The West Kootenays are up in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia. They’re even thought to be the place of heli-skiing! With so much to do here, it’s a great place for an epic vacation. For those who are in the state, it also makes an ideal getaway close to home after the Coronavirus pandemic.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best activities you can do in West Kootenay. With our help, it should be much easier to plan your trip to Canada and make the most of the great outdoors!
Stand up paddle boarding
Nelson is known as the “Queen City” of the Kootenays and it’s one of the tourism epicentres of the area. Many travellers will use it as a base, so it’s good to know that nearby there are a number of lakes and rivers where you can enjoy the fastest growing board sport in the world – stand up paddle boarding. It’s a great workout for your core and a super-relaxing way to enjoy the calm and crystal-clear waters of Coot Lake, Slocan Lake, and smaller ones which lie throughout the provincial parks in the West Kootenays. Who knows, you may even have an entire lake to yourself! If you want to learn more about stand up paddle boarding before deciding whether it’s for you, check out Gili Sports, dedicated to all things SUP!
There are several other water sports on offer in the West Kootenays too, including whitewater rafting, wakeboarding, kayaking, and canoeing. For all of the sports above, you’ll be able to find places in the towns (especially Nelson) where you can rent the necessary equipment.
Kootenay Lake is stocked with all sorts of species of fish, and it’s one of many awesome fishing spots in West Kootenay. The biggest prize of the day would be the bull trout or the Gerrard rainbow trout. However, beginner fishers will be happy with catching one of the smaller fry that lives in the area’s lakes and rivers too! Fishing not only gives you an opportunity to catch your evening meal, but also to appreciate the wildlife that calls the West Kootenays home. Look on eye level in the water to see herons, ducks, and Canada Geese. Turn your eyes to the sky to see majestic blue eagles and ospreys!
Best of all, you don’t need to be on a boat or at the shore to enjoy fishing in West Kootenay. Another option is SUP fishing. Yep, that’s taking out a fishing paddle board and hopefully coming home with your catch of the day!
The West Kootenays offers some incredible hiking, no matter what your level of experience is. For beginner hikers, something like Idaho Peak is an excellent idea. There’s less than 300 metres of elevation gain and it’s just 3.4km (or 2 – 3 hours) along the trail. However, for those that are really looking to challenge themselves, there are trails for you too! One such is the MacBeth Icefield Hike. With more than a kilometre of elevation gain over 14km, you’ll pass through marshes, forests, and ridgelines. This day trip isn’t so popular with tourists, so it’s easy to social distance here. Another option is to climb to the highest peak in the West Kootenays – Mount Loki. From here, the panoramic views are unbeatable!
See the area’s waterfalls
You’ll find seven UNESCO designated parks in West Kootenay, many of which have incredible waterfalls. The most impressive is Takakkaw Falls in Yoho National Park. At almost 400 metres, they’re the second highest falls in the whole of the camera. Bring your camera, but make sure to keep it in a waterproof case as you’re sure to be soaked! If you’re looking for something closer to Nelson, Fletcher Falls are close to the town and just a five-minute hike from the trailhead, while Cottonwood Falls are even closer and have a peaceful Japanese style garden. A perfect place for a picnic!
One of the coolest ways to see the Kootenays (and to social distance) is by enjoying the area’s mountain bike trails. And the routes here aren’t just any old trails that have been made adapted especially for tourists – they’re parts of disused narrow-gauge railways, whiskey-running routes, and miner’s trails. The downside of that is if you’re a beginner, these can be more challenging. However, the adrenaline rush you’ll get will be unreal! Some trails have had extra work done on them and feature jumps and building constructions. One of which is Rossland’s Seven Summits Trail – winner of ‘Trail of the Year’ by Bike magazine. Once you’ve tried mountain biking in West Kootenay you’ll want to come back again and again!
Final Thoughts on the best activities to do in West Kootenay
Now that you know everything there is to do in West Kootenay, you may want to check covid-19 restrictions are there are some activities that may not be available yet. As always, follow proper sanitation and hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.