Posted by: cherylyoung | April 13, 2012


Kootenay National Park blankets almost 350,00

 acres  (140,600 hectares), where visitors experience

 a land  of startling contrasts, towering summits,

 hanging glaciers, narrow chasms, and colourful-

splashed mineral pools.

 From glacier-clad peaks in the north to dry, cactus-

bearing slopes in the south, Kootenay offers a variety

 of landscapes and more of an off-the-beaten-track



 Its lands were ceded to the federal government from

 British Columbia in 1919.


 In return, the federal government built the Banff-

Windermere Road (Hwy 93) – the first motor road

 through the Canadian Rockies.


After severe construction difficulties, the road was

completed in 1922.


The road was rebuilt and repaved in 1952, and remains

a favoured route for visitors today.

Situated on the west side of the Continental Divide,

Kootenay National Park extends across the valleys

of the Vermilion and Kootenay Rivers, touches on

 the Rocky Mountain Trench at Radium Hot Springs,

 and straddles the Main and Western Ranges of

 the Rockies.


Some of these peaks rise to 11,000 feet (3,355 m).


The 110°F (43°C) waters at Radium Hot Springs come

 out of the Redstreak breccia fault line, a unique area

 of red cliffs and shattered rocks.


 Like most other hot springs, these are well worth

 relaxing in.


You can also find mineral hot springs bubbling out

 of the canyon of Sinclair Creek.


Along the parkway, see the depths of the limestone

 gorge of Marble Canyon and the bright ochre pool

 Paint Pots once used by the Kootenay People to

 decorate their teepees.


The park features three major campgrounds:

the biggest one, Redstreak Campground, can only be

approached from the south side of Radium Hot Springs,

 2 miles (3 km) southeast of the park’s western

 entrance at the junction of Hwy 93/95.


Open May 5 – October 6, there’s a total of 242 sites;

50 fully serviced sites, 38 sites with power only, and

 154 unserviced sites, some of which are walk-in.


Campground services include flush toilets, piped hot

 and cold water, showers, kitchen shelters, fire rings

and firewood, smoke-free areas, playgrounds, theatre,

 interpretive activities, walking trails, recycling bins,

 food storage, sani-dump station, wheelchair-accessible

 campsites, public telephone.


 A 30-minute walking trail links the campground

with Radium Hot Springs.


McLeod Meadows Campground (98 vehicle/tent sites)

 occupies a quiet, wooded area on the banks of the

 Kootenay River.


The wildlife is plentiful, and in early summer, it’s a

special treat to see the orchids bloom in the nearby

meadows once the snow has melted.

 Open May 19 – September 5, this campground is

 located 16 miles (26 km) north of Radium Hot Springs

 on Hwy 93.


A dense subalpine forest is the setting for Marble

Canyon Campground (61 vehicle/tent sites), open

June 23 – September 5. It’s 27 miles (43 km) north of

 McLeod, 9 miles (14.5 km) west of the park’s eastern



Crook’s Meadow Group Campground is open from

May until October and is located 21 miles (34 km)

north of Radium Hot Springs on the site of one of the

 oldest homesteads in Kootenay National Park.


Group tenting for 30 tents and parking for some support

 vehicles is available.

 Effective immediately, all users of the Crook’s Meadow

 Group Campground are required to boil their

 drinking water.


If you can’t get into Kootenay National Park, you might

 try Dry Gulch Provincial Park (25 vehicle/tent sites),

 just 5 miles (8 km) south of Radium Hot Springs on

 Hwy 93.


Dry Gulch Provincial Park is frequently used as an

overflow campground for the popular national

 park nearby.


Two major forest fires swept through the park last

century, destroying more than 21,000 acres

 (8,505 hectares) and affecting the plant community.


 Glacial erosion has left fascinating patterns everywhere

– cirques, moraines, hanging valleys, and more.


Especially notable are deep cuts into the limestone at

 Rockwall and Marble Canyons.

