Rock Climbing

The Waterline Wall

The Waterline had been relatively unknown up until 2006 when local climbers penetrated the crag. It has an array of numerous sport and traditional routes, its development is ongoing, and there is endless possibility.

I had been looking foward to visiting the Waterline all week, and by the time we arrived it was a beautiful day and the sun was directly above us. We started our way up on Ravens Wall Right. This wall has the highest concentration of easy and friendly routes.

The water line has six different zones: The Ravens wall (left, centre and right), CBC wall, The Big Boulder, The Valhalla Pure Wall, The corners and The Nurses wall.

My favorite climb was a 5.9***. The first crux is a little overhang with tricky feet. With the first routes of the day successfully climbed we packed up and moved to another wall.

The walls of The Waterline are clean, vertical, granite rock containing overhangs, cracks, rails and in-cut jugs.

With the guidebook in hand and snacks in our bellies we checked out Ravens Wall Left. The climbs here are steeper and more challenging. I tried my first outdoor 5.10a. I struggled with the crux and couldn't get through it. My partner hesitated at the crux but was able to fight on past it. Next time I'll get it.

For my last climb of the day I stayed at the top to watch the sun set on the Monashee Mountain Range. What a beautiful spot. I am excited to explore the rest of the area.

With big grins on our faces, we headed downtown to our favourite restaurant in Castlegar. The waitress at this authentic and friendly restaurant always recognizes us climbers by our white chalk fingers, bleeding knuckles and huge smiles on our faces.

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Mountain Climber

Favorite Kootenay Climbs

The Slocan Bluffs

The Slocan Bluffs is one of the more popular areas to climb. It's mainly sport climbing featuring a mix of cracks and face climbs for a range of levels. Slocan Lake provides beautiful views and a great location for a post climb plunge.

Kootenay Crag

Kootenay Crag is accessed by boat or bike. The climbs range from 5.11 to 5.13. Nicely shaded in the forest on a hot day.

Mount Gimli

Mount Gimli is located in the Valhalla Provincial Park. The Southeast Ridge of Mount Gimli is one of the paramount routes in the area. It is excellent 5.9 climbing with 7-8 pitches. It takes about 4-7 hours with a 3rd class decent.

Hall Siding Bluffs

Hall Siding Bluffs is just off the highway between Nelson and Yimr. Hall siding has 12 challenging route to climb.

Skateboarding

A day at the Skate Park

"This summer I was looking for an activity to keep my 7yr. old daughter from getting bored. It needed to be in the fresh air, fun and free.

On our way to swimming lessons we passed the skatepark. I noticed the excitement and energy. All types of people were there. We could see young children having lessons and the older youth skating, biking and roller blading as well.

One day we decided to join up for the 30 minute lessons. It was free with patient, experienced and friendly coaches. As well all the safety gear and skateboards were free to use.

I was a little nervous about my daughter getting hurt or crowded out by the older more experienced skaters but I was pleasantly surprised this was not the case. The park is clean, well maintained and everyone of all ages respected to the rules of the park. Parent/grandparents that I talked to said the same thing. They were happy that it was a safe space for their children to play and learn.

My daughter worked hard to learn skateboarding and by the end of the season had achieved that and more. She made friends, went down the "big" hill and rode over the rainbow rail. Her confidence in herself increased, kept up her core strength for gymnastics and she had a great time. Having fun was the best part of the whole experience for my daughter. It was such a good time that her father even took a few lessons and felt comfortable being able to learn a new sport.

We look forward to next summer being able to enjoy the Castlegar Skatepark..out in the fresh air having fun and free!"

