The Kootenays are one of the most attractive and lightly visited parts of BC, and centre on two major north–south valleys which harbour Kootenay Lake, the Upper and Lower Arrow lakes and three adjacent mountain ranges – the Purcells, Selkirks and Monashees – whose once-rich mineral deposits formed the kernel of the province’s early mining industry. Nelson is the key spot, slightly peripheral to the Kootenays’ rugged core, but a lovely place, and one of the few provincial towns with real attractions in its own right. Smaller, more relaxed, lakeside towns, notably Kaslo and Nakusp, make excellent bases for excursions into mountain scenery that has a pristine quality rarely found elsewhere. Creston offers a glimpse into the region’s rich agricultural bounty with Canada’s juiciest cherries, and Rossland has bags of small town charm and was the site of Canada’s first downhill ski race. Water-based activities – canoeing and fishing in particular – are excellent, and you can also explore the ramshackle mining heritage of near-ghost towns like Sandon and New Denver. Many of these towns and villages also have more than their fair share of artists, painters, writers and artisan foodies, lending the region considerable cultural lustre. Castlegar also offers a fascinating immigrant history through the story of the Doukhobors who settled here from Russia.

Getting around the region without private transport is tricky, which is a shame because the roads here are among the most beautiful in the province. The most scenic routes – and these are some of the loveliest drives in BC – are Hwy-31A from Kaslo to New Denver, and the pleasingly dramatic Hwy-6, which leads south of Nakuspalong along the Slocan Valley and west to Vernon, setting you up nicely for the Okanagan.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Canada features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

The most beautiful country in the world – as voted by you

There's nothing like an amazing view to inspire you to book your next trip, whether you're drawn by rolling countryside, isolated islands or soaring mountain …

30 Aug 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
19 phenomenal pictures of Canada

19 phenomenal pictures of Canada

Canada is famous for its stunning vistas, from the Arctic shores to the Rocky Mountains. But that's not all the country has to boast about. It also has engro…

30 Jun 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
Video: the most beautiful places in Canada

Video: the most beautiful places in Canada

Simply put, Canada is stunning. The second largest country in the world, Canada is a land of crashing waterfalls, turquoise lakes and magnificent soaring mounta…

29 Jun 2017 • Olivia Rawes videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook