Driving through the Rocky Mountains was amazing, but all good things come to an end so it was time to move on. Time to head west, crossing West-Canada towards the sea.
Making our way to Invermere
Because we didn’t want to say goodbye to the Rocky Mountains just yet, we’d booked accommodation in a town called Invermere. The drive between Deadman’s Flat and Invermere is just over 2 hours and takes you through Kootenay National Park. Again a beautiful drive with a few nice stops along the way.
Upper and Lower Falls
Before going west of the Rocky Mountains we wanted to do one last hike in the area. The Johnston Canyon Trail seemed like a nice walk with the Lower and Upper falls as it’s highlights. When arriving at the trail the parking lot was already full of cars. And when going to the start of the trail, more and more people started to show. It was sooo busy! Just people everywhere. With strollers, wheelchairs, children, you name it. We actually wanted to go back, but figured that we’re here now and just accept the chaos and crowd.
The hike itself is fairly nice. A well-maintained pathway is created on and through the canyon, following the river upwards. Some parts are quite steep, but everything is doable for people of all ages. While zigzagging between the people we’re trying to enjoy the view, make some pictures and maintain our pace. We hoped to go to both Lower ánd Upper Falls but were to short on time when arriving at the Lower Falls. So after enjoying the wet breeze of the falls and waiting in line to make some pictures, we returned back to the parking lot.
After the Johnston Canyon Trail we were hoping to see some more quite places and after a short drive we came across Marble Canyon. This is a canyon which surrounds the Kootenay River. We walked the short trail which takes you along the canyon, crossing several bridges, viewing the river below. As there were barely any people we really took our time enjoying the scenery, making it an relaxing stroll in the sun.
The Paint Pots
Just a little further up the road was an other beautiful natural phenomenon: the Paint Pots.These are unusual orange ochre beds, formed by the accumulation of iron oxide around the outlets of three cold mineral springs. These Paints Pots have a history of use by both indigenous people and Europeans. Different tribes collected ochre here for important ceremonies and trade. The red powder was mixed with fish oil or animal grease to paint their bodies, tipis, clothing or pictures on the rocks. The Europeans also used the ochre as a pigment base for paint in the early 1900s. Nowadays the Paint Pots are still considered a sacred site by First Nations. You can walk a short trail to and through the pots, enjoying these incredible colors and scenery. You just need to be careful walking the trail as it can be really wet in some areas. If you don’t mind your step or misstep you’ll have wet, oranges shoes like I did.
Radium Hot Springs
Just at the south entrance the Kootenay National Park you’ll find the small village of Radium Hot Springs. Just before entering Radium Hot Springs we saw a couple of bears along side the road. At one point we saw this weird, dark rock in a distance. But coming closer it suddenly moved and turned out to be a black bear!
As you can probably guess, the village is known for it’s hot springs. These springs are used since before 1840. Indigenous people considered the hot springs a spiritual place and used the water as a source of rejuvenation and healing. Nowadays it’s a place for relaxing and has become a tourist highlight due it’s hot mineral waters. Of course we had to enjoy these hot springs as well. Unfortunately for us, we were here on a hot day, making it even more hotter than it already is Luckily they also had a normal swimming pool to cool down.
Another note: the Radium Hot Springs don’t look like natural hot springs. Due to regulations for public use, the water has to contain a certain amount of chlorine, making it look and smell like a regular pool. Totally different from the hot springs in Iceland. This was a bit of a bummer.
After all these stops we arrived in the town of Invermere. It not a particular special town, but when exploring the area we found this place very relaxing. Invermere is located very nicely between the mountains with a big lake. Many people were enjoying the (cold) water by supping, kayaking or laying on the beach. It really seemed like a nice place to life. As we had 1 day to spend here, we decided to follow the locals and make it an relaxing day, enjoy the water and snowy mountain tops.
Fun fact: a platoon from Inverere has liberated Veendam during the Second World War.
Drinking wine in Kelowna
After Invermere it was time to make some miles and continue west. Our next stop would be Kelowna. We stayed with a nice, old lady renting out her 2 spare bedrooms. The best part, it was ridiculously cheap (€27,50 for 2 nights) and was located near the Okanagan Lake. As Kelowna is known for it’s wines, we had to do a wine tour. Especially because we’ve never had Canadian wine before. During the wine tour we visited 4 wineries in and around Kelowna. We were accompanied with three Canadian girls and 2 other Dutchies. The funny thing was that the Canadian girls really like the sweet wines, while we Dutchies tend to like the dry wines. We were happily surprised with the quality of the wines and really enjoyed the wine tour. Our guide also told us that Kelowna is very popular with Europeans due to the climate and relaxing vibe. Maybe the wine has something to do with it as well. 😉
Another note: In British Colombia you have to show 2 identity documents to show you’re eligible to drink alcohol. At the last winery we were, we actually had to show them. We were lucky to have our passport and international drivers license with us, otherwise no wine for us!
Crossing West-Canada by car it definitely worth it, considering all the different places and areas you can visit along the way. And this is just in 4 days! After Kelowna we’re off to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. But more on this in the next traveldiary.