Mountain Biking

If you’re dreaming of a road trip, the West Kootenays should be on your bucket list. With spectacular scenery, quiet roads, and all kinds of amazing amenities and recreational opportunities spread throughout eight unique communities, it’s best discovered at a leisurely pace. From hot springs to craft breweries, ski resorts to celebrated artisans, and vibrant towns to far out wilderness, each community offers an incredible diversity of experiences while still sharing a common Kootenay culture.

Known for its wonderful blend of culture, heritage, foodie scene and mountain activities, Nelson is the hub of the region. Its historic downtown is packed with boutique shops, tasty eateries, and colourful murals and public art. The backdrop is just as impressive. Set in a naturally forested amphitheater, the hilly city overlooks Kootenay Lake, and provides sweeping views of the surroundings. Centrally located and with the widest selection of accommodations and restaurants, Nelson is an ideal base for exploring the area.

Just an hour to the west of Nelson are the closely connected communities of Trail and Rossland. Straddling one of the only free-flowing sections of the mighty Columbia River, Trail features a compact downtown core best explored on foot. The newly opened Riverfront Centre includes a museum, gallery, archives, museum and visitor centre, and is conveniently located a short walk from the scenic pedestrian bridge. Trail’s rich Italian and sporting history is proudly evident from the restaurants, art and statues in town.

Perched over 500 metres high above Trail is the alpine town of Rossland. It’s one of the few communities in Canada that can lay claim to being built on top of a mountain, providing unparalleled access to Red Mountain Ski Resort and tons of hiking, biking and Nordic ski trails. Rossland’s historic main street has been beautifully preserved, and features striking brick buildings, monuments, trendy restaurants and shops. The impressive alpine setting is impossible to miss, particularly in the winter when it transforms into a picture-perfect ski town.

Touring Around

Two routes connect Trail and Rossland with Kootenay Lake, including the main highway along the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers (3B) and the quieter road via Salmo (3) which leads to the turnoff for Whitewater Ski Resort. The highway numbers on this Kootenay journey fluctuate from 6 to 31, 3A and 3B, but all lead to a memorable road trip.

From Nelson, follow the 3A east as it hugs the West Arm of Kootenay Lake to Balfour, and the Kootenay Lake Ferry landing. The small community is home to multiple artists, a highly regarded golf course, and a smattering of shops and eateries.

Bending north from Balfour, the road offers expansive views of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountains to the east. Don’t miss some breathtaking adventure at Kokanee Mountain Zipline, and a dip in the therapeutic warm waters at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, owned and operated by the Yaqan Nukiy of the Lower Kootenay Band. The resort also offers comfortable accommodations and creative meals in a tranquil setting, while nearby Cody Caves offers the thrill of descending into an underground world.

A short drive north leads to the charming town of Kaslo on highway 31. Home to two National Historic Sites, including the SS Moyie sternwheeler, the waterfront community beautifully balances heritage with a stunning setting and outdoor pursuits. Paddling, hiking, biking, and cat & heli-skiing are some of the adventures that await. Or relax and wander the colourful main street and waterfront pathways in this idyllic town. You’ll find small communities north of Kaslo are home to extensive wildlife and wilderness.

No road trip to the West Kootenays would be complete without taking the ferry between Balfour and Kootenay Bay. The world’s longest free ferry crosses the widest stretch of Kootenay Lake and provides a one of a kind vantage point to appreciate the mountainous surroundings. If you’re coming from the west, it’s also the gateway to Crawford Bay and the East Shore. You’ll find a colourful community of artisans, championship golfing, unrivalled waterfront campgrounds, parks, resorts and more from Riondel to Wynndel.

Despite the rural and remote setting in southeastern BC, the West Kootenays offer a tremendous amount of variety, services, and activities. The close proximity of each community, shared values around sustainability and diverse landscapes creates a distinctive feel that is quietly celebrated in the region. Discover this special part of the world for yourself on a road trip unlike any other. #kootenayroadtrip

Every great road trip has a few key criteria; great scenery, awesome activities, tasty meals, and a memorable place to stay. You’ll find all these and just the right place to settle down after a day of travelling in the Kootenays. Whether you’re going for boutique or budget, comfort and ambiance come standard.

The remoteness of the region means you won’t find towering monoculture hotels. Our vibrant and independent culture is reflected in the range of lodging options, from historic hotels to modern slopeside resorts, and from waterfront campgrounds to eclectic vacation rentals. Take your time on a road trip to discover the highly rated accommodations in the region.

