8 Mountain Towns to Visit
in Southeastern BC

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View of the city of Revelstoke.

Outdoor adventure is what first draws people to BC’s southeastern mountain towns like RevelstokeNelson, and Rossland. But it’s the culture, character, and charm that solidify the lasting love affair. Here are eight mountain towns you must visit on your next BC getaway. 

Downtown Fernie with views of the resort | Kari Medig

Fernie

(7.5 hours from Kelowna | 11 hours from Vancouver)

Less than an hour’s drive from the Alberta border lies Fernie, a town with a past connected to coal mining and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today, Fernie is best known among adventure- seekers for its powder-filled winters and active summers.

Enjoy tee time under the towering rock face of Mount Hosmer at the Fernie Golf Club, a staple in town since 1918. 

With 100-plus mountain biking trails (including lift-accessed downhill riding at the resort) there’s plenty to explore on two wheels. You can also try whitewater rafting or go fishing to learn why Fernie is known as “trout town.”

 

Book a Stay

Once you’ve had your fix of outdoor activities, tour the town. With so much history, Fernie has its share of campfire stories, legends, and lore. Take a self-guided heritage walking tour and learn a little more about its intriguing people and places. If all of the mountain activity has you feeling achy, soothe your sore muscles with a bit of “old school” pampering at Spa 901, located in a restored 1908 schoolhouse. 

Sample chocolate treats at Beanpod, one of a few traditional bean-to-bar chocolatiers in the world, or sip local craft beer at Fernie Brewing Co.

St Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, Cranbrook | Kari Medig

Cranbrook

(6.5 hours from Kelowna | 9.5 hours from Vancouver)

It’s no wonder Cranbrook has earned the nickname “The Sunshine City,” given that it clocks an average of 2,100 hours annually. With milder weather, summer adventure season starts earlier and runs longer in this railway town-turned adventure hub. Cranbrook also offers the convenience of daily flights into Canadian Rockies International Airport

Grab treats and a cold brew coffee to go from Kootenay Grounds Cafe and Bookstore before you head off for the day. Discover Cranbook’s railway heritage and take a guided train tour at the Museum of Rail Travel, located in the Cranbrook History Centre. Push the train theme even further by booking an overnight stay in a beautifully refurbished railcar at the Prestige Hotels and Resorts. 

Book a Stay

There are five different mountain biking areas with dozens of trails, including Star Wars trail network, which boasts names like Loop Skywalker and R2DTour. Many of Cranbrook’s community trails are multi-use. Walk or bike along the 43-kilometre Chief Isadore Trail, a mostly flat gravel path that edges the wetlands. Ride the 28-km paved Northstar Rails-to-Trails between Cranbrook and Kimberley, enjoying views of The Steeples mountain ridge (it’s also wheelchair accessible). Or, wind your way through the Cranbrook Community Forest. End your day at the newly renovated Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse featuring sister company Fisher Peak Brewing and a home-style menu. 

Golfers can tee off to their heart’s content in Cranbrook. There are eight golf courses within a 30-kilometre radius, including Indigenous-owned St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino (open until October 12) and Wildstone Golf Course. Meanwhile, Shadow Mountain Resort challenges golfers to “Tame the Monster” (its signature hole).

Aerial views of Nelson | Dave Heath

Nelson

(4.5 hours from Kelowna | 7.5 hours from Vancouver)

If East Vancouver and Victoria had a lovechild in the Kootenay Rockies, it would be Nelson. Community and creativity are the backbone of Nelson, making this spot a warm and welcoming home base for summertime escapades.  And, with its natural beauty and cultural highlights, it’s easy to fall in love with this lakeside mountain town. 

 

 

Book a Stay

This large mountain town boasts 350 preserved heritage buildings which house historic hotels, diverse and contemporary restaurants, bustling cafes, a terrific food co-op, four craft breweries (and growing), and locally owned independent boutiques. During your stay, be sure to take your tastebuds on a tour of Nelson’s eclectic food scene. Start your day with a locally roasted coffee at Oso Negro, and fuel up with a satisfying Asian-inspired meal at Yum Son.

Early fall is a great time for exploring the multitude of hiking trails in and around Nelson. Hike among old-growth cedars in nearby Kaslo, visit cool alpine lakes and plunging river canyons, or walk along steep alpine ridgelines. 

