Kootenay Lake Road Trip App - A Must Do
Kootenay Lake Road Trip App - A Must Do
Unrivalled Chill Vibes
We were yearning for a change of scenery from the West Coast, so, we decided to hit the road with the new Kootenay Lake Road Trip mobile touring app to discover some new (to us) regions in the Kootenays. We’d heard rumours of this place’s mystique, being set at the convergence of four mountain ranges and home to unrivaled ‘chill vibes’. We made the pilgrimage over from Whistler, and after a stunning ferry ride over from Shelter Bay and an exciting, foggy drive over the valley from New Denver, we arrived in the sleepy, vibrant town of Kaslo in the early hours. On the drive, we activated our app to keep us entertained, and when it warned us of Kaslo’s ‘seriously laid-back pace’, we were delighted to find this to be true.
Exploring Laid Back Kaslo
We woke to sunny skies and headed right out to explore Kaslo’s historic Front Street. The standouts here were the beautifully restored Kaslo Hotel and the (rather unmistakable) S.S. Moyie. For breakfast, we enjoyed some incredible food at the Bluebelle Bistro, clearly the local hangout spot. It seemed the entire population of Kaslo was on their patio, without another soul to be seen in town! By day, we rode Kaslo’s epic bike trails - our favourite alpine descent was Strawberry Ridge - which gifted us with stunning views of Kootenay Lake, wildflowers blooming and what we really wanted: fun, techy turns. By night, we explored Kaslo’s finest drinking establishments: the Kaslo Hotel & Pub and Angry Hen Brewery. Both were excellent. I was especially excited to visit the Angry Hen; women owned and operated, this was an ideal spot to listen in on the local goings-on of the Kaslovians.
Up Next: The East Shore & Kootenay Lake Ferry
After a couple of days in Kaslo we packed our bags and headed to catch the (free!) Kootenay Ferry for a sunset ride across the lake. Guided by the app, we didn’t miss a single spot. We made two pit-stops on the way exploring the awe-inspiring Fletcher Falls and afterwards relaxed in the Ainsworth Hot Springs. These were perfect for our aching muscles from mountain biking the day before, and we were pleasantly surprised at the very reasonable entry fee. We grabbed some snacks at the ferry terminal from Old World Bakery (the sweet potato roll is a must-try) and soaked up the sunshine from the upper deck of The Osprey 2000, sailing off into the sunset once again.
We were told this region held local secrets, an island-like mystique, and incredible views; we were not disappointed. Breakfast at Red’s Bakery was a killer start to the day - we nearly ordered one of everything, but the cinnamon buns took first place. Our first non-food-related stop was The Gray Creek General Store. This historic building (over 100 years old) had to be one of the coolest places I’ve ever stumbled across. They sold everything from motorcycle helmets to fresh fruit to postcards to wood burning stoves. Apparently, it’s been in operation by the same family since 1913, and the staff couldn’t have been friendlier. I was dragged away whilst attempting to purchase every adventure book on the shelf, and settled for a pack of biscuits, just the one book, and a postcard.
From there, we set off on a slightly alternative way to enjoy our driving app: by bike! We figured the tour would still work the same if we were traveling just a bit slower, so we spent the day traveling from Gray Creek to Wynndel on our gravel bikes. We had our phones attached to our handlebars so we could still listen to the dulcet tones of our storytelling companion. And what a scenic ride it was! The sweeping vistas of Kootenay Lake seemed to be endless, and the winding road was perfect cycling territory, although we did get overtaken by a lot of motorbikes. We found out later that we were on a road that was part of the ‘Selkirk Loop’ - a circular mountain bike loop that begins in Washington. Pedal stroke after pedal stroke, we pushed on until we were told to take a break. We stopped by the Glass House to check out this architectural wonder, ate way too much ice cream at Stone Cold Ice Cream, enjoyed some delicious wines (and great conversation!) at the Wynnwood Cellars Estate Winery, and finished off with a beer at the iconic Sirdar Pub. Our friendly waitress - who happened to be the friend of a friend of a friend - ended up giving us and our bikes a ride back to our starting point (woohoo!) - and we even had time for a superb, authentic Chinese dinner from the Rockwood Cafe that we’d been eyeing up on the way down.
Nelson - The Home of Endless Opportunities
We ended our trip in Nelson, and to be honest we’re pretty much ready to move there. Heritage buildings line the streets, vibrant murals decorate the alleyways, and smiles seem etched permanently on the faces of locals. We stayed in the Tremont Loft which sits in a building that used to be a miner’s hotel back in the 1890’s. I’m now at home googling how to redecorate my house with their stunning industrial yet modern decor (I’m a real sucker for exposed brick). The opportunities to eat and drink in Nelson seemed endless, and although we only scratched the surface there were some real standouts. First up - The Dominion Cafe - where I fell in love with their drink ‘The Shrub’ which was made out of soda water and locally made balsamic vinegar (sounds weird, but you gotta try it).
Yum Son is a must-visit for any lovers of Vietnamese food, the Pho was unreal as were the 5 other things we ordered on their menu and stuffed our bellies with. Plus, their patio is in a really awesome spot with real local vibes. Another winner was the Tamil Kitchen, which served us the best Indian food I’ve ever had. We were staying above this restaurant, so we were smelling the sweet and smoky Indian spices all day until we finally caved and went for dinner. It’s also got a really excellent patio with great people watching on the historic Baker Street. Biking, paddle boarding, antique shopping - Nelson had everything I wanted and more. I recommend a morning stroll along the shipyard to Rotary Lakeside Park for a glimpse of the glorious orange reflection on the lake of the Big Orange Bridge, locally referred to as BOB. a perfect way to start the day. The opportunities seemed endless and we easily filled our days, eventually running out of time to do it all. The app played while we journeyed in and out of Nelson providing us clever insights into the lake, mountains, First Nations and heritage. Learning about BOB was well-humoured and informative - thanks!
Planning Our Next Visit
When the time came, we enjoyed one more coffee at Oso Negro (dreamy) and tried not to dwell too much about our looming departure (and to not be waking up in our red-brick, drool-worthy penthouse), but this trip only fed our appetite to explore more of the Kootenay Lake region. One of my favourite quotes from our app’s soft-spoken narrator was ‘if this region had it’s own flag, it would be a mix of blue collar colors and tie dye’. He wasn’t wrong at all - this region and its inhabitants are and we cannot wait to explore deeper and further on our next visit. If you’ve ever considered visiting the Kootenay Lake region, stop thinking about it and just go. And of course, download the free Kootenay Lake Road Trip App to learn while you explore: it’s full of ‘tips & trips’ offering an experience you won’t soon forget.