An RV trip into the Kootenays in search of craft beer… What could be better?
Retired and recovering from a four-month home renovation, I was in desperate need of a getaway. A two-week wander was just what I needed. I happen to have an RV well-suited for pretty much anything BC’s Kootenays can throw at it — a 1999 Triple E motorhome on an E350, converted to 4×4, lifted, cool bush bumper and Warn winch…. and always, my dog, Rikki. Normally I have my partner with me, but a favoured granddaughter had come to visit for a three-week stay after college… need I say more.
If you don’t have the pesos for an RV — and oh my, lots of pesos are required — don’t worry. In truth, you just want to have something that runs, whether it’s a van, car, or pick-up with a canopy. Throw down a foamy, bedding, a good old Coleman stove or a Jet stove, a cooler, and if you can, a wooden box to carry kitchen stuff. KISS… Keep It Simple Stupid…. (not you, me).
I have been RVing, in one way or another for all my adult life. It started when I was 16 and hasn’t really slowed down. First, it was tearing around sleeping in cars and working here and there in the province. I fought forest fires long before I was legally allowed to do so. Worked on a ranch in the Cariboo. I finally graduated with a real job that gave me the paycheque to feed my wanderlust. So I went from VW Bugs to a van… and back to Bugs… packed to the gills with gear and usually a dog.
On to driving a bus in Vancouver and Westys full of camera gear, heading to the land of the Navajo and the words in my head of Edward Abbey. Moab, Canyon de Chelly, and Shiprock, every year… for years. Finally a real RV… and now the present “Beast.”
Getting started always requires a bit of a checklist and Vernon has just the place.
The Superstore has a fuel station, a Sani dump, fresh water, and some basic foodstuffs, and they allow for overnight parking. Lists… ya gotta have lists! My food list is the same as I usually eat at home: rabbit food (salads), eggs, some salsa, cheeses, olive oil, dried beans, and peas. I make morning oats for my everyday day start, milk, and have on hand a few 95% chocolate goodies.
For the person considering a transient lifestyle, or at least a vacational one, carry a rice/bean cooker. I make hummus by the tonne. Chilli requires beans; I use black and red. I also carry a smallish food processor to deal with the cooked garbanzo beans, garlic, etc.
Ah right… power. For years I used a small plug-into-the-ciggy-lighter baby inverter: 450w from London Drugs, Wally World (Walmart), or Canadian Tire. That will run all your stuff plus charge your camera batteries.
The journey into Revelstoke is a destination itself
There’s the “Last Spike,” which joins the Trans-Canada CP Rails, at Craigellachie. There is a huge big parking lot which is kind of funny because it’s simply a spike in the railroad. I have passed this so many times, but this was my first time stopping. But it is historical, and if you have rail in your blood, you need to stop there.
Then there’s Crazy Creek Hot Springs Resort which offers day use or a full-service camping area — tenting or the whole meal deal. For winter visits, you will need to stay in their offered facilities. There is a fabulous walking path up to an overview and then the suspension bridge.
Revelstoke, for me, is the beginning of a circle tour of the East and West Kootenays.
I have been to Revelstoke countless times, but this time was the nicest thanks to the warm weather. And I had never noticed the street vibe before — very, very Nelson-like, but still its own thing. Low key, happy to be alive. Neat patios for coffee and lunch places. The regular Saturday Market was underway with lots of smiles and hi’s.
Another thing to know is if you are hanging in your van, car, or RV, Revelstoke offers a great sani-dump and fresh water site up in the industrial part of town.
Revy — the in-the-know folks call it that — is home to two craft houses: Mt. Begbie Brewing and Rumpus Beer Co.
I stopped by Mt. Begbie. The brewery moved into much larger premises a few years back, and they have a great patio — two actually — and the kids can play in a rock garden. Wonderful views and super fine beers. Really nice vibe. Dog friendly too! I always head for the IPAs, and Mt Begbie had two to choose from.
Time to bounce, as they say…Off to Golden.
I have been through Golden a bunch. The last time was a winter drive… man, was it chilly. This time, a breezy