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Celebrating 100 Years in Kootenay National Park

This national park that connects Radium Hot Springs to Banff, turned 100 on April 21, 2020 The park began as eight kilometres (5 mi) of wilderness on either side of the Banff-Windermere Highway (or Highway 93 South).  When the road opened in 1923, more than 4,500 vehicles travelled the highway.  Today, more than 500,000 people visit every year.

Kootenay National Park is a world leader in wildlife and forest conservation. The drive offers opportunities for viewing Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk and mule & whitetail deer. Every twist and turn of the parkway reveals something interesting to explore. You will find everything from alpine tundra in the upper reaches, to stands of Douglas Fir and tiny prickly pear cactus at lower altitudes in the south.

Driving through Sinclair Canyon in Kootenay National Park, south entrance near Radium Hot Springs; photo by Ryan Creary

Nipika Mountain Resort
Nipika is an eco-resort that is run completely off the grid using solar power to give you every luxury of home. It is set amid a massive 100 km (62 mi) scenic trail network that starts at your door step. In conjunction with BC Forest Service, Nipika is the doorway to the Cross River Recreation Site.

One of the mountain biking trails at Nipika Mountain Resort; photo courtesy of the Resort

Radium Hot Springs
The Visitor Centre offers a wildlife exhibit which includes a number of educational pieces: a mountain goat, a bighorn sheep, a black bear, cougar and a loon. There is also a Ktunaxa (First Nations) heritage exhibit offering an interpretive centre with artifacts. This area is home to hundreds of kilometres of world-class trails, including the Old Coach, Juniper, Sinclair Canyon and Lake Lillian trails; plus other activities, such as golfing (9, 18-hole championship golf courses), watersports on Lake Windermere and zipline/segway tours.

Early morning view of the greens at The Springs Golf course; photo by Andrew Penner

Redstreak Campground
Located within the park but only a short drive to Radium Hot Springs. The 242 site campground is open during the summer until mid-October. Reservations are recommended for all the sites (19 walk-in tent sites, 50 power/water/sewer sites, 38 sites with electricity and 125 unserviced sites).

Set in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, be sure to add Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Springs onto your list of ‘must-visits’ for this summerand find out why it is known as the ‘Land of Startling Contrasts’.

Bighorn sheep are usually seen in the community of Radium Hot Springs or Kootenay National Park

Know Before You Go!

~ Take extra time to research and plan your trip in advance. Many of our tourism businesses and services have adopted new COVID-19 protocols and changes to their schedules or policies to ensure your safety. You’ll want to become familiar with them ahead of time.

~ If you normally travel with extended family or with several friends, consider travelling in a smaller group this summer. Travelling with fewer people makes it easier for you to practise physical distancing in public, and may have less of an impact on the destination.

~ Consider a slower travel pace this summer to help curb the spread. Instead of checking in and out of multiple destinations during one trip, choose one destination and one accommodation for your entire trip, and use that as a ‘home-base’ for exploring all the destinations nearby.

Related Stories
~ Columbia River Paddle: Paddle the David Thompson Historical Route

~ Easy Kootenay Hikes: To 360 Degree Vista Views
~ Funky Kootenay Fun Facts
~ Human Powered: The Westside Legacy Trail
~ Pit Stops for a Kootenay Road Trip
~ What’s Open in the Kootenay Rockies this Summer?

Story by KootRocks Staffer (Shannon Harrison). Cover/top photo by Summit Communications.

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