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Camping in British Columbia’s West Kootenays: Checking out three great campsites

Camping in the West Kootenay’s is a great way to explore the area and visit communities like Nakusp and Burton.  So in July 2020, we visited three campgrounds near or on the shores of Arrow Lake and the town of Nakusp.

KBR Campground

2 km north of Nakusp lies KBR Campground with 40 campsites. This campground is in a great location for those who want to explore the area, through hiking, shopping, eating out in Nakusp, or relaxing in the hot springs across the road. A new addition this summer is their koi pond. KBR is a great location for travellers on the go.

Three Islands Resort

15 km south of Nakusp is Three Islands Resort. Located on Summit Lake, this campsite is a paradise for campers with easy access to the lake, lots of local ATV trails and very helpful owners. What we liked about this campground was the lovely beach and boat launch plus lots of choice for sites, whether you are looking for tenting, full service or lakeshore sites.

Burton Historical Park / Photo: C. Stathers

Burton Historical Park

36 km south of Nakusp is the community of Burton with its rich history. Founded in 1895, Burton was originally a gold rush town. Its destiny dramatically changed with the signing of the Columbia River Treaty (between Canada and the United States) and the building of the Keenleyside Dam in the early 1960s which controlled the flow of water in the river for hydro-electric power. This was a very traumatic time for many of the long-time residents in the area who were forced to leave or relocate when the valley was flooded.

Campsite #7 Burton Historical Park / Photo: C. Stathers

Near the original town site is the RV Park we stayed at; it is called Burton Historical Park. This park is a real gem, sitting on the shores of Arrow Lake. There are lots of sites along the lake, as well as great amenities such as hot showers, great beach access and a sani-dump. The Seniors Trail (named in honour of the local seniors group who developed it) leads from the campsite south along the lake to the site of the old cemetery.  The campsite host at the park shared with us that in the early spring when the water levels are low, you can still see remnants of the old foundations.

Burton Bean / Photo: C. Stathers

While we were camping at Burton we walked up the road to the Burton Bean, a farm stand with lots of local seasonal fruits and vegetables along with all kinds of neat treasures from local vendors and artisans. If you are looking for eggs, this is the place to go. This has to be the cutest chicken yard I have ever seen, full of happy hens!

Chicken Yard at Burton Bean / Photo: C. Stathers

A little further up the road we stopped in at Burton City Cider to try some of their local cider and their yummy pizza.

Store Sign in Burton / Photo: C. Stathers

We then meandered across the highway, to the community of Burton. Even though many of the original buildings on the lake were either burned or torn down, we walked past many that were relocated including the old general store which is now closed.

If you are looking for great camping, a beautiful part of BC and plenty of things to do, check out the Nakusp area and make it a destination for your next summer camping trip.

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If this area interests you, check out our drive:
Mountains, Lakes & Rivers in the West Kootenays and Boundary Country

For other campgrounds in this area or elsewhere in British Columbia check out the Camping Map

Share your BC travel and camping photos using hashtag #campinbc, #BCNice, #explorebc

Soaking it up at Lussier Hot Springs, Kootenay Rockies, BC

This year we set out to explore as many hot springs in the Kootenays as we could squeeze into a four-day road trip. We started with Radium and Fairmont in the East Kootenay area and finished up with Ainsworth and Halcyon, both in the West Kootenays. All of these are developed hot springs, but one that we had at the top of our list was Lussier Hot Springs. These natural springs are located in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park. Back in the early 1990s we lived in Windermere, just south of Invermere, so this was a place we visited often and always loved it.

To get to Lussier, head south from Invermere (on Highway 93/95) and just south (4.5 kilometres) of Canal Flats, turn east onto the Whiteswan Forest Service Road. Be super careful on the road as this is an active logging area and the big trucks come up and down pretty fast. The gravel road was easily accessible with my little Mazda 3 but would definitely recommend a 4×4 in the winter. Just past kilometre 17, you will see the parking lot for the hot springs on the right side of the road.

Trail to Lussier Hot Springs | Photo: C. Stathers

There is a short hike down to the hot springs from the parking lot/outhouses. The trail is not difficult but it may be a bit steep for anyone with mobility issues. New, since we used to come in the early 90s, are the outhouses which double as change rooms. Depending on the time of the year, you may find that you have the hot springs to yourself and other times it can be quite busy. This trip we met a family from Holland exploring the area.

One of the Hot Springs Pools | Photo: C. Stathers

As you get close to the river, you will pick up on the sulfur smell which is common to most natural springs. There are three pebble bottom pools, with the hottest pool being further away from the creek. I can remember going there in the winter; it is absolutely beautiful to see the steaming water with the snowy background. If it’s cold, it does not take long for ice crystals to form on your hair and if you are really brave, you can take a dip in the frigid Lussier River. This trip, we did not dip in the river; it was a beautiful warm day, so the pool closest to the river was comfortable enough to stay in; whereas in the winter, it is pretty cold. If you look closely, you can see the hot bubbling water flowing into the pools from between the rocks.