Enjoy golf at Balfour Golf Club, which was designed by Canadian golf architect Les Furber. Nelson is also home to Granite Pointe Golf Course (hole #7 is a favourite) and Kokanee Springs Golf Resort, which was recently ranked as one of Canada’s Top 10 most scenic golf courses by GolfAdvisor.com.

Summer in Rossland | Ryan Flett

Rossland

(4 hours from Kelowna| 7.5 hours from Vancouver)

During the Gold Rush of the late 1800s, Rossland was one of the largest cities in Western Canada. Now, the small community is a charming, laid-back place with an adventurous heart. 

Rossland is a driving force behind freeride mountain biking in the region. This passionate trail-building community stewards 200 kilometres of trails, and with so many well-maintained trails and incredible access to the alpine, Rossland also has a flourishing trail running scene. There are also plenty of decommissioned railway beds, wagon roads, miners’ trails, and whiskey-running routes to tour in the summer months. But, the aspirational ride many come to tackle is the Seven Summits Trail, a gruelling 36-kilometre traverse of the Rossland Range—so revered that there’s a local coffee company named after it.

Book a Stay

It’s not all high intensity, though. There are plenty of mellow adventures to be found: a pleasant walk through the community trail network or a round of golf at the scenic Redstone Resort. You can also hit the disc golf course at the local Nordic centre. 

As with many mountain towns, the beer flows freely here—especially after a day of mountain adventure. Be sure to swing by the Rossland Beer Co. to taste the amber nectar. Harken back to the Gold Rush days with a visit to the Flying Steamshovel, rumoured to be one of the oldest pubs in BC and one of the few remaining saloons from this era. (At one time, there were 42 of them in Rossland alone!) Stay at the base of RED Mountain Resort in the Ram’s Head Inn or situate yourself in the heart of the historic town at the Prestige Mountain Resort

A bird's eye view of Revelstoke | Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Revelstoke

(2.5 hours from Kelowna | 6 hours from Vancouver)

With two national parks on its doorstep, a year-round mountain resort, friendly locals, and a great dining scene, Revelstoke makes for a fun and entertaining summer getaway. 

Take in sweeping alpine scenery and stroll through old-growth forest at Glacier National Park or choose one of many ways to explore Mount Revelstoke National Park. You can drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway from 470 metres to 1,835 metres above sea level; hike through vibrant subalpine trails; or try a challenging trek. 

Revelstoke Mountain Resort is at the heart of the community. The resort offers alpine hiking, BC’s newest lift-accessed bike park (which opened in 2019), and The Pipe mountain coaster, a heart-pumping ride that twists and turns its way down the ski run at 42 km/hr. It’s also home to the town’s newest attraction, the four-storey Aerial Adventure Park obstacle course. 

Book a Stay

Beyond the resort, there are many more mountain bike trails to conquer. Book a guided bike tour to discover Revelstoke’s most iconic big mountain rides. Adrenaline junkies can stay and play at the Glacier House Resort, which offers rentals and tours for the adventurous: side-by-sides, dirt bikes, paddleboards, canoes, and ATVs—take your pick.

Revelstoke’s vibrant food and drink scene is steeped in mountain lifestyle, born from the energetic and outdoorsy people who call this place home. Enjoy flavourful Latin American street food at the Taco Club. Soak up authentic ski culture at the Village Idiot Bar and Grill with its quirky décor, artisan Caesar cocktails, and West Coast pub fare. And what’s a mountain town without a craft drink? Sample craft beer at Mt. Begbie Brewing or try artisan cocktails at Monashee Spirits Distillery. Don’t forget to take a photo at the grizzly bear statue—it’s kind of a thing here. 

 

The Eagle's Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort | Kari Medig

Golden

(4.5 hours from Kelowna | 8 hours from Vancouver)

Surrounded by breathtaking national parks and three mountain ranges (the Rockies, Selkirks, and Purcells), Golden is at the heart of big alpine adventures, but there’s much more than meets the eye.

