One of the biggest contributors to the Kootenay Lifestyle is the abundance of outdoor activities available right in our own backyards. When you live in a beautiful location like the East Kootenay, you want to get outside and enjoy it. There’s actually so much to do to enjoy the outdoors in our region, that I’m going to need to split them between four posts. In this installment, we’ll take a look of just some of the fun and cool activities you can enjoy on water during an East Kootenay summer. Before you head out, though, watch this short video to learn about the Ktunaxa people’s connection to the waterways that exist on their land.
- The lakes and rivers around Cranbrook and Kimberley are ideal for paddling. Some of the locations you might want to check out include Jimsmith Lake Provincial Park, the Kootenay River, Monroe Lake, Moyie Lake, Norbury Lake, Peckham’s Lake, St. Mary’s Lake, St. Mary’s River, and Wasa Lake. For those that like to add some land to their watersports, the annual Wasa Triathlon also offers a duathlon, sprint triathlon, aqua bike, and a Tri-Kids event. The full and sprint triathlons are qualifiers for the World Triathlon Championships.
- Looking for paddling company in the Cranbrook/Kimberley area? Just Liquid Sports offers weekly Community Paddle Nights at various locations. If you have your own gear, it is free to join. If you’d like to rent equipment – they can help you with that too. Kootenay Rafting Co. in Kimberley offers Kayak Rafting as well as a host of rentals.
- The town of Golden, nestled between two heritage rivers: the Kicking Horse and the Columbia, also boasts numerous lakes and tributaries, making it a great place for paddling. Check out Reflection Lake, Blaeberry River, Columbia River and Wetlands, Cedar Lake, and Mitten Lake. Emerald Lake, located under an hour away near Field, BC, is well worth the drive.
- In Golden but don’t have your own equipment? Glacier Raft Company or Golden Paddle can hook you up.
- Known as Invermere on the Lake, you know there will be paddling opportunities in this picturesque town. Located in the northwest corner of Lake Windermere, you’ll find people enjoying boating, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, water skiing, tubing and more. Columbia Lake’s crystal clear waters also make it an ideal spot for swimming, windsurfing, paddling, and even motorized watercraft while James Chabot Provincial Park’s large, open lake is popular for swimming, water skiing, boating, tubing, kayaking, and windsurfing. The Columbia Valley Wetlands are also provide a unique paddling location – be sure to bring your camera.
- In the nearby community of Windermere, boating, water skiing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, wind surfing, sailing, and more are summer staples at Windermere Beach.
- Adventure Paddle School can help you learn to kayak/SUP or strengthen your kayaking and stand-up paddle board skills. Columbia River Paddle provides rentals, guided tours, and more.
- The most popular beach on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake is Twin Bays though you can also find people enjoying Lockhart Beach Provincial Park, Makie Beach Park, the Moyie River, Pilot Bay Provincial Park, the Old Ferry Landing, and the Kuskanook Harbour Boat Launch and Marina. Paddle your way through the marshy channels of the Kootenay River, up the Goat River, or on Duck or Kootenay Lakes. Boundary Lake also provides a scenic location for swimming and boating while Martell Beach is a popular public access site with a spot for launching your kayak.
- The Kootenay Columbia Discovery Centre offers guided canoe tours through the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area and Creston Valley Tour Company offers SUP, kayak, and canoe rentals as well as guided paddling trips along the Kootenay River.
- Fernie is known for its skiing but there is plenty to do in the summer as well. Take a canoe, kayak, stand up paddleboard, or tube down the Elk River, Bull River or Wigwam River – or head to Lake Koocanusa (where you can also rent houseboats), Surveyors Lake, Baynes Lake, Island Lake, Loon Lake, Tie Lake, Silver Springs Lakes, or Maiden Lake. The PaddleFernie.com website provides some great additional information as does PaddlingMaps.com.
- Canyon Raft Company hosts SUP tours, while Edge of the World can set you up with a SUP rental. GearHub offers inflatable SUP, raft, and kayak rentals as well as consignment kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft for purchase.
- The Outdoor Splash Park is great for those looking to entertain youngsters.
BONUS: Between Cranbrook and Invermere, you’ll find Premier Lake Provincial Park. This park contains five lakes: Premier, Canuck, Yankee, Cats Eye, and Quartz. Canoes and kayaks are welcome on both Premier and Quartz Lakes.