Relaxing in the Hot Springs | Photo: C. Stathers

If you continue on the forest service road to kilometre 25, you will find Whiteswan Provincial Park with the beautiful Whiteswan and Alces lakes. Reservations are not available but there are 114 campsites located at the five campgrounds either along the river or lake.

Alces Lake which is the closest to Lussier at kilometre 21, is a good lake for swimming and fishing for rainbow trout, with 28 sites, pit toilets and lakefront sites. The other campgrounds are located at Packrat Point, Inlet Creek, White River and Home Basin.

Lussier Hot Springs | Photo: C. Stathers

Another beautiful area is the remote Top of the World Provincial Park, with the trail-head at kilometre 52. We have done some amazing hikes in this area.

After your visit to Lussier, if you are still looking for more hot springs, check out the Radium Hot Springs about 45 minutes north and Fairmont Hot Springs about 30 minutes north on Highway 93/95, both worth a visit.

For campgrounds and RV parks in the Kootenay Rockies and elsewhere in British Columbia go the Camping Map.

Share your BC camping pictures using hashtag #campinbc.

5 Fun Family Adventures Near Wasa Lake in the East Kootenays, BC

Wasa Lake is the warmest lake in the Kootenays and is a popular summer camping destination.  This Provincial campground has 104 sites (66 of them are reservable), an amphitheatre for parks talks, nature trail, kids (or adventurous adults) bike park, as well as washrooms with flush toilets and showers. Wasa Lake itself is a short walk or bike ride through the campground and has sandy beaches, a playground, boat launch and grassy picnic areas.

BC Parks Scavenger Hunt Prize Jerry the Moose Pin
BC Parks Scavenger Hunt Prize Jerry the Moose Pin

Although the weather was warm when we visited it wasn’t hot, sunny beach weather, so we opted to explore the local area and discovered some amazing places to visit just a short drive away.

Here are five fun things to do in the area.

Explore Wasa Lake Provincial Park

We spent the better part of a day just exploring our surroundings, especially enjoying the small bike park located within the campground. It’s perfect for younger riders with small jumps, obstacles like planks, bridges, rocks, and small ravines to challenge their skills.  Also, be sure to check BC Parks website for contests and things to do. You can also download a pamphlet for Jerry’s Nature Quest which includes some fun games to do in the park.

Gold Panning at Fort Steele
Gold Panning at Fort Steele

Visit Fort Steele

Fort Steele is a heritage town located about 20 minutes drive from Wasa. The town has heritage houses and businesses to explore, gold panning, a bakery, an ice cream parlour and a few restaurants as well.  We spent several hours exploring the town and had a great time.  Be sure to take a ride on the steam train if you go – it’s a fun way to step back in time.

Visit Cranbrook

Cranbrook is home of the Canadian Museum of Rail Travel. At one time this town was the major train hub for the area and is now home to a unique rail museum with restored train cars to wander through and explore. Cranbrook is the closest city to Wasa to restock your supplies and is one of the Kootenays major centres so you’ll find several large grocery and hardware stores, shopping in the mall as well as in the downtown core. It’s a great place to explore on days when the weather just isn’t on your side!

Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook by Destination BC/Kari Medig
Canadian Museum of Rail Travel in Cranbrook by Destination BC/Kari Medig

Hit a Hot Springs (or two)

Fairmont Hot Springs, Radium Hot Springs and Lussier Hot Springs are all close by. Fairmont and Radium are developed hot springs with several pools, change rooms, places to eat and lots of parking. They are both great options for the whole family with Fairmont being the closer of the two at just a short 45-minute drive away.  Lussier Hot Springs is a natural hot springs, so you’ll have to park and hike in – no services, change rooms are available, it’s definitely for the more adventurous campers!

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort hot pools by Destination BC/Kari Medig
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort hot pools by Destination BC/Kari Medig

Bike One of the Loop Trails

Take one of the Loop bike trails and explore a bit more of the Wasa area. There are two bike loops to get you out of the campsite and exploring the area. The first: Wasa Lake Lions way, is a shorter loop that is a good walking trail as well, although at 8 km you’ll need to be sure you have good walking shoes on and water for the walk.  It’s a paved flat trail, great for the whole family as even very young riders can manage this one.  The second loop is the Lazy Loop bike path, and don’t get confused by the name…the path isn’t lazy – that’s the name of the lake the path takes you to.  This route is 33 km round-trip and takes you up into the mountains to get there!

We had a great time at Wasa Lake Provincial Park and exploring the East Kootenays.  We’re looking forward to a return visit next year.

To locate other campgrounds in this area or elsewhere in British Columbia go to the Camping Map.

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc




Glacier National Park is a Spectacular BC Destination

Bear Creek Falls, Glacier National Park

Bear Creek Falls, Glacier National Park

If you type Glacier National Park into your web browser, many of the search results reference Montana’s large national park of the same name. If you dig a little deeper, you will uncover one of BC’s most spectacular and challenging destinations, which covers almost 1400km2 of BC’s Selkirk and Purcell Mountains.

