We come by our beauty naturally with BIG mountains – the Canadian Rockies, Purcells, Selkirks and the Monashees and vast valleys in-between these ancient mountain ranges.
Whether you stay for just one night (or a week) on a Kootenay road trip — you can literally begin exploring “out your back door” during your stay. Breathtaking views can be experienced by your entire family. Here are some of the most iconic, photogenic spots (that are easily accessible) in the Kootenays.
Castlegar — Dove Hill
Trail: Easy/Intermediate; 1.5-km one-way; Hike & Bike
The Dove Hill trail-head can be accessed from the Castlegar Golf Course Road, just past the Golf Course fence gate. The trail ascends up the west and south faces of Dove Hill. There are several benches along the way for you to stop and rest. Near the top of the hill, the trail splits in two directions, leading to two separate viewpoints (Dove Hill & Surrey Hill).
Dove Hill in Castlegar, BC; photo by Ashley Voykin
The Eager Hill parking area is accessed off Highway 93 enroute to Fort Steele/ Wasa. From the parking area it’s a short hike to the lookout featuring vistas of the Canadian Rockies including Fisher Peak and the Steeples. (Accessible in the winter months too.)
Views of the Steeples a top of Eager Hills near Cranbrook; photo by Ashley Voykin
There is an extensive network of hiking trails throughout the Pilot Bay Provincial Park and along the Pilot Peninsula. It is an easy walk to the historic Pilot Bay lighthouse which has been restored by area volunteer groups.
Views of Kootenay Lake from the Pilot Bay Lighthouse; photo by Ashley Voykin
Creston — Mt. Thompson Rim Trail
Trail: Moderate; 7.4-km round trip; Hike
Views are expansive on both sides, stretching from the southern tip of Kootenay Lake to the north, and well past the US border to the south. It’s as close to an aerial view of the Creston Valley as you can find without knowing a pilot – and you didn’t even have to hike up a mountain. After hiking for a couple hours or so you’ll get to the trail end which is another tower. From here you can look down on the Skimmerhorn and get a totally different perspective of the bumps and cliffs along its ridgeline.
Enroute to Fairmont Hot Springs, you turn left off the highway (highway 93/95) near the Dutch Creek Service Station onto the Westside Road. Follow it to the Hood Trail parking area. Getting to the sandstone cliffs is an easy (mind your children as the trail drops down sharply in various areas). Once you reach the viewpoint — the views of the Rockies, Purcells and Columbia Lake are stunning. (Accessible in the winter months too.)
Columbia Lake views from on top of the Hoodoos; photo by Kari Medig
By far one of the highest and best viewpoints of the Elk Valley. It is primarily accessed by driving a high clearance vehicle to the summit. An amazing place to watch the sunset or stay the night for a stunning sunrise.
Morrissey Ridge and the views of the Elk Valley; photo by Heidi Korven
You can either drive up the Mount 7 Forest Service Road, as majority of downhill specialists do, or ride your cross-country mountain bike the entire 14-km to the Mount 7 Lookout. It is very rewarding and the views of the Rockies, Purcells and Columbia Wetlands are incredible.
Views from the top of Mount 7 in Golden; photo by Ashley Voykin
The gravel forest service road reaches the top (1,727-m) at the parking area. From the parking area it’s a 15-minute trek to the summit. A network of trails are also available. Some are single use, while others are shared between hikers and mountain bikers. The best views of the Columbia Valley & Purcell Mountains is to the left when you come to a fork in the trail (keeping to the west ridge).
Views of Invermere & the Columbia River; photo by Heidi Korven
Buchanan Lookout is an old fire tower. Today it is a day-use rec site with picnic tables and a 2-km trail around the top. The 12-km access road is gravel and high-clearance vehicles are a must to access the viewpoint.
