Experience Canada’s stunning natural scenery, vibrant cities, and warm locals for yourself.
Hot springs, breweries, kayaking – whether one or all take your fancy, there’s something for everyone in the west-Canadian region of the Kootenays. Located in the southeast of British Columbia, near the Canadian Rockies, and named after the Kutenai First Nations People, it’s full of stunning landscapes, outdoor activities and culinary delights.
Although tourism to the area is steadily increasing, there’ll be moments when it’ll feel like you’re discovering this amazing pocket of British Columbia all on your own. There are plenty of hidden treasures to keep you busy in the Kootenays. Here are six absolute gems to get you started.
#1 Kayak On Kootenay Lake
Whether you’re an amateur or adventurer, cruising down Kootenay Lake by kayak is a must when visiting the region. Spanning over 100km and bordered by the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges, it’ll have you enthralled for the entire ride.
#2 Hike To Jumbo Pass
If the name didn’t give it away, let it be known that the valley you traverse to get to the beautiful Jumbo Pass in the West Kootenay Mountains is truly enormous. Having said that, the hike is a moderate one, and can be done in a day or overnight, depending on your appetite for an evening immersed in nature.
Should you wish to stay the night, check out some of the small cabins that can be booked for short stays. Hiking to the pass is only possible in the warmer autumn and summer months, which means you could also spot a grizzly bear, many of whom call Jumbo Valley home.
#3 Wander Through The Region’s Markets
For those less inclined to physical exertion on holiday, you’ll be pleased to know the Kootenays are brimming with markets ready to be explored at a pace that suits you. Year-round, markets along the BC Farmers Market Trail showcase the produce of local famers, display the crafts of artisans, and offer a chance to pick up a regional souvenir you won’t find anywhere else.
In summer, Market Fest is in full swing, with music, dance, food and hundreds of vendors filling closed streets. If you’re lucky enough to visit the region in November, check out the Kootenay Artisan Fair, a fitting opener to the Christmas season.
#4 Over Time Beer Works
Situated in Kimberley in East Kootenay, one of the highest places in Canada, sits the humble Over Time Beer Works. It’s a small brewery with a great view of the Rocky Mountains, perfect for trying their impressive range of ales.
The brewery boasts that “Kimberley really isn’t on the way to anywhere”, so there’s an unspoken agreement that you’ll pull up a chair for a lengthy session of local stories, sport and music. If you don’t have time to stay, pick up a growler – the glass or ceramic jugs so commonly used by Canadians to transport 64ozquantities of draft beer from brewery to home.
#5 Kootenay National Park
It’s remiss not to visit Kootenay National Park if you’re in the region, and frankly, it’s be hard to miss. Established in 1920 and covering almost 1500 square kilometres, the park shows off what Canada is so good at—environmental extremes. There are icy mountains, deep canyons, cascading waterfalls, towering spruce and fir trees and even steaming hot springs.
=The area is positively brimming with hot springs, with heaps of places to stop and – ahem – soak it all in on a drive through the Rockies. Radium Hot Springs are a regional favourite and open year-round, providing an incredible backdrop no matter when you choose to visit.
#6 Eat Local At Kootenay’s Best
Fresh food and local farming is of the utmost importance to the Kootenay region, so expect the best when dining. For great food in truly unique settings, start with coffee at the Railtown Coffeehouse, where you can sip your latte in a restored Canadian Pacific Railway station.
For lunch, try Taste of the Ashram for a nutritious spread overlooking Kootenay Lake and hosted by one of North America’s longest running spiritual communities. And, for dinner, it’s hard to go past Kootenay Cabin, located on the edge of Kootenay Bay and with a mandate of fostering greater connection for diners between pasture and plate.
(All images courtesy of Destination British Columbia)
Convinced? Can’t say we blame you. Book your trip to Kootenay Rockies region in British Columbia now.