Glacier National Park, in BC’s Kootenay region, is the first national park established in British Columbia and is one of the most interesting parks I have visited, as the spectacular views from the highway are juxtaposed with the challenges of accessibility.

For much of the year, Glacier National Park is blanketed in up to 10 metres (yes, metres!) of snow, making the park inaccessible to all but the most experienced backcountry travellers. While the Trans Canada Highway cuts directly through the park, Rogers Pass can be one of the most treacherous sections of highway in the province with over 130 avalanche paths affecting the highway. By the time the snow melts away in the summer months, the Grizzly Bears have emerged from their winter slumber and many of the hiking trails in the park have restricted access, requiring groups of four people over the age of 12 to hike within three metres of each other.

Backcountry travel in Glacier National Park is not for the faint of heart! Fortunately, Parks Canada has established numerous points of interest within the park that don’t require quite as much dedication and make the park a perfect place to stretch your legs, camp for a few days, and experience some of what the park has to offer.

What to Do

Glacier House, Glacier National Park

Glacier House, Glacier National Park

Highlights in Glacier National Park include:

  • Bear Creek Falls: A short but steep downhill walk brings you from the highway down to a spectacular waterfall. In the summer, enjoy the cooler temperatures the gorge offers by packing a picnic to enjoy along the creek.
  • Glacier House: A luxury destination in the mountains from the early 1900s, the Glacier House hotel was established by the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the railway was re-routed through the 9 kilometre long Connaught Tunnel in 1917, visitors to Glacier House dramatically decreased and the resort was closed and eventually dismantled. Today, you can explore the ruins of the resort near the Illecillewaet Campground.
  • Rogers Pass Discovery Centre: A National Historic Site in its own right, the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre is the only part of Glacier National Park that is accessible year-round. An excellent interpretive centre tells the history of the area and the nearby Rogers Pass Summit site offers spectacular views and informative outdoor displays.

    Rock Garden, Glacier National Park

    Rock Garden, Glacier National Park

  • Rock Garden: This walk only takes about 20 minutes, but take your time and explore the moss and lichen covered boulders deposited during the last ice age. The trail consists of a jaunt through the forest, numerous rock staircases, and a trail through large boulders, so bring appropriate footwear.
  • Loop Brook: Loop Brook is one of my favourite destinations in Glacier National Park. The trail starts at the Loop Brook Campground and travels just over a kilometre and a half through the forest along sections of the old railway grade. The highlights of the hike are definitely the enormous stone pillars that once carried the railway in a loop through the valley in order to reduce the grade of the railway. Excellent interpretive signage along the trail adds to the experience.
  • High-Elevation Hiking: Undeniably, one of the best ways to experience Glacier National Park is to take a hike in the high country. There are numerous trails in the park and the information desk at the Illecillewaet Campground – where many of the most popular hikes depart – has a sign-up sheet for those people wanting to join up with others to form groups of 4.

Loop Brook, Glacier National Park

Loop Brook, Glacier National Park

In the Area

While in the area, consider visiting Mount Revelstoke National Park and Yoho National Park. Take a day trip to Golden or Revelstoke to experience life in a mountain town. Both offer many opportunities for eating, drinking, and recreation. Plan for a meal at the Wolf’s Den in Golden for one of the best burgers you will ever eat. In Revelstoke, stop by the Monashee Spirits Distillery to sample locally made liqueurs.

Where to Stay

Glacier National Park offers three campgrounds: Illecillewaet, Loop Brook, and Mount Sir Donald. All campgrounds are first come first served and offer a place to stay right in the heart of the park.

Glacier National Park is a dream destination for many backcountry and mountaineering enthusiasts, but it also has much to offer the casual visitor. There is a huge variety of hiking trails, from casual walks to demanding backcountry excursions. I have been to the park several times, but I feel like I have barely scratched the surface of what Glacier National Park has to offer and it is one of those destinations that keeps calling me back over and over again.

For more campgrounds in and around British Columbia check out the Camping Map at Camping & RVing BC.

Check out more blogs in the National Parks & Historic Sites series:

A Primer to Canada’s National Parks in BC.

Explore Fort Langley & Gulf of Georgia Cannery Historic Sites and Check Out Some of BC’s Fascinating History

BC’s Gulf Islands National Park Reserve Offers Rich Opportunities for Exploring

BC’s National Historic Sites Offer a Glimpse into the Past – Here are 3 to Explore

Kootenay National Park, BC Offers Great Vistas, Hiking & History

Visit Mount Revelstoke National Park in August for its Stunning Vistas & Wildflowers

Yoho National Park, BC – A Jewel in the Canadian Rockies

Glacier National Park: A Special BC Destination

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – A Great Place to Visit in the Off Season

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc

Published: September 14th, 2017

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