Exhibits at the Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre illuminate the fascinating cultural and natural heritage of Kootenay National Park and the Columbia Valley – with a special focus on local Ktunaxa First Nations culture. Audio stations, discovery drawers and a huge touchable model of the local landscape invite exploration. Stained-glass artworks, hand-painted murals and Ktunaxa craftwork make the exhibits an inspiring artistic experience as well.
A great way to get an appreciation of Kootenay's diversity is a first-hand experience on one of the park's interpretive trails. These short trails are designed for easy walking, and many are wheelchair accessible. Along the way, colourful interpretive displays reveal the stories behind the park's landscapes, ecology and human history.
Valley View Trail
Trailheads: Redstreak Campground entrance, 2.5 km east of Radium Hot Springs; OR parking area 1 km before the entrance; OR behind the Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre.
Length: 1.8 km one-way. Minor elevation gain and loss; steep ascent from the visitor centre trailhead.
Story: The natural history of a Douglas-fir forest typical of the warm, dry slopes in the Radium Hot Springs area. Features views of the Columbia Valley.
Olive Lake Trail
Trailhead: Olive Lake picnic area, 12 km north of Radium Hot Springs.
Length: 0.5 km return. Wheelchair-accessible trail and boardwalk.
Story: The history of this clear green lake, nestled in the forest at Sinclair Pass, as a natural stopping place for travellers. Displays feature tactile bronze bear paw and fish.
Paint Pots Trail
Trailhead: Paint Pots parking lot, 86 km north of Radium Hot Springs
Length: 1.5 km one-way. Minor elevation gain. Wheelchair-accessible to the ochre beds: 1km one-way.
Story: The geology, Aboriginal significance, and early 20th century mining history of these unusual iron-rich springs and the colourful stained earth of the ochre beds.
Marble Canyon Trail
Trailhead: Marble Canyon parking lot, 89 km north of Radium Hot Springs.
Length: 0.8 km one-way. Minor elevation gain. One set of stairs. Trail criss-crosses the narrow canyon over footbridges.
Story: The erosion of a 40 m deep gorge by the pounding waters of Tokumm Creek. The canyon walls are limestone and dolomite; some is white, resembling marble.
Trailhead: Continental Divide parking area, 96 km north of Radium Hot Springs.
Length: 0.8 km wheelchair-accessible loop.
Story: The drama of a lightning-caused fire that swept through Vermilion Pass in July, 1968, and the vibrant life of today's regenerating forest. Burnt tree snags form part of the exhibit structures.
© Parks Canada
Interpretive signs and exhibits at visitor centres, viewpoints and trails reveal the stories behind the scenery. Watch for displays on the history, geology, plants, animals and ecology of the park.
© Parks Canada
Parks Canada’s Xplorers program provides fun activities for families to learn about national parks and national historic sites. By completing a collector’s booklet, children will receive an achievement certificate and souvenir.
Where do I get information and pick up the Xplorer Booklet? Visit the Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre in Radium, B.C. or speak to a park interpreter.