The Kootenay Rockies is home to wonderful resorts, hot springs, mountain parks, stunning heritage sites and quaint towns – explore it all and expect to be awed.
The Kootenay Adaptive Sport Society offers a number of services including adaptive mountain bike rentals.
And, the Recreation Adapted Society offers handy rental gear boxes for adaptive adventure and outdoor equipment.
Let’s begin this tour in the southeast corner of the Kootenay Rockies region, in a place known as the Elk Valley along Highway 3 & 43. This area includes the communities of Fernie, Sparwood and Elkford.
The town of Sparwood is located in the centre of the Elk Valley and the 350 ton Terex Titan truck welcomes you at the entrance. It is the world’s largest tandem axle dump truck. Two Greyhound buses and 2 pickup trucks can fit into the box!
- Sparwood & Elkford both offer Leisure Centres with an all-season indoor pool (accessible).
- Explore and discover at the Fernie Museum. It offers a wonderful artifact collection, rotating art exhibits, programs and events. The museum provides barrier free access. Art & Historical Tours are self-guided in the historic downtown – pick up a map at the Museum.
- Fernie also presents The Arts Station – accessible ground floor with art gallery and theatre offering regular live music and special events; the Heritage Library – barrier free access to 3 floors of books, media, special events and workshops.
- Fernie’s network of accessible trails include level, well maintained trails along the Elk River, connecting Maiden Lake, Annex Park, Dogwood Park and James White Park.Â The Miners Walk, a short paved interpretive trail at City Hall showcases local and regional sculpture, interpretive panels, coal mining history and municipal gardens.
- An adaptive ski program is available in the winter with sit-skis and trained instructors on-site.
Take Highway 3 south from Fernie to Cranbrook (87 km / 54 mi)
Travelling west on Highway 3, watch for signs to the Kootenay Trout Hatchery. This interesting and educational attraction rears up to 3 million baby trout each year to enhance recreational fishing opportunities. An extensive interpretive area with aquaria, educational models, displays and a turtle pond is open every day from 8am to 4pm.
As you approach the city of Cranbrook, Fort Steele Heritage Town is a quick trip north on Highway 93/95.
- Travel back in time to the 1890s at Fort Steele Heritage Town
(Highway 93/95).Â Over 98 historical structures have been restored and
reconstructed since the site was designated a Provincial Heritage Site
in 1961. Tour the attraction on a lovely boardwalk. Visitor facilities
include food services, gift shop, visitor centre and more.
Cranbrook and Kimberley
offer an array of activities, attractions and excellent overnighting
options. Cranbrook is the business centre for the area while nearby
Kimberley (Hwy 95A) also offers great services as well as one of Canada’s largest municipal parks.
- Northstar Rails to Trails is a paved route between the cities of Cranbrook and Kimberley.Â The path is very popular for biking, walking, mothers with strollers, roller blading and skate boarding.Â The gentle grade makes it perfect for wheelchair travel.
- St. Eugene Golf Resort Casino is located near the Canadian Rockies International Airport between Cranbrook and Kimberley.Â It offers a day spa, casino, restaurants, Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre and special events.
- Cranbrook’s Sam Steele Days takes place every third weekend in June.Â It includes a number of legendary fun spectator events such as sports tournaments, parade, community talent showcase. The event is also all about delicious food, children attractions, exceptional entertainment, a market and a festival beer garden.
- Cranbrook’s Key City Theatre is a premiere entertainment venue for the area. A full schedule of events, performances, concerts, theatrical productions and films take place throughout the year.
- Centre 64 is Kimberley’s arts and cultural centre – Join them for a fine art exhibition, live theatre performance, concert series or workshop. Theatre-goers and artists alike can access the theatre by taking the accessibility lift.
- Enjoy downtown Kimberley, the Platzl, an outdoor pedestrian mall with Canada’s largest Cuckoo Clock. Every Thursday, during the summer, a wonderful Farmers Market takes place on Howard Street. Also during the summer, all-day Arts & Culture celebrations take place on the first Saturday of the month.
- The Kimberley Heritage Museum building and galleries are fully accessible by elevator from the Library or via ramp and doors to the second floor at the rear of the building.
