Begin your tour in Cranbrook, which has transformed from a thriving railway town to become the largest city in the Kootenay Rockies. Fuelled by the railway, the city’s 19th century heritage homes reject the opulence of the city’s early years. Visit the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel’s award-winning collection of restored railcars and locomotives, as well as the spectacular 1906 Royal Alexandra Hall.
Drive north along Highway 95A to Kimberley.
Kimberley is a Bavarian-themed community with a four-season alpine resort. This former mining town is now home to Canada’s largest free-standing cuckoo clock. In summer, listen to the sound of polka on the Platzl (the city’s downtown pedestrian centre).
Head north on Highway 93/95 to Fairmont Hot Springs.
Just south of Fairmont Hot Springs, in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, are the natural Lussier hot springs. These hot mineral pools sit beside the Lussier River and are accessible via a forest service road.
Fairmont’s year-round, crystal clear hot springs pools beckon travellers into their steamy, mineral-rich waters. The resort also offers golfing, skiing, hiking, biking, horseback riding and spa services.
Continue north to Invermere and Windemere Lake.
Invermere and Windermere Lake are great summer destinations. In downtown Invermere, browse through charming shops and visit the Pynelogs Cultural Centre, which hosts theatrical productions, concerts and workshops year-round. Nearby, Panorama Mountain Village is a four-season resort that offers many outdoor pursuits, including hiking, biking, rafting, golfing, skiing, heli-skiing, snowmobiling and more.
Continue north to enjoy more of the region’s hot springs.
Radium Hot Springs, located in Kootenay National Park, is one of the largest hot spring mineral pools in Canada. Soak away your tensions while gazing up at the red cliffs of Sinclair Canyon. Keep watch for bighorn sheep, which have long been local residents of the community.
Continue north on Highway 95 to Golden.
Golden is set on the banks of the Columbia River North America’s largest wetland. The town is well known for its backcountry lodges and being a centre of outdoor adventure.
After exploring the town (and the wilderness that surrounds it), take Highway 1 east to Rogers Pass.
Rogers Pass, between Golden and Revelstoke, is one of BC’s great mountain crossings. Hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing and a visit to the Rogers Pass Visitor Centre may be your summer highlight. Set in the Columbia Mountains between Glacier and Mount Revelstoke national parks is Canyon Hot Springs, which has two natural mineral hot pools great for relieving the aches of travelling. Continue east to Revelstoke.
During the 19th century mining boom, Columbia River sternwheelers connected the rugged town of Revelstoke to the railway. Today, walk through the alpine city to see some 60 restored period buildings and the fascinating Revelstoke Railway Museum. Nearby, drive to alpine meadows in Mount Revelstoke National Park or stroll past hundreds of hand-crafted folk art figurines on the Enchanted Forest’s Wild Land Interpretive Walk. Also nearby is unique ghost town of 3 Valley Gap and the waterfalls at Crazy Creek Waterfalls.
Drive south on Highway 23 to Halcyon and Naksup hot springs.
Halcyon resort features four mineral-rich pools and plenty of adventure opportunities. In the village of Nakusp, the local museum highlights the town’s pioneer history. For a peaceful retreat, stroll along the waterfront Japanese gardens, and then enjoy a dip in the soothing hot springs.
After soaking in the springs, hop back in the car for the journey south to New Denver.
New Denver and Silverton sit on the eastern shore of Slocan Lake where you’ll find museums, artisan studios and plenty of outdoor activity options. In New Denver, visit the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, a museum that pays tribute to the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II. Hike or bike along an abandoned rail line as part of the Galena Trail. Start this easy 13-km/8-mi trail from Three Forks or the lakeshore at Rosebery. And visit Sandon, a historic gold rush ghost town that once was once known as the “Monte Carlo of the North.”
Follow Hwy 31A to Kaslo.
Kaslo’s natural harbour once bustled with activity as ore-barges, rowboats, steamships and sternwheelers jostled for a place alongside the busy wharf. Tour the SS Moyie, the oldest surviving sternwheeler in the world. Launched in 1898, the sternwheeler is one of the most significant preserved steam passenger vessels in North America. A must see!
Continue south towards Balfour.
Continue south along Highway 31 to Ainsworth Hot Springs to sink into soothing mineral waters. This unique hot springs has a horseshoe shaped cave, which is lined with stalagmites and stalactites. Explore the cave or relax in the main pool that overlooks picturesque Kootenay Lake.
Take the free Kootenay Lake ferry across to Crawford Bay (a lively artists’ community) and then travel on Highway 3A to Creston.
Creston is well known for its orchards and brewery, which produces Kokanee beer. Plan a visit to the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area – a refuge for more than 250 bird species. Take the boardwalk trail to a three-story viewing tower or enjoy the nature programs at the Interpretive Centre before returning to the start point of Cranbrook.