Golden’s adventurous roots date back to the early 1900s, when the Canadian Pacific Railway hired Swiss mountaineers to guide its guests through the mountains. You can still partake in alpine pursuits today, including heli-hiking or a backcountry trek to the cozy Purcell Mountain Lodge. Explore Yoho National Park, home of the historic Emerald Lake Lodge and Takakkaw Falls (Canada’s second-highest waterfall).

Book a Stay

It wouldn’t be a trip to Golden without saying “hello” to the Kicking Horse River, named after one particularly ornery mule on a historic geology expedition. Cross the river via the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge—the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada. Or, experience the river’s fury first-hand by taking a whitewater rafting trip.

For a slower pace, try a round of golf or take a guided fishing tour in the surrounding area. Having literally spent all day outdoors, you’ll be craving a relaxing happy hour. Swing by The Island Restaurant for riverside cocktails, or visit Whitetooth Brewing for a backyard brew. Indigenous-owned  Bear & Bone Burger Co. makes for a delicious and hearty dinner out.

Highway through Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs | Ryan Creary

Radium Hot Springs

(5.5 hours from Kelowna| 9 hours from Vancouver)

Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kootenay National Park with a getaway to the mountain village of Radium Hot Springs, which sits just on the edge of the park boundary. The village offers more than the expected majestic mountain vistas: view the famous bighorn sheep, witness the spectacular Columbia Valley Wetlands, or “scoot in the Koots” on a segway tour.  

In Kootenay National Park, you can watch the landscape change before your eyes as ancient glaciers give way to the sweeping grasslands of the Columbia Valley. Though the town’s namesake hot springs remain temporarily closed for safety reasons, there is still plenty to discover. If you’re looking for an easy hike, walk the Marble Canyon to Paint Pots or the Juniper-Sinclair Canyon trails. For an intermediate trek, try the 8.4-kilometre Stanley Glacier hike (where you may see 500 million-year-old fossils) or the multi-day Kindersley-Sinclair Loop (groups of four or more are recommended for this trail due to grizzly activity).

Book a Stay

Take an interpretive walk through the Sinclair Canyon Trails, located near townYou can also hike or cycle the historic Old Coach Trail and fly through the forest with Valley Zipline. For an accommodation option with an adventure twist, hike to Radius Retreat and stay in a cozy yurt. When dining in Radium, check out the European fare at Old Salzburg Restaurant and Helna’s Stube. Or enjoy comfort foods and a lively atmosphere at the Horsethief Pub and Eatery

Explore the waterways in the area with a rafting trip down the Kootenay River or experience the thriving wetland ecosystem by paddling down the Columbia River between Invermere and Radium Hot Springs —you’ll see plenty of wildlife along the way (especially birds). Golfers will want to visit the Columbia Valley Golf Trail, a group of eight courses sprinkled between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs

Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park | Megan McLellan

Valemount

(5.5 hours from Kelowna | 7  hours from Vancouver)

It’s all about location, location, location in the village of Valemount, a gateway to the vast wilderness of the Rocky and Cariboo mountain ranges. Hike, paddle, trot, or ride your way through this outdoor paradise. 

Valemount is located within a short drive of the craggy Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. In Texquakallt language, it’s called Yuh-hai-has-kun, or “the mountain of the spiral road,” for the telltale lines that encircle its rock face. Spend time in Mount Robson Provincial Park with a trek to Kinney Lake or a hike to Overlander and Rearguard falls. You might even see mule deer, elk, black bears, and moose.

Book a Stay

Hike into the backcountry to get to Dave Henry Lodge for an unforgettable off-grid stay deep in the Cariboo Mountains (this is an entirely self-guided adventure). Or, book a horseback riding lesson or trail ride with Willow Ranch Valemount. The town is also a popular stop on BC’s mountain bike circuit. Located just minutes from the town centre, the grassroots Valemount Bike Park has a growing list of trails that have been designed and built by local riders. This summer, the Best Western Valemount is offering an adventure-friendly package that includes a buffet breakfast and a bagged lunch with every stay.

Swing by Three Ranges Brewing post-adventure to enjoy a pint in their covered bar and extended beer garden. Conveniently, neighbouring Glacier Fire Pizzeria makes delicious wood-fired pizza. 

