Adventure & Recreation
“What is straight? A line can be straight, or a street, but the human heart, oh, no, it’s curved like a road through mountains.” – Tennessee Williams
Take the road to adventure! There are few places in North America where the air is fresher, or the flowing water more clearer and colder. There will be twists and turns on the road before you find your own nature within the nature you discover – but it will be so worth it.
Most of the West Kootenay is part of British Columbia’s inland rainforest. The trees grow tall during the long spring, summer and fall. Winters fall down the mountainsides. The lower edge of the mantle of snow that lasts ten months of the year on the tallest mountain peaks descends gradually until it is winter in the valleys. While it is usually mild in the valley communities, deep powder snow cloaks the flanks of the mountains and fills the bowls in the alpine. There are breathtaking opportunities for winter recreation in this pristine mountain playground.
Camping in the West Kootenay surpasses the ordinary and frees the spirit! The vast mountain ranges, miles of beaches, sparkling lakes, flowing rivers and lush, green forests offer the ultimate experience. The region has incredible opportunities for outdoor recreation activities, including golfing, hiking, boating and mountain biking.
Immerse yourself in nature and spend days enjoying the carefree camping lifestyle while sleeping under the stars. Whether travelling in an RV, pitching a tent or anything in between, camping creates life-long memories.
Campgrounds here are as varied as their spectacular locations. Pitch your tent in a privately owned or municipal campground ~ they generally have all the conveniences we are used to. Looking for a little wilder? Try a BC Forestry Recreation Campsite located on Crown land, or choose one of many provincial or regional parks on the rivers, beaches and forestlands in the Kootenays.
See our Accommodation page for a list of Provincial & Privately owned campgrounds.
Imagine cruising in the boat, taking in all of the spectacular scenery that Kootenay Lake has to offer. From the beautiful sunrise and sunset, to the amazing mountains, you can see it all. Just by spending one day on the lake you could enjoy these sights plus a whole lot more – soaring ospreys, bald eagles, great blue herons, Canada geese and many species of ducks on the wing on this pristine lake.
And while you’re caught up in all of the amazing views and didn’t think it could get any better…zing goes your reel! The loud scream of line peeling off of your reel at a speed you can’t imagine. Every fisherman dreams of this and now you have finally hooked into the biggest rainbow trout of your life. After a twenty minute battle, you finally see this amazing specimen. A bright silver body with a beautiful red band along its side. What a great way to end your day.
Kootenay Lake is home to the world famous Gerrard rainbow trout that can weigh in as heavy as 35 pounds and Dolly Varden (bull trout.). These fish, which feed on the smaller kokanee, are the catch of a lifetime.
When you get your fishing licence, check the latest regulations in the “Freshwater Fishing Regulations”, available at most gas stations and sports stores.
Slocan Lake, Bear Lake, Summit Lake, and the Arrow Lakes are only a few more of the prime fishing spots in the area.
If you are a golfer, then you already know that spending the morning or a whole day on the course is never time wasted. Veteran golfers can wax poetic about the Zen and athleticism of golf, but even if you’re an awkward beginner, the courses on the following pages will be an inspiration. West Kootenay golf courses are a must to go and do.
The flow of the courses over hillocky terrain, and the elevation changes that few places in the world can imitate, will make your golfing day here unforgettable. Spectacular vistas will draw your attention away from your swing; you will find yourself just wanting to stop and breathe for a while.
Champion Lakes Golf & Country Club has rolling hills, a winding creek and three ponds – as well as a challenging fairway. Castlegar Golf Club is a 4-star course and has an RV park. Stay and play! Kaslo Golf Club, the Slocan Lake and Nakusp Centennial clubs only have the nine holes but the views of the mountains and lakes below are grand. Have lunch on the verandah at the clubhouse and bask in the view while you eat. Riondel Golf Club is a little gem, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. It is said to be the friendliest club in the Kootenays.
Recently, two Kootenay golf courses have re-imagined themselves. The Balfour Golf Course and Kokanee Springs, both top-tier professional courses, not only boast excellent accommodations, but now also offer adventure or spa packages. You can rent mountain bikes, go hiking in the surrounding mountains or go kayaking on Kootenay Lake. Golf today, book an adventure for tomorrow!
