Kootenay Moto Diary

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Kootenay Moto Diary

By Eric Berger It all started over a few beers in a Kootenay bar. ... It often starts that way. I was talking about motorcycles & routes with a friend when she asked if I had ever ridden the road from Nelson to Kaslo and then to New Denver. I had not, to which she replied “You have to ride it!” That was in March. Fast forward a couple of months and now motivated by the purchase of my first Harley Davidson, a 2000 Road King, and I was ready to hit the road with a few friends for the first big ride of the season. Seemed like the Nelson/Kaslo/New Denver route would be a great way to start as none of us had ever been there on bikes. We headed out of Whistler over the Duffey Lake Road in mid-June with our first stop in Summerland. The following day was the ride from the Okanagan to the Kootenays via the Crow’s Nest Highway (HWY 3 East). It was a bit of a push to make it to Kaslo and we felt ready to pull out for the night as we rolled into Nelson but the room was booked for Kaslo so we still had a little ways to go. Our route to Kaslo from Nelson was along Kootenay lake on the 3A which becomes the 31at Balfour. It was a beautiful drive that just improved with every mile. There are spectacular views of the lake all along the way and it seemed like there was not a straight section of road that lasted more than a kilometer. The road is smooth flowing curves all the way. We were pleasantly pleased when we pulled up to the Kaslo Hotel to see a dozen fully dressed Harleys lined up in front with just enough room to park our four bikes along side. Some of the plates were from as far away as Florida so you know we wanted to hear some of their stories. The Kaslo Hotel is a beautiful, newly renovated heritage hotel on the main strip that overlooks the lake. It has a great pub which worked out perfect for hot food & cold beer after a long ride. Turns out the group of bikers were all American dentists on an annual ride that took them from Utah to Kaslo by way of Victoria on the south end of Vancouver Island and over the Duffey Lake road just like us. They had been on the road for a week and had another week of riding ahead. Some had trailered their bikes to Utah and others rented. The following day was the ride to New Denver via highway 31A. A spectacular, winding secondary highway with nothing but curves and great views around every corner. What was even more exciting was the almost total lack of traffic. It felt like we had the road to ourselves. Climbing out of Kaslo, the road runs along the beautiful Kaslo River for what seems like half the route. Near the mid-point there are a couple of small lakes with great pull-outs for a short break and an opportunity to take in the great views of the Valhalla mountains to the west. Coming into New Denver there is a road heading off to the south that leads to the old ghost town of Sandon which unfortunately we did not have time to visit. In New Denver we stopped at Odin’s Pub for lunch before heading south to Nelson on highway 6 through the breathtaking Slocan Valley. We enjoyed a restful night in the historic Hume Hotel before heading back towards the coast the following day but not without one more twisty route out of Nelson which we learned of through local knowledge the night before at the pub. If you head west out of Nelson, you have to treat yourself to the Blewett road. Just find a local biker at the pub and get directions...  

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