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#MyKootenays Road Trip
The Full 8 Day Tour
Canadian travel writer Kim Gray toured this BC Rocky Mountain road trip recently starting and ending in Calgary. Totalling 8 days and over 800km, Kim’s itinerary is detailed below, but be sure to read her full story, My Kootenay Road Trip – A playlist for culture, food and fun in the Canadian Rockies, online.
DAY ONE – CALGARY TO FERNIE
From Calgary head south and connect to Hwy 22 south before heading west on Hwy 3. This three hour scenic drive takes you from the prairies of Alberta into the Rocky Mountains that completely surround Fernie.
Upon arrival in Fernie start your official My Kootenays Tour with a visit to Historic Downtown with its unique shops, attractions, cafes and restaurants. Once fuelled up with a fresh veggie filled lunch with real fruit smoothies at Lunchbox, pick up a copy of the Fernie & Elk Valley Cultural Guide and explore Fernie’s local Art Walk with a stop in at The Arts Station and the Arts Co-op featuring local artists.
Take time to experience some of the specialty shops, including the newly opened Fernie Distillers, focusing on small batch production of handcrafted spirits and Freyja Lifestyle Fashion, offering a wide collection of Kootenay chic!
Spend the remainder of your day discovering nature and the scenic beauty of Fernie. Join a local naturalist on a Wild Nature Tours Watershed Tour walk, or learn how to forage in the forest and spot wildlife.
For dinner, a stop at the popular Yamagoya Sushi is a must for authentic Japanese and Asian fusion cuisine.
Settle in for the night at the luxury condo suites at 901 Fernie, located in Historic Downtown.
For more information about Fernie visit www.tourismfernie.com
DAY TWO – FERNIE TO CRANBROOK
Start your leisurely morning off with great coffee and homemade breakfast at Mugshots, then stop at the Fernie Museum to explore Fernie’s fascinating heritage and culture within their exhibits and galleries. Heritage Walking Tours in Historic Downtown are available on a guided or self-guided basis where you’ll see beautiful historic buildings and learn stories of the town’s movers and shakers, rum running, devastating fires, coal mining disasters and more.
After a 24 hour visit in Fernie, grab a quick lunch to go from Big Bang Bagels then depart west for Cranbrook, just a one hour drive away. Located in the Rocky Mountain Trench, Cranbrook is the largest city in the Kootenays. As late afternoon approaches stop in at Fisher Peak Brewing for an opportunity to learn about locally made craft beer with a few tasters along the way. Located on-site at The Heid Out Restaurant, stay and enjoy dishes handmade with ingredients sourced fresh from the Kootenay’s local farms & producers.
Enjoy lodging at Prestige Rocky Mountain Resort, a full service hotel that also offers the option of spending the night in a designer Rail Car Suite!
For more information about Cranbrook visit www.cranbrooktourism.com
DAY THREE – CRANBROOK TO ST. EUGENE
Begin your day with breakfast at SoulFood, a farm to table whole foods restaurant which establishes itself on being ‘Seasonal. Organic. Up-beet. Local.’
Depart for Fort Steele Heritage Town, a short 15-minute drive from Cranbrook. This living history museum brings the past back to life with museum displays, steam train rides, horse-drawn wagon rides and heritage trades demonstrations.
Continue on to St. Eugene Resort and check-in to this beautifully transformed Spanish-colonial-styled property owned and operated by the Ktunaxa Nation. What was once the St Eugene Mission, a residential school for First Nations youth, is now a unique resort and cultural icon. Upon settling, spend an afternoon immersing yourself in the Speaking Earth experience and touring the mission building and Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre.
Complete your experience with the Legends Night, enjoying a bison stew and bannock dinner with a Ktunaxa elder around a campfire.
For more information about St Eugene Golf Resort & Casino visit www.steugene.ca
DAY FOUR – ST. EUGENE TO KIMBERLEY
After waking up and enjoying a wholesome breakfast at St Eugene’s Smokehouse Restaurant (perhaps squeeze in a quick 9 holes pre-departure), enjoy a short 20 minute drive to Kimberley.
Spend the late morning or early afternoon by bike on the Northstar Rails to Trails pathway. This easy, paved 28km trail takes you south from Kimberley to enjoy wide open views of the Rocky Mountain Trench. Enjoy as far as your legs will go and turn back around to Kimberley when ready.
