Stories of Kootenay
Vacation season is just around the corner!
Life today is busy and it seems like free time is a hard to come by. Cell phones and internet are at our fingertips and we are flooded with information, distractions and choices every second of every single day. With so many options, how do you find time to research and make decisions about where to go and what to see in your free time? How do you even find free time? How do you disconnect?
If this feels like your life, Kootenay National Park might fit the bill for your next vacation or weekend get away. Kootenay National Park began humbly as a road through the Rockies. But, the amazing viewpoints, hikes and worthwhile stops along that road, make Banff’s less busy cousin well worth devoting a few vacation days to! (shhh don’t tell too many people)
There are two ways to enter the park, coming from Alberta and travelling south on Highway 93, or travelling north from the Kootenay region - think Cranbrook, BC. Before you head into the park, download your favorite adventure playlist or a few podcasts because the majority of this road doesn’t have cell or Wi-Fi service. Yes! You read that right! Kootenay National Park is O-F-F --T-H-E --G-R-I-D! (Don’t worry there are emergency phones located in a few spots just in case). This offers you and your busy family the chance to unwind and connect with each other. We guarantee there are lots of things to keep you entertained along the way, and, by the end, you’ll have enough IG worthy moments collected to give your friends and coworkers some major vacation envy.
Glaciers and grasslands, open spaces and winding canyons, frosty rivers and steamy hot springs, Kootenay National Park is a land of contrasts – this place has something for everyone and here are a few of our favorites!
Marble Canyon (30 minutes)
This easy stroll follows paths and bridges, allowing views into the depths of the narrow canyon walls. The streaked limestone, sound of the rushing water and the surrounding peaks make you feel further from the road than you actually are!
This site features our iconic red chairs as well – a Parks Canada must do!
Fossil Hunting (8 hours)
Kootenay’s Stanley Glacier is home to one of the most significant fossil finds on earth – The Burgess Shale! Pre-book your guided experience with a Parks Canada interpreter. If hiking in the fire-swept forest, and mountain views aren’t enough, you will get to hold in your hands fossil creatures that are half a billion years old!
Paint pots (40 minutes)
A short walk from the parking lot will have you walking around unbelievably orange and yellow soil and spring-fed pools set against the green backdrop of the forest. Iron in the water turns the surrounding ochre beds this vibrant colour!
Rockwall Trail (3-5 days)
The Paint Pots trail is also used for access into the famous four-day backcountry camping and hiking adventure that parallels the Rockwall. This trail includes Floe Lake, hanging glaciers and alpine meadows filled with wildflowers and larch trees, a drool-worthy bucket-list trail aimed at experienced hikers. This hike tends to book quickly be sure to book your campsites in advance.
Floe Lake (7 hours)
The southernmost access point for the Rockwall Trail climbs steeply and ends at a spectacular lake set at the base of jagged mountains. This trail is recommended for strong hikers and can be done as part of the Rockwall trail or as a stand-alone Kootenay day hike.
Radium Hot Springs pools
After a day (or four) of hiking or simply to relax, the Radium Hot Springs hot and cold pools are the place to be. Soak in some history, surrounded by dramatic scenery. Also, if you haven’t experienced the hot springs in the fall or winter, it is a must do after a chilly outdoor day.
Camping is an amazing experience that really gives you time to bond with friends and family. Kootenay has no shortage of options for captivating sites and one of the more unique experiences features: oTENTik. Part-tent. Part-cabin. Good vibes only (oh and no sleeping on the ground or fiddling with tent poles)!
Nightly interpretive programs are good for all ages and offer insight into what Park Canada is doing to protect the Kootenay environment.
Arguably one of the most recognizable features of Kootenay are the tall red walls forming Sinclair Canyon. A walk through the canyon at road level is worthwhile or if you have more time take the Juniper trail gently upward to see a bird’s view of these impressive walls!
Make sure to check the map for red chair locations in Kootenay National Park and keep your eyes open on the trail! They always provide a great view and give you time to relax and connect.
Numerous amazing picnic sites
If you have time for nothing else while you drive through the park, bring a blanket, pack a lunch and take a few moments to stretch your legs and breath in some fresh mountain air before you continue your journey. < p/>
If you didn’t already have enough reasons to visit Kootenay National Park we have one more for you. 2020 is Kootenay National Park’s 100-year centennial! Come be part of the celebration and stay tuned for how you can participate in special activities and events to show some love to Kootenay on this extra special birthday!
See you on the trails!