Fire-Tower at the top of Mt. Buchanan; photo by Kari Medig
Located 14-kms south of Kimberley, enroute to Cranbrook (highway 95A) you’ll each the small rural area of Wycliffe. The first Butte trail is a short, steep trek that brings you to the top of a pine spotted butte. The butte overlook bunchgrass covered prairies and reveals stunning views of the Canadian Rockies (including Fisher Peak and the Steeples). Throughout the season, you can track the progression of wildflowers, spring time crocuses & balsamroot and purple lupins in the summer. (Accessible in the winter months too.)
Views of the Canadian Rockies from the First Butte near Kimberley; photo by Ashley Voykin
Offering spectacular views of the village of Nakusp, the Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains, this trail is accessible mostly by a gravel road. From the 4-way stoplight in downtown Nakusp, drive north on Hwy 23 for 2.5-km. Turn right on to the Hot Springs Road. Drive 3.6-km up the Hot Springs Road. Turn left onto the Kuskanax Mountain Road (gravel). Then, drive (or hike) 1.5 km-up the Kuskanax Mountain Road and you will find Vicky’s View on your left.
Epic views of the Village of Nakusp, Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains; photo by Kari Medig
Pulpit Rock is one of the most popular Nelson hikes. The trail offers a solid workout over switchbacks, ending in a scenic view scape of the funky community of Nelson. Hiking further to Flagpole, rewards you with an even bigger panoramic views of Kootenay Lake and Selkirk Mountains above this community (it’s worth the extra effort if you have the time).
Views of Nelson, Kootenay Lake and the Selkirk Mountains; photo by Dave Heath
This easy hike on the Selkirk Mountains offers one of the best areas to see wildflowers. From the trail-head, the trail descends into an alpine bowl and then it is a steady uphill trek to the fire lookout at the peak. The gradient is moderate with a short steeper section. At the top, there are 360 degree views of Slocan Valley and Slocan Lake.
(Road access to Idaho Peak has been wash-out; it may re-open in late 2022, TBA)
Views of the Slocan Valley and Slocan Lake; photo by Dave Heath
Accessible by a paved road (26-km) it leads to a 2,223-m. summit of Mount Revelstoke. There are three lookouts with views of the City of Revelstoke, the Selkirk & Monashee Mountains and the Columbia River Valley.
Another easy hike is the Fire-tower Trail that leads to a historic fire tower lookout. You can’t go inside the tower, but from the platform around it there are beautiful views of the Columbia River Valley. Allow about 30 minutes return trip.
Views of Revelstoke, Mt. Begbie and the Columbia River Valley; photo courtesy of Tourism Revelstoke
You’ll be in the trees until you reach the summit of this trek. Here you’ll be rewarded by scenic views of Rossland and the surrounding valley. Enjoy the lilies, lupins and Indian paintbrush wildflowers when they are in season.
Views of the community of Rossland & the Monashee Mountains; photo by Kari Medig
Slocan Valley — Slocan Lake Rest Stop
Hike: Easy; less than 0.5-km; Hike
Near the community of New Denver is a rest stop that is “worthy” of getting out and stretching your legs. The views of Slocan Lake are astounding!
Views of Slocan Lake; photo by Ashley Voykin
Remember your sunhat (toque in the winter), closed-toed shoes/boots, sunglasses, water and a small snack. And, don’t forget your camera or smart phone to capture the jaw-dropping views.
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.
~ Best Summit Hikes in the Kootenays
~ Easy Kootenay Hikes: To 360 Degree Vista Views
~ Everything is Local
~ Follow the Trail: Kootenay Hiking Adventures
~ Forest Therapy: Replenish Your Spirits and Reawaken Your Soul
~ Funky Kootenay Fun Facts
~ Get Information: Before your Wild Adventure in the Kootenays
~ Hidden Waterfalls in the Kootenays
~ Keeping the Kootenays Natural
~ Kootenay Ambassadors: Mindful Explorers
~ Multi-generational Family Hiking in the Kootenays
~ Pit Stops for a Kootenay Road Trip
~ Quirky Attractions Only Found in the Kootenays
~ Stewards of the Land: Positive Effects
~ We are All Connected