For those about to duff, we salute you!
The Columbia mountain ranges and subranges – the Selkirks, the Valhallas, the Monashees and the Purcells – have long compelled hikers and climbers to explore ever upward. On a hot summer day it’s cold and windy at the highest elevations, but the view on a clear day rivals the Himalayas. The lure of trekking to places where the snow never leaves cannot be explained away. For people who are born in the shadow of the Kootenay and Columbia mountains, hiking to the top is claiming their birthright. Locals and mountaineers from all over the globe hike up to Kokanee Glacier Park, the MacBeth Ice Fields, and along the Earl Grey Trail to Jumbo Glacier.
Whatever your skill or fitness level, there is a memorable trail for you to hike, from strolling along and smelling the wild flowers at Idaho Peak after driving virtually all the way up, or meandering through the old growth cedar grove at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, to climbing the rocky peak of Mount Loki.
With so many features already on West Kootenay slopes – old whiskey-running routes, miner’s trails and the winding roadbeds from long disused narrow gauge railways – the mountain biking scene here was pre-destined to explode. And it has, and how!
Carved on the backsides and ridges of the mountains themselves, the more challenging trails take you sweeping through alpine meadows and skirting their rocky scree underbellies. Lung-busting climbs alternate with exhilerating descents; the last part of a trail like the Dewdney Trail in Rossland is a joyful swoop.
Some trails, like the Monster in Kaslo are rough but have constructions and jumps. Others are all-natural, like the Seven Summits Trail in Rossland – officially an ‘Epic’ trail, as designated by the International Mountain Biking Association. Also awarded ‘Trail of the Year’ by Bike magazine (2007), the Seven Summits Trail is the crown jewel of the Rossland trail network which boasts over 200 kms of maintained, labeled and authorised single track.
Come and celebrate the Kootenay mountain biking culture at the Fat Tire Festival in Nelson, Sufferfest in Kaslo, the Rubberhead Enduro in Rossland.
The twisty network of West Kootenay roads is a major draw for motorcyclists in the summer. The Selkirk Loop and the West Koot Route follow Kootenay Lake up into mountain highways to many of our small towns. Follow highways 3A, 31, 31A, and highway 6 for some of the most scenic rides in British Columbia.
Our famous highway rides have been featured in the Globe and Mail, and the Calgary Herald.
For other great adventure ideas check out the latest edition of the West Kootenay Go and Do magazine!
The Powder Highyway
The West Kootenay is a top destination for adventure enthusiasts – a little bit on the wild side of the Powder Highway. Check out the New York Times article about this skiers’ dream journey that brings you to the most epic of mountain experiences: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/travel/british-columbias-powder-highway.html
Our famous ski hills, such as Red Mountain Resort, and Whitewater Ski Resort draw tourists from all over the world to enjoy the famous powder. Hello BC describes this area as the “Epicentre for Cat-Skiing”. No surprise to the locals – cat-skiing was invented here.
powder highwayPowderhounds take note: the Kootenay region is the powder room. The West Kootenay has the most fantastic snow in the world for riding.
Why this snow?
It’s a combination of temperature, frequency, depth, and the way the snowpack sets. At about 1,700 meters, the mountains in this area might get 15 metres of snowfall in a year. Put another way … when you get to around 6,000 feet, you get 50 feet of snow falling between October and May.
The lakes and rivers of the West Kootenay are a paradise for boating, wake boarding, canoeing, kayaking, and whitewater rafting. Kootenay Lake, Duncan Lake, the Arrow Lakes, Slocan Lake, the Columbia and Kootenay rivers– this area is a treasure trove of natural riches. West Kootenay lakes are uncrowded – it is rare to see more than a handful of motorboats at a time dotting the vast surfaces of the bright, clear and cold water of our mountain stream fed lakes.
Rent a houseboat for a day or more in Kaslo and explore Kootenay Lake in comfort with all your family, or float lazily down the Slocan River in great big tubes with friends and bevvies. For real excitement try a guided whitewater rafting expedition of the wild Lardeau River. If you don’t have your own boat, in most communities you can charter a boat or rent kayaks, canoes or stand up paddle boards. Check out the outfitters below.