Adventure awaits: A guide to tourism destinations in the Kootenay Rockies

We’ve put together a list of the visitor guides for each community in the Kootenay Rockies

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Wildflowers in bloom, with scenic backdrop of mountains.

A four-season playground, the Kootenay Rockies offers a wealth of adventurous activities for visitors. The Revelstoke Wildflower Festival celebrates the beauty of the alpine meadows in bloom at Mount Revelstoke National Park. — Photo courtesy Dave Matchett/Mullwell Photography/mullwell.com

Nature is literally on your doorstep in the Kootenay Rockies. Encompassing a vast region in the southeast corner of British Columbia, the area is known as a year-round adventure destination and is a coveted place to live, work and play. Dramatic snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes and rivers and unsurpassed scenic beauty beckons around every corner—discover the Kootenay Rockies!

Stretching from the Alberta border in the east to the Okanagan Valley in the west, the region is home to four major mountain ranges: the Rockies, Purcells, Selkirks and Monashees. Nestled within those geographical areas lies the unique and diverse communities that make the region such a popular place to visit and explore. From towns like Nelson and New Denver where history, arts and culture come alive—to hip and happening mountain hangouts like Fernie and Revelstoke—there is so much to see and experience in this beautiful corner of British Columbia.

If you’re thinking about discovering what the Kootenay Rockies has to offer, we’ve put together a handy list of the visitor guides in each community in the region, along with some of the major must-see attractions.

EAST KOOTENAY

Discover Canal Flats

Village of Canal Flats welcome sign.

The Village of Canal Flats is adjacent to several backcountry provincial parks. — Kerry Shellborn photo

The Village of Canal Flats is nestled between the southern end of Columbia Lake and the northwest shores of the Kootenay River. The communities of Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere are just a short drive away.

Major attractions: Whiteswan Provincial Park, Lussier Hot Springs, Flats Fest Music Festival

Discover Cranbrook

Welcome to Cranbrook sign

Cranbrook is the largest city in the East Kootenay region and boasts scenic mountain views and welcoming parks. — Kerry Shellborn photo

The City of Cranbrook is the largest community in the East Kootenay and boasts spectacular views thanks to its proximity to the Rocky and Purcell mountain ranges. The region is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts and endless opportunities for hiking, skiing, fishing, camping and more abound.

Major attractions: Fort Steele Heritage Town, Cranbrook History Centre, Spirit of the Rockies Festival

Discover Creston and the Creston Valley

View of downtown Creston street scene showing row of buildings, sidewalk and cars on street.

Creston and the surrounding valleys are home to many wineries, farms and vineyards. — Brendan Mitchell photo

As the agricultural hub of the Kootenays, the lush and fertile Creston Valley is dotted with orchards, farms and award-winning wineries. Unique businesses and talented artisans can be found in the small town of Creston, which also boasts beautiful mountain views.

Major attractions: Creston Valley Blossom Festival, Creston Museum and Archives, Creston Valley Bird Festival

Discover Elkford

Welcome to Elkford sign, with flower beds.

Elkford is the gateway to outdoor adventure in the Elk Valley. — Kimberley Shellborn photo

The wilderness community of Elkford may be remote, but it’s home to a wealth of outdoor opportunities—everything from ATVing and mountain biking to hiking, hunting and fishing. Situated about 30 kilometres north of Sparwood in the Elk Valley, the town is home to 3,000 year-round residents.

Major attractions: Elk Lakes Provincial Park, Wildcat Days

Discover Fernie

Fernie visitor information centre sign.

Stunning mountain scenery greets visitors in Fernie. — Kerry Shellborn photo

While Fernie is well-known as a world-class ski destination, there is more to the mountain community than copious amounts of wintertime snow. A thriving arts community, unique shops and businesses, a vibrant restaurant scene and endless year-round outdoor activities are also part of this Elk Valley city.

Major attractions: Fernie Alpine Resort, Griz Days, Wapiti Music Festival

Discover Golden

Scenic view of Golden showing park scene, bridge and distant mountains.

