On the surface, Kootenay National Park represents everything that we know and love about the Canadian Rockies. Beneath the forests and the rocks, evolutional secrets are perfectly preserved. Here, we encounter hot springs and grounds that only Mother Nature can create. Located only 2 hours from Calgary, let’s begin our tour with some driving:
1. Sinclair Canyon
It’s amazing how things can look so different when viewed from different perspectives. As you drive through the Sinclair Canyon its walls engulf you with wonder. But as you cover the Juniper/Sinclair trail the canyons are below you and their magic takes on a new form. Which view do you prefer?
2. The Redwall Fault
Most of us do not associate the Canadian Rockies with fiery red rock formations which makes the Redwall Fault a must-see. Its cliffs are hard to miss as you explore the Hot Springs. In fact, the park has placed some Red Chairs in the area allowing you to marvel at the scenery with some degree of comfort.
3. The Banff-Windermere Highway
The Sinclair Canyon isn’t the only roadside attraction in Kootenay, there is the Banff-Windermere Highway where families have created unforgettable memories since the 1920s. This 94-kilometre stretch is lined with picturesque vistas of mountain peaks and valleys. Don’t stay in the car all day, hike down Fireweed Trail and smell the forest air.
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Following Mom….. Spotted this mother Grizzly bear and her two cubs at the side of the road near Radium Hotsprings in Kootenay National Park. I was very impressed with Parks Canada who were monitoring the situation very closely and would not allow anyone to get close yet at the same time allowing people to view safely from their vehicles. Around the end of May the bears are feasting on dandelions in the area.
4. Radium Hot Springs
The entire park may be covered in snow but steam continues to rise from these mineral rich hot springs chasing away the cold and revitalising your body. In summer, the water temperatures are regulated to help you cool off. If you prefer a bit of pampering then reserve your place at the Pleiades Spa.
5. Kootenay Valley Viewpoint
Mitchell and Vermilion Ranges rise majestically from the earth below. Staring at them, you can’t help but wonder how the forces of nature gave rise to such beauty. But something else catches your eye, the Kootenay River eagerly making its way to meet its big sister, the Columbia River.
6. Marble Canyon
It will take you less than one hour explore this trail. But don’t let the short distance fool you into thinking that it has nothing to offer. You will cross bridges as you watch Tokumm Creek force its way through narrow gorges.Its blue waters, rejuvenated forest and dramatic canyons are truly photogenic.
7. Stanley Glacier
If you are fascinated by fossils then you do not want to miss a guided tour of the Burgess Shale. Strange creatures have been hiding at the foot of Mount Stanley for hundreds of millions of years and this is your chance to scrutinize them. What’s more, you will have great views of the surrounding wilderness.
8. Paint Pots
This popular trail that 1 km trail that leads you to this spectacular natural phenomenon – three almost circular reddish orange iron oxide filled ponds that the First Nations believed were from the animal spirits that lived in the ponds.
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9. Kindersley – Sinclair Loop
Day-hikes in Kootenay don’t get any better than this 17.5 km trail. It will take you through sweet scented forests that open up to lush alpine meadows. You may spot grizzlies going about their business but remember that this is their country so keep your distance and stay safe.
10. Olive Lake
You’ve been driving along the Banff-Windermere Highway and stop for a meal by the shores of a small green lake. Its name is Olive Lake and it has a short trail that loops around it. The trail features a boardwalk that eases accessibility for the very young and the elderly.
11. The Rockwall
Are you an avid backpacker looking for your next adventure? The Rockwall is calling your name! It entices you with 55km of subalpine meadows, hanging glaciers and alpine glaciers. Your endurance will be tested and your senses treated to the best of the Rockies (which is why you should reserve your place way in advance).