The West Kootenays is in south-eastern British Columbia, Canada. The area is approximately defined as being the area south of the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy # 1) from Revelstoke and including the valleys of Slocan Lake and Kootenay Lake and at least part of the Arrow Lake valley (Columbia River), as far south as the USA border.


Welcome to Castlegar


Castlegar map view


Surrounded by the magnificent peaks of the Selkirk and Monashee mountains, at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay rivers, Castlegar welcomes visitors to their small city with the big community pride.  

Together with 7800 who reside within the city, the district population of approximately 17,000 includes the surrounding communities of Blueberry Creek, Robson, Brilliant, Genelle, Ootischenia, Pass Creek, Shoreacres, Tarrys and Thrums.  

The lush and fertile vegetation, abundant wildlife and mesmerizing panoramic views create an awe-inspiring backdrop and a natural venue for family holidays, romantic getaways, business travel and adrenaline adventures; the perfect balance of business, recreation and relaxation, any time of year.

Be transported back in time with rich historical attractions and heritage sites. Wonder at the power of water behind one of nine area dams or the amazing structural engineering of the many bridges spanning the vast waterways. Local shops, filled with local arts, crafts and produce cater to every need. Dine in or take out; there are flavours for every taste. Enjoy the community’s hospitality and discover treasures at almost every turn.

The historic and cultural evolution of the community has been greatly influenced by the city’s waterway location. The area was initially used as a trading and fishing area for First Nations people. Then the fur trade, especially the trade in the pelts of beaver and otter, brought in European trappers who arrived via freighter canoe. 

But it is arguably the arrival of the Doukhobors that left the biggest legacy. The largest internal migration in Canada took place in 1908 when 5,000 Doukhobors moved from Saskatchewan and became the primary settlers of the future city of Castlegar. The valley is steeped in the heritage and culture of the Doukhobors. Plan to visit the Doukhobor Discovery Centre, a complete village consisting of ten buildings, its own irrigation and water system, and displays that illustrate the history of the early settlers. 

Located at the intersection of highways leading to Nelson, Trail, the Slocan Valley and Grand Forks, each within an hour’s drive, Castlegar is the ideal destination for your full West Kootenay vacation experience. Pick your season, pick your passion, and get started in Castlegar!


Beautiful, brightly sunny Balfour is a small yet vibrant community. The village of Balfour can be found tucked along and above the shores of the scenic Kootenay Lake. When you get near the junction of Hwy 3A and Hwy 31A, you are in Balfour country, much more than a couple of fun shops and restaurants at the ferry landing.

The community of Balfour was originally a steamboat terminus for all the mining activities up and down Kootenay Lake. In 1889 it was staked out as a townsite by a wealthy Englishman named Charles Busk, who envisioned Balfour becoming a centre for fruit farming and gardening. The area never did become an agricultural community due to sandy soil conditions and lack of ground water. Instead it has survived over the years as a popular resort for fishermen, and is the western terminal of the Kootenay Lake Ferry. Today, Balfour has a population of over 1200 friendly folks and an economy that is more diverse with each passing year. You won’t see it at first glance, but 60 businesses contribute to the lifeblood of this small town.

For a fabulous vacation, stay and play in Balfour. Whether you enjoy vigorous outdoor activities such as hiking the mountain trails and mountain biking or less strenuous pastimes such as sailing, fishing, golfing or tennis, Balfour is the place to be. For real relaxation, just sit on the beach, watch the waves and allow your mind to wander.

There is a varied selection of accommodations to suit every budget range, as well as fine and casual dining. Shopping is a treat in the eclectic stores. Plan to spend a wonderful day, or week or more in Balfour.


Balfour Ferry

 Longest Free Ferry Ride in the World


City of Nelson, BC

 Nelson - the Queen City

Situated on the shores of the West Arm of Kootenay Lake, Nelson is a town where it appears that time has – well, not stood still – but perhaps has slowed down to a comfortable amble. The appeal is undeniable. Life in Nelson is unhurried, and people still smile and greet visitors. Home to over 9700, Nelson offers both the splendour of past eras and the vibrancy of the present. Nineteenth century ambiance lingers throughout the city, from the lovingly preserved heritage buildings to the fully restored streetcar. Its modern face is the energy of its people – an energy that comes across when you see the art hanging in the shops and restaurants, or when you notice the variety of the unique businesses that thrive in this well-supported local economy.

In Nelson’s downtown commercial core you can find everything from pots and pans to high end clothing, sporting goods to spas and everything in between. Cafés and galleries are everywhere and many of the residents seem to be artists or craftspeople.

In the  beginning…Nelson was conceived in the late 1880s as a rough camp which catered to the needs of miners drawn to the area by a silver rush. Located at the foot of Toad Mountain, the town grew rapidly, and by the early 1900s boasted several fine hotels, a number of churches, substantial residences and elegant public buildings. Incorporated as a city in 1897 with a population of 1,000, Nelson owes many of its beautiful buildings to the civic pride of its citizens at the turn of the last century.

At the end of the 19th century mining began to take a reduced role in the city’s prosperity due to the decline in silver prices. In the early 1900s, fruit ranching became important in the Kootenay Lake valley to the north of Nelson. During that time, Nelson businesses provided the ranchers with supplies. 

Today…Nelson’s economy is very diverse. The ingenuity of the people who continue to migrate to Nelson, coupled with the self-sufficiency that is a requirement for a town that’s at least four hours away from a major city, forge an altogether unique combination of enterprises.

