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West Koot Route

The West Koot Route can be accessed by three different ferry rides:  Upper Arrow Lake, Lower Arrow Lake and Kootenay Lake via Balfour or Kootenay Bay (Hwy #3A).

Let’s begin this tour near the village of Nakusp.

Upper Arrow Lake Ferry (Shelter / Galena Bays) to Nakusp on Highway #23 is 49 km / 30 mi.

Lower Arrow Lake Ferry (Needles / Fauquier) to Nakusp on Highway #6 is 57 km / 35 mi.

During the Silvery Slocan mining boom, Nakusp was a major transportation hub. Today the village offers a lovely downtown, great fishing, a range of overnighting options, a waterfront promenade and three wonderful hot springs.

Along the way:

  • Hot springs include Nakusp, Halcyon (north of the village on Hwy #23) and Halfway River (back-country access).

Side Trip option:



Nakusp to New Denver is 46 km / 28 mi south on Highway #6.

You’ve now connected with the Silvery Slocan Driving Route. Follow its itinerary if you’d like to head south on Highway #6 through the Slocan Valley and back up through Nelson, Ainsworth Hot Springs and Kaslo.

Kaslo to Meadow Creek is 40 km / 25 mi north on Highway #31.

Along the way:

  • Kootenay Lake Provincial Parks (Lost Ledge and Davis Creek) are beautiful parks on the west shore of Kootenay Lake with beach access and camping.
  • Meadow Creek offers summer markets, spectacular hiking, glaciers, a salmon spawning channel in the fall and the Lardeau Valley Historical Museum showcases local artifacts.

Spend some time in Kaslo – here’s some of the village’s highlights:



The Kootenay Star Mining Museum is located right downtown on Front Street and celebrates an era when hard work and unimaginable risk, was the norm for most people.

The Langham Cultural Centre recently won the BC Architecture Foundations ‘Best Building Award’. It is a thriving arts centre and also houses the Japanese Canadian Museum.

Kaslo is one of BC’s prettiest villages, set on the shores of Kootenay Lake, the Purcell Mountains tower above and the wide tree-lined streets and stately old houses exude charm.

The Kaslo Kayaking and Adventure Centre offers tours, lessons and rentals. Experienced and knowledgeable guides will help you discover the true magic of the area.

The SS Moyie is a National Historic Site – take a step back in time aboard the oldest sternwheeler in the world. Located at the Kaslo Visitor Centre along the shore of Kootenay Lake.

The Kaslo Jazz Festival is an intimate and laid-back world-class music festival which takes place in Kaslo Bay Park each August long weekend. They host big names and newly discovered gems on a unique floating stage on Kootenay Lake.



Meadow Creek to the village of Trout Lake is 100 km / 62 mi.

Meadow Creek to Gerrard (south end of Trout Lake) is on a wide, straight and flat gravel road.

Along the way:

  • The area is remote and offers hiking, wildlife viewing and camping.
  • Goat Range Park along the way is a large wilderness protected area.

Alongside Trout lake from Gerrard to the village of Trout Lake, the gravel road narrows. It is one lane in places, includes four hairpin turns, has pull out bays and may not be suitable for RVs. Watch for logging trucks.

  • Fish for rainbow trout in Trout Lake.
  • Services at the village of Trout Lake include a campground, boat launch, store and gas station with vintage gas pumps.

Travelling north from Trout lake will take you to the Upper Arrow Lake Ferry at Galena and Highway #23.

Kaslo to Creston is 114 km / 70 mi.

Travelling south on Highway 31 to the Kootenay Lake Ferry Landing at Balfour – The Kootenay Lake Ferry is Canada’s longest free ferry ride.

Along the way:

  • Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is a four season escape with accommodation, Ktunaxa Grill and Spirit Water Spa and of course the wonderful mineral hot pools including a cave experience.
  • Balfour is home to the Kootenay Lake Ferry, many services and activities as well such as fishing, hiking, biking, golfing and beachfronts.
  • Kootenay Bay, at the eastern terminus of the Kootenay Lake Ferry, is the gateway to the artisan communities along the shores of Kootenay Lake, from Crawford Bay to Wynndel. 
  • Campgrounds and resorts, general stores, parks, marinas and the Glass House dot the highway.

Or, Kaslo to Castlegar (via Nelson) is 110 km / 70 mi.

Continue travelling south on Highway #3A towards the city of Nelson and Castlegar.

Along the way:

  • 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.  Surrounding provincial parks offer sandy beaches, incredible old growth hikes, the Kokanee Mountain Zipline and much more.

The City of Castlegar is situated at the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers. This ‘centre of adventure’ is home to an impressive network of trails, where hikers and cyclists enjoy the natural setting of the city. Castlegar also thrives with rich culture and heritage – enjoy the Millennium Walkway & Pond, Heritage Tour and Sculpturewalk.

Spend some time in Castlegar and neighbouring communities of Rossland, Trail & Fruitvale, moments south on Highway #22. Here’s some highlights:



World-class fishing, kayaking and climbing are at your fingertips!

The Doukhobor Discovery Centre is a reconstructed communal village and gallery. Discover over 1,600 artifacts, audio / visual galleries, interactive displays and gift shop.

The annual and very popular Castlegar Sculpturewalk is a rotating exhibition of sculptures by international and local artists. Take the walking tour and view them all.

Rossland was the site of Canada’s richest 19th century gold strikes. Today, the mountain-lovers who flock here, strike gold on the stunning hiking and biking trails.

The Rossland Museum and Discovery Centre offers visitors a chance to learn about the mining and skiing history and even try their hand at gold panning.

The Gold Fever Follies is a family-friendly musical theatre performance that runs twice daily throughout the summer.





The city of Trail offers many wonderful attractions such as the Columbia River Skywalk which is one of the longest suspension bridges of its king in North America.

Historic Rock Wall Tour – Get a taste of Italy with Trail’s Rock Wall Adventure Walking Tour highlighting Trails’ Italian heritage and masonry skills.

The Trail Museum & Archives offers a glimpse into Trails long history as a pioneer industrial town and sports haven.

Fruitvale is a full-service community offering retail, grocery and other services.

Montrose, the gateway to the Beaver Valley, is built on a mountain ledge and offers a lovely Memorial Park.

Salmo offers surrounding mountains, pristine lakes, streams & rivers, and a natural haven for a wide variety of wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts.

Stunning backcountry beauty and quaint towns & villages are around every corner on the West Koot Route.


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