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Destination Guide: West Kootenay Road Trip

Hikers at Gillim Lakes in Valhalla Provincial Park in the West Kootenays

Image: Destination B.C.

West Kootenay Road Trip

Map of West Kootenays

Destination Guide, West Kootenay Road Trip:

Located in southeastern BC, there’s no place quite like the Kootenays. Here at Yervana, some of our team members are lucky enough to call the Kootenays or ‘Koots’ home. We’ve compiled their recommendations for an epic West Kootenay Road Trip Destination Guide that starts in Revelstoke and ends in Creston.

From mountain biking to wineries to music festivals, the West Kootenays are a great place to escape and explore this summer! Be sure to check out these unique mountain towns full of quintessential B.C. charm.

Group rafting on river in Revelstoke, Kootenays

Image: Half Day Rafting with Yervana Local, Ralph

Revelstoke, located on the traditional territories of the Sinixt, the Secwepemc, the Syilx and the Ktunaxa Peoples: 

Revelstoke or ‘Revy’ is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Start your road trip here, and make sure you’re full of energy and stoke to get outside!

Mountain Biking in Revelstoke:

Revelstoke is the place to go if you are looking to get out mountain biking. Not only are there tons of local trails, Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR) also has a bike park in the summer. The base of RMR has a ton of other activities like an aerial ropes course, pipe coaster, and more that are family friendly. If you’re looking to improve your biking skills and technique, book a lesson with Yervana Local, Emile.

Climbing Spots in Revelstoke:

If you came to the Kootenays to climb, then Water World should be first on your list in Revelstoke. This beautiful area overlooks Lake Revelstoke and requires you to rappel down next to the lake to start your route (be sure not to toss your rope into the water when rappelling!). Water World offers beginner to intermediate adventurous sport multi-pitching with gorgeous views. If you’re looking for a guided experience, Yervana local, Todd can take you out and show you the ropes.

Rafting near Revelstoke:

When it’s one of those summer days where it feels too hot to even think about exercising, we recommend getting out rafting with Yervana Local, Ralph. The spray of the water is sure to keep you cool the whole time.

Fishing in Revelstoke:

Another hot day option is to go out fishing with Yervana Local, Zachary as you’ll be able to take some fishing breaks by cooling off in the cool water.

Revelstoke Hiking Trails:

If you want to see the town from up high, Yervana Local, Kyle offers three-hour hiking tours, ending with a beautiful view of Revelstoke from the view point on Boulder Mountain. For those wanting a bit more of a challenge or an overnight adventure, Mount Revelstoke National Park and Glacier National Park have amazing hikes that lead you up through ancient forests and up into the alpine.

Our Favourite Revelstoke Food & Drink Picks:

After the thrill of a day well spent outside, there’s nothing like sitting down and relaxing on a patio with a cool beverage. We recommend checking out Craft Bierhaus. They have lots of patio space and delicious drinks. Their mac and cheese is also guaranteed to hit the spot and refuel you. Local tip: try Call the Dr. Smoked Beef mac and cheese, you won’t be disappointed!

For a caffeine boost on your way out of town, stop at Dose Coffee, located in Downtown Revelstoke. A few doors down from Craft Bierhaus, Dose is a local favourite. They have amazing coffee and a fresh selection of homemade focaccia bread (a must try) and baked goods in the morning.

Boating on Arrow Lake while the sun sets over the Kootenays

Image: Sunset Cruise in Nakusp with Yervana Local, Travis

Nakusp, located on the traditional territory of the Sinixt Peoples:

Located between Revelstoke and Nelson, Nakusp is a great place to stop for the day or a night to break up the drive. To get from Revelstoke you will have to take the Upper Arrow Lakes Ferry from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay to cross the Lake. The ferry ride is short, free, and offers amazing views on the mountains and lake. It really is an experience in and of itself!

Boating near Nakusp:

If you want to explore more of Arrow Lake, Yervana Local, Travis offers private day and sunset boat tours on the water. Arrow Lake is over 230km long, so there’s lots to explore!!

Hot Springs near Nakusp:

Another great adventure in the area is to check out Halfway Hot Springs. There are multiple pools to explore along the river and well maintained campsites to stay at.

Our Favourite Caffeine Hit in Nakusp:

To fuel up before hitting the road again, stop at Mountain Top Café for a coffee and baked goods.

Purple flowers in a field in the Valhalla Mountain range in the West Kootenays

Image: Alpine Hiking from Valhalla Mountain Touring Lodge with Yervana Local, Nathalie

Nelson, located on the traditional territories of the Sinixt, the Syilx, and the Ktunaxa Peoples:

Nelson is a can’t miss stop on your Kootenay Road trip. This little city is nestled into the Selkirk Mountains and sits next to the gorgeous Kootenay Lake. Nelson is bustling with art, live music, good food, and of course outdoor adventure.

Day Hike with Views of Nelson:

Nelson is surrounded by gorgeous mountains just waiting to be explored. A staple of the area is the hike to Pulpit Rock. The hike is less than 4km with 338 meters of elevation gain that brings you to a gorgeous view of the town and lake. This is a great option if you have limited time. There are even multi-pitch climbing routes that bring you to the same viewpoint. 

