Summertime means road trip time! Whether you are coming to Canada from abroad or taking the time to get to know your home country, it is well-known that one of the best ways to enjoy the breathtaking views of British Columbia is by taking a drive down a country, mountain, or lakeside road. BC is a huge province, and we know it can be overwhelming, don’t worry! Here’s your guide to the ultimate Kootenay summer road trip!
ROSSLAND- NELSON – CRANBROOK – RADIUM – GOLDEN
Welcome to the Kootenay Rockies, nature’s kaleidoscope, where azure blue waters, lush forests, and majestic mountain peaks await. As you travel this scenic region, prepare to be captivated by the abundance of breathtaking views.
The Kootenay region is a treasure trove for remarkable experiences and activities. Each community has such unique offerings you could spend weeks exploring just one! Nevertheless, here is a hand-picked list of activities to optimize your road trip through the Kootenay Rockies.
Ultimate Kootenay Summer Road Trip Day One: Rossland
Rossland is the most charming quaint mountain town you will ever discover. Known for its outdoor recreation, you’re best to spend your day here in the great outdoors. Prestige Mountain Resort Rossland has a great trail map for you, and our guest service agents have the advice only a local could offer. Grab supplies before you head out and find the perfect vista on your journey to sit down and enjoy your lunch.
Rossland is in an alpine environment, nestled right in the Monashee Mountains. Along your hike or bike ride, you will find a variety of alpine and sub-alpine trees, such as the Englemann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, Lodgepole Pine, and Western Red Cedar. Have your camera ready for when you stumble upon an alpine meadow bursting with vibrant colour. Of course, it’s important to remember that you are out in the wild. Be bear aware. Make noise, don’t hike alone, stay on trails, carry bear spray, and if you have a dog, please keep it on leash.
Back at the hotel, you will find an authentic Italian dining experience. Gabriella’s Restaurant is the crown jewel dining experience of Rossland. Gabriella offers her fabulous cooking with an array of flavorful dishes. We highly recommend taking their trip around Italy. Let Gabriella transport your taste buds to Italy as you enjoy a six-course meal, each course coming from a different Italian region. Please note that reservations are required at least one day in advance. It does well to plan ahead for great food!
Ultimate Kootenay Summer Road Trip Day Two: Nelson
Rossland to Nelson is a quick drive, bringing you along the Columbia River through many small communities. About halfway, you’ll find the city of Castlegar, where you will say goodbye to the Columbia River and hello to the Kootenay River. As the road winds, you’ll have incredible views of the Kootenay Canal Dam. You might want to pull over for photos!
Welcome to the historic city of Nelson, where the past intertwines seamlessly with the present thanks to the beautifully preserved historic buildings. Begin your exploration by hopping aboard the charming Nelson Electric Tram, known as “Streetcar 23”, this vintage train will take you on a nostalgic ride along the lake. The tram will pick you up right outside of Prestige Lakeside Resort Nelson! Capture postcard-worthy moments and enjoy the breeze floating off of Kootenay Lake.
Time to head out on foot through historic Baker Street. Stroll along and bask in the charming downtown area. The street is lined with eclectic shops, art galleries, cafes, breweries and restaurants. Nelson is a one-of-a-kind type of city, and any treasures you find will reflect that originality.
If you’re looking for an outdoor challenge, lace up your hiking boots and head out on the Pulpit Rock Trail. You will be rewarded with awe-inspiring vistas of the town. Pulpit Rock is considered a moderate hike, with a total distance of 8 km. The hike roughly takes 4 hours and is a great way to enjoy an afternoon surrounded by nature.
Nelson has a tapestry of culinary delights for you to experience. With something for everyone and every restaurant backed up with raving reviews, we don’t envy the weight of the choice you’ve been presented with. If you don’t want to travel far from the hotel, you’re still presented with options, with Port701 Marinaside Dining and BRIXX BrewHouse ready to invite you for dinner! Port701 offers an upscale menu with various carefully crafted meals and creative cocktails. BRIXX offers a more relaxed dining setting with various innovative smash burgers, hot dogs, and more.
Wrap up your evening with a trip to Torchlight Brewing, just up the road from the resort. Torchlight Brewing has a rotating variety of brews ranging from sours to ales to IPAs. It’s a hubbub of Nelson culture with art on the walls and locals on the stools!
Ultimate Kootenay Summer Road Trip Day Three: Cranbrook
Highway 3A will bring you across the big orange bridge and out of Nelson. You’re in for an absolute treat on this route! The scenery is as if you have been transported into a fairytale, with cute cottage homes, Mansion B&Bs, unending views of Kootenay Lake, and lush green foliage. What makes this route especially adventurous is the ferry at Balfour! Park the car onboard and get out to stretch your legs. You have 35 minutes to enjoy the unparalleled views of Kootenay Lake.
Your trip continues down the other side of Kootenay Lake until you come through Creston. This is a great place to stop for snacks at one of the many roadside fruit stands. Creston is world-renowned for its fruit, and you’ll be so grateful that you stopped!
Highway 3 eventually comes to join Highway 97, which will take you through to Cranbrook. But first, make sure you stop in Yahk at Two Scoop Steve’s for ice cream! You’ll be met with expansive views of Moyie Lake as you come down the hill on your left and then charming farmland on your right. Once you arrive in Cranbrook, you’d be wise to have lunch at Fire + Oak, located on-site at Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort Cranbrook. Fire + Oak is sure to impress with its high-calibre menu and sophisticated design. All of their dishes are made with the finest fresh ingredients. Even their pizza is made with fresh homemade dough!
Like all countries, Canada has a complex and nuanced past that shaped it as a nation. While Canada has a rich history to be celebrated, it’s our duty as Canadians to acknowledge the troubling chapters of our past that cannot be ignored. Canada’s past is a blend of triumphs and progress, but we must confront the darker aspects of Canadian history. This includes acknowledging the mistreatment, marginalization, and systemic injustices experienced by Indigenous peoples, including the tragic legacy of residential schools and the lasting impact of colonization. That is why, with a heavy heart, we suggest you head to St. Eugene Resort, a former residential school and home to the Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre.
As of 2017, St. Eugene Resort became solely owned by the four Canadian Ktunaxa bands and the Shuswap Indian Band. The resort shows the resilience of the Ktunaxa people and has provided economic stability for future generations to thrive. By reclaiming the school, they work towards healing with education at the core of what they do. The Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre offers tours of the centre, the mission building, and a movie presentation called Red Brick School.
If you’d like to take your journey a bit further, the charming town of Kimberly is only a twenty-two-minute drive. When you arrive, take your bike out for part of the NorthStar Rails to Trails and enjoy stunning views of the Steeples Mountain Range, Purcell Mountain Range, and St. Mary’s River. The trail provides a sense of solitude, allowing you to find solace and meditate amidst the tranquil surroundings.
While in Kimberly, you may decide to stop for dinner; Pedal and Tap is a great choice. Located in the heart of the Platzl Neighbourhood, Pedal and Tap offers a unique dining experience. It’s the perfect play to relax after your bike ride. The Platzl in Kimberly is a vibrant, pedestrian-only area in the heart of the town. Designed to resemble a Bavarian village, the architecture, ornate facades, and colourful flower arrangements create quite the atmosphere.
To wind down your day in Cranbrook, take a leisurely stroll down Baker Street. The day’s bustle winds down to a serene ambience, giving you the space to enjoy the historical buildings. Stop in at the Heidout & Fisher Peak Brewery, a local brewery with a rotating tap inspired by the nature the Kootenay’s is known for.
Ultimate Kootenay Summer Road Trip Day Four: Radium
Your day in Radium is going to be all about rejuvenation, but first, you need to get there! Head northwest on Highway 95 and take the exit for Highway 93. As you follow the Kootenay River amongst the mountains, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife! This is a prime route for bears, moose, elk, and mountain goats. This part of British Columbia is a feast for your eyes. The river winding beside you is an icy glacier blue, with golden fields draping the slow-rolling hills coming to meet the base of mountains that you may mistake as sleeping giants.
The relaxation starts right at Prestige Radium Hot Springs Resort, the home of Elevation Massage and Spa. With a wide variety of services offered, you are sure to find the exact relaxation you need. Massage, manicures, pedicures, facials, Reiki, and more!
When you’ve found your serenity, you’re ready to deepen that relaxation at the Hot Springs Pools. Let the soothing warmth envelop you as you soak away your cares and take in the mountain views. With a water temperature ranging from 37 – 40 degrees Celsius, the mineral-dense water will ease all your worries and stress away. The Radium Hot Springs are large and, most importantly, accessible. Everyone can enjoy the healing waters and the mountain peaks lining the horizon.
To wrap up your day of relaxation, we suggest hitting the patio at Conrad’s Kitchen and Grill and ordering yourself a margarita. Conrads is known for their amazing margaritas, they have a great selection, and you can get them blended to perfection or on the rocks! Their food menu has contemporary dishes and Mexican food. You’ll have your pick of fantastic meals. You can never go wrong with tacos!
Ultimate Kootenay Summer Road Trip Day Five: Golden
As the morning light rises, it’s time to buckle in for the final leg of your Kootenay road trip. Golden awaits, and this just might become your favourite part of the journey. As you drive from Radium, the picturesque scenery unfolds before you, with the majestic Columbia River flowing on your left and the towering Rocky Mountains on your right. The captivating landscape will leave you yearning for more time on the road, eager to soak in every moment of this breathtaking experience.
Golden is the hidden gem of the Rocky Mountains. The community is brimmed with exhilarating adventure combining awe-inspiring natural beauty and heart-pounding excitement. Start your day in Golden at the Golden Skybridge! Grab an adventure pass, and you’ll have access to the mountain coaster, giant canyon swing, zipline, rock climbing wall, axe throwing, and a ropes course. The Railrider Mountain Coaster is the newest edition to their thrill-seeking repertoire. With a total vertical descent of 73 metres, you’ll whip through the alpine scenery and along the canyon’s edge. With so many different activities in the park, you could spend the whole day here, we won’t blame you if you do!
For those looking to take the adventure further, Golden is a prime spot for white water rafting and paragliding. Embrace the adrenaline rush as you conquer the elements and witness the pristine wilderness from a whole new perspective. Looking to tone it down for the afternoon? Golden has a large variety of hikes for all different skill levels. Climb mountains, witness waterfalls, or enjoy a casual stroll in the forest. Breathe in that fresh mountain air and bask in the surge of gratitude for beautiful BC.
With Golden’s dining scene at its peak, there is an abundance of options to choose from that are within a short drive from Prestige Inn Golden. The town takes pride in its diverse culinary offerings, with a focus on locally owned establishments and locally sourced ingredients. Whether you’re craving international flavours or classic comfort food, you’ll find something to satisfy your taste buds. The Island Restaurant, The Wolf’s Den, Elven22, and Riverhouse Tavern are just a few examples of the many enticing choices available. What makes the experience even more delightful is the opportunity to dine on a patio with stunning views, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Golden.
After dinner, wind down the day, strolling around the picturesque downtown. Window shop the cute locally owned stores and decide which coffee shop you will patron in the morning. Watch the sunset cast a warm glow over the surrounding mountain peaks. Smile to yourself, knowing you have truly experienced the Kootenays.