Be sure to pay a visit to the Valemount Museum and Archive in the old railway station to learn about local history (including a famous Sasquatch sighting in the 1950s), or visit more than 15 historic hikes via a self-guided GPS geo-caching adventure.

Show Info

Featured Image: View of the city of Revelstoke | Ryan Creary

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

Skiing & Snowboarding

Fernie Alpine Resort

Deep in the snow, high up on the Powder Highway, lies Fernie Alpine Resort. With 37 feet of perfect powder, stunning scenery, 5 huge alpine bowls...

Phone: (800) 258-7669

View Listing

Golf, Indigenous Culture, Hotels, Accessibility

St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino

Framed by the Rockies, the Purcells and the famous St Mary River, the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is a spectacular destination for getaways,...

Phone: (250) 420-2000

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

Prestige Lakeside Resort & Convention Centre

Located on the shores of stunning Kootenay Lake, our full service resort and convention centre offers exquisite deluxe rooms and designer suites....

Phone: (250) 860-5858

View Listing

Hotels

Ram's Head Inn

THE ONLY BOUTIQUE LODGE IN ITS OWN FOREST AT A SKI RESORT. Situated in Rossland, this ski bed & breakfast is steps from Big Red Cats and Red...

View Listing

Adrenalin, Hiking, Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Accessibility

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) is a true, year-round adventure destination. In summer, RMR is home to the Pipe Mountain Coaster; North America's...

Phone: (250) 814-0087

View Listing

Hotels

Best Western Plus Valemount Inn & Suites

A newly renovated gem in Valemount British Columbia, located in the Rocky Mountains directly adjacent to the RW Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary & only...

Phone: (250) 566-0086

View Listing

Biking, Hiking, Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Kicking Horse has attracted rave reviews for its awesome vertical, deep powder and spectacular terrain mix. With an express gondola accessing over...

Phone: (250) 439-5425

View Listing

Adrenalin

Valley Zipline Adventures

You'll be soaring in style on our 7 Zipline Canopy Tour geared up with our top quality equipment. The first 6 lines take you zig-zagging across...

Phone: (604) 894-6313

View Listing

Skiing & Snowboarding

Fernie Alpine Resort

Deep in the snow, high up on the Powder Highway, lies Fernie Alpine Resort. With 37 feet of perfect powder, stunning scenery, 5 huge alpine bowls...

Phone: (800) 258-7669

View Listing

Golf, Indigenous Culture, Hotels, Accessibility

St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino

Framed by the Rockies, the Purcells and the famous St Mary River, the St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino is a spectacular destination for getaways,...

Phone: (250) 420-2000

View Listing

Hotels, Accessibility

Prestige Lakeside Resort & Convention Centre

Located on the shores of stunning Kootenay Lake, our full service resort and convention centre offers exquisite deluxe rooms and designer suites....

Phone: (250) 860-5858

View Listing

Hotels

Ram's Head Inn

THE ONLY BOUTIQUE LODGE IN ITS OWN FOREST AT A SKI RESORT. Situated in Rossland, this ski bed & breakfast is steps from Big Red Cats and Red...

View Listing

Adrenalin, Hiking, Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing, Accessibility

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) is a true, year-round adventure destination. In summer, RMR is home to the Pipe Mountain Coaster; North America's...

Phone: (250) 814-0087

View Listing

Hotels

Best Western Plus Valemount Inn & Suites

A newly renovated gem in Valemount British Columbia, located in the Rocky Mountains directly adjacent to the RW Starratt Wildlife Sanctuary & only...

Phone: (250) 566-0086

View Listing

Biking, Hiking, Heli-Skiing & Cat-Skiing, Skiing & Snowboarding, Snowshoeing

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Kicking Horse has attracted rave reviews for its awesome vertical, deep powder and spectacular terrain mix. With an express gondola accessing over...

Phone: (250) 439-5425

View Listing

Adrenalin

Valley Zipline Adventures

You'll be soaring in style on our 7 Zipline Canopy Tour geared up with our top quality equipment. The first 6 lines take you zig-zagging across...

Phone: (604) 894-6313

View Listing

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WRITTEN BY: Destination British Columbia

The official tourism organization for British Columbia, Canada. British Columbia is a land where glaciated mountains stand over a unruly Pacific, rainforests wrap cities, and nature shapes culture.