Among Nelson’s municipal facilities are an aquatic and fitness centre and a multi-use arena, which complement the older Civic Arena in providing two ice surfaces for hockey, figure skating and speed skating. Nelson also has a curling rink, waterfront soccer fields, baseball and slo-pitch diamonds, and a golf course located only minutes from downtown.

Check out Nelson’s restaurants for ethnic, traditional, or vegetarian dining to satisfy every taste. There is a variety of accommodation to be found, from charming bed and breakfast inns on the shores of the lake to full service hotels. You might take in a world class performance at the Capitol Theatre, or soak up Nelson’s period charm by taking a walking or driving tour. Visit the art galleries, museums, or remarkable shops on famous Baker Street. Most who pass through as visitors want to come back, many of them permanently. Nelson welcomes you! 


Welcome to paradise! That’s what Kaslovians think of their home. Kaslo has also been called “a vintage silver dollar in the West Kootenay’s pocket” by British Columbia magazine. Tucked away as it is within the surrounding mountains, and skirted by a rushing river and spectacular lake, the images seem truly apt.

As with most towns in the West Kootenay, Kaslo owes its existence to resource-based industries. In 1889 and 1890, brothers George and David Kane, along with G.O. Buchanan came to Kaslo with the intent of staking timber claims and a sawmill site at the delta of the river flowing into Kootenay Lake. Originally called Kane’s Landing, there are conflicting stories as to how it came to be named Kaslo. According to D.P. Kane, postmaster in 1905: “Kaslo was named by my brother and myself in the year 1890. The river was then, and had been for many years before, named Kaslo so we named the town after the river.” From Mrs. John Keen: “Named after John Kasleau, Hudson’s Bay Company trapper, who placer-mined on the creek.” Kaslo was incorporated August 14, 1893, making it the oldest incorporated municipality in the Kootenay region.

When silver mining activity was reported in the area, the Kane brothers subdivided their lease into town lots. The town grew quickly, becoming the commercial centre of the gold, silver and lead mining industries.

Today, Kaslo is as pretty as a postcard with an abundance of Victorian architecture that recalls the sunshine days of the British empire. In August, the village becomes the centre of the best jazz festival around, and the enchanting sound of the music filters through the summer days from its genesis in Kaslo bay.

For summer and fall visitors there are many hiking and biking trails. Kaslo also has one of the most scenic golf courses in the area; one which you can get to know and love as if it were your own private course. Kootenay Lake is famous for the giant Gerrard rainbow trout (some weighing as much as 32 lbs) which are truly a fisherman’s dream. Kaslo has often been called ‘Rainbow Country’ for both its trout and its many beautiful rainbows.

A stroll down Front Street will bring you to the majestic SS Moyie, one of the last great sternwheelers. Just seeing her instils visions of what her glory days on Kootenay Lake must have been like. The Langham Gallery, another heritage site, provides a venue for local artists and theatre groups as well as presenting a view of Japanese-Canadian internment during the Second World War.

The Village of Kaslo today bears little resemblance to the Kaslo of the boom days of the 1890s (with the exception of many of the buildings). Where there were once saloons full of freewheeling prospectors, there is now a more civilized approach to activities. Whether you are a history buff, an art connoisseur, a hiker, a biker, a fisherman or boater, you will find Kaslo the perfect place to spend quality time. Rich in history, strong in community spirit, spectacular in location, Kaslo offers those who live there a quality of life others can only envy. Come and experience the charms of Kaslo.


Kaslo, BC


Nakusp, BC

 Explore Nakusp - Hot & Cold

The Village of Nakusp is embraced by both the Monashee and Selkirk mountains. The name of the town derives from the native word for “bay of quiet waters,” Neqpo’sp. In historical times it was the discovery of ore that brought miners and prospectors to the area. By 1893, the budding community of Nakusp even had a newspaper, The Nakusp Ledge. Telephone service reached the village in 1905. 

Nakusp has a wide variety of winter activities to keep visitors coming back time and again. Snowmobiling is a fast-growing sport. You can find back road maps at the Visitor InfoCentre in downtown Nakusp. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will be hard pressed to choose between the Jackrabbit Interpretive Trail, the Wensley Creek Ski Trails, Summit Lake or the network of old logging roads. 

Summit Lake Ski Area, just 18 km south of Nakusp on Hwy 6 east, offers ten downhill runs. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, Canadian Mountain Holidays (CMH) is an internationally known adventure helicopter ski company with a base in Nakusp. The Nakusp Arena has public skating almost every day of the week, and exciting minor hockey action on the weekends. The recreation complex also features a four sheet curling rink, a squash court and tennis courts.

If your idea of winter sports is “hot-tubbing”, then you’ll love Mother Nature’s ultimate hot tubs at Nakusp and Halcyon Hot Springs. Once you’ve tried these beautiful and refreshing hot springs, you will definitely be back.

Slocan Valley 

New Denver

Founded in 1892 by silver miners, New Denver reached its economic peak in the early 20th century. By 1920 the mining boom was over and logging became the main industry. Today, tourism and other businesses have diversified the economy. New Denver is a busy centre for hikers, anglers and cyclists (both motorized and pedal powered.)

There are lots of interesting things to do in New Denver. Swimming, scuba diving, canoeing, sailing, fishing, golf and photography. Explore the Kohan Reflection Garden or the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre. Go to the Hidden Garden Gallery, a unique community run gallery with new art shows every week from June to October. Concerts on the stage in the enclosed garden happen frequently.

Slocan, BC