 If you want the hottest and driest environment in the

 area, head south into the Columbia and Lower

 Kootenay Valleys and explore the forests.


In the northern area around the Upper Kootenay and

Vermilion Valleys, the summers are moderate and the

winters severe.


You’ll find the alpine zone above 6,561 feet (2,001 m)

 with its own beautiful flora.


Some wetland communities have developed around

 ponds, beaver dams, and small lakes.


Wildlife is much in evidence.


A band of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep have their

 summer range near Radium Hot Springs, and

mountain goats can be spotted in the Mount Wardle area.


 Two words of warning about elk and bears: the elk

 population has grown, and in winter they migrate down

 the valley and congregate along the highway, so

 please drive carefully.

Ask for information on bears from an information

 officer or a warden.


 Black bears are present throughout the park, and

 grizzlies frequent the avalanche slopes in the spring,

digging for tender lily bulbs.


 Finally, the Animal Lick beside Hwy 93 in Kootenay

National Park is a natural salt lick, a big drawing

 card for ungulates.


Most of the park’s waters are glacier-fed and are too

 cold to provide sufficient nutrients for fish growth.


However, some of the lakes have been stocked, and you

 might try for whitefish and native dolly varden, or for

 stocked trout in the rivers.


On your rambles, you might justifiably feel a part

 of history.


Archaeological evidence shows that the mountain

passes and river valleys have been major Native trading

routes for thousands of years, and pictographs near

 the hot springs suggest its role as a gathering place.


 Hudson’s Bay Company traders also travelled through here.

Other facilities at the park include an aquacourt and

fully developed pool area.


 There are also several good picnic sites and swimming

 spots, including Sinclair Creek, Olive Lake, Kootenay

 River, Dolly Varden, Hector Gorge, Wardle Creek,

Numa Falls, Paint Pots, Marble Canyon, and

Tokumm Creek.


The park offers self-guided trails, warden stations and

backcountry warden-patrol cabins, and more than

 124 miles (200 km) of hiking and cross-country ski trails.

 Two trails in particular are worth mentioning:

Floe Lake/Hawke Creek (6 miles/10 km) leads west to

 a glacier-fed lake; Stanley Glacier Trail is a short,

 strenuous, 3-mile (5-km) hike that leads to a hanging

valley and glacier.


There are short interpretive trails, with trailside

 exhibits, at the Continental Divide (Fireweed Trail),

Marble Canyon, the Paint Pots, Olive Lake and Redstreak

 Campground (Valley View Trail).


Longer day hikes and overnight trips are described in

the Kootenay National Park Backcountry Guide.


 This guide can be obtained free of charge by contacting

the park.

Powerboats are not allowed anywhere in the park;

 other boating is permitted only on the Kootenay and

 Vermilion Rivers.


 Note: Only experienced paddlers should attempt to canoe

 on the Kootenay River.

Arrangements must be made in advance for some


 Backcountry hikers, campers, and mountaineers require

 a park use permit from a park officer to make

 overnight trips.


Registration is required at the park information office

or with the warden for group camping at the Dolly

 Varden Picnic Area, for using the winter vehicle trails,

 and for winter camping and snowmobiling.


To purchase Wilderness Passes and to reserve campsites,

please contact the Kootenay National Park

 Information Centre.


The most overwhelming viewpoints in the East

 Kootenays are dotted along Hwy 93 between Radium

 Hot Springs and the British Columbia-Alberta border

 in Kootenay National Park.


In fact, this entire stretch of highway is one big



Standouts include the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint,

 about 9 miles (15 km) east of Radium Hot Springs on

 Hwy 93, the Hector Gorge Viewpoint, 29 miles (46 km)

 east of Radium on Hwy 93, and the main event,

the Continental Divide, about 60 miles (95 km) east of

Radium Hot Springs at the British Columbia-Alberta


 Simply put, with scenery like this, it should be illegal not

 to stop in the Columbia Valley north of Invermere.







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