Adventurous Backpacking near Nelson:

If you’re looking for your next backpacking adventure, the Valhalla Mountain range is an amazing place to explore. Yervana Local, Nathalie, offers guided backpacking trip in the area. 

Outdoor Skills:

If you haven’t already, brush up on your First Aid by taking a two day Wilderness First Aid Course with Yervana Local, Jill. You never know when you will need to rely on your own skills to get yourself out of a tricky situation.

The Arts in Nelson:

While Nelson has all the outdoor activities you could want, the city is the place in the Koots to go for good food and art. From August 12-15th, Nelson hosts an International Mural Festival, where you can see artists from around B.C. and the world display their talent and creativity on the historic buildings in town. 

Year-round, you can check out the Touchstones Museum of Art and History to learn more about the area and its rich history.

Sustainable Shopping in Nelson:

If you happen to end up in town on Wednesday or Thursday, the Nelson Farmers Market is can’t miss. There’s local produce, goods and live music! 

Our Lunch Pick in Nelson:

When it comes to dining, Nelson has a lot of options! For lunch, Red Light Ramen arguably has the best ramen in the Kootenays! They offer unique twists on dishes and source their ingredients from local farmers.

Our Recommended Dinner Spots in Nelson:

For dinner, Marzano’s or Cantina del Centro are great choices. Marzano’s is a modern Italian restaurant that has amazing wood fired pizza and homemade pasta. Alternatively, Cantina del Centro is a Mexican restaurant with yummy tacos and thirst quenching margaritas (the coconut habanero margarita is delicious).

Unique Nightlife in Nelson:

The Black Cauldron Lounge is another great option that has delicious cocktails, charcuterie boards and they offer free Tarot Card Readings on Tuesdays!

The Locals Favourite Cafe in Nelson:

Before you leave to visit the next town on your list, be sure to stop at Oso Negro Coffee for a caffeine hit before getting back on the road. The cafe is a favourite among the locals. 

person holding rainbow trout over fish net on river in the West Kootenays

Image: Destination B.C.

Castlegar, located on the traditional territory of the Ktunaxa and Okanagan Peoples:

Castlegar is a great place to stop on your way from Nelson to Rossland. It has gorgeous views and is located in the confluence between the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers.

Outdoor Adventures:

If you’re into climbing, Castlegar has over 300 routes for climbers to explore, whether you’re a boulderer, trad or sport climber there is something for everyone.

Yervana local, Graham also offers fishing on the Columbia River. Castlegar is one of the premier places in B.C. to catch Rainbow trout while fly fishing!

Shopping & Food in Castlegar:

A fun store to stop at on your way through town is Moonrise Boutique, they carry curated vintage clothing, local jewelry, art, and apothecary items. Be sure to grab a coffee at Common Grounds Coffee House. They serve creative and seasonal drink choices (think Vanilla Blueberry Frappuccino).

group of people on mountain bikes in Kootenays with instructor talking

Image: Half-Day Kootenay Mountain Bike Tour with Yervana Local, Natasha

Rossland, located on the traditional territory of the Sinixt Peoples:

Rossland is a small historic town with lots of charm! Located up in the Monashee Mountains at 1,023 meters, it used to be a mining community and  has since turned into a mountain sport paradise. 

Epic Mountain Biking in Rossland:

Rossland is considered one of the mountain biking meccas in Canada. The sport even has historical roots to the town with trails running through old railway beds, miners’ trails, and whisky running routes. If you want to get out with a local who knows the best trails, Natasha offers both full and half day mountain biking experiences!

Ultra Running Challenge in Rossland: 

If you’re into trail running, the Broken Goat Ultra Trail Run is sure to be a fun challenge. There is a 52km or 25km course that follows the Seven Summits Trail along the Rossland Range. The event takes place from July 17-18, but it’s a challenge that can be done anytime!

Culture & Food Found Only in Rossland:

Rossland is home to the Gold Fever Follies. An original musical comedy troupe with dancing and music based on Rossland’s gold rush era in the 19th Century. Their shows runs throughout July and August and is great for the whole family!

After a hot day in the sun, rehydrate with water and beer at the Rossland Beer Company, a brewery with refreshing craft beers made with no preservatives or additives!

women and man walking through vineyard while drinking wine in the West Kootenays

Image: Kootenay Rockies Tourism, Destination B.C.

Creston, located on Ktunaxa Traditional Territory:

One of the smaller and lesser-known towns in the West Kootenays, Creston is a gem that is well worth checking out! The town has local vineyards and is best known for being home to Kokanee Beer.

Wildlife Viewing Area in Creston:

The Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area is a birder’s (bird watchers) paradise. The area is home to over 300 species of birds and has the third largest population density of Osprey in Canada. Besides birds, the area has moose, elk, otters, turtles and more! You can also hike or bike the area. Check out the trail map here.

Vineyards of the Creston Kootenays:

Creston is home to four wineries: Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, Red Bird Estate Winery, Skimmerhorn Winery, and Wynnwood Estate Cellars. We highly recommend hopping on your bike and touring the vineyards!

Be sure to tag us using @myyervana and #yervana when out exploring the West Kootenays, happy road tripping!


Maxine works with guides and operators to ensure that their Yervana Adventures stand out, and helps Explorers to get outdoors on unique, locally-led adventures. Currently living in Nelson, B.C., Maxine loves to spend time outside climbing as much as she can in the summer!
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