Golden is built around the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers and is ideal for river rafting excursions. — Kerry Shellborn photo

The Town of Golden is a nature lover’s dream, with no less than six major provincial parks in close proximity. Surrounded by majestic mountain ranges, Golden offers an array of outdoor adventure, including stunning hiking trails, river rafting excursions and wildlife watching.

Major attractions: Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Golden Skybridge

Discover Invermere

Downtown Invermere showing cenotaph and statue.

Interesting and artsy stores line the streets of downtown Invermere. The town is a popular spot for tourists in the summertime. — Kerry Shellborn photo

Located on the shore of Windermere Lake, Invermere is a popular destination for summertime visitors and offers a host of fun activities for all ages. With its scenic surroundings, the region is well-known for world-class golf, skiing and other pursuits.

Major attractions: Panorama Resort, Windermere Valley MuseumPynelogs Cultural Centre & Art Gallery

Discover Kimberley

Kimberley platzl.

The Kimberley Platzl is a quaint, pedestrian-only shopping area, home to unique and interesting shops, restaurants and attractions. — Photo courtesy Tourism Kimberley

Voted as B.C.’s Best Small Town in a CBC competition, Kimberley is an attractive and vibrant community that is truly a four-season playground. Home to Canada’s largest municipal park and exceptional outdoor adventure opportunities, Kimberley also boasts a lively arts and culture scene.

Major attractions: Kimberley Underground Mining Railway, JulyFest, Kimberley Alpine Resort

Discover Radium Hot Springs

Aerial view of Radium.

While Radium is well-known for its famous hot springs, the local Big Horn Sheep population is also a big attraction. — Kerry Shellborn photo

Radium’s claim-to-fame is the nearby hot springs located in Kootenay National Park, but there’s a lot more to the small community. Award-winning golf, incredible wildlife viewing, unsurpassed hiking trails and more are on all the doorstep of this friendly village.

Major attractions: Columbia River Wetlands, Radium Hot Springs Resort

Discover Sparwood

Welcome to Sparwood sign, mountains in background.

Sparwood is the second-largest community on the Elk River and home to the world's largest tandem axle truck, the Terex Titan. — Kerry Shellborn photo

An outdoor lover’s paradise, Sparwood is located near the B.C.-Alberta border and offers visitors a wide range of activities. Fly-fishing on the Elk River, extensive and scenic trail systems, back-country adventures and more beckon in Sparwood.

Major attractions: Terex 33-19 Titan truck, Elk Valley Provincial Park

WEST KOOTENAY

Discover Castlegar

A close-up of one of the Castlegar Sculpturewalk statues.

The Castlegar Sculpturewalk is a must-see when visiting the region. The annual, rotating exhibition of outdoor sculptural art is a popular attraction. — Glynis Fediuk photo

Castlegar is the second-largest community in the West Kootenay region and serves as a regional hub for trade. Situated at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers, the city offers a wealth of adventures for visitors. From rock climbing and river paddling, to exploration of the region’s rich history, there’s an activity for everyone. 

Major attractions: Doukhobor Discovery Centre, Zuckerberg Island Heritage Park, Castlegar Sculpturewalk

Discover Christina Lake

Two children sitting on sunny beachfront.

Christina Lake is a popular spot for swimming and watersport recreation. — Photo courtesy Christina Lake Tourism

Known as the warmest tree-lined lake in all of British Columbia, Christina Lake and the small surrounding community offers year-round recreational adventures. Explore artisan markets, scenic hiking and biking trails, exceptional golf and more.

Major attractions: Gladstone Provincial Park, Cascade Gorge

Discover Grand Forks

View of downtown Grand Forks.

Downtown Grand Forks is home to many unique shops and restaurants. — Photo courtesy Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce

Located along the meandering Kettle River, the city of Grand Forks is part of Boundary Country—a geographic region that sits between the Okanagan Valley and the Kootenays. The area has a rich and varied history, including the settlement of Doukhobors in the early 1900s.

Major attractions: Boundary Museum and Archives, Granby Provincial Park, Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament

Discover Kaslo

S.S. Moyie Sternwheeler on Kootenay Lake.

