.800095| 50.150836,-115.463419| 49.735728,-116.911195| 50.621425,-116.073833| 51.39626,-116.486628| 51.000793,-118.19541| 51.296759,-116.963289
MAP LEGEND
  1. Invermere
  2. Nelson
  3. Rossland
  4. Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park
  5. Ainsworth Hot Springs
  6. Radium Hot Springs
  7. Yoho National Park
  8. Revelstoke
  9. Golden

Explore Nelson

Pilot Bay, Kootenay Lake. Photo Credit: Tourism British Columbia

In Nelson, a historic town on the edge of Kootenay Lake, settle into the Prestige Inn or the Prestige Lakeside Resort. Then  head out to hike in lakeside Kokanee Creek Provincial Park or tackle the backcountry trails in high-altitude, lake-rich Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park. Prefer to paddle? Launch a canoe and go skimming across the clear blue water of Kootenay Lake.

Mountain Biking

Mountain Biker in Rossland. Photo Credit: Rich Wheater/All Canada Photos

 

Mountain bike movies are made in Nelson for a reason. Ride any of the seven trail systems near town, or experience breathlessness as you bike in Rossland. About an hour southwest of Nelson, Rossland boasts the Seven Summits Trail, one of the few trails in Canada to achieve “epic trail” status by the International Mountain Bike Association. This trail also boasts great scenery,  and challenging old wagon roads, pack trails and rail beds.
 
At Panorama Mountain Village near Invermere, check out the lift-accessed mountain bike park. Choose from close to 20 trails and cruise down the 380m/1,247ft of vertical. Try the easy “Let it Ride” trail, the expert-rated “Crazytrain”, or one of the scenic cross-country routes.

Hot Springs and Fishing

Experience the heat of the moment at the many Kootenay hot springs. Just follow Highway 93 and 95; it’s part of BC’s Hot Springs Circle Route. Join the locals at the rustic Lussier Hot Springs in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, check out the lavish spa and pool complex at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, or wander through a cave at Ainsworth Hot Springs, where hot mineral water rises from the earth and stalagmites form in abundance. To cool down, take a plunge in the stream-fed cold pool.

Another way to take the waters is fly fishing in a turquoise gem in the Kootenays. Hike into the Silver Spring Lakes, a chain of three crystalline lakes near Fernie; you’ll be rewarded with solitude, scenery and rainbow trout.

National Parks

Yoho National Park

 

Take the scenic route from Radium Hot Springs to Golden and enjoy the Rocky Mountain splendour of Kootenay and Yoho national parks. In Kootenay National Park, trek the classic multi-day Rockwall Trail or hike to the Paint Pots, where iron-rich springs have turned the earth a brilliant orange. At CrossRiver Wilderness Centre just outside of the park, choose from heritage cabins or teepees, and mix hiking and rafting with a wilderness skills workshop or an inter-cultural sharing experience with a First Nations elder. Learn and challenge yourself with a knowledgeable guide, or relax and share stories around the campfire or hot tub.
 
Further north, hold history in your hand with the shale fossils at Yoho National Park. Take a guided hike to see the Burgess Shale, an ancient fossil bed and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Yoho also boasts such iconic photo ops as turquoise-green Emerald Lake and Takakkaw Falls (one of Canada’s highest waterfalls).  Create a base camp at Emerald Lake Lodge or the cabins of Cathedral Mountain Lodge in the park.
 
Heading west to Revelstoke, watch for some of the 400 glaciers that gave Glacier National Park its name, or get lost in the alpine meadows of Mount Revelstoke National Park, where the Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway leads to far-reaching mountain views. Overnight at timber-framed Heather Mountain Lodge at the gateway to Glacier National Park.

Heli-hiking

Bugaboos. Photo Credit: Alec Pytlowany/All Canada Photos

In summer, Canada’s oldest heli-ski outfitter whisks hikers high into this magnificent but rarely-visited part of the Purcell Mountains (think mountain brooks, glaciers and wildflower meadows). Join Canadian Mountain Holidays for a breathtaking heli-hike among the beauty of the Bugaboos. Base camp is the Bugaboo Lodge where a sauna, steam room, and rooftop hot tub await your return.

Explore Golden

From Golden, get schooled by class IV rapids on the Kicking Horse River, one of the wildest river runs in Canada. Ride the lifts at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort to hike, bike or just soak up the views. Walk among wolves at the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre, or spot great blue herons, ospreys and eagles in the Columbia River Wetlands, a rich birdlife and wildlife habitat south of town. For dinner, take Kicking Horse Mountain’s Golden Eagle Express gondola to the Eagle’s Eye restaurant; at 2,350m/7,710ft, it’s the highest eatery in Canada.

Kootenay Rockies Transportation

The Canadian Rockies International Airport in Cranbrook has direct flights of about 90 minutes from Vancouver and 50 minutes from Calgary. Nelson and Golden are each a 9- to 10-hour scenic drive from Vancouver, or about three hours from Cranbrook.