Natural hot springs provide a unique and soothing place to relax. Our region has some great options:
- Radium Hot Springs
- Fairmont Hot Springs
- Lussier Hot Springs (free to access)
- Ram Creek Hot Springs (requires a hike to access)
- Buhl Hot Springs (requires a drive on a Forest Service Road)
White Water Rafting
- Kootenay Raft Co. offers an intro to sport rafting on the St. Mary’s Express or the Wilderness Whitewater for those a little more adventurous.
- The wild and intense Kicking Horse River is famous for its unparalleled whitewater rafting. Rafting tours are offered by Glacier Raft Company, Kootenay River Runners, Alpine Rafting Company, Wild Water Adventures, Wet n Wild Adventures, and Hydra River Guides.
- Enjoy an experience you’ll never forget on either the Elk or Bull River with Mountain High Adventures or Canyon Raft Company.
- Annual fishing events are held throughout the region, including the Moyie Lake and River Classic Fishing Tournament, .
- The Cranbrook region offers some of the best Trout fly fishing in Canada. The region boasts 309 lakes and 1,183 rivers/streams. Each lake and river have differing regulations so be sure to check them before heading out to some of the top places to fish near Cranbrook. You may also want to check out the Kootenay Trout Hatchery, the St. Mary Angler Fly Shop, Ultimate West Flyfishing, Height of the Rockies Adventure Trips, and Kimberley Fly Fishing.
- Golden offers amazing fishing options for spin casting and fly-fishing from the shore or boat. Some good fishing lakes to visit are Aid Lake, Wilbur Lake, Kinbasket Lake, Gorman Lake, Help Lake, Comfort Lake, Nine Bay Lake, Cedar Lake, Jeb Lake, Three Island Lake, Susan Lake, the Columbia River and Wetlands, Bittern Lake, Blackwater Lake, Beaver River, Rocky Point Lake, Spillimacheen River, Mitten Lake, Loon Lake, and Blaeberry River. Whew! That’s a LOT of fishing.
- Interested in a guided fishing adventure? Check in with The Golden Gillie.
- Fishing opportunities abound in and around Invermere as well. Lake Windermere is one of the few lakes in the region where Bass fishing is allowed. You can also find Northern Pike, Kokanee, Burbot, Brook Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Rainbow Trout, Char, and Mountain Whitefish.
- Kootenay Troutfitters offers full-day guided flyfishing tours, Revolutions Adventures offers a variety of trip options, and the annual Bringing the Salmon Home festival looks to reintroduce salmon to the Columbia River.
- Duck Lake is famous for its Bass fishing, while Boundary Lake offers Rainbow Trout. Kootenay Lake is also teeming with Rainbow Trout along with Dolly Varden, and Kokanee. These and many other fishing locations can be found here. You can also fish (with a permit from the CVWMA) at the Creston Valley Wildlife Management area where you’ll find Large Mouth Bass and Yellow Pirch. Women Who Fly Fish offers lessons for kids and women as well as a network of fishing friends.
- Fishing is taken seriously in Fernie. Check out the Fernie Trout Town – Fishing the Elk River blog for insider tips and download this Fernie Fly Fishing Guide (PDF) or Map of the Elk River (PDF) to get all the details on the spectacular locations for anglers. They don’t call it Fernie Trout Town for nothing.
- Take advantage of a guided fishing tour courtesy of Kootenay Fly Shop & Guiding Co., Fernie Wilderness Adventures Guided Fly Fishing, Elk River Guiding Co. & Fly Shop, Freestone Fly Angler, or Andres Fly Fishing.
BONUS: Premier Lake Provincial Park, located between Cranbrook and Invermere, is also a great place to fish, with each of the five lakes providing a uniquely different experience. Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, approximately 100 km from Cranbrook, is a fisherman’s paradise with an abundance of fish, especially trophy rainbow trout. In May or June you might even see spawning rainbow trout in the creeks of the Lake.
How is the Kootenay Lifestyle so relaxed when there’s so much to do? If paddling, white water rafting, fishing, or relaxing in some hot springs sounds appealing to you, there’s a good chance you’re understanding the Kootenay Lifestyle. So put on your bathing suit and let’s go.
And if you’re wondering about the waterfalls, technically you usually stand on land and look at those – so don’t worry, they’re coming.