The S.S. Moyie near Kaslo is the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world. — Daphne Hunter/Flickr photo

Kaslo’s postcard-worthy scenery is worth a visit alone. Tucked along the shores of Kootenay Lake, surrounded by magnificent mountain views and a meandering river, Kaslo is also full of heritage charm and history and offers a diverse and thriving arts scene.

Major attractions: Kaslo Jazz Etc. Music Festival, S.S. Moyie National Historic site, Fletcher Falls

Discover Nakusp

Flowers along scenic walkway in Nakusp.

The scenic waterfront walk is well worth a visit in Nakusp. — Kerry Shellborn photo

Nakusp is a small mountain town full of quaint charm and history. Situated on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake, the area is known for its great fishing opportunities.

Major attractions: Nakusp Hot Springs, McDonald Creek Park 

Discover Nelson

Panoramic view of Nelson lakefront and bridge.

Nelson's iconic Big Orange Bridge (BOB) is visible in the distance in this stunning panoramic photo of the Queen City. — Kerry Shellborn photo

Known as the “Queen City” of the Kootenays, Nelson oozes heritage charm and sophistication. Iconic Baker Street, with its eclectic selection of businesses, shops and restaurants, is a must-see on any visitor’s list. Aficionados of adventure tourism will be in their element in this picturesque mountain city.

Major attractions: Nelson Museum, Archives & Gallery, Rotary Lakeside Park, Whitewater Ski Resort

Discover New Denver

Museum sign in New Denver.

History buffs will enjoy a visit to New Denver, once a service centre for nearby mines. — Tanya Laing-Gahr photo

The Village of New Denver is nestled along the eastern shore of Slocan Lake and was founded by silver miners in the late 19th century. Along with its historic roots, the area offers a wealth of outdoor recreation pursuits, such as fishing, hiking, scuba diving and watersports.

Major attractions: Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, Valhalla Provincial Park, Wilson Creek Falls

Discover Revelstoke

Wildflowers in bloom, with scenic backdrop of mountains.

Alpine wildflowers bloom against a spectacular backdrop of snow-capped mountains in Mount Revelstoke National Park. — Dave Matchett/Mullwell Photography/mullwell.com

Known for epic skiing, epic scenery and epic adventure, Revelstoke has long been a top destination for visitors. Beyond its mountain adventure heart, the city has a vibrant and exciting vibe yet still retains a small-town feel. History buffs will also appreciate the many heritage sites around the area.

Major attractions: Mount Revelstoke National Park, Revelstoke Railway Museum, Revelstoke Wildflower Festival

Discover Rossland

A scenic view of downtown Rossland showing heritage building along street.

Rossland is proud of its mining history and many heritage buildings still exist in the city. — Kristen Mitchell photo

High in the Monashee Mountains lies the town of Rossland, which was originally founded by gold miners in the late 19th century. Now known as a premier spot for four-season adventures, the town is in close proximity to a never-ending choice of activities—whitewater rafting, kayaking, fishing and more.

Major attractions: RED Mountain Resort, Gold Fever Follies, Rossland Museum

Discover Salmo

View of Salmo Hotel, parked cars on street

Salmo is a small community nestled in the beautiful Selkirk Mountains. — Diane Kalen-Sukra photo

Salmo is a friendly little village and known as the “Hub of the Kootenays” due to its close proximity to the neighbouring communities of Nelson, Trail, Castlegar and Creston.

Major attractions: Shambhala Music Festival, Stagleap Provincial Park

Discover Trail

Aerial view of Trail, with two mountain bike riders in foreground.

The City of Trail overlooks the mighty Columbia River. — Larry Doell photo

The picturesque City of Trail has an abundance of nature on all sides. The mighty Columbia River meanders through the city and the surrounding mountains provide a wealth of year-round recreational opportunities, such as sportfishing, championship-level golf courses and scenic hiking and biking trails.

Major attractions: Gyro Park, Columbia River Skywalk, Silver City Days

Julie Matchett

Julie Matchett is a writer and content coordinator for KPI Media. She ranks as a 7 on the Introversion vs. Extraversion scale out of 100, which might help to explain why she chose a career of quiet contemplation as opposed to public speaking. View all of Julie Matchett’s articles

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