BC’s Kootenay region is steeped in history and abundant in natural beauty. Full of pristine mountains and rivers, this area boasts wonderfully restored heritage towns, thriving arts communities and gold rush boomtowns. This tour covers so many of the region’s quaint communities: New Denver, Nelson, Castlegar, Trail, Rossland, Creston, Cranbrook, and Kimberley. Savour the last days of summer and explore the backroads and byways of the Kootenays.
After meeting up with friends from Paramount Tours, travel east past picturesque Shuswap Lake country and into the Monashee Mountains. At Revelstoke, wonder at the marvel that is the Revelstoke Dam, the second largest generating facility on the Columbia River, on a guided tour of the Visitor Centre. Overnight is at the Sandman Inn in Revelstoke.
Begin the day at Revelstoke Mountain Resort as you glide through treetops on the Gondola to Revelstoke’s most beautiful breakfast view, overlooking the Columbia River as it winds through the lush valley below. A short ferry ride across Upper Arrow Lake takes us into the Kootenays, past Nakusp, and into the Valley of the Ghosts. First stop is New Denver and the Nikkie Internment Memorial Centre, a National Historic Site dedicated to telling the story of over 22,000 Japanese Canadians who were forcibly relocated during World War II. Tour the original community buildings, check out the artifacts and stroll the lovely Japanese garden. Next is the ghost town of Sandon, which once boasted a population of over 10,000 and was the focal point for silver mining in what was known as the ‘Silvery Slocan’. Now the scant 15 residents maintain the Sandon Museum and the Silversmith Powerhouse, still in use today and the oldest continuing operating plant in Canada. Continue to Kaslo, and enjoy the serene views of Kootenay Lake as you wind your way to Nelson for a two night stay at the Prestige Lakeside. (B, BL)
Nelson, an eclectic mix of old families and urban refugees, is a vibrant Victorian town with hundreds of well-preserved heritage buildings, a crazy number of good restaurants, and cool little shops. Jump on board Streetcar #23, a fully functional streetcar that was once in use here in the first half of the 20th century, for a quick tour around town. Then we are off to visit three of the unique communities of the south Kootenays. Castlegar is rich in Doukhobor history and an oasis for artists. Here stroll through downtown on the Sculpturewalk, a trail with over 30 pieces of public sculpture art. Vote for your favourite! Rossland, the Golden City, is home of Red Mountain and site of Le Roi Mine. At the Rossland Museum, learn about the legacy of nearly 40 years of mining, including vast honeycomb of tunnels beneath the town. Lunch is in Trail, named for the Dewdney Trail and home to the enormous Teck Cominco smelter. Back in Nelson, enjoy another evening at your lakeside accommodation. (L)
Step back in time at Fort Steele living history museum, a restored 1890’s pioneer boomtown, with over 60 heritage shops and display buildings. The Wasa Hotel Museum tells the story of the site and its residents. After a hearty BBQ lunch, continue to Cranbrook and the acclaimed Canadian Museum of Rail Travel, the largest collection of restored rail travel cars in North America. Celebrate the glory days of a bygone era of travel as you admire these restored beauties. Overnight is at the St. Eugene Mission Golf & Casino Resort, a repurposed residential school owned and operated by three First Nations of the area. Dine in the Smokehouse, indulge in a wellness treatment at the spa, or try your luck at the Casino of the Rockies. (L)
The town of Kimberley is known for its Bavarian theme, Cominco Gardens, and its cuckoo clock, the largest freestanding one in North America. All aboard the Underground Railway as you journey to Sullivan Mine to learn about life as a miner. At the Underground Interpretive Centre, the miner guide describes hard rock mining and demonstrates some of the equipment used. There is free time for lunch and to explore the shops around the Platzl. Our last night is at the quirky Three Valley Lake Chateau, a labour of love still owned and operated by the Bell family, pioneers in BC tourism. Take a guided tour of the Heritage Ghost Town, a collection of original buildings moved and restored to this location, and the Railyway Roundhouse, the largest operational one in North America with 24 bays. Swap ghost stories with your new friends over a delicious BBQ dinner served in the saloon. (D)
Head home along the Trans Canada Highway and say a fond farewell to your travel companions, until next time! (B)
B = Breakfast, BL = Box Lunch, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Itinerary and prices are subject to change. Due to fluctuations in the US Currency, prices may be adjusted up to 30 days prior to departure.
September 4, 2017