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Kootenays Calling: The Best Spots To Explore From Nelson To Kaslo


Modified: September 26, 2023

by Christean Ibanez



Welcome to the Kootenays, a pristine region in the southeastern corner of British Columbia, Canada. Known for its stunning natural beauty, charming small towns, and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities, the Kootenays are a true paradise for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.


One of the gems of the Kootenays is the picturesque town of Nelson. Nestled in the Selkirk Mountains, this vibrant community offers a perfect blend of urban amenities and wilderness adventures. From Nelson, you can embark on a journey to explore some of the most breathtaking spots in the region, including the renowned Ainsworth Hot Springs, the majestic Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, and the tranquil town of Kaslo.


Whether you’re a hiker, a skier, a mountain biker, or simply someone seeking a peaceful retreat in nature, the Kootenays have something for everyone. In this article, we will take you on a virtual tour of the best spots to explore from Nelson to Kaslo, showcasing the beauty and diversity of this remarkable region.


So grab your hiking boots, pack your camera, and get ready to discover the Kootenays, a place that will captivate your senses and leave you wanting more.



Your journey through the Kootenays begins in the vibrant and eclectic town of Nelson. Known for its rich arts and cultural scene, charming heritage buildings, and stunning lakeside location, Nelson is a must-visit destination in the region.


Start your exploration by taking a stroll along Baker Street, the heart of Nelson. Lined with boutique shops, art galleries, cozy cafes, and inviting restaurants, Baker Street offers a delightful experience for both locals and visitors. Don’t forget to check out the impressive Nelson Courthouse, a stunning heritage building that stands as a symbol of the town’s history.


For those seeking outdoor adventures, Nelson is surrounded by natural beauty. Head to Lakeside Park, a picturesque waterfront area with sandy beaches, picnic spots, and a marina. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the pristine waters of Kootenay Lake while enjoying breathtaking mountain vistas.


If you’re interested in history and culture, make sure to visit the Touchstones Nelson Museum of Art and History. This museum showcases the region’s rich history through engaging exhibits and displays. It’s also home to a vibrant art gallery that displays works by local and national artists.


For a taste of the local craft scene, visit the Nelson Brewing Company. This award-winning brewery offers a variety of handcrafted beers made with locally sourced ingredients. Take a tour of the facility and learn about the brewing process, then relax with a pint in their tasting room.


If you’re visiting Nelson in the winter, you’re in for a treat. The town is a gateway to some of the best skiing in the Kootenays. Whitewater Ski Resort, located just a short drive from Nelson, offers world-class powder skiing and snowboarding experiences. With challenging terrain and breathtaking views, it’s a paradise for winter sports enthusiasts.


Whether you’re exploring the vibrant arts scene, immersing yourself in nature, or hitting the slopes, Nelson is a destination that will leave you enchanted and wanting to come back for more.


Ainsworth Hot Springs

A leisurely drive from Nelson will take you to the idyllic Ainsworth Hot Springs, a hidden oasis nestled in the Kootenay mountains. This natural attraction is a must-visit for those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation.


The star of Ainsworth Hot Springs is the enchanting Hot Springs Cave. Step inside this unique natural cavern, where you can soak in the healing mineral-rich waters that flow through the cave. The cave’s temperature stays constant throughout the year, allowing you to immerse yourself in warmth and serenity no matter the season.


As you soak in the hot springs, take a moment to appreciate the stunning surroundings. The cave is adorned with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, creating a whimsical atmosphere that adds to the experience. The soothing waters combined with the intricate geological formations make for a truly magical and unforgettable experience.


If you prefer an outdoor hot springs experience, Ainsworth Hot Springs offers an expansive pool with panoramic views of Kootenay Lake. Relax in the warm water while gazing at the majestic mountains and inhaling the fresh mountain air. The outdoor pool is open year-round, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings in every season.


In addition to the hot springs, Ainsworth offers other amenities to enhance your visit. There is a comfortable lodge on the premises where you can stay overnight and wake up to the soothing sounds of nature. The lodge also features a restaurant and a lounge, serving delicious meals and refreshing beverages.


After soaking in the hot springs, take some time to explore the charming community of Ainsworth. Stroll along the lakeside promenade, browse through local shops and galleries, and sample delicious local cuisine at one of the restaurants.


Whether you’re seeking a peaceful getaway or a break from your outdoor adventures, Ainsworth Hot Springs is the perfect place to unwind and recharge. Immerse yourself in the healing waters, embrace the tranquility of the surroundings, and let go of all your stress and worries.


Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park

If you’re a nature lover and adventure enthusiast, a visit to Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is a must during your journey through the Kootenays. Located just a short drive from Nelson, this pristine wilderness area offers a rugged and awe-inspiring landscape that will leave you breathless.


