4 Reasons to Drive BC's Hidden Route: The Slocan Valley

4 Reasons to Drive BC's Hidden Route: The Slocan Valley

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The road less travelled highlights many of the area’s finest attractions and activities in the Kootenays as we follow Highway 23/6 from Revelstoke to Nelson, BC.

Exploring the shoreline on Slocan Lake (near New Denver); photo by Megan McLellan with Field and Forest

This scenic route is also a favourite for motorcycle touring and road-cyclists. This spring, an ‘adaptive sports’ route is being established which can be explored by trike and paddle. Wander off the beaten path – here are four ‘must-see and dos’ along this route:

#1 – Hot Springs

There are three natural hot springs (with a couple hidden ones too -ask a local where to find them), including Halcyon Hot Springs Resort (a 90-min drive south of Revelstoke), Nakusp Hot Springs (a 15-minute drive from the community of Nakusp) and Ainsworth Hot Springs (via Highway 31A, along Kootenay Lake).

Halcyon Hot Springs Resort; photo by Andrew Penner

#2 – The Water

Throughout your travels you will follow the Columbia River as it flows through the Arrow Lakes (Upper and Lower) and Slocan Lake.  And if you choose to take the alternate (Hwy 31A) route, then you’ll travel alongside Kootenay Lake to Nelson. 

Bannock Point Rec Site on Slocan Lake; photo by Kari Medig

Kootenay Lake shoreline in Kaslo; photo by Emanuel Smedbøl with Field and Forest

There are note-worthy stops along this stretch of highway for paddling and swimming.  And fun opportunities if you enjoy ‘chasing waterfalls’, as there are many to find, including Evan’s Beach Creek, Nemo Creek, Fletcher, Ione, Powder Creek, Springer Creek, Sutherland and Wilson Creek.

Wilson Creek Waterfalls near New Denver; photo by Dave Heath

#3 – Heritage/Culture

This little valley has experienced its own extraordinary history over the years, from the once bustling town of Sandon – which in its heyday had a population of over 5,000 people during the silver mine rush.  Or, the first Halcyon Hot Springs Hotel which opened in 1894 and was accessed by steamboat or sternwheeler. Or, the Japanese Canadian Internment camp in New Denver during WWII, now a Memorial museum with a Japanese garden.  Or, the SS Moyie set on the shore of Kootenay Lake in Kaslo; it is the world’s oldest intact sternwheeler and a museum and National Historical site.

The ghost town of Sandon; photo by Megan McLellan with Field and Forest

The SS Moyie in Kaslo, photo by Megan McLellan with Field and Forest


#4 – Communities & Events

With a population of 1,605, Nakusp is the largest community along this hidden route.  Set on the shores of the Upper Arrow Lake alongside the Monashee Mountains, Nakusp is halfway between Revelstoke and Nelson, BC.  Along the route you’ll find other secluded communities, and some of the most unique and interesting events, such as:

May 18-Oct 26      Saturday Farmers’ Market (Nakusp)
Jun 7                      Convergence Writers’ Weekend (Silverton)
Jun 8-Sep 21          Saturday Farmers’ Market (Kaslo)
Jun 15                    The Whole Arts & Culture Faire (Vallican)
Jun 22                    Burton Amazing Race & Relay (Burton)
Jun 22                    Fibre Feelia Fest (New Denver)
Jul 5-7                   Whatshan Jam (Whatshan Lake)
Jul 13                     Summer Breeze Music & Art Party (Winlaw)
Jul 14                     North Kootenay Lake Edible Garden Tour (Kaslo)
Jul 15-20                GuitarFest (Kaslo)
Jul 27                     Idaho Peak Ultra Trail Marathon (New Denver)
Aug 2-3                 Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival (Kaslo)
Aug 10                   iDIDaRide (Kaslo)
Sep 8                      Hills Garlic Festival (Hills)

And lastly, this area is known for its incredible hiking… shhh it’s one of our best kept secrets.

Backcountry hiking in the Monashees; photo by Kari Medig


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Story by KootRocks Staffer (Shannon Harrison).  Cover/top cover photo by Kari Medig of Slocan Lake.

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