- During the winter, the Kimberley Alpine Resort has runs and terrain suitable for all alpine disciplines and assist with the loading and unloading of sit-skis and other types of accessible ski equipment.The on-mountain Kimberley Athlete Training Centre is a modern facility designed also for disabled athlete training.
Head north on Highway #93/95.
En route are two hot springs resorts:Â Fairmont and Radium Hot Springs.
Cranbrook to Radium Hot Springs is 157 km / 98 mi.
- Along the way, Skookumchuck offers lodging and access to the Kootenay River.
- Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
offers a 10,000 square foot, odourless hot springs pool complex. Resort
amenities include dining outlets, spa, lodging and
deluxe RV resort and adventure centre.
- Radium Hot Springs
natural mineral pool is set amidst the spectacular red rock walls of
Sinclair Canyon in Kootenay National Park. The naturally heated mineral
water is usually 39C (102F). The property also includes a day spa,
restaurant and gift shop. Accessible parking and ramp access to the Aquacourt are available via the small parking lot on the northbound side of Highway 93 S.
Radium Hot Springs northeast on Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park is 94 km / 58 mi.
Radium Hot Springs north on Highway 95 to Golden is 105 km / 65 mi.
- The Columbia Valley Wetlands, alongside the Columbia River and Hwy 95, is the life support system for over 300 species of wildlife including hundreds of thousands of birds, fish, amphibians and mammals.
- Watch for the World’s Largest Paddle in Parson, south of Golden
Kootenay National Park – set in the Rocky Mountains; 1,406 sq km (543 sq mi) of land.
- Discover camping like never before in an oTENTik – commonly described as a tent-cabin.
Located in the Redstreak Campground. Marble Canyon, McLeod Meadows, Crooks Meadows are each also disabled accessible.
- Listen to stories from the Ktunaxa First Nation and discover the role fire has played in Kootenay National Park’s landscape at the Visitor Centre’s Cultures in Contact Centre.
- Watch for Park Interpreters at Redstreak Campground during summer months to discover more about the uniqueness of KNP’s natural and cultural heritage.
The town of Golden is situated at the confluence of the historic Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers and is surrounded by three mountain ranges.
- Downtown Golden showcases the Kicking Horse Pedestrian Bridge at 8th Avenue N. It is the longest freestanding timber frame bridge in Canada and is set at Spirit Square, home to the Summer Kicks Concert Series.
- Travel back to the early days at the Golden Museum.Â It features the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway, the historic Swiss Guides and David Thompson, a surveyor for the NW Co. who set up a trading post to trade with indigenous people and continue mapping the area. The museum has a one floor design, physically accessible.
- During the summer, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort offers scenic gondola rides to Eagle’s Eye Restaurant – enjoy lunch at Canada’s most elevated dining experience. Depending on the size & style of wheelchair, it can be fit into the gondola. Staff are dependable to start & stop gondola for loading of equipment.
The resort’s Grizzly Bear Refuge offers a modified Ranger Assist Program for visitors with limited mobility and who would like to see Boo the Grizzly Bear. Participants are driven up the mountain and certain types of wheelchairs can be accommodated. Advance info & booking is required.
- During the winter, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort is a world-class ski resort and are able to assist with the loading and unloading of sit-skis and other types of accessible ski equipment.
Golden through Yoho National Park is 71 km / 44 mi.
Yoho National Park – set in the Rocky Mountains; 1,313 sq km (507 sq mi) of land.
- Take a browse around the village of Field and experience the mountain hospitality. Pick out the perfect souvenir in one of the gift shops or enjoy the culinary delights of this charming community.
- Admire the incredible views of mountain peaks and wildflowers at Emerald Lake – this gem-coloured lake. Pack a picnic lunch or go for a canoe ride to get a different perspective of the surrounding mountains.
- Natural Bridge – marvel at the force of the Kicking Horse River as it cascades under a naturally formed stone bridge. This rambunctious river takes its name from a near-fatal kick that stunned James Hector while exploring the area in 1858.
- Takakkaw Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in Canada. Enjoy a scenic drive on the Yoho Valley Road. Then, cool off in the mist as you stand at the base of the thundering waters of Takakkaw Falls.
- Watch for Park Interpreters at Kicking Horse Campground during summer months
to discover more about the uniqueness of KNP’s natural and cultural
- Hoodoo Creek, Kicking Horse and Monarch Campgrounds have disabled access.
