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June 5, 2024

Follow the Historic Columbia River Along Highway 93/95

Easily accessible off the Rainforest to Rockies routes; the Trans-Canada, Highway 1 or the southern route the Crownest, Highway 3.  This journey through inspiring mountain peaks that stretch along Highway 93/95, includes the communities in the Columbia Valley – Canal Flats, Fairmont Hot Springs, Windermere, Invermere/Panorama, Radium Hot Springs and the northern communities on route to Golden.

This journey through the Columbia Valley, between the mighty Purcell Mountains and the legendary Canadian Rockies follows the historic Columbia River as it flows north, making its final departure into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon. 

Views of the Columbia River from Invermere; photo by Mitch Winton

Embark on an exciting adventure on the Columbia Valley Bird Trail! Witness the majestic beauty that spans between Cranbrook/Kimberley and Golden. Discover an array of avian species, immerse yourself in nature, and collect picture-perfect memories.

CANAL FLATS

The Columbia River, the 4th largest river system in North America, starts here. Bubbling out of the ground from deep springs and filling Columbia Lake with its beautiful jade, blue-green colour. The mighty Columbia River is turned loose, flowing north, then turning south and west and finally emptying into the Pacific Ocean, a journey of over 2,500 km (1,500 mi).

Situated perfectly between Cranbrook and Invermere, this hidden gem provides unrivaled watersport activities on the stunning Columbia Lake. Enjoy their beautiful public beach, explore extensive hiking/biking trails, or visit the nearby lakes for unforgettable fishing and camping experiences!

Enjoy Columbia Lake at the Tilley Memorial Park; photo by Field & Forest

The Shore-to-Shore Pathway is a paved trail uniting the Tilley Memorial Park/Canal Flats beach with the heart of the community. Enjoy unhindered access to the beach on foot or bike, simultaneously eliminating any need for your car and significantly shrinking your carbon footprint. This is just the beginning, though! Plans are already underway to expand this path to link the Columbia Lake and the Kootenay River.

FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS

The vibrant community of Fairmont Hot Springs, where adventure meets relaxation. From leisurely hikes to playing golf on one of the three opulent courses and indulging in hot springs, they have it all. As birdwatchers, you’ll also find yourself in paradise!

The rejuvenating Fairmont Hot Spring Resort, with their serene mineral water, is carefully balanced at a soothing 39C (102F).  The three pools await – they are open 12 hours a day, with an extra hour during peak season. For those staying with them at the resort, you’ll enjoy free entry to their hot springs as well as their exclusive guest complex. For day-travellers access to these mineral pools are available with single entry, day pass or a 5-day stamp-card pass.

Relaxing in Fairmont Hot Springs Resort hot pools; photo by Kari Medig

Venture just outside Fairmont Hot Springs and enjoy this fun, family hike along the Hoodoos Trail. Ascending might test your muscles but think of the reward – a spectacular viewpoint that will leave you awestruck. Lay your eyes on the beautiful Columbia River, Dutch Creek River, and the majestic Columbia Lake as you summit the Hoodoos seen from Highway 93/95. And, once you’ve conquered the top, it’s a pleasant downhill journey with great views of the Canadian Rocky mountains.

Views from the Hoodoo Summit; photo by Chris Wheeler

WINDERMERE

Nestled along the eastern shores of Lake Windermere, this alluring community boasts remarkable features you wouldn’t want to miss.  From beach fun to vibrant garden markets, cozy cafés, and close-by golf courses, Windermere offers an array of enjoyment every spring, summer and fall.

Hiking the Mount Swansea Tower trail is a great way to get some exercise and observe the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding Windermere/Invermere. Steep switchbacks propel you 700 meters to the unmissable summit of Mount Swansea, revealing breathtaking views of Invermere, Lake Windermere, and the majestic Purcell Mountains.

Playwest Mountain Experience is offering a ‘new’ experience this season, the ‘Mountain Sunset & Savoury Fondue’ hike. After a short trek to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panoramic vista of the stunning Columbia Valley wetlands. Take in the awe-inspiring sights of Invermere, Radium Hot Springs, Fairmont Hot Springs, and beyond to Mount Brewer, Mount Nelson, Mount Bruce, and several other majestic peaks.

