Kootenay Lake

Soak, rinse, repeat: A relaxing dip into Canada’s finest hot springs

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Soak, rinse, repeat: A relaxing dip into Canada’s finest hot springs

By John Nelson, from the Spokesman-Review in Spokane. Cover photo: Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort

Soak, rinse, repeat.

This is the gloriously relaxing routine along the 500-plus-mile Hot Springs Circle Route through the Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia.

I did it as a camping road trip, which made it even better. For my money, the Kootenays are just as gorgeous as the famed Banff and Jasper National Parks region, and they don’t get the same kind of tourist overload during the summer months.

It takes five to seven days to do the region justice. When you’re not hedonistically lying around in mineral pools, you can hike, bicycle, fish, enjoy water sports, and best of all, meet Canadians, who must be the planet’s friendliest people.

I lost track of how many times people asked me, “Where are you visiting from?” followed by a jovial “Welcome to Canada!”

Kootenay Lake region

From Spokane, it makes sense to start a hot springs tour just across the border in the artsy mountain town of Nelson. We grabbed a campsite at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park, one of the best places to stay along the entire route. It feels scenic and remote, even though it’s only 20 minutes from town.

The park has 9.5 kilometers of trails along the creek, through woods and lakeshore. It’s also just 16 km from Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, one of the Kootenays’ most stunning places, which has more than 100 km of trails.

The park is undergoing an interesting remodel this year with the construction of a bear-viewing platform over the spawning channel of Kokanee Creek. In fall, black bears come in droves to feast on kokanee salmon during spawning season, and the platform will provide safe tourist access to watch the bears.

Hike the park, swim in the lake, and then hit nearby Ainsworth Hot Springs, which has its own attractions. Besides having a large pool, Ainsworth offers its famous “hot springs caves” – which feel a little like walking through an overheated amusement park tunnel of love. For the quintessential experience, stand under the steaming springs that fall down the cave walls.

Fairmont and Radium

Everyone needs to take the Kootenay Lake Ferry at least once, and now’s your chance. From Kokanee Creek, drive 20 minutes east to Balfour and get ready for a scenic crossing on the world’s longest free ferry.

Yes, that’s right – it’s free, just one of many reasons to love Canada.

On the east shore of Kootenay Lake, spend a little time in the Crawford Bay artisan community, and then crank out the kilometers to Fairmont Hot Springs about 3.5 hours away.

You’ll pass through Creston and Cranbrook and emerge into the broad Columbia Valley, flanked by the ginormous mountains of the Purcell Range to the west and the Rockies to the east. It’s a beautiful drive.

We camped at Fairmont, a good choice. This is the biggest resort along the route and camping there offers a chance to use the hot springs without leaving the property.

Hiking and biking trails snake through the mountains at Fairmont. I went on a great hike/trail run, then had a soak in the massive Fairmont pool, filled with an international soup of visitors.

There were Europeans, Asians, Africans, Indians – and, of course, those friendly Canadians, saying things like, “Isn’t this lovely, eh?” The people-watching alone was fantastic.

The next day, we traveled onward to Radium Hot Springs just 30 minutes down the road, but first we made a side trip to Invermere, a mountain town at the base of nearby Panorama Mountain Resort. Invermere has a ski-town vibe and is an excellent place to seek creature comforts – among them the fine caffeinated products of Kicking Horse Coffee.

Invermere is the Kicking Horse headquarters, and the flagship facility is a bustling hangout filled with attractive mountain-town hipsters. The company motto: “We make coffee that kicks ass.”

After getting my kick, we headed to Radium, just inside the boundary of Kootenay National Park. It’s hard to find a more scenic and satisfying hot springs experience. The setting among canyon walls is stunning and the history of the pool dates back more than 100 years. The well-kept facilities have a satisfying old-school, museum-quality feel.

Revelstoke, Halcyon and Nakusp

From Radium, Revelstoke is about three hours away. You’ll pass through Golden, a hiking and river sports mecca, and then travel over scenic Rogers Pass through Glacier National Park (the Canadian version) and Mount Revelstoke National Park. The hiking opportunities are vast in this historic region, and you can learn about Canada’s first transcontinental rail route at the Rogers Pass visitor center.

I love Revelstoke for a lot of reasons. It’s home to one of North America’s best ski areas, but it’s also a great summer location, with access to lakes and hiking.

It also has a great radio station called the Stoke FM 92.5, where I heard (of all things) punk rocker Jello Biafra playing one night from Williamson’s Lake Campground, a lovely spot just outside of town. It was a weird and wonderful surprise.

We missed Canyon Hot Springs, just up the road from Revelstoke, because it was still closed for the winter months, but that was OK. After all, you can’t soak in every hot springs on this route. Besides the commercial operations, there are dozens more in the backcountry.

Next on the hot springs hit list is Halcyon, about 1.5 hours south of Revelstoke. Again, you get to take a free ferry, this one across scenic Upper Arrow Lake.

Halcyon Hot Springs Resort is another full-service place in a beautiful setting, with excellent dining and lodging options. The pools look down at Arrow Lake and up at the nearby Monashee Mountains, and with no towns nearby, it feels like your own private pool.

We camped 40 minutes down the road at another watering hole, Nakusp Hot Springs, yet another beautiful and remote place to soak. The road to the hot springs travels 13 km off BC Highway 6 high into the mountains, and the camping spots here are well-kept and scenic.

From Nakusp, your tour of the Hot Springs Circle Loop is over, but the scenic driving continues. BC-6 takes you through the historic mining towns of New Denver and Silverton along beautiful Lake Slocan back to Nelson.

For more of John Nelson's adventures in B.C. and the Pacific Northwest, check out OurGrandTour.net and Instagram.com/ourgrandtour.

Finding Awesome Goes Live

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Finding Awesome Goes Live

Over 10,000 photos and 1500 videos were submitted by people like you into our Finding Awesome campaign over the past year. Incredible! Thank you! In addition, Freeride Entertainment produced nine stunning Finding Awesome videos that tell stories of the kid in all of us. And, we had a team taste and travel the area showcasing Food & Culture in a series of nine more videos. That’s a lot of awesome content!  

To recognize these many moments captured across our region, in all four seasons, we are inviting you to watch, laugh, learn and win as we Find Awesome togetherA team of five camera crew, producer, director, witty host, social media manager, and guests will be giving you an hour of powerful imagery, and prizes!

March 11, Sunday, 5:30-6:30pm PST

Sit down at your computer or one of the local pubs (The Vault, Kaslo Hotel & Pub or Uptown Sports Bar) and be entertained while host, Mitchell Scott from Kootenay Mountain Culture Magazine, interviews locals, tourists, special guests, and gives away heaps of prizes donated by local businesses. 

Watch the event on our Live Stream page www.findingawesome.ca/live or facebook page.

Thank you to everyone who has made this event possible! And to our many generous tourism businesses for donating awesome prizes! 

  • Shambhala Music Festival / Savoy Hotel 
- One 2018 Shambhala General Admission Ticket
  • Kootenay Lakeview Spa Resort & Event Centre 
- One Night Stay
  • Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival
- 2 Single Day Passes for Aug 3
  • West Coast Grill
- $50 Gift Certificate
  • Blue Sky Clothing
- Two $25 Gift Certificates
  • Kootenay Cycling Adventures
- Two Full Day Bike Rentals
  • Craft Connection
Local Art - TBD
  • Gerick Cycle & Ski
- Two Bike Rentals & Two Water Bottles
  • Oso Negro
- Tote Bag
  • Nicole Bigg Design
- Necklace
  • Logden Lodge
- One Night Stay
  • Kootenay Wild
- 1 Day Fishing on Kootenay Lake
  • Capitol Theatre
- Four Tickets to Constantinople – Itinerant Gardens on May 13
  • Beach Taghum B&B
- One Night Stay
  • Kaslo Golf Club
- Two Rounds (18 holes) of Golf
  • Sail Nelson
- T-Shirt & Tote Bag
  • Cantina del Centro / Yum Son
- $25 Gift Certificate
  • Kastlerock B&B
- Hand Carved Wood Rooster
  • Nelson Paddleboard & Kayak Rental
- Full Day Paddleboard or Kayak Rental
  • Sea of Wolves
- Two $50 Gift Certificates
  • Mistiso’s Place
- One Night Stay
  • Whitewater Ski Resort
- Growler, Toque, Sticker, and 50% off Growler Fill
  • Bruce MacDiarmid - Pottery
  • Balfour Golf Course
- 2 Golf Passes
  • All Seasons Cafe
 - Three $25 Gift Certificates
  • Kootenai Moon Furniture
- Throw Blanket
  • Kootenay Mountain Culture
- Hat & Shirt
  • Otter Books
- Local Book
  • Langham Cultural Centre
- Free Admission to a Show

Get ready…you’re about to be taken on a whirlwind journey across the region, filmed live from the Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel. March 11, Sunday, 5:30-6:30pm.

BOB The Bridge

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BOB The Bridge

By: Greg Nesteroff   |   Cover Photo: Dave Heath

No visit to Nelson is complete without a photo of BOB. That’s our Big Orange Bridge, which spans the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, connecting Nelson to the North Shore.

The BC Toll Highways and Bridges Authority built it to replace an overtaxed cable ferry at the same location that began operating in 1913. Premier W.A.C. Bennett cut the ribbon on Nov. 7, 1957 and the bridge instantly become a beloved local landmark, as over 4,000 cars crossed it that day. 

Program from the Nelson bridge opening in 1957.
Program from the Nelson Bridge opening in 1957. Courtesy of Greg Nesteroff.

BOB wasn’t originally orange, though; it was silver. But in the late 1960s, local traffic engineer Jack Kelsall decided a brighter colour was needed. The details are now hazy — was it to make it more visible to airplanes or to emulate San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge? — but either way, it helped cement the bridge’s iconic status.

A postcard showing BOB not long after it was built in 1957.
A postcard showing BOB not long after it was built in 1957.

In 2000, the Ministry of Transportation decided to repaint the bridge and asked for input from city council. They were adamant that the bridge remain orange. "It would be a bit of a disaster for the community if it were to be painted any other colour,” then-mayor Gary Exner told the Nelson Daily News.

The ministry accepted that advice, but only painted part of the bridge and their palette didn’t quite match the original. As a result, up close you’ll see the bridge actually has two hues: orange and pink.

Officially it’s known as the Nelson Bridge. The name BOB is a relatively recent addition to the local lexicon. Its first known appearance in print was on Feb. 9, 2000, when The Express newspaper wrote: “Known colloquially as the Big Orange Bridge, or simply b.o.b., the bridge is due for some upgrading.”

Former editor Stephen Harris wrote the story, but says he didn’t coin the phrase. He thought he might have heard it from Express publisher Nelson Becker, but Becker doesn’t think he came up with it either, so its true genesis is still a mystery. Either way, the name caught on; within months it was widely used.

Other trivia:

  • The bridge cost $4 million to build (the equivalent of $35 million today). 
  • When it opened, tolls were charged. It cost 10 to 50 cents to cross in a car, depending on how often you used it. Pedestrians and bicycles were free. The tolls were lifted in 1963.
  • The bridge is 628 meters (2,060 feet) long, while the main span is 148 meters (486 feet) long. 
  • The scissors used for the 1957 ribbon cutting are in the Touchstones Nelson artifact collection.
  • New restaurants and motels popped up on either end of the bridge, including an A&W on the north side and a Dairy Queen on the south. The latter is still in business seasonally and is one of the last remaining examples of an early drive-up restaurant in Canada. It’s on the city’s heritage register.