Happy Parent,
Kim Ihlen

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Skateboarder

Kootenay SkateParks and Resources

Castlegar Skatepark

Castlegar , BC - Have a tour of the Castlegar Skatepark

Friends of The Castlegar Skatepark

On Facebook

bcskateboarding.org

Uniting the Skateboarders of B.C.

kootenayskateboardseries.org

News on skateboarding events, proper skateboard use instruction and safety information

Nelson Skatepark

Nelson BC, Rosemont Park

Snowboarding & Skiing

Skiing Kootenay Pass

We got up early and drove up to the Kootenay Pass. It takes about one and a half hours from Castlegar but the drive was worth it. I knew today was going to be a big day. We loaded up all of our avalanche and touring gear at the cars. The avalanche gear is a must in this area as there are lots of slides every year. Before leaving in the morning, we checked out www.avalanche.ca to get the latest update on the risks of things sliding. Things looked pretty stable so we decided to hit it.

With our shovels, probes, beacons, and first aid equipment we headed out towards Ripple Cabin on the south side of the highway. The cabin is about a 3-kilometer ski, mostly uphill with an elevation gain of about 1500 ft. The trail gets used enough that there is almost always a nice skin track in. Today was no exception and with a nice trail the skinning was pretty easy.

We weren't staying overnight, so instead of hitting the cabin we stopped before we got there and skied Baldy Rocks. We basically skied the whole ridgeline on our way in to the cabin. Kootenay snow is incredible. The terrain was pretty advanced, which was exactly what we were looking for. Waist deep snow and continuous face shots made for an epic day.

After about 5 runs we were done and it was getting late. We got back on the skin track and headed to the truck. When we got back to the truck there were lots of smiles from the other skiers who were packing up. From there we headed back to Castlegar for a pint at a local pub. Not a bad way to end the weekend!

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Skiier

Ski Hills in the Kootenay's

Red Mountain Resort

Rossland B.C. - 30 minutes from Castlegar

Whitewater Winter Resort

Nelson B.C. - 45 minutes from Castlegar

Phoenix Mountain

Grand Forks B.C.

Summit Lake Ski Area

Summit Lake B.C.

Salmo Ski Hill

Salmo B.C.
Phone: (250)357-2323

Resources

Avalanche.ca

Up to date information on avalanches and potential avalance threats in the area.

Quick Facts

  • Red Mountain's vertical Drop: 2900 ft.
  • Whitewater's Average Snowfall: 1200 cm/40 feet!
Mountain Biking

The Classic Ride

As most good rides start, there is the long grind uphill. Winding back and forth through the dense woods of the West Kootenay interior rainforest.

After sweating out all those toxins from nights of debauchery and fun, we finally reached the summit and munched on a snack while preparing for the epic descent of long, clean, single track.

It was a crisp fall day, perfect for a ride with a couple of good friends and the token dog. We dropped in to the awesome flows of single track and exciting stunts. Some of us dropped right into the short rock faces that presented themselves, but we all stopped at the Dirty Crack. The crux of the ride that begins with a dirty face that leads into a left turn and exposure to a 15' cliff on the left.

After ripping down the fall line following the creek we ended up on the shore of the lake for a sweet summer dip. Life is good.

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Mountain Bikers

Slick Rides in the Koots

Castlegar

Classic and progressive rides.

Check out the Grand Euphorium trail

Rossland

The new “Mountain Bike Capital of Canada” - Only 25 minutes from Castlegar Trails of the Rossland Range

Slocan Valley

Some of the steepest, most technical and semi-secret rides of the Koots. Ask in the local bike shops in Castlegar, Rossland or New Denver.

Resources

B.C. Ride Guide

Descriptions of the major mountain bike towns in B.C.

Quick Facts

  • There are tons of local Bike shops in Castlegar and the Kootenays
  • Most progressive trails in BC - found in the Slocan Valley
  • Friendliest riders that you'll find anywhere - Rossland
Backpacking

Camping in the Valhallas

I was lucky enough to be able to spend a few days in the Valhalla Provincial Park (Norse word meaning a Warriors Heaven)

We drove up the long, rough logging road following the Koch and Hoder creeks. Slinging our laden packs on our backs to begin the steep slog up into the alpine meadows that surround the Mckean Lakes. It is a long, sweaty, and steep hike up but it is all worth it when you finally break onto the flats and dump the packs at what will be your base for the next couple of days. Choose a sweet flat spot to pitch the tent and sit back and soak up the spectacular views. Woden peak looms over top of you with a nice little lake surrounded by circularly carved sheer granite walls that funnel any little breath of wind into a huge vortex that only ripples the very center of the little lake.

