Quirky Attractions in the Kootenays
Unique, historic, and cultural gems to visit.
British Columbia is defined by the grandeur of its nature, and one of the province’s most defining features is its towering mountain ranges. There are 10 mountain ranges stretching from the United States to the Yukon, and from Alberta to the Pacific Ocean. There are rainforest-covered mountains that drop straight into the ocean, dramatic and imposing peaks rising above stunning turquoise lakes, and mountains that offer some of the world’s best heli-skiing in winter and heli-hiking in summer. These mountains are home to a huge range of wildlife, including bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, deer and caribou.
We recently asked our Facebook fans to suggest one spot in BC that visitors should visit to really experience these spectacular mountains. Here are their top five recommendations:
Our fans’ number five pick is one of the most popular destinations for visitors to BC – Whistler. This mountain city has it all. Unforgettable mountain scenery wraps around a charming village bursting with a renowned dining scene, boutique shopping, spas, galleries and museums… truly something for everyone. In winter, Whistler Blackcomb is widely regarded as the top resort in North America. In summer, the possibilities for outdoor adventure are endless. Mountain biking is huge here, as is hiking to jaw-dropping mountain vistas. Hike up the mountain, or catch a ride most of the way up and admire the scenery from a gondola.
Next on the list is Fisher Peak. This challenging climb takes you to a vantage point 2,846 m (9,337 ft) above sea level, with a panoramic view out over the southern Rocky Mountains and the Kootenay River valley. This is the tallest peak in the southern Rockies, and it dominates the skyline. The ascent is not for the faint of heart, with a vertical gain of more than 1,400 m (4,593 ft) from the trailhead, gained over a roughly 8-km (5-mi) hike. But it is worth every grueling step as you pass forest, meadow, wildflowers, creek, waterfall and a final scramble up steep spires to the top. The view from way up there will not soon be forgotten.
Coming in at number three is Mount Assiniboine, in the heart of BC’s Rocky Mountains. Assiniboine is one of the most iconic mountains in the province due to its striking resemblance to the famous Matterhorn (located in the Alps, on the border between Switzerland and Italy). The mountain itself is part of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, which is tucked between Kootenay National Park and Banff National Park along the BC/Alberta border. One of the park’s major draws is the fact that it is very remote, yet extremely accessible. Those with an adventurous spirit can hike in and camp, or those who prefer a more gentle approach can arrange to be helicoptered into Assiniboine Lodge, and conserve their energy for day hikes up to stunning Rocky Mountain vistas.
The number two pick is massive Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, BC’s biggest at nearly 1 million hectares. Among its most notable features is the spectacular Rainbow Range, volcanic mountains coloured in vibrant red, orange, yellow and lavendar rock. Hiking and pack trips are popular here, and the park is known as a bear viewing destination due to the large number of bears who call Tweedsmuir home. Also popular are multi-day canoeing trips on the Turner Lake canoe circuit, which can be accessed via floatplane or via a hiking trail that passes the 260 m (853 ft) tall Hunlen Falls. Tweedsmuir Park Lodge is a great place to start your adventure!
Our fans’ most recommended place to experience BC’s mountains is the iconic Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies. Mount Robson Provincial Park is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting a ton of hiking trails, from ultra-accessible strolls to multi-day wilderness camping excursions. Among the most popular and most beautiful is the very popular Berg Lake Trail, which takes hikers past some of the most spectacular scenery in the province. Experience the Valley of a Thousand Falls, and marvel at gorgeous Berg Lake itself, which sits at the base of the three glaciers!
Did we miss one of your favourite BC mountain destinations? Let us know in the comments below.
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