The Kootenay Rockies, in the southeastern corner of BC, is a region of lakes, glaciers, jagged peaks, and historic towns once home to a silver-mining boom. There are four national parks here, and the area is renowned for its natural hot springs. As you cruise past the mountain scenery, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife that can often be spotted from the highway, including mountain goats, elk, deer, black bears, and grizzlies. This route is especially scenic in early fall when autumn colours dot the hillsides.
- Rocky Mountains
- Hot Springs
- Mountain scenery
Begin your journey along this circular route from any point, but if you’re flying in you’ll likely want to start in Cranbrook, served by the Canadian Rockies International Airport.
After you pick up your vehicle at the airport and head to your accessible Cranbrook Hotel.
Formerly a railway town, Cranbrook is chockablock with attractions steeped in history. In the region’s largest city, you can explore the Cranbrook History Centre‘s award-winning collection of railcars, the Cranbrook Museum, Paleontology Gallery, Royal Alexandra Hall, and the Model Railway exhibition. The Railcar Collection Exhibition is the only stop that is not wheelchair accessible.
Nearby, the six-hectare (15-acre) Elizabeth Lake in Confederation Park is a wildlife sanctuary that is home to painted turtles, migratory birds, and more. The picnic area and approximately 90 per cent of the trails (all covered in mulch) are wheelchair accessible.
Today you will head north to Kimberley. It’s a quick 25 minute journey, so you might consider a detour northeast on Hwy 95 to Fort Steele Heritage Town, where actors playing shopkeepers, townsfolk, and politicians bring to life a reconstructed 1890s boomtown year round.
Heading north on Highway 95A, stop for a photo at Marysville Falls en route to the alpine city of Kimberley (note: a small section of the trail leading to the bridge is gravel, so access is weather dependant). Check out the wheelchair-accessible North Star Rails to Trails, a paved 28-km (17-mi) all-purpose trail between Cranbrook and Kimberley. The gentle grade makes it perfect for wheelchair travel.
Journey north on Highway 93/95 for a little more than an hour towards Fairmont Hot Springs. This route along the Columbia River Valley is famous for its towering mountain peaks and rich wetland ecosystem. Tip: Travel in fall when the foliage is spectacular.
The Fairmont Hot Springs—with its year-round, mineral-rich hot springs pools—have drawn travellers for more than a century. This full-service, four-season resort, with views of the Columbia and Rocky mountains offers guest rooms, camping, RV hookups, restaurants, and spa services together with a wide range of outdoor adventure possibilities year round.
Today you will continue north to Invermere at the top of Windermere Lake, where you can hit the beach or browse in the Pynelogs Cultural Centre, a visual arts gallery that is home to theatrical productions, concerts, and workshops throughout the year.
In Kootenay National Park, just north of Invermere, Radium Hot Springs boasts two outdoor mineral pools, tucked against the sheer walls of Sinclair Canyon. Watch for bighorn sheep as you soak, and finish with a massage at the on-site day spa. The hot pool is open year round.
Overnight in Golden at day’s end.
The drive from Golden to Revelstoke will reveal some of the most majestic mountain peaks in the world.
Today you continue west to Revelstoke, where a wander through the alpine city reveals some 60 restored period buildings and the fascinating Revelstoke Railway Museum (the first floor is accessible). Open in summer, the BC Interior Forestry Museum and Forest Discovery Centre features a replica of a vintage forest fire lookout cabin, complete with a panoramic view of the Revelstoke Dam and the Columbia River Valley. Nearby, take in the alpine meadows in Mount Revelstoke National Park.
From Revelstoke, follow Highway 23 south along Upper Arrow Lake to Shelter Bay, where a free ferry takes you across the lake. About 60 km (37 mi) down the road, the lakeside village of Nakusp features a waterfront promenade, complete with a sandy beach and a Japanese garden. A short drive away, the picturesque Nakusp Hot Springs, operated by the village of Nakusp, is a low-key facility with two year-round pools; camping and chalets are nearby. North of Nakusp, there are accessible hiking and biking trails at Mt. Abriel, where people with restricted mobility can challenge themselves along adaptive mountain-bike trails.
Follow Highway 31A to the tiny Edwardian village of Kaslo, on the shores of Kootenay Lake. Here, the Kaslo River Trail System, built by the Kaslo Trailblazers, features a covered pedestrian bridge with spectacular views of the Kaslo River. The 1.2-km (.7-mi) section on the north side of the river is wheelchair friendly. Another must-see? The S.S. Moyie, a National Historic Site that features the lovingly restored vessel—originally launched in 1898—that ranks as the oldest intact passenger sternwheeler in the world. (Note that only the freight deck is wheelchair accessible.)
Make time to explore the lakeside city of Nelson, known for its heritage buildings and thriving arts scene. From Balfour (just south of Ainsworth Hot Springs), ride the free Kootenay Lake ferry across to Crawford Bay, a lively artists’ community.
Today you’ll head back to Cranbrook where you’ll drop your car at the airport and continue on your journey.
- Accessible vehicle rental with unlimited mileage
- Accessible accommodations for 9 nights
Does not include
- International flights
- Travel Insurance