Kootenay National Park

Our third stop along our tour of the Canadian Rockies brings us to Kootenay National Park in British Columbia.  This park borders Banff to the southwest, but is way more calm and less crowded than its more popular neighbor. 

Since the season is winding down here, Redstreak Campground was our only choice in the park and it is in the far southern reaches near the town of Radium Hot Springs.  Only about half the loops in the campground were open during our stay, and the loop we were in was less than half filled each night!  The coolest thing about this campground, though, is that there are a number of bighorn sheep who call this area home and are often seen wandering through.  We saw a group of rams twice during our stay!

Many of the main attractions at Kootenay are in the very northern section of the national park, and since we had seen many of them on a previous trip, we stuck closer to the campground this time.  The one thing we really wanted to do in the north was the Stanley Glacier Trail, but we will have to hit that next time!  While the other hikes and activities we enjoyed may not have the same wow factor as Stanley Glacier, we had a great time and loved the feeling of having the park to ourselves!  On one hike we only saw one other person the entire time we were out!  Let’s get to a quick overview of what we did in while in Kootenay!

First of all, there were several short trails around our campground that required no driving at all!  We definitely had to check those out!  The Redstreak Loop was a nice walk through the woods with a decent overlook of the valley.  We were also able to walk to a viewpoint of Sinclair Canyon right across from the Bigfoot, but our favorite trail around the campground was the Redstreak Restoration Trail.  This was a short, easy trail through a fire restoration area.  It had great views of the mountains, along with signs explaining the restoration process and the plants that have started to regrow.  In addition to the trails we chose, there are several other trails directly from the campground that we chose not to explore this time.  We probably could have spent our entire stay hiking from the Bigfoot and not driven at all! You could even hike to the hot springs pools, but we skipped those this time, too.

We did want to explore a little more than that, though, so we drove parts of the main park road a couple of times, stopping at some scenic viewpoints including the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint and Olive Lake.  The Kootenay Valley Viewpoint was an amazing stop right along the road with a grand vista of the valley and surrounding mountains.  It was stunning!  We also really liked Olive Lake and its jade waters, but didn’t love that its backdrop was a major highway.  It is such a beautiful place with the background music of whizzing traffic and semi engine brakes…

We did two different hikes along the park road.  The first was Dog Lake.  This was a nice hike that took us over a ridge and through a forest, to descend to Dog Lake at the end.  It was really pretty, but we think we were there at the wrong time of day.  When we were above it, catching glimpses through the trees, it looked like it was a beautiful green color, but by the time we descended to the shore, the sun was at such an angle that we could only see reflections on the water and not the water itself.  This hike was a little creepy, too.  All along the way, but especially as we neared the lake, there were a TON of trees that had been snapped off or uprooted.  There must have been one heck of a wind storm in the area recently!  The day we hiked it, there was a bit of a breeze and you could hear trees creaking and groaning all along the way.  It was quite eerie!  To add to the creaking trees, about three quarters of the way to the lake we caught a strong, musty, animal-like smell.  We were hyper alert, but never found or saw the source of the smell.

We also hiked part of the Simpson River Trail, which we loved!  This is one of the easier hikes we have done recently, but the views were spectacular!  This hike meanders through an area that has been burned multiple times in recent years, so none of the trees are very tall, allowing for 360° views of the area.  There are some well-placed Parks Canada red chairs along the way, too, where we were able to relax for a while since no one else was around.  In total, this trail is almost 11 miles, but since it meanders through the valley, it is a good one for just going as far as you feel like and then turning around.  We went about four miles, we think.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon!

Make no mistake…if you are coming to Kootenay for the first time, there are definitely other things (Numa Falls, Marble Canyon, Paint Pots, etc.) that you should not miss!  What we love about a second or third or fourth visit to an area, though, is being able to dive in deeper and see things that most others don’t!

Go with us on our explorations of Banff and Kootenay!

Until next time!

4 thoughts on “Kootenay National Park”

  1. Bighorn sheep rock!

    I also loved that photo of Olive Lake!

    After being around so many places crowded with tourists, it must feel great to hit some spots when very few other people are around.

    1. It is lovely to hit some places that are not so crowded! We have moved on to Waterton Lakes NP now where only half of one campground is open, and of those sites, only about 30% are filled. There is definitely something to be said for the shoulder season! Of course, that also means some things may be closed. It is a trade-off, but we love the lighter crowds!

  2. Hi Guys,
    Just watched the Banff video and your hike to Dog Lake. Great video, spectacular views ….. and fond memories. Spent some time up that way a long time ago. May have to go back now …. after seeing your pics and beautiful video’s. I’ll be checking out your other travel blogs as time allows. At present I am mounting a 9′ aluminum flat-deck on my 2002 F350 and then will be loading my 1999 Bigfoot 2500 10.6 Truck Camper on the bed. FYI, I came across your channel when searching for an electrical installation upgrade similar to what you completed in your Bigfoot travel trailer. I will be using a similar combination/install of batts, solar and other gear. It’s now time for an electrical upgrade for more boondocking capability. I have already purchased some of the equipment, a couple heated 100 amp Battleborn Batts, a Victron Multiplus 12V 3000VA and I already have the Honda 2000 that works with the original old rooftop AC. That Honda Gen is amazing. Still have the Onan 2500 propane Gen as installed but planning to remove that to cut down on some of the topside weight. Your wiring and component install will work adequately for my upgrade. When I save a little money I will then remove the rooftop AC which will reduce the topside weight and help with the C of G overall. Then planning to install a LG 9000 Mini-Split. The LG unit is extremely efficient for my size camper and the amp consumption is minimal, therefore should be adequate for now. I’ll add the solar panels, 2 more BB 100’s. Hope to see you on the road sometime …… Hollar if you get near San Marcos Texas. We have a spot for your rig and a 35A plug even though you do not need it. PS: If you have time to shoot a copy of your electrical schematic it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again! Don

    1. Hi, Don! Thanks for you comment and for watching our videos!

      It sounds like you are working on quite the adventure rig! We would like to eventually switch to a truck camper rig similar to what you are talking about. Before we purchased our travel trailer we had an Alaskan truck camper and really miss the versatility of being able to take it just about anywhere. The extra space in the trailer is nice, but since it is just the two of us, it isn’t really necessary and we would be willing to give that up in order to have a smaller, more off-roadable rig. That will be a project for the future, though…

      We will shoot our electrical schematic to you through email, so be watching for it. If you haven’t gotten it in a day or two be sure to check your spam folder. Some of our emails get caught that way. Happy travels and keep us posted on the progress on your rig. We would love to hear more about it and see some photos!

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