Explore our trip ideas for more on all there is to see and do in the region. We're looking forward to seeing your photos of BOB!

6 Instagram-Worthy Backdrops

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6 Instagram-Worthy Backdrops

Your Guide to the Best Insta Backdrops in the Nelson & Kootenay Lake Region

Lakeside Park Mural 

Brighten up your Instagram feed and snap a shot in front of this rainbowed graffiti mural. Located at Lakeside Park and underneath the Big Orange Bridge, you can see the iconic Nelson sights and get a stellar insta. Two birds. One stone.

Pulpit / Flag Pole Hike 

Sometimes you need to put in a little sweat for those likes. Hike up one of Nelson’s main trails and take in the view of the town of Nelson from above. Extra points to those who make an impromptu tripod out of rocks. 

Kootenay Lake Ferry 

No filter needed for this classic Kootenay snapshot. With the crisp water and lush mountains, this backdrop is sure to get you a new follower or two. The ferry is a 30-minute drive from Nelson and Kaslo, and lasts approximately 35 minutes docking in Kootenay Bay. 

Kaslo River Trail Bridge 

Stand out in your news feed with a great mix of nature and with a pop of colour. Kaslo River Trails Bridge can be found just outside of Kaslo off of Railroad Ave.

Sculpture Walk Nelson City Hall

The Sculpture Walk located just outside of Nelson City Hall is the perfect artsy element to spice up a regular selfie. Interested in the artsy side of Nelson? Artwalk (a self-guided local art tour) is a great way to experience some of our region's talented artists. 

Fletcher Falls Kaslo, B.C

Going for that West Coast aesthetic? Venture out to Fletcher Falls and share what the “best coast” has to offer. The mist from the falls makes it the perfect place to cool down and grab a fantastic shot. 

Ready, set, start posting! And don't forget to use #FindingAwesome to enter our contest.

5 Awesome Ways to Enjoy Kootenay Lake

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5 Awesome Ways to Enjoy Kootenay Lake

Summer is here but it will be gone before you know it. To fully enjoy the amazing weather we encourage you to get out on the cool, fresh waters of Kootenay Lake. Here is a list of some awesome adventures that you can enjoy on the water!  

Rotary Lakeside Park in Nelson British Columbia on Kootenay Lake.

1) Explore the Beaches

Soak up the sun and chill out in the pristine Kootenay water this summer. The Kootenay Lake region boasts a number of beaches that are clean, clear and rarely crowded. Kokanee Creek Provincial Park is a great place for families as this beach hosts a large sandbar perfect for wading. Looking for a quick trip, head down to Nelson's Rotary Lakeside Park and lay out a towel to enjoy the classic Nelson view of the Big Orange Bridge (BOB). Up the Lake in Kaslo, is Vimy Park and Kaslo Bay Park the perfect spots to relax in the sand and take in the gorgeous Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges.   

2) Rent Stand-Up Paddleboards and Kayaks

The lake may not have the waves, but that doesn't mean you can't get on a board this summer. Explore the untouched shores of Kootenay Lake at your own pace on a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. No need to invest in equipment; you can rent all the gear you need at Nelson Paddleboard & Kayak Rentals, and launch right at the Prestige Lakeside Resort marina. Heading up the lake to Kaslo? No problem. Check out Kaslo Kayaking, part of Kaslo Adventure Centre, to rent all your paddle board needs. 

Balfour Ferry crossing Kootenay Lake.

3) Balfour Ferry

No sweat necessary for this venture. Walk or drive on to the world's longest free ferry ride. Located in Balfour, about a thirty-minute drive from Nelson and Kaslo, the Kootenay Lake Ferry crosses the lake and ports in Crawford Bay. The ride is mellow, lasting thirty-five minutes, and the sights of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain Ranges are glorious. Plus, you can take the edge off the summer heat by catching some crisp lake breeze free of charge. Grab a fresh pastry and beverage at the Old World Bakery on the Balfour landing before your excursion.