For the next couple of days we were up early to gain the granite ridges and check out all the cliff walls and small alpine tarns (little ponds). Our climax of the trip was to summit the looming Woden peak itself. With a super early start and lots of steep knife edge ridge walking we finally succeeded in reaching the top to gasp at the spacious views.

There are lots of other options to get into this park. For something a little mellower, or as a warm up hike check, out Evans Creek. It starts on the lakeside of Slocan City. Follow the lake to Evans Creek and continue up to Beatrice Lake and eventually Evans Lake for a few days. Don't bring the dog though, or you risk a $50 fine.

All of the parks in the West Kootenay offer simple day hiking and many offer the kind of alpine access that makes life worth living.

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Backpacker

Places to Backpack

Valhalla Provincial Park

Lies on the western shore of Slocan Lake. Truly Amazing!

Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

Awesome relatively easy access to the Kokanee glacier. Well worth checking out.

Purcell Wilderness Conservancy

For something a little more off the beaten track and wild. There are a few long life-changing camping trips.

Quick Facts

  • Number of parks with great camping within 1 hours drive from Castlegar: 10
  • Average summer temperature: 20 C
  • Hours of sunshine annually: 1,875
  • Number of camping supply stores in the area: 7

Important Reminder

Always let someone know where you are and when you're going to be back.

Day Hiking

Off the Beaten Path

I prefer to get up a little earlier for the drive neccesary to access the higher ground for a day hike. Make your way up into the Valhalla Provincial Park following the logging roads that lead up to Gimli Peak parking lot, above Bannock Burn creek.

We set out with a small posse of friends bright and early to get a good days worth in the alpine. Making our way through sub-alpine larches and devil's club brought us up onto a ridge where we were struck with the sharp spire of granite rising up out of the mountains. We followed the massive rock until we were just underneath the spire for a great lunch spot. From here we wanted to get right up underneath the face to gaze at the climbers that we picked out having a blast way up high silhouetted against the blue bird day. We meandered along the base further to gain a view over the cliff into the next valley startling a giant, shaggy, lone white mountain goat into leaping down the steep rocky valley to safety.

It is really hard to beat the feeling of this wild and magical place!

- Tessa Macdonald, hiker extrordinaire

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Places to Hike

Brilliant Overlook

A pleasant climb of 330 metres up the back of the bluff, on the east side of the Kootenay River, which overlooks the Brilliant Dam. The view of the two river valleys from the top is incredible.

Syringa Park Trails

There are two connected trails in Syringa Creek Provincial Park, the Yellow Pine Trail which is 2.6 km long and the Syringa Creek Trail which is 3.3 km long. The climate here is very dry so these trails have very little snow on them during the winter.

Skattebo Reach Trail

A fairly long, 12 km one way, sometimes rocky trail that follows the Kootenay River to Glade. Bridges over rushing creeks and the cool forest makes this a delight even on a very hot day.

Waldie Island Trail

This easy 1.5 km trail runs through a wildlife refuge especially rich in bird life. Signs explain aspects of local history and wetland ecology.

Quick Fact

  • Kilometers of hiking trails in the West Kootenays; 1,978 km
View of Castlegar
Kayaking

Riding the River

I remember running the lower Salmo for the first time with some friends. We had heard of a harder drop near the bottom, but that is was mostly class 3 along the way. We got sucked into the fun and cruisyness of the upper section of the run only to come around the corner missing the last eddy before probing the "harder drop near the bottom". Luckily there is a long, calm section right after and my friends were able to pick up my yard sale.