Golden to Revelstoke is 148 km / 92 mi west on Highway 1.
Along the way, you will travel over Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park and through Mount Revelstoke National Park.
Glacier National Park is set in the Columbia Mountains; 1,349 sq km (521 sq mi) of land.
- Explore Rogers Pass National Historic Site by taking the abandoned rail grade between Rogers Pass Centre and the Summit of Rogers Pass. The trail is 1.2 km, one way. Visitors using wheelchairs may bypass the section behind the centre and enter the trail just beyond the service station.
- The Hemlock Grove Boardwalk offers an amazing forest experience. The barrier-free trail passes beneath soaring ancient hemlocks. A picnic area is also offered.
- Illecillewaet and Loop Brook Campgrounds have disabled access.
The city of Revelstoke has retained many of its original early 20th century business buildings and heritage homes. Enjoy the nightly music entertainment during the summer in the Grizzly Plaza.Â
- The BC Interior Forestry Museum offers a vintage forest fire lookout cabin, gift shop and the best view of the Revelstoke Dam from the outcropped platform – a low angle access path leads to the viewpoint. This museum is 95% accessible from the accessible parking spaces, ability to move throughout the venue indoor and outdoor exhibits. Washrooms are fully-accessible.
- The city is also a hot spot for backcountry adventure.
The Revelstoke area offers the Miller Time Adaptive Trail Loop. It is a wide, easy trail for adaptive riders and offers beautiful old trees and views of Wells Creek.
- Mount Revelstoke National Park offers the Giant Cedars Picnic Area and Meadows in the Sky Parkway.
Take Highway 23 south from Revelstoke to Shelter / Galena Bay Ferry (50 km / 31 mi).
Ferry Landing to Nakusp is also (50 km / 31 mi).
Ferry crossing time is 20 minutes. The village of Nakusp offers a great downtown rich in history. Many services and attractions are also offered such as the waterfront promenade, playgrounds, parks, sandy beach, marina and boat launch.
- Alongside Arrow Lakes and Highway 23, Mt. Abriel Trail offers adaptive biking, double track, family-friendly wonderful accessible routes and camping options. The Nakusp area offers a number of accessible mountain biking trails.
- Relax your body and soul in the world renowned Halcyon Hot Springs mineral pools alongside Arrow Lakes with views of the Monashee Mountains. The resort offers an elevator to the pools.
- Relax and refresh in the therapeutic Nakusp Hot Springs pools. There are two pools fed by water from natural mineral springs set in the forest a distance from the pools. Special needs washroom and pool lift.
- From Nakusp Hot Springs, take the short trail to the Kuskanax Creek Footbridge – a covered timber frame bridge with glass viewing panels. Trail and bridge fully-accessible.
- Take a side trip (about 45 km / 28 mi) southwest on Highway 6 to Burton City Cider. They offer a wheelchair accessible Tasting Room and Bistro.Â Whether you select Classic Apple or the Cider Maker’s special, the ciders on tap are crisp, dry and available to buy in refillable growlers.
Continue southeast from Nakusp on Highway 6 to New Denver (47 km / 29 mi).
The Slocan Valley is one of the most interesting places to explore in the region with pristine lakes and waterfalls, magnificent mountain peaks and spectacular Valhalla Provincial Park. Enjoy exploring the spectacularly beautiful Slocan Valley from New Denver to Crescent Valley along Highway #6 (79 km / 49 mi).
- As you approach New Denver, the Rosebery Spine Trail is a trail designed to accommodate all riders, including those using adapted mountain bikes.
- New Denver offers the Galena Trail – parts of it are accessible (from Rosebery Provincial Park north to the Summit Lake area) (see photos and video). The Galena Trail is beautiful with bridges, trail signage and Carpenter Creek.
- The Slocan Rail Trail is just over 52 km / 32 mi and can be done in sections. It travels through the Slocan Valley from the village of Slocan to South Slocan.
- Adaptive Riding Camp Video – click to view.
Crescent Valley to Castlegar is 20 km / 12 mi south on Highway 3A.
Castlegar is situated at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. The city also thrives with rich culture and heritage – enjoy the Millennium Walkway & Ponds, Heritage Tour and Sculpturewalk.