INVERMERE

The largest community in the valley, Invermere, is sure to captivate you with its charm. Invermere-on-the-Lake beckons you to indulge in unending beach fun at either of the two public beach parks. Dive into the warm embrace of Lake Windermere, where you can paddle your way through a glorious summer day or enjoy a laid-back beach retreat.

Paddling on Lake Windermere near Invermere; photo by Kari Medig

In the majestic beauty of the Purcell Mountains, Panorama Mountain Resort is an alpine haven. This summer, conquer the thrilling downhill bike park, test your swing at mountain golf, embark on alpine hikes, and engage in unforgettable ATV tours. They are thrilled to announce the ‘NEW’ Mountain Coaster for 2024. Brace yourself for an unmissable ride down the mountain on an exciting roller coaster ride! You’re in charge of controlling the speed on this family-friendly pipe coaster.

Aerial view of Panorama Mountain Resort; photo by Mitch Winton

Not just summer, when the winter chills set in, the Lake Windermere’s The Whiteway (World’s Longest Skating Path) unfold a winter wonderland, offering striking experiences of ice-skating, cross-country skiing, and fat-biking.

The Whiteway on Lake Windermere; photo by Mitch Winton

RADIUM HOT SPRINGS

Step into the serene village of Radium Hot Springs, magnificently settled at Kootenay National Park’s front door. Just a stone’s throw away within the park’s limits, the inviting hot pool facilities encompassed by the remarkable Sinclair Canyon, steadfastly awaits your arrival. Radium Hot Springs prides itself not just for the captivating springs, but also as a sanctuary for golf enthusiasts with their top-notch courses. They present limitless adventures from invigorating hikes, thrilling white-water rafting to tranquil scenic floats.

Views from the trail above Radium Hot Springs; photo by Mitch Winton

Situated amid the majestic Rocky Mountains in southeastern British Columbia, Kootenay National Park boasts an area of 1,406 square kilometers of awe-inspiring contrasts. The breathtaking wildlife-laden park offers stunning panoramas of towering summits and hanging glaciers that border narrow chasms, rolling forested valleys, arid grasslands, and vivid, mineral-rich pools. Seize your chance to discover this natural marvel by journeying the 106-kilometre Banff-Windermere Highway (Highway 93), carving the park’s scenic landscapes from north to south, eventually linking with Banff National Park.

Olive Lake in Kootenay National Park; photo by Mitch Winton

Discover the magic of the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site any time of the year with this capacious, family-friendly facility that’s a crowd-pleaser. Take a dive into the 39°C (102F) naturally heated mineral water, a treasure cherished by humans over centuries. Radium Hot Springs is famed for its revitalizing mineral waters, nestled in the spectacular backdrop of Sinclair Canyon. Find ultimate relaxation and adventure here, with two outdoor pools; one hot for a soothing soak, and another cooler one for an invigorating swim.

Radium Hot Springs pools in Kootenay National Park; photo by Kari Medig

COLUMBIA RIVER WETLANDS

Travel north on Highway 95, the outstanding route that links Radium Hot Springs to Golden (and the Trans-Canada HWY 1). This spectacular journey spans 103-km alongside the awe-inspiring Columbia River Wetlands. Renowned globally as one of the finest drives, simply head north towards the vibrant town of Golden to immerse yourself fully in the scenic vistas the Columbia Wetlands has to offer. Highway 95 serves as a wildlife haven, home to majestic creatures such as deer, elk, bald eagles, bears, and moose. To make the most of this unique wildlife experience, early mornings and late afternoons are peak times for these creatures to emerge.

Driving HIghway 95 to Golden along the Columbia River; photo by Mitch Winton

Discover a hidden gem just beyond Invermere, the enchanting Wilmer Wetlands Trail. For birdwatchers and wildlife buffs of the Columbia Wetlands, this hike is tailored specifically for you. Flaunting a near-perfect flat layout, this trail is an ideal adventure for those who crave a relaxing walk amidst breathtaking wetland vistas and generous chances to observe native wildlife in their natural habitat.  For an informative and interesting glimpse at one of the most ecologically diverse and important ecosystems – Playwest Mountain Experience offers a family-friendly guided hike.

Experience the prowess of Columbia Wetlands Outpost, your gateway to an extraordinary cataraft tour in the heart of the Columbia Wetlands. Enjoy an unparalleled adventure minute away from Golden, BC, aboard their 10-person cataraft, designed for your safety and tranquility. Let the serene noises of the wetlands and the lure of the Columbia River Valley captivate you.

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