The Columbia Valley is a vast expanse of land spreading from Golden to Canal Flats.
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this scenic trench encompasses both the Columbia Wetlands and the headwaters of the Columbia River. The valley holds a spectacular landscape and boasts an impressive natural habitat, as the wetlands serve as part of a major bird migration route.
Located approximately 3 hours from Calgary and a mere 100 km from the Continental Divide, the Columbia Valley can be found in the southeast corner of British Columbia.
This mountain trough of land covers several small towns. The valley includes Radium, Fairmont, Invermere, Windermere, Golden, and Canal Flats – with the central heart of activity being in the Invermere township.
If you happen to find yourself enveloped in the mountains that surround the Columbia Valley, you’ll want to make the best of your time in area. Here is some first-hand advice on where to go during your stay.
DAY-TRIPS IN THE COLUMBIA VALLEY
1) Lillian Lake and Panorama
Activities: Fishing, Mountain Biking, Dining Out
Lake Lillian is a sparkling, crystal clear lake on-road to the Panorama Ski Hill. The Lake is well-known for its breathtaking views and excellent hiking trails, though not to be confused with the Lillian Lake of the Bow Valley region in Alberta. This lake offers optimal fishing conditions. Prime-time tends to be in the morning and at dusk, and so spend an early morning on the lake before continuing your daytrip.
Hop across the street to the Lillian Lake Biking trails for some unreal mountain biking.
Lilian Lake offers different routes for different skill levels. Regardless of which route you opt to take, expect astonishing views of the Toby Creek Canyon as you ride beside the high cliffs that will get your heart pumping. Don’t have a bike? Try Columbia Cycle in Athlemere for a rental.
End off your day with a cruise up to the Panorama Village for a mountain-life meal. There are a couple of restaurants at the base to choose from. Make a pit stop at the Paradise Silver Mine lookout for a breathtaking sunset view.
If you love this area and are interested in reading more, you might want to check out our post about Toby Creek
2) Hoodoos and White Swan
Activities: Hiking, Natural Hot Springs, Dining Out
Take a drive down the West Side road that starts in Invermere and pops out again by Fairmont. The drive itself will start the day off right. Peak out the window at the beautiful Columbia wetlands that surround you. As you approach the well-marked “HooDoo’s” territory, take a pit stop and explore the badlands. Take one of the short-hikes that will be on your left hand side, and spend about a half hour exploring this cool bit of land.
Hop back in the car and head towards the infamous HooDoo’s rocks. If you take a right at the end of the road towards Canal Flats, then this is one landmark you won’t be able to miss. The HooDoos stand out like no other. These sandstone cliffs are a remarkable site, as they stand tall in front of the Rocky Mountain backdrop. If you’re up for it, you can even hike atop the cliffs.
If you continue along the road towards Canal flats, you’ll pass several lookout points that make for a stop for a picnic and a view.
After a pitstop, make some headway towards the Lussier Hot Springs. These natural hot tubs are hidden gem of White Swan lake. They are one of the rarenon-commercialized hot springs that are easily accessible, and cool enough to bath. Curb your adrenaline craving with the windy cliff-hanging drive out to White Swan, and then ease your worries in the beauty of the outdoors.
On your way back. Take a stop at the From Scratch kitchen located in Fairmont. It is guaranteed to satisfy.
3) Deja View and Radium Hot Springs
Activities: Mountain Biking, Dining Out, Hot Springs
Less than a kilometre from the Dry Gulch turn off along Highway 93/95. The Deja View biking trail lies can be found on the east side of the road. This biking trail is great for an introduction to the sport. With a 9km double lane trail that works its way down to Radium, bikers can choose to veer off this main road or to remain on it. Branching off of the main road, are several biking routes that offer an outstanding view of the valley, as well as a thrill to the rider who is tackling the route. Each trail pops out at a similar lookout point, hence the name “Deja View”. This trail is unmarked, but not hard to find. Its a local favourite and so it is widely used and well-known in the area.
After a morning of biking, take a drive up to Radium. Make a lunch stop at “Meet on Higher Ground Coffee Shop”. This hole-in-the-wall find isn’t very alluring from the outside, but form the inside it is a whole other store. This beautiful little coffee shop has delicious food and excellent coffee to perk you up for the afternoon.
Continue into Radium and end the day off relaxing in the amazing Radium Hot Springs pools. The drive is full of jaw-dropping overhangs and crazy views. The hot springs make for the icing on the cake.
Still to Come: Nipika Cross Country Trail, Visit the Bugaboos, Lakeside Walk and Beach Day