Spanning over 32,000 hectares, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is a haven for outdoor activities. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on one of the park’s many trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging multi-day hikes. The most popular trail in the park is the Kokanee Glacier Trail, which leads you to stunning alpine meadows and offers breathtaking views of glaciers and mountain peaks.


For an unforgettable experience, consider staying overnight in one of the backcountry cabins or campsites in the park. Fall asleep under a canopy of stars, surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature. Wake up early to catch the sunrise over the mountains, and revel in the tranquility and solitude of this untouched wilderness.


In addition to hiking, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is a paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts. Hit the trails on two wheels and immerse yourself in the beauty of the rugged landscape. With options for all skill levels, from gentle forest trails to adrenaline-pumping downhill tracks, there’s something for everyone.


The park is also home to crystal-clear lakes and pristine rivers, making it a haven for fishing and canoeing. Cast your line into the turquoise waters and try your luck at catching kokanee salmon or cutthroat trout. Glide along the calm surface of the lakes in a canoe or kayak and marvel at the wilderness surrounding you.


As you explore Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this area home. You may spot black bears, mountain goats, moose, or even the elusive mountain caribou. Respect the wildlife by keeping a safe distance and observing from a distance.


Whether you’re seeking solitude, adventure, or simply a connection with nature, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is a true gem in the Kootenays. Immerse yourself in the raw beauty of the mountains, breathe in the fresh alpine air, and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Located on the eastern shores of Kootenay Lake, the charming village of Balfour is a hidden gem in the Kootenays. With its picturesque location and access to outdoor activities, Balfour is a perfect destination for those seeking a peaceful escape.


A visit to Balfour wouldn’t be complete without exploring the beauty of Kootenay Lake. Rent a boat or join a scenic cruise and embark on a journey to discover the hidden coves, secluded beaches, and crystal-clear waters of the lake. Fishing enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to cast their lines and try their luck at catching various freshwater fish species.


For those who prefer to stay on land, Balfour offers numerous hiking trails that cater to all levels of experience. Explore the pristine forests and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains as you hike along trails like the Sproule Creek Trail or the Six-Mile Lakes Trail. The peacefulness and beauty of the natural surroundings will leave you feeling refreshed and connected to nature.


Balfour is also home to the Balfour Golf Course, a scenic 18-hole course that offers stunning views of the lake and mountains. Golf enthusiasts can enjoy a challenging round of golf while immersing themselves in the tranquility of the surroundings.

After a day of outdoor activities, take some time to explore the village of Balfour. Visit the local shops and galleries, indulge in some delicious cuisine at one of the restaurants, or simply relax by the lake and soak in the peaceful ambiance.


For those interested in history, a visit to the Balfour Museum is a must. This small but fascinating museum showcases the history and heritage of the area through exhibits and artifacts. Learn about the early settlers, the indigenous cultures, and the rich natural resources that shaped the region.


Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, stunning scenery, or a quiet retreat, Balfour offers it all. Experience the charm and tranquility of this lakeside village and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Situated on the western shore of Kootenay Lake, the picturesque town of Kaslo is a hidden gem in the Kootenays. Known for its scenic beauty, rich history, and vibrant arts scene, Kaslo is a delightful destination that should not be missed.


Start your visit to Kaslo by exploring the charming downtown area. Stroll along the main street lined with beautifully restored heritage buildings that house unique galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Take a moment to admire the Kaslo Hotel, a historic landmark that has been welcoming visitors for over a century.


Kaslo is also home to one of the oldest intact sternwheelers in North America, the SS Moyie. Step aboard this beautifully preserved steamship and take a journey back in time. Explore the various decks and rooms, and learn about the fascinating history of transportation on Kootenay Lake.


For those seeking outdoor adventures, Kaslo offers a variety of opportunities to immerse yourself in nature. Nearby, you’ll find the stunning Kaslo River Trail, a scenic path that winds along the river and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Pack a picnic and find a peaceful spot to enjoy the sounds of nature.


Another must-visit attraction in Kaslo is the serene Kaslo Sockeye Salmon Interpretive Centre. Learn about the life cycle of the sockeye salmon, their journey from the ocean to the river, and the importance of their conservation. During the summer months, you may even have the chance to witness the impressive sight of spawning salmon.


Art lovers will find inspiration in Kaslo’s thriving arts community. Visit the Langham Cultural Centre, a hub for local artists, musicians, and performers. Explore the galleries, attend a live concert, or participate in a workshop to unleash your own creativity.


After a day of exploration, treat yourself to some delicious food at one of Kaslo’s eateries. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, hearty pub fare, or international cuisine, you’ll find a wide range of dining options that cater to all tastes.


As the day comes to a close, make your way to one of the lakeside parks or beaches and witness a breathtaking sunset over Kootenay Lake. Allow the tranquility of the surroundings to wash over you as you reflect on the beauty and serenity of Kaslo.


With its stunning natural scenery, rich history, and vibrant arts scene, Kaslo is a destination that will captivate your heart and leave you longing to return.