Sport fishing on Kootenay Lake.

4) Fishing Charters

Cast a line, soak in the landscape and experience all that Kootenay Lake has to offer. The lake hosts a variety of catches including the trophy-nabbing Gerrard Rainbow Trout, Bull Trout, and catch and release Kokanee Salmon. The perfect way to relax on the water and still reel in some amazing memories. Book today with a local fishing charter: Reel Adventures Sportfishing and Kootenay Wild

House boat on Kootenay Lake in British Columbia.

5) Rent a Houseboat 

Kaslo Shipyard is a one of a kind experience that allows you to rent one of their vessels for an accommodation like no other. Spend the night under the stars, surrounded by the calm Kootenay Lake. Cruise and explore the hidden beaches, coves, and secret fishing spots that the 100 km of untouched nature from Lardeau to Nelson has to offer. Why settle for just a day on the lake, when your accommodation can be a magical water experience too? 

Enjoy everything the Kootenay Lake region has to offer and get out on that water. Got an awesome snapshot of your Kootenay Lake Adventure? Use the hashtag #findingawesome on Instagram and Twitter, or post on our Facebook wall, and you could win cash prizes, and be featured in on our Finding Awesome website!

Kaslo's Sleepy Secret and Hidden Gems

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Kaslo's Sleepy Secret and Hidden Gems

By John Bowden

Psst! I have a little insider’s secret to reveal. The ridiculously scenic town of Kaslo may be bustling with visitors in the summer, but in the off-season, it feels like you have it all to yourself.

It’s the perfect time to enjoy Kaslo’s thriving food scene on top of its natural and cultural attractions.

The cozy little Landmark Bakery serves up homemade soup and sandwiches, with a side of friendly conversation from the engaging owner and baker. Bonus points for the quirky selection of vintage cross country skiing and snowshoeing books too. It’s evident that the locals enjoy winter around here.

We walked off lunch with a loop along the 3km River Trail, an easy yet stunning hike on the edge of town. Following along the raging Kaslo River, the well-maintained trail is connected via two charming red-roofed pedestrian bridges. The multitude of bronze plaques on each speaks to the support of locals and visitors who have contributed to making these bridges a reality. It’s heart warming.

Dinner at Kaslo’s newest restaurant, Taqueria el Corazon, is a modern spin on Mexican cuisine. Fusing small town charm with big city energy, the trendy eatery has a curated selection of tacos, appetizers and beverages that transport you to a warmer part of the world. The cheesy appy was like a Mexican fondue come true. Gooey, spicy, and delicious, it hit the spot on a chilly fall evening.

An evening stay at the charismatic Kaslo Hotel on the heart of Main Street offers equal parts heritage feel and modern amenities. The hotel also features a great pub on the main floor. Craft beer plus killer lake views and a roaring fireplace equals happiness.

Waking up to lakeside views never gets old, and neither does a big breakfast. A stay in Kaslo provides both in spades.

The Bluebelle Bistro & Beanery might just serve up the best eggs benny in Western Canada. Hollandaise sauce dripped from perfectly poached eggs, and a combination of pesto potatoes with fresh greens was magical. Amazing.

Bellies full, we stopped in Kaslo's quirky used bookstore, finding a much sought-after book and friendly conversation with the long-time owner. Across the street is the popular SS Moyie sternwheeler. Although tours are unavailable in the winter, it’s still a sight to see perched on the waterfront of Kootenay Lake.

The Langham Cultural Centre, on the other hand, is open year-round. Left for ruin in the 1970s, the heritage building has been lovingly restored and is a hub of arts, creativity and wellness.

It also serves as a memorial for a sad chapter of Canadian history. The hallways document the internment of local residents of Japanese ancestry during the Second World War. Photos, stories, and audio recordings of the people that were affected by nativist policies at the time are showcased. It is a moving story, and well worth the visit.