- An annual exhibition of outdoor sculptures from local and international artists is presented in the Scuplturewalk festival. It is a self-guided walking tour in downtown Castlegar.Â It’s a must see – pick up a map brochure at the Visitor Centre.
- The Columbia & Western Rail Trail is set between Castlegar and Christina Lake.Â It’s a lovely ride on an adaptive bike while you take in the mountains and lake scenery.
The cities of Trail and Rossland are very closeby – a short drive (26 km / 14 mi) south on Highway 3A or 3B. Rossland is known as the ‘Mountain Biking Capital of Canada’. The beautiful alpine city is small but it’s pretty big on activities.Â Trail can proudly boast a surge in development in recent years. From industry to legendary sporting feats, experience the hometown pride that emanates from locals.
- Champion Lakes Provincial Park is known for an ideal destination for family fun with its three lakes offering swimming, fishing and other watersports. Wheelchair accessible facilities include flush toilets in the Main Beach building at the day use / picnic area. A paved viewing area of the 3rd lake is located on the main road on route to the campground.
- The Trail Museum & Archives is located in the Trail Riverfront Centre. It displays exciting and engaging exhibits and is a year-round, completely accessible cultural amenity.
- Gold Fever Follies present live musical theatre shows, highlighting Rossland’s rich gold rush days of the late 1890s. Held in the Old Miner’s Hall; wheelchair accessible.
- The Centennial Trail in Rossland, is flat, smooth and wide for about one kilometre heading south. Best to access trail from the north end of the Star Gulch Reservoir.
Castlegar to Nelson is 40 km / 24 mi east on Highway 3A.
Nelson boasts a vivid past of Victorian architecture, cultural histories and a vibrant art scene. These qualities are complemented by world-class outdoor adventure plus great dining, shopping and lodging options.
- Touchstones Museum of Art & History – experience the art gallery, community museum and archives. Located in a 1902 heritage building. Ramp at the Ward Street entrance, main floor washroom is wheelchair accessible, wheelchair elevator access to gallery space, museum floor and archives.
- The Capitol Theatre, the building was a silent move house in the 1920s, today, puts on an excellent line-up of musical and theatrical productions throughout the year. Wheelchair accessible property.
- Kokanee Creek Provincial Park alongside Kootenay Lake offers over a kilometre of sandy beach. The Sandspit campground contains a wheelchair accessible campsite, flush toilet and shower stall. All roads within the park are paved.
The Kootenay Lake Ferry landing is located at Balfour.
Before heading across the lake, take a trip further north to Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort and the village of Kaslo.
Balfour to Kaslo is 36 km / 22 mi.
- Enjoy the famous Ainsworth Hot Springs pools including a horseshoe-shaped cave. The resort offers two accessible queen rooms and an elevator to access all floors of the main building including the restaurant. The pool level can be accessed by outdoor ramps or elevator. The ramps are walkable but too steep for accessibility standards. A wheelchair user can access the change rooms and pool deck, however pools are only accessible by steps – there’s no lift to assist access into pool.
- Kaslo Saturday Market takes place throughout the summer nestled along a grassy green park in the middle of downtown. There’s a bounty of culinary options and artisan showcases. Wheelchair accessible.
- The Langham Cultural Centre houses 2 art galleries and the Japanese Canadian Museum. The galleries and theatre are on the first floor and fully wheelchair accessible; the museum is on the 2nd floor and not accessible by wheelchair.
Head across Kootenay Lake, from Balfour to Kootenay Bay, on the world’s longest free ferry ride.
Highway 3A alongside Kootenay Lake takes you from Crawford Bay to the city of Creston.
(78 km / 49 mi)
- Crawford Bay is home to one of the most vibrant and eclectic artisan groups in all of British Columbia. There are numerous quaint and tucked-away studios to visit. Blacksmithing, weaving, broom making, pottery and more.
- Enjoy the lovely scenic drive alongside Kootenay Lake to Creston.
- The Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre is located in the Creston Valley Wildlife Management area, a lush wetland habitat 11 km (7 mi) west of Creston. The Nature Centre is a unique facility that offers a variety of services. The boardwalk is open to the public 24 hours a day and is wheelchair accessible. Experience the sights and sounds of the wetland – many other trails are flat top dykes that are wide with mowed grass.
Link here to more Accessibility Resources and suggested Accommodation Properties with accessibility facilities.