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Established in 1920, Kootenay National Park preserves over 1,400 square kilometres of unique British Columbian landscapes, including portions of the Canadian Rockies.
Kootenay National Park is nestled into the southwestern base of the Canadian Rockies on the British Columbia-Alberta border. The Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre is located near the park’s western entry in the Village of Radium Hot Springs.
The park is open year round, however, the visitor centre is closed from October until early spring. Visitor centre hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Certain day use areas, like Numa Falls, Vermillion Crossing, Olive Lake, and Sinclair Lake are closed during the winter. Check with the visitor centre for potential closures.
Entry to Kootenay NP does require a fee. Different park services, like backpacking, fishing, heritage presentations, and other activities, also require per-person fees.
Your Kootenay journey begins in the Village of Radium Hot Springs – otherwise known as the park’s western entrance. Here you’ll find the Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre, where park maps, itineraries, and other pertinent information is available and comes highly recommended. Moreover, while in Radium Hot Springs, you'll have access to several hiking trails and the namesake of the village – the Radium Hot Springs Pools.
Maintaining a warm but comfortable temperature year round, Hot Springs invites visitors to take a relaxing dip. The springs are naturally heated, and only one of three such pools found in the Rocky Mountain National Parks.
If you’ve packed your fishing rods and tackle box, make a pit stop at any number of excellent fishing areas spread across the park. On the south side of the park near Radium Hot Springs, Olive Lake, Dog Lake, Cobb Lake, and Redstreak Creek set themselves apart and are conveniently located, while to the north, near the Kootenay Crossing and the Rockwall, day use areas like Numa Creek and both the Kootenay and Vermillion Rivers serve as an avid angler’s paradise.
If you’re ready to get out and stretch your legs, you’ll find kilometres worth of hiking trails extending into the far reaches of the park. There are 13 short hikes, offering the chance to explore the depths of Marble Canyon, the famous Kootenay Paint Pots, or the landscapes surrounding the Hot Springs and Redstreak Creek.
However, for the veteran hiker, day hikes ranging from 12 to 20 kilometres come readily available as well. Although strenuous at times, trails like the Sinclair Loop, Stanley Glacier, and Prospector’s Valley yield some of the most rewarding sights Kootenay NP has to offer.
Perhaps the park’s most unique trait is the Kootenay National Park Red Chairs intiative. Two sets of red lounge chairs are strategically sprinkled, or hidden, within the park – one in Marble Canyon and another in near the Radium Hot Springs on the Juniper Trail. The chairs face some of the park’s most iconic landscapes, so when you find them, grab a seat, snap a selfie, and soak in the scenery.
Only have a short amount time to explore the park? Fear not – from the park’s western entrance in Radium Hot Springs to nearly 100 kilometres north to the Vermillion Crossing, Highway 93 serves as a fast track for seeing the all the park has to offer.
From the visitor center, you’ll pass by many points of interest ripe with breathtaking scenery. For instance, only 16 kilometres east of Radium Hot Springs, the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint overlooks the Kootenay River Valley while also offering unmatched panoramic views of the Mitchell and Vermillion Mountain Ranges.
As you continue north, make time to stop at Paint Pots near Numa Creek and the Rockwall. Both the Paint Pots and the massive limestone Rockwall are important geographical mainstays here at Kootenay NP while serving as must-sees stops during a scenic drive through the park.
Likewise, continuing along Highway 93, you’ll find the Continental Divide at the northern edge of the park. Also known as the “Spine of North America,” this landmark stretches from the Colorado Rocky Mountains up into Kootenay NP and beyond.
Whether you choose to drive straight through or stop and smell the roses, there’s so much natural beauty waiting to be discovered. Hiking, fishing, scenic drives, picturesque views – you name it, you’ll find it at Kootenay National Park.