All the unique communities across the Kootenays Rockies, Ktunaxa and otherwise, are experiencing increasing visitor numbers. Here are a few simple guidelines to assist visitors and residents alike to make the most of our shared experiences.
Signs help keep things simple. Signs noting up-track zones and closed areas at our ski resorts, private property and no trespass signs, non-motorized areas, avalanche control areas, and other closed areas are meant to protect a range of recreational experiences, sensitive ecosystems and wildlife, and public safety.
No parking signs help neighbours get along as visitor numbers stretch facility capacities during busy periods. Directional signs will assist you when choosing the trail you are best suited to explore. And, please ensure you keep to the designated trail, so that you don’t upset the fragile eco-systems all around you. Even where there are no signs, please use common sense.
Keep your mountain bike, dirtbike, quad, 4×4, or snowmobile on or in existing, dedicated trails, roads and zones. Mountain bikes or horses and saturated, muddy trails do not get along. While there is no such thing as exclusive business use, everyone works hard to make room for responsible, local businesses to do their thing.
Snowmobile use in a backcountry ski tenure, dirtbike use on mountain bike or horse trails, or mountain bikes on dedicated hiking trails can make things difficult or even dangerous for local small businesses and certified guides trying to support their families. Please move on quickly and quietly if you encounter moose, caribou, elk, or other wildlife, as they need peace and quiet as well, especially in the winter months.
Keeping it local means buying everything from gas, groceries, and souvenirs to new sporting equipment gear (including KORE – a Kootenay-based non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to makers & creators in the outdoor manufacturing) here. This shows you value the community that you came to visit, and helps ensure that our small businesses can continue to thrive and add to the community vibrancy that defines the Kootenays.
The trails we all enjoy do not build or maintain themselves. The vast majority of the snowmobile, bike, and Nordic ski trails are built and run by clubs and a stoked army of volunteers with support from the local club or trails society. Contacts for these organizations are listed at most trailhead kiosks, or can be found online (community trails).
All trail fees help protect what you came here to enjoy, and if you really love a particular trail network or facility, please consider a donation large or small to the local Nordic club, bike club, off-road or snowmobile club, or trails society. Better yet, join a work party if you have the time, such as Thanksgiving Back in Revelstoke. There is no better way to meet the locals and maybe earn an invite to explore the secret local stash.
Tourism is such a wonderful game of give and take, of shared experience. While everyone enjoys these tourism realities, locals do not go home at the end of the holiday. They are home, and your trail fees and donations, local shopping, and basic respect for trail and land management and responsible travel helps make sure you can return to find an even better experience next time.
Know Before You Go – Plan ahead so you can travel safely and responsibly. Familiarize yourself with weather, road conditions, general alerts for travellers and provincial health orders & recommendations.
~ Accessible Trails in the Kootenays
~ Adventures for All: Accessible & Adaptive Sports Road Trip
~ Easy Kootenay Hikes: To 360 Degree Vista Views
~ EV Powered Turns on a Powder Highway Road Trip
~ Follow the Trail: Kootenay Hiking Adventures
~ Forest Therapy: Replenish your Spirit and Reawaken your Soul
~ Guiding Services: Powder Highway’s Backcountry
~ Hike, Pedal, Roll or Ski: Our Kootenay Rails to Trails
~ Keeping the Kootenay Natural
~ Kootenay Ambassadors: Mindful Explorers
~ Kootenay Made
~ Make the Most out of your Kootenay Rockies Getaway
~ Stewards of the Land: Positive Effects
~ We are All Connected
~ Where to See Wildlife in the Kootenay Rockies
Top/cover photo: Views of the Columbia River in Invermere, BC; photo by Mitch Winton.
Words by Dave Quinn. Born in Cranbrook, BC; Dave is a wildlife biologist, educator, wilderness guide, writer and photographer whose work is driven by his passion for wilderness and wild spaces. His work with endangered mountain caribou and badgers, threatened fisher and grizzly, as well as lynx and other species has helped shape his understanding of the Kootenay backcountry and its wildlife.