Kaslo's stately City Hall is another local gem. The National Historic Site includes a library on the lower level, complete with a century old jail cell. Talk about making research feel like a prison sentence! 

Having explored some of Kaslo’s lesser-known treasures, we drove ten minutes south to explore Fletcher Falls. Keep your eyes peeled, as the sign is easy to miss. It’s a short 5-minute walk from the parking lot to the cascading waterfall and fancy viewing platform below, recently rebuilt by Recreation Sites and Trails BC, and the crew at Kootenay Lake Fire Zone. Well done! 

The trail winds its way through rainforest-like cedars to the sound of roaring water. I immediately thought of “forest bathing”, a natural healing prescription in Japan. And if the weather had been a little warmer, I might just have soaked myself in the glacial runoff. But hotter waters beckoned!

Ainsworth Hot Springs is located just ten minutes south of Fletcher Falls. A popular stop for visitors, I was a little skeptical at how touristy it would be. My mistake. The modern facility is welcoming and friendly - Kootenay style.

I found myself reveling in the healing waters and slightly spooky natural underground cave before I knew it. Plus, the views are extraordinary. No wonder this is a bucket list stop for those visiting the Kootenay Lake area – the hot springs are rejuvenating, especially in the cooler weather.

If you enjoy getting a little off the beaten path, Kaslo and its nearby neighbours are a worthy destination in the off-season. Be it food, nature, culture or pure relaxation, it’s got everything you could want, and without the crowds.

Fletcher Falls

Exploring the Shipwrecks of Kootenay Lake

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Exploring the Shipwrecks of Kootenay Lake

Paddling the surface of Kootenay Lake from near Argenta to Nelson a few weeks ago gave all of us who took part a renewed sense of love and respect for this lake that all our communities are centred around. Paddling around 15 kilometres each day reminded us of times gone by, when Nelson and the Kootenay Lake area was at the height of the mining boom times, when stern wheelers ruled the lake. 

Kootenay Lake: One of the Deepest in British Columbia

Kootenay Lake is one of the largest lakes in British Columbia. She's also one of the deepest. With depths that vary from so shallow that occasionally sand bars rise along the centre of the lake to 150 metres down, Kootenay Lake holds mysteries beneath her surface. As you paddle along on the surface, occasionally a bit of history peeks through the surface, or is just visible as you peer below. And in other parts, especially when Captain Steve (who accompanied our Paddle Kootenay Lake trip in the Candide) tells stories of the lake, accompanied by the topographical map he used to steer us along the lake, you got a clear sense of the history far beneath the surface of the lake, hidden deep among the caverns and valleys on the bottom of Kootenay Lake.

For freshwater scuba divers, there is lots to explore in Kootenay Lake. 

The Deepest Dive in Canadian History for the S.S. City of Ainsworth

Not as well known as some of the coastal waters, Kootenay Lake is still ripe with lots to explore, often just below the surface and easily accessible to divers. There are also mysteries, inaccessible to everyone but the most experienced divers, and then only with lots of preparation. One such mystery is the S.S. City of Ainsworth, a sternwheeler that sank in a storm in the middle of Kootenay Lake to a depth of120 metres on November 29, 1898. Lost at the bottom of the lake, she remains there to this day. In 1997, the Cambrian foundation completed the deepest dive in Canadian history when they spent 10 minutes filming the wreck. 

Today, the S.S. City of Ainsworth is a Provincial Heritage Site. Perhaps not the most popular tourist site in our area, she may very well be our most intriguing. 

The S.S. Ymir Holds the Best Geocache in the Kootenays

More accessible than the S.S. City of Ainsworth, several other interesting wrecks rest under the surface of Kootenay Lake, and can be carefully explored by divers. Right under our Big Orange Bridge, for example, and very near the RCMP headquarters are a couple wrecks: One of these is the S.S. Ymir, located approximately 52 ft under the water. In fact, this is the site of a geo cache. You can watch several videos to help you out, and there are also pretty detailed instructions on the Geo Cache site. The comments on the Geo Cache page note that the log book is nearly full (two years ago, actually) and that this is the best Geo Cache location in the Kootenays. So close to home! 