Stop in at Kimberley City Bakery for a few munchies then enjoy a well-deserved refreshment at Over Time Beer Works, featuring craft beer made on site.
Dinner is a must at The Old Bauernhaus, located within a 350 year-old farm building shipped over from Germany piece by piece and transformed into an authentic restaurant, providing visitors with exceptional European cuisine.
Your lodging for the evening is located on the mountain at Kimberley Alpine Resort. Settle into your spacious condo with private hut tub at Northstar Mountain Village.
For more information about Kimberley visit www.tourismkimberley.com
DAY FIVE – KIMBERLEY TO FAIRMONT HOT SPRINGS
After a soak in your condo hot tub, head to Kimberley’s Platzl for coffee and breakfast snack at Bean Tree Café before taking a ride back in time on the Underground Mining Rail Tour. Travelling into Mark Creek valley and into a tunnel complete with mining demonstrations and relics, listen to the history of Kimberley and the Sullivan Mine by mining elders.
Upon completion of the tour grab a quick lunch at Stonefire Pizzeria then depart north for Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, an hour drive away. As Canada’s largest natural hot springs, enjoy a relaxing soak in their mineral waters and to further unwind treat yourself at their Natural Springs Spa.
The on-site Bears Paw Bar & Grill serves up pub favorites on their sunny patio overlooking the pool.
For more information about Fairmont Hot Springs visit www.fairmonthotsprings.com
DAY SIX – FAIRMONT TO INVERMERE & PANORAMA
Tee up your early start to the morning with coffee and pastries at Steamers Café then a round at Mountainside Golf Course, one of two courses located at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Set against a backdrop of Rocky Mountain majesty this course has been pleasing golfers for over 50 years.
For your next mountain community destination, and lunch, hit the road to Invermere, just a 20 minute drive up the valley. Stop at The Station Pub for afternoon eats and then over to Taynton Bay Spirits distillery, both located on Lake Windermere. Before heading up to Panorama stop by Kicking Horse Café and stroll Invermere’s quaint downtown shops.
Panorama is nestled in the Purcell Mountains with vast views of the alpine. The Purcell Mountains are older than the Rockies just across the valley. Once in Panorama enjoy a fun and quick guided rafting trip down Toby Creek with Kootenay River Runners, a perfect activity for those hot summer afternoons.
After working up an adrenaline-fueled appetite, enjoy dining at Cliffhanger Restaurant with spectacular views of the Purcell Mountains.
Settle in for the night at Panorama Mountain Resort and enjoy access to their outdoor slopeside hot pools.
For more information about Invermere & Panorama visit www.invermerepanorama.com
DAY SEVEN – INVERMERE TO RADIUM HOT SPRINGS
The historic Columbia River begins in the Kootenays and meanders north then south before meeting the Pacific Ocean in Oregon. The upper Columbia River is still in its pristine state and is best observed first-hand on one of Columbia River Paddle guided nature tours. Discover its ecological importance while paddling through the spectacular wetlands bursting with local birds and wildlife.
After taking to the water, head for the skies with Valley Zipline Adventure Tours. Committed to the values of eco-tourism, Valley Ziplines provide exhilarating interpretive zipline tours through the Dry Gulch Valley.
The Village of Radium Hot Springs is the gateway tourist community to Kootenay National Park which leads into Banff National Park. After your zipline tour check out the Village then head to Horsethief Creek Pub & Eatery. Enjoy a relaxing atmosphere while indulging in one of their homemade half pound burgers. FYI Live Music Monday is a popular night!
The Gateway Motel is a quaint and cozy family run accommodation with complimentary continental breakfast to get you going in the morning. For a more adventurous lodging option, consider Radius Retreat with their walk-in Yurt rentals and 1000 acres of explorable wilderness.
For more information about The Village of Radium Hot Springs visit www.radiumhotsprings.com
DAY EIGHT – RADIUM TO CALGARY
After you check-out, head to Big Horn Café for morning coffee, eats and great art on the walls. If you can, take time to stop in at the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre, home to a hands-on wildlife exhibit including details about the local celebrities – the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
Before your three hour journey through Kootenay and Banff National Parks on route back to Calgary, complete you’re My Kootenays Road Trip with a visit to the Canadian Rockies Hot Springs in Radium for a gentle soak while gazing up at the rock cliffs of Sinclair Canyon.