Dreaming of skiing legendary powder or riding flowy singletrack at Red Mountain? Check out the Josie Hotel, the newest boutique hotel in Western Canada on the slopes. Blending modern design with an unbeatable ski-in ski-out location and on-site dining, it’s the hippest joint in the Kootenays. Comfortable and well-appointed inns and hostels are also located at the base of Red Mountain, while the Prestige Mountain Resort and Flying Steamshovel Inn are just a short drive away in the heart of Rossland. Mountain lodges are abundant around town and up the mountain, with a unique upscale hostels.

Nelson’s vibrancy boasts an impressive roster of accommodations that reflects its unique combination of heritage and mountain culture. The historic Hume Hotel & Spa anchors the heart of the city. It lives up to its claim of being “antique, chic and boutique” with tastefully updated rooms and multiple dining establishments on site. A block over is the Adventure Hotel, which lives up to its name by featuring a fun, lively and modern vibe. Don’t miss their iconic café with its airy solarium.

If prime waterfront is your scene, reserve a room at the Prestige Lakeside Resort, and enjoy epic views of Kootenay Lake from your room or one of the best patios in town. Looking for a bit more space? The Alpine Inn and nearby Savoy Hotel, and Kokanee Glacier Resort all feature rooms with kitchenettes, while the Dancing Bear Inn is a cozy and communal option on historic Baker Street. If you prefer to live like a local, you’ll find a variety of licensed vacation rentals in Nelson.

With some of the most spectacular drives in the country along Kootenay Lake, it’s worth spending a few nights at one of the many resorts or high-end hotels. The Kaslo Hotel is an intimate experience with majestic views of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains. Wing Creek Resort and The Sentinel, near Kaslo, both offer retreat-like experiences and private beach getaways. Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is a hot spot for visitors with rooms, pools and dining on site. On the East Shore, Kokanee Chalets near Crawford Bay provides a down to earth, in nature experience, while Destiny Bay in Boswell is remote, waterfront and cozy.

Prime campgrounds along the Columbia River and Kootenay Lake offer quiet, remote options where the reward goes to those looking to travel further afield.

Finding the right place to settle down after a day of travelling is an essential part of a road trip. Comfort and ambience are key, and we have both.

Book your accommodation early to ensure you stay in the right experience, and make the most of your valuable holiday time.


  • Rossland’s new Josie is a dreamy location and facility up at red Mountain
  • The Prestige, in Rossland and Nelson, is always a great choice
  • Best Western’s in Trail and Nelson are high-end, comfortable and with dining amenities
  • Kaslo Hotel is an intimate experience with majestic views of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains
  • Kokanee Chalets on the East shore, near Crawford Bay provides that down to earth, in nature experience
  • Wing Creek Resort and The Sentinel, near Kaslo, both offer retreat-like experiences, and private beach getaways
  • Nelson’s historic Hume Hotel & Spa is always a show stopper, right in the heart of the action
  • Destiny Bay in Boswell is remote, waterfront and cozy
To learn more about accommodations in the area visit the tourism websites.

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip

When planning your Kootenay Road Trip, be prepared with all the right gear, maps, and know the safety protocols in our area.

Businesses are following the recommended COVID-19 protocols to ensure you have a relaxing, safe trip. BE SMART when travelling by adhering to these SMART Travel rules:

    1. Stay home if you are not feeling well.
    2. Measure your physical distancing and take responsibility for your actions.
    3. Appropriate behaviour is essential: stay in your vehicle when on the ferry, cough into your sleeve, wear a mask in public, wash hands regularly, and travel in small, familiar groups.
    4. Respect the protocols and culture of our area. Accept the new ways of travelling, which are put in place to keep ALL of us safe. Be kind to other people, do not judge, do not alienate or discriminate because of their choices. You do not know their situation, and until you do, compassion will be your most valuable action.
    5. Together, through SMART choices, we can all enjoy this amazing region.

Some important resources you’ll want to reference before you go:

  • WorkSafeBC Protocols
  • BC Parks
  • BC Ferries  – Stay in your vehicle when on the ferry
  • Canada / USA Border
  • Gear – be prepared
    • Spring can vary from sunny and hot, to cool and wet. Higher elevations are still laden with snow, but lower elevations are fresh, green and full of wonder.
    • Summer is typically hot but higher elevations are cool and weather can shift quickly so carry appropriate clothing.
    • Fall changes to cooler nights, but days are still plenty warm to relax on the beach or do a ride in the mountains or on the road

If you would like printed Visitor Guides and maps of the Kootenay region, please send us your mailing address.

To learn more about safe travel protocols and what is open during COVID-19 visit the tourism websites.

Enjoy your #KootenayRoadTrip