More Accessible and Still Intriguing: The S.S. Hosmer

Another tug boat that sank nearby, but is much more accessible, is the Hosmer. Near Bealby Point, just past John's Walk and near Red Sands beach, the S.S. Hosmer is actually visible from the surface for most of the year. The boiler sticks up out of the water, while the rest of what remains of the tug boat lies just beneath the surface, and quite close to shore. If you'd like to do some rather tame exploring of an old shipwreck, the Hosmer is a good place to start.

The S.S. Nelson and Her Firey End

Though quite a few tugs and sternwheelers ended their careers on the bottom of Kootenay Lake than you'd expect, most did so in a rather peaceful way. Not so the S.S. Nelson. Unfortunately, you can't explore the S.S. Nelson but the story is too good to pass up. She ended her career by being set on fire on Kootenay Lake as part of the Chahko Mika festival on July 16, 1914. The Chahko Mika festival, named for the Chinook pigeon word meaning "You Come", was a huge festival lasting several days and encompassing water sports, land sports, a parade, and, evidently, a large "Viking Funeral" where the S.S. Nelson was burned on the lake.

The Phoenix Pioneer reported that the Scandinavian Aid and  Fellowship Society won for best float during the Grand Parade. Oddly, in that article, no mention was made of the "Viking Funeral" later that day. 

The Opulent 60 Foot Long S.S. Kuskanook — Easily Visible from Near Kokanee Park Marina

Another sternwheeler that can be easily explored is the S.S. Kuskanook. It is actually visible in March, and is located at Kokanee Landing Road, near the Kokanee Park Marina. This boat, in her heyday, was the finest of the sternwheelers to be used on Kootenay Lake. She cost $104,145.37 to build, of which, $10,000 was for interior fittings. Today, none of that opulence is obvious. Still, it is quite something to see her entire hull, nearly completely visible from shore. The boat is 60 feet long, and had 37 staterooms, a large dining room and could hold 450 passengers. She was the fastest boat on the lake, meant to meet the train at Kootenay Landing back in the day. She worked from 1906 until 1931, when she was put out of commission, and then sank in 1936.

The S.S. Moyie: National Historic Site and an Easy Visit to Kaslo

Of course, if you'd rather not don a wet or dry suit and scuba gear, you can always visit the S.S. Moyie in Kaslo. The S.S. Moyie stayed in service after the S.S. Kuskanook was taken out of service, and kept working for 59 years. Serving up to 400 passengers, with a 4 tabled dining room seating 24, her steel hull weathered storms and years of work. The S.S. Moyie is now a National Historic Site, and lovingly preserved for visitors to tour. 

Kootenay Lake has so much to explore, from  the S.S. City of Ainsworth 120 metres down to the S.S. Moyie resting on the surface. Come for a visit soon and explore our lake and all she holds within. 



Paddle Kootenay Lake - We'll Show You How!

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Paddle Kootenay Lake - We'll Show You How!

We just finished our seven day paddle along Kootenay Lake, paddling from Davis Creek all the way to Lakeside Park in Nelson. Along the way, we encountered some of the best weather we've ever experienced, with perfectly calm waters (most of the time) and a light breeze blowing just enough to keep us refreshed as we moved along the lake. 

Kootenay Lake Keeps Things Interesting

It's not always that perfect here, but truthfully, we're spoiled. The lake gives us just enough current and wind to keep things interesting, as she did near Balfour when the wind picked up and waves tossed our boats around a bit.

Most of the time, though, Kootenay Lake is an ideal lake for paddling. As the second largest lake in British Columbia (407 sq km), there are several great places along the lake to rent SUP boards as well as kayaks. In Nelson, however, a new place to rent kayaks and SUP boards is at Nelson Paddleboard and Kayak Rentals. They're located conveniently at the Prestige Hotel, right on the waterfront at the foot of Ward Street, very close to our downtown core.


