Best Public and Provincial Parks

Here in the Kootenay mountains, we have your pick of river and lake parks and rare inland rainforests with old growth trees. Our playgrounds have views and beaches and stretch out from the communities to the wild places up mountains to valley lakes and waterfalls. Don’t leave right away. Some of our special places have campsites so you can pitch your tent or park your RV and stay immersed in the beauty that is the Kootenays.

Coming to the West Kootenays from the coast, one of the first places you’ll get to is Nancy Greene Provincial Park. A great place to stop for a swim, paddle or hike, this beautiful little sub-alpine lake is also stocked with trout if you want to bring a little something to the dinner table. In Rossland, Thin Air Disc Golf Club is a fun and free family-friendly activity exploring the best disc golf course in the Kootenays. Gyro Park, beside the great Columbia River in Trail is perfect for riverside picnics, lawn games, and sand play on the beach. The spray park brings a playful spin to cooling down during the hot summer months, and the playground and scenic skatepark provides plenty of thrills. Not far from Fruitvale, we have the Beaver Valley Family Park and the Marsh Creek Campground. The place for family get-togethers with horseshoe pits, bocce field, a disc golf course, playground, courts and fields and campground, there is no end to the fun to be had. Spend a day or week at Champion Lakes Provincial Park to explore the 3 lakes by foot or canoe, swim with the turtles in the warm water, or just enjoy the beach.

If it’s epic scenery and vast expanses of wild you are looking for, check out Valhalla Provincial Park. Named after the gods, the formidable mountains within the park with spark joy in the heartiest of mountaineers. For the mode moderate explorers, McDonald Creek is a holiday destination for swimming, water sports and fishing opportunities and features several kilometres of sandy beach with waterfront camping sites.

Summit Lake Provincial Park and campground on the peninsula at Summit Lake is a destination for avid fishers and families seeking a tranquil park setting. Enjoy canoeing, fishing for rainbow and cutthroat trout or swimming in the lake’s clear, refreshing mountain water. On the banks of Wilson Creek, Rosebery Provincial Park offers secluded camping and is an ideal staging area for exploration of nearby Valhalla, Kokanee Glacier and Goat Range Provincial Parks.

We have the Millenium Ponds, in Castlegar, with three river-fed pools that spill into each other complete with small waterslides that are perfect for the little ones in the family. Take a walk through the park trails and you will stumble on sculptures, a signature of the Sculpture Capital of Canada. Keep going on your bike and you’ll find the largest bike park in the West Kootenays. You can continue on the trails or take your car a few blocks over to reach an island behind the neighbourhood that you would not know was there. A suspension bridge takes you back in time to from the Lakes Salish people’s winter pit houses to the unique chapel built in Russian Orthodox architecture by Alexander Zuckerberg, the humanitarian after whom the island is named. Right outside Castlegar, we have Syringa Provincial Park for the beach lovers, boaters and campers who enjoy the beautiful Arrow Lakes. In one day you can see the Allendale waterfall from the road, take a short trail to Tulip Falls in a moss-covered canyon, be part of a waterfall by sliding down a natural waterslide in the Cayuse Creek, and hike to the beautiful two-tiered Deer Creek Falls.

The Kootenay Lake area has so many beautiful parks to visit. Explore the Kaslo River Trail with its colourful covered bridges and play hide-and-seek with the playful Koots, concrete sculptures installed along the trail. In Nelson, you can catch some rays on the beach the Rotary Lakeside while the kids play in the sand, enjoy the playground or walk on the lakeside trail. The Kokanee Creek Provincial Park has boardwalk trails, a nature centre, a wide beautiful beach with jaw-dropping mountain views, and a beautiful campground. Then there’s the Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, paradise in the mountains, explored on foot through backcountry huts to incredible vistas and alpine lakes. In the north end of Kootenay Lake, we find Davis Creek and Lost Ledge with scenic sites right by the water. Take the free ferry to Kootenay Bay and follow the lush forest trails in Pilot Bay Provincial Park to a unique sawdust beach or take the trail to the lighthouse. If you want to meet the ancient giants and hug trees here before Canada was named, take a walk through our magical inland rainforests on some of our favourite trails like the Kokanee Old Growth Forest Trail near Balfour with its massive cedar trees, the Retallack Old Growth Trail near Kaslo, and Jumbo Pass protected by the Ktunaxa Nation.

All along the West Koot Route, we have endless places for everyone to explore. It’s time to let the children (of any age) go outside and play.

Want to learn more about these communities? Visit the local tourism websites.

Enjoy the #WestKootRoute