It is always best to get the local knowledge of water levels and closures before heading into a new area or to run a river your first time. Always carry the proper safety gear, first-aid equipment, and keep your touque tight.

Steep creek boating or park and play wave surfing, Castlegar and the West Kootenays have it all.

The Kootenays are wealthy in terms of fresh water. Castlegar is home to the amazing confluence of two major drainages in the southeast corner of British Columbia. The Kootenay River flows into the mighty Columbia River, the fourth largest drainage in North America.

Along their journey the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers form incredible, mostly wild, lakes that make for great flat-water paddling. All of the smaller tributaries that flow into these mother rivers create an abundance of awesome creeks all within a short distance of Castlegar.

There are a handful of Park n Play waves that can be great for a warm up or fun on a hot sunny day with a crew of friends.

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Kayaker

River Kayaking Hot Spots

Brilliant Hole (Park n Play)

  • Class 2/3

The Slocan River

  • Class 1/2 on the upper and
  • Class 2/3 on the s-bend section

Lower Salmo

  • Class 3/3+

Wilson Creek

  • Class 3+/4

Trail Hole (Park n Play)

  • Class 2/3

There are numerous other steep and gnarly creeks in the local vicinity, ask the locals!

Fishing

Hooked on Kootenay Fishing

Kootenay River

The Kootenay River runs between Nelson and Castlegar with 40 km of both slow and fast water. Large Rainbow, Bull trout, Kokanee, and Whitefish are available. The Slocan Pool, where the Slocan River joins the Kootenay River, is renowned for its fly-fishing for Rainbow to 2 kg. Walleye and Rainbow trout to 2.5 kg are abundant within 2 km of the confluence with the Columbia River.

Lower Arrow Lake

Accessible from Syringa Creek Provincial Park north of the Hugh Keenleyside Dam near Castlegar, this lake is 80 km long and 1 to 3 km wide. Trolling for large Rainbow and Bull trout is best in winter months. Rainbow ranging from .5 to 7 kg can be caught year round. Rainbow trout are most abundant at creek mouths. The Lower Arrow Lake is one of the most productive Kokanee fisheries in Southern B.C.

Nancy Green Lake

This pristine lake is about 1 km long by .5 km wide and is located 29 km west of Castlegar along highway #3. The lake is well stocked and limited catches of Rainbows to 30 cm are common. Late spring and summer angling is best on artificial fly or natural baits. Even dry fishing in late summer can be excellent. It is also good for children, as fishing access to the shoreline is safe and easy. No powerboats allowed.

Columbia River

This free-flowing section of the Columbia River stretches 42 km from the Hugh Keenleyside Dam in Castlegar to the U.S. border at Waneta. There is excellent Walleye fishing and some Burbot angling near the dam. Rainbows between 45 to 80 cm are taken from May to October on fly and natural bait. Walleye are best taken from June to October throughout the whole river.

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Man Fishing

Slocan Lake

This lake is 45 km long and 1 to 2.5 km wide and is located along highway #6, 100 km from Castlegar. Large Rainbow and Bull trout are abundant. Kokanee to .5 kg are taken trolling. Fly-fishing for Rainbows is good at creek mouths after mid-June. This lake provides year round fishing.

Kootenay Lake (West Arm)

Burbot, Rocky Mountain Whitefish to 1.5 kg, Kokanee to 3 kg, Rainbow trout to 7 kg, and Bull trout to 8 kg are abundant. Large trophy fish can be taken from October to February. Spin and bait fishing, fly-fishing, trolling are all successful. There is excellent fly-fishing near Balfour.

Champion Lakes

Located 40 km east of Castlegar, these lakes have been restocked annually since 1986. The lakes offer fly-fishing and spin casting for Rainbows to 2.5 kg. The second and third lakes have better angling chances and are in a more pristine setting. Fishing season is from May to October, and no powerboats are allowed on the lake.