Choose to Rent a Kayak, Paddleboard, or Choose a Rafting Day!

From their convenient office, you can choose to either rent a paddleboard or kayak for the day — or, if you're feeling like a bit of an adventure, take the plunge and book a kayaking or rafting tour with them along the Salmo River. These tours range from a leisurely float down the river to an exhilarating event through class IV rapids. Take a look at their website for more details on the range of tours offered.

If you choose to paddleboard or kayak, it's super easy to start from the Prestige Hotel and paddle along the lake for a few hours. There are secluded beaches where you can stop for lunch or a swim break, or you can lunch at Lakeside Park at the Rose Garden Cafe. Either choice has benefits. The Rose Garden Cafe is an adorable Lakeside tradition, near the trolley car stop and the playground. They serve almost exclusively locally sourced foods and many of the choices are organic. 

Paddle Along Kootenay Lake, With Multiple Beach Stops

If you choose to continue paddling along the lake, however, you'll pass some lovely waterfront homes as you paddle away from Nelson, under the big orange bridge. Without having to cross to the other side of the lake, you have a few choices of sandy beaches along the way that you can stop and rest and have a nice picnic lunch on. They are fairly visible from your craft, and all are easy to access. Nelson's unofficial nude beach, Red Sands, is located near Bealby Point, and is a friendly, low-key spot.

About an hour out of town, Troupe beach is a really popular boat-access beach that is actually a large sandbar that goes straight into the middle of the lake. On weekends, this beach is often quite popular. 

There are also rental shops at ROAM, Hellmans and Kaslo Kayaking. Getting on the lake couldn't be easier with all these rental shops to choose from!

We're all still so excited about paddling on Kootenay Lake this summer, and hope you'll be inspired to join us here and try it out! The lake is waiting for you this summer — what are you waiting for?

Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 8 - Day 7

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Paddle Kootenay Lake: Story 8 - Day 7

Day 7 – Kokanee Creek Provincial Park to Nelsons’ Lakeside Park

Satisfied, Very Satisfied

Kootenay Lake morning

After seven days of paddling Kootenay Lake, with an unwavering crew of five and 150 determined paddlers, what do I say that captures it all? Perhaps this storys’ cover photo sums it up best, taken at 6am at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park: our trusty Candide from the Kaslo Shipyard rests calmly awaiting its final day, surrounded by beauty, thankfulness and pure satisfaction.


Day 7 at 6 mile beachAs I reflect on the final day it was as I imagined, but better. With 50 paddlers joining us either at Kokanee Creek Provincial Park at 8am, or along Kootenay Lake as we paddled by peoples’ homes, the final 20kms of our journey were fun, magical, hot and rewarding. I’ll miss the daily comraderie of the paddlers, and the crew of Janneke Guenther, Bryan Webb, Wendy Kelly, Captain Steve Ramsbottom and Steve Kerr. I can’t thank you all enough for your integrity and unyielding efforts, making this Paddle Kootenay Lake journey a huge success for the 150 paddlers, over the seven days. THANK YOU!

As I mentioned in my first story, “we are so very fortunate to have her, Kootenay Lake, at the foot of our communities: Meadow Creek, Lardeau, Kaslo, Ainsworth Hot Springs, Balfour, and Nelson.  Yes, so very fortunate. I believe she is what brings us quirky folk together. She is what makes this area so ridiculously magical.”

I’ll close this story with a link to the photos on our facebook page. There are lots of awesome photos that captured the people, the fun, the mountains, and of course, Kootenay Lake herself: our pulse, our lake, our pleasure. 

I miss her already. I wonder if she misses all of us too?

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Send us your photos and we'll post them up and share with the other paddlers from this year's journey and future paddlers, too! marketing@nelsonkootenaylake.com



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