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8 Mountain Towns to Visit
in Southeastern BC

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Downtown Rossland | Kari Medig

Foodies, history buffs, and nature lovers unite—it’s time to safely explore BC’s mountain towns once again. While charming communities like Revelstoke, Nelson, and Rossland are a draw for outdoor adventurists, the trifecta of cuisine, character, and culture is what forms a lasting love affair. Here are eight BC mountain towns you’ll fall for this season.

Note: This story (originally published in 2020) was updated specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2021. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability and familiarize yourself with their COVID policies.

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Aerial views of Fernie | @anatoletuzlak

Fernie

(3h from Calgary | 6h from Edmonton | 11h from Vancouver)

Less than an hour’s drive from the Alberta border, Fernie’s past is connected to coal mining and the Canadian Pacific Railway. From rugged roots, the community has evolved into a year-round adventure playground known for good food, friendly locals, and spirited culture.

Fernie has a rich Indigenous culture and the Ktunaxa people have lived, travelled, and traded in the area since time immemorial. Stop by the Fernie Museum or take a self-guided heritage walking tour to learn a little more about its intriguing people and places. The Art Walk, with its chainsaw carvings, iron sculptures, and street art, provides a colourful glimpse at Fernie’s eclectic creative scene.

 

Book a Stay

Enjoy the mountain air with an outdoor activity or two. Book a tee time under the towering rock face of Mount Hosmer at the Fernie Golf Club (open until October 11), a staple since 1918. There is plenty more to explore, including 100-plus mountain biking trails and fishing—Fernie is dubbed “trout town,” after all. If you visit between mid-September and late-October, you’ll witness the transition of seasons, as radiant fall foliage lights up the landscape. The golden larches are especially breathtaking.

Once you’ve had your fix of outdoor activities, satiate your appetite. Fernie Brewing Co. and Fernie Distillers are noteworthy players in the flourishing craft beverage scene, which also includes a kombucha brewer and coffee roasters. Funky Latin American tapas restaurant Nevados boasts an impressive collection of mezcal, tequila, and cocktails, and The Brickhouse’s BC wine and beer list pairs well with its bistro-pub menu (think: flatbreads and farm-to-fork bites). Beanpod, one of a few traditional bean-to-bar chocolatiers in the world, is a must for those with a sweet tooth.

If your muscles are sore from the day’s adventures, head for some “old school” pampering at Spa 901, located in a restored 1908 schoolhouse (with safety protocols in place).

St Eugene Golf Resort and Casino | Indigenous Tourism BC / St. Eugene Resort

Cranbrook

(4.5h from Calgary | 7h from Edmonton | 9.5h from Vancouver)

It’s no wonder Cranbrook has earned the nickname “The Sunshine City,” given that it clocks an average of 2,100 hours of sunlight annually. With milder weather in the early fall, outdoor activity season runs longer in this railway hub-turned adventure launchpad. Conveniently, there are also daily flights from Calgary and Vancouver into Canadian Rockies International Airport.

Although the town is surrounded by nature, its artisan culture is the heartbeat of the community. Start your day with fresh-baked goods, a specialty coffee, and a book at Kootenay Grounds Cafe and Bookstore. 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 the beloved Star Wars trail network). Many of Cranbrook’s trails are multi-use, such as the 43-kilometre Chief Isadore Trail and the 28-km paved Northstar Rails-to-Trails between Cranbrook and Kimberley (it’s also wheelchair accessible).

Golfers can tee off to their heart’s content in Cranbrook at one of seven golf courses within 30 kilometres—many are open until October 11. Support Indigenous-owned business with a stay and play getaway at St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, the site of a former residential school that has since been reclaimed and re-imagined by the Ktunaxa people as a catalyst for healing and economic benefit to the community.

Take your tastebuds for a workout, too. Try the Heid Out Restaurant and Brewhouse, which features a varied BC wine list, beer from sister company Fisher Peak Brewing, and home-style cooking (the vegan menu is impressive). Fire Hall Kitchen and Tap, a new establishment located in the old red brick fire station, boasts 20 BC craft beer taps and quality pub food (hello, lobster bao). Meanwhile, Indigenous-owned Soul Food Farm to Table—which is led by MasterChef Canada competitor Danielle Eaton—embodies its name with 10 beer taps, a top-shelf cocktail menu, and seasonal dishes.

Nelson | Kari Medig

Nelson

(7h from Calgary | 9.5h from Edmonton | 7.5h from Vancouver)

Nelson, a heritage town with a funky vibe, is brimming with interesting characters and hip businesses. Community and creativity are the backbone of the town, making this spot a warm and welcoming home base for fall escapades. And, with its natural beauty, cultural highlights, and great food, it’s easy to fall in love with this lakeside mountain town.

The town boasts 350 preserved heritage buildings which house hotels, diverse and contemporary restaurants, bustling cafes, a terrific food co-op, and locally owned independent boutiques. Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History showcases the dynamic cultural fabric of Nelson with exhibits dedicated to the Ktunaxa people, as well as contemporary art and historical archives.