Golfing

Incredible Courses

Recently my parents came out to visit and I took them on a trip in the Kootenays. Not for hiking, skiing or mountain biking as the Kootenays are famously known, but for golfing. Over the past few years this area has developed some incredible golf courses that are still relatively unknown to those outside of the West Kootenay. It will not be long however before these amazing courses with incredible views of some of Canada's most beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes get discovered.

While we who live in the West Kootenay get to experience these courses every weekend, for my parents the golfing was the highlight of their vacation.

Natural Challenges

As a beginner golfer with only a few months of golfing experience, I had yet to visit the Castlegar Golf Club, a course rated four star by Golf Digest. Throughout the day we saw a variety of wildlife, including deer and eagles. The scenery is incredible and the meal at the local clubhouse made me forget all about the balls that I lost. It was the best course I have played all summer and I can't wait to go back!

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Hotsprings

Getting Hot Naturally

After skiing in along the mostly flat road that leads into the trailhead of St. Leon hot springs, we slid and scrambled down the steep path to the steamy pools nestled amongst the snow-drenched trees. After stripping down, we soaked up the wonderful heat oozing from the cracks in the earth and celebrated these wonders of nature.

The West Kootenay is alive with geothermic activity due to the ruggedness of the surrounding mountains and their relative young age.

It was the First Nations, who used the area as a summer hunting ground, that discovered the hot springs in the Kootenays; today many of the springs are developed into comfortable pools with facilities that offer a full range of amenities.

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Hot Springs

Local Area Hotsprings

Ainsworth Hot Springs

A natural horseshoe cave with hot creeks and lights all underground. A must see. Great accommodation and food.

Canyon Hot Springs

Set in the spectacular Rocky Mountains of the Rogers Pass, open only in the summer.

Fairmont Hot Springs

Full resort offering golf, spa facilities and more.

Halcyon Hot Springs

Beautifully situated resort overhanging the shores of the Arrow Lakes. Multitude of accommodations, food and packages.

Nakusp Hot Springs

In the funky heart of the Slocan Valley nestled in the steep canyon of the Kuskanax River only minutes from Nakusp, campground on site.

Radium Hot Springs

Set in the Heart of the Rocky Mountains these pools are only minutes from the village of Radium. Accommodation and food available.

Family Camping

Family Camping

Camping is an essential and fun part of a family experience while traveling or playing in Castlegar.

Castlegar is surrounded by a number of great places to camp. Many of these parks are well developed and offer a wide range of amenities to make your camping experience comfortable and enjoyable.

Then there are almost limitless spots where one can just lay down the mat and have a sleep, with absolutely no man-made facilities.

The best camping experiences are often found in completely natural areas. After a long day of playing in the wildness, relax lounging beside a small creek with good friends while enjoying the simplicity of the surroundings. Wake up to the sounds of the birds chirping and the brook babbling the cares of your world away.

You can access many Crown land recreation sites in the area by a rough road and/or a walk that offer the true natural camping experience. These require a bit more commitment and skill to fully enjoy.

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Family Camping

Syringa Provincial Park

Right on the water, offering a marina, boat launch and large beach.

Nancy Greene Lake Prov. Park

Right on a lake with simple facilities.

Pass Creek Regional Park

Free hot showers and firewood. Creek fed swimming pond, equestrian area and soccer field.

Champion Lakes Provincial Park

Right on the three lakes, great walking and swimming.

Kokanee Creek Provincial Park

View Salmon spawning at the right time of the year. Great beach and close access to some incredible hiking in Kokanee Glacier Park.

Arrow Lakes Provincial Park

Again right on the water offering good access to the Arrow Lake and nice views.

Rosebery Provincial Park

On the bank of Wilson Creek, very close to historic Slocan City. Offers great access to hiking in Valhalla Park.

Mcdonald Creek Provincial Park

On the shores of the Arrow Lakes. Offers close access to Nakusp and Halcyon Hot springs.