Book a Stay

During your stay, be sure to take your tastebuds on a tour of Nelson’s eclectic food scene. Savour locally roasted coffee at Oso Negro and fuel up with a satisfying Asian-inspired meal at Yum Son. The town is home to four craft breweries—try Nelson Brewing Company, a Certified Organic craft brewery located in a 125-year-old building. Swing by Sage Tapas and Wine Bar, one of Nelson’s best-kept secrets, for European-inspired cuisine and a flight from their rotating BC wine menu.

A multitude of activities await the avid adventurist. Explore the area’s hiking trails, where you can walk among old-growth cedars in nearby Kaslo, visit river canyons and cool lakes, or hike to Pulpit Rock overlooking town. Fall mountain biking is primed for two-wheeled adventure amidst the electric autumn landscape. There are also five golf courses in the area with sweeping mountain and lake backdrops.

Downtown Rossland | Dave Heath

Rossland

(7h from Calgary | 10h from Edmonton | 7.5h from Vancouver)

During the Gold Rush of the late 1800s, Rossland was one of the largest cities in Western Canada. Now, the “Golden City” is an endearing, laid-back place with an adventurous heart (and the beer is good, too).

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, the trail-running scene is flourishing, too.

There are plenty of decommissioned railway beds, wagon roads, miners’ trails, and whiskey-running routes to explore. 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, like a pleasant walk through the trail network or a round of disc golf course at the local Nordic centre. Be sure to pop into the Rossland Museum Discovery Centre to explore a motley mix of archives that document the area’s mining, geology, skiing, and social history.

As with many of its neighbours, the beer flows freely here—especially after a day in the mountains. Be sure to swing by the Rossland Beer Co. or harken back to the Gold Rush days with a pint of craft beer or glass of BC wine at 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!) Wine lovers will certainly want to make the 20-minute drive eastward to Columbia Gardens Vineyard and Winery, where The Burl tasting room awaits.

Stay a little out of town 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.

Downtown Revelstoke | Nolan Gale

Revelstoke

(5h from Calgary | 7h from Edmonton | 6h from Vancouver)

With two national parks on its doorstep, a year-round mountain resort, welcoming residents, and a great dining scene, Revelstoke offers metropolitan comforts with a mountain backdrop.

The vibrant food and drink scene in “Revy” is steeped in mountain lifestyle, born from the energetic and outdoorsy people who call this place home. And, they take refuelling seriously: Flavourful Latin American street food at the Taco Club, tempura fried cheese curds at Chubby Funsters, and polenta fries at the Old School Eatery come highly recommended by those in the know. And what’s a mountain getaway without a little après? Sample craft beer at Mt. Begbie Brewing or try artisan cocktails at Monashee Spirits Distillery (the Monashee Mule is an apt choice). Head for a sip at the quirky Village Idiot Bar and Grill, where you can soak up authentic ski culture and sip a Caesar with bacon-infused vodka.

Book a Stay

Spend time exploring the wild nature surrounding Revelstoke. Stroll through old-growth forest and alpine trails 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 is open until September 26 with alpine hiking, BC’s newest lift-accessed bike park, 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 four-storey Aerial Adventures obstacle course & zipline.

Beyond the resort, there are many more mountain bike trails to conquer. Book a guided bike tour with Wandering Wheels 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.

Looking for something a little less rigorous? History enthusiasts will love the Revelstoke Museum & Archives, or the chance to walk through vintage railcars at the Railway Museum, and learn about the importance of BC’s forestry industry at the BC Interior Forestry Museum. Families (and the young at heart) won’t want to miss the Enchanted Forest, a magical walk amongst ancient trees while marveling at more than 350 handcrafted fairytale figurines and structures.

Don’t forget to take a photo at the grizzly bear statue downtown—it’s kind of a thing here.

Golden | @andymacbee

Golden

(3.5h from Calgary | 5.5h from Edmonton | 8h from Vancouver)

Surrounded by six 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—book a guided backcountry tour for the full experience. Venture to Yoho National Park on the cusp of the Continental Divide to find traces of ancient ocean life and vast scenery. Be sure to explore Takakkaw Falls (one of Canada’s highest waterfalls).

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. Golden is also home to over 100 km of incredible mountain bike trails and some of the best rock climbing in the province. For a slower pace, try a round of golf (until October 11) or cast for char and trout on a guided fishing tour in the surrounding area.

Having spent all day outdoors, you’ll be craving a relaxing happy hour and a bite. Après like a local at the Golden Taps Pub, where you can munch on deep fried pickles and sip a craft pint. Or, go right to the source for a backyard brew at Whitetooth Brewing. Indigenous-owned Bear & Bone Burger Co. makes for a delicious dinner out. The Wolf’s Den Restaurant, located in a cozy historic cabin, serves up elevated pub classics, paired with regional craft beer and BC wines.

If you’re driving to Golden from Calgary, stop in at the Kicking Horse Pass National Historic Site on the Trans-Canada Highway to watch trains pass through the astounding Spiral Tunnels (at a safe distance, of course).

Note: There is some significant road construction scheduled in the area, including overnight closures of highways. Check Drive BC for the latest updates and schedule.

Kootenay National Park's Floe Lake | @dee_izzle

Radium Hot Springs

(3.5h from Calgary | 5.5h from Edmonton | 9h from Vancouver)

A fall road trip to Radium Hot Springs means crisp mountain air, vibrant fall colours, plenty of activities, and the added bonus of less visitors. Positioned on the “warmer side of the Rockies,” Radium Hot Springs offers more than the expected majestic mountain vistas: A new brewery, mineral pools, bighorn sheep, and even an off-road segway tour.

The famed hot springs, the perfect accent to an adventurous day, are now open year round with new safety protocols. The village sits just on the edge of Kootenay National Park, where the landscape transitions from ancient glaciers to the sweeping grasslands of the Columbia Valley. If you’re looking for an easy hike, walk the Marble Canyon to Paint Pots or the Juniper-Sinclair Canyon trails. You can also take the wheelchair-accessible boardwalk around blue-green Olive Lake. For an intermediate trek, try the 8.4-kilometre Stanley Glacier hike (where you may see 500-million-year-old fossils).

Book a Stay

Take an interpretive walk through the Sinclair Canyon Trails, located near town. You can also hike or cycle the historic Old Coach Trail and fly through the forest with Valley Zipline (open until Oct. 10). For an accommodation option with an adventure twist, hike to Radius Retreat and stay in a cozy yurt.

Don your warmer layers and experience the thriving wetland ecosystem with a paddle 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 nine courses sprinkled between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs (many are open until the second week of October).

Radium Brewing, located in a net-zero energy emissions building downtown, is the village’s newest addition to the food and drink scene. Continue your culinary exploration with authentic schnitzels, steaks, and homemade spaetzle at Old Salzburg Restaurant, or visit its Austrian contemporary, Helna’s Stube, for pre-meal apéritifs and casual gourmet dining. If you’re seeking a lively atmosphere and regional beer, try the Horsethief Creek Pub and Eatery, named after a local legend who stole three horses and met his fate in an icy creek.

Hiking in Mount Robson Provincial Park | Megan McLellan

Valemount

(6h from Calgary | 5h from Edmonton | 7h 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, then kick back for a pint of local beer and a satisfying meal.

Valemount is located within a short drive of 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 available through to mid-October). Willow Ranch Valemount offers horseback lessons and trail riding through early fall, and the town is also a popular stop on BC’s mountain bike circuit. Located just minutes from the centre, the grassroots Valemount Bike Park has a growing list of trails, designed and built by local riders. You can also visit more than 15 historic hikes via a self-guided GPS geo-caching adventure.

Three Ranges Brewing “puts the ale in Valemount,” with its covered bar and extended beer garden. Conveniently, neighbouring Glacier Fire Pizzeria makes delicious wood-fired pizza. Local’s love the Funky Goat Eatery, a food truck that serves up an eclectic array of hearty favourites (including poutine).

If you’re visiting town before the end of September, stop in at the Valemount Museum and Archive in the old railway station to learn about local history (including a famous Sasquatch sighting in the 1950s).

Reminder: Weather can change quickly in the mountains at this time of year. Be AdventureSmart and remember to practice the Three T’s: Trip Planning, Training, and Taking the Essentials. Learn more about hiking best practices

MENTIONED IN THIS STORY

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Fernie Brewing Co.

Our Tasting Room is currently offering glasses + Growler fills + Cheers to Charity flights + packaged product + patio service. We are also...

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Golf, 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

Museums & Heritage Sites, Art Galleries

Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History

Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History is a multi-faceted organization with a history museum exhibition, regional archives, two...

Phone: (250) 352-9813

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

Hotels, Cabins & Cottages

Glacier House Resort

Located just 10kms north of Revelstoke in a quiet area with breath-taking scenery. Spacious lodge rooms and cozy log cabins are perfect for all...

Phone: (877) 837-9594

View Listing

Fishing

The Golden Gillie

Offering safe, fun and exciting guided fishing adventures on the world class lakes, rivers and streams that surround the spectacular mountain town...

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

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Three Ranges Brewing Company

Phone: (250) 566-0024

View Listing

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Fernie Brewing Co.

Our Tasting Room is currently offering glasses + Growler fills + Cheers to Charity flights + packaged product + patio service. We are also...

View Listing

Indigenous Culture, Golf, 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

Museums & Heritage Sites, Art Galleries

Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History

Touchstones Nelson: Museum of Art and History is a multi-faceted organization with a history museum exhibition, regional archives, two...

Phone: (250) 352-9813

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

Hotels, Cabins & Cottages

Glacier House Resort

Located just 10kms north of Revelstoke in a quiet area with breath-taking scenery. Spacious lodge rooms and cozy log cabins are perfect for all...

Phone: (877) 837-9594

View Listing

Fishing

The Golden Gillie

Offering safe, fun and exciting guided fishing adventures on the world class lakes, rivers and streams that surround the spectacular mountain town...

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

Breweries, Distilleries & Cideries

Three Ranges Brewing Company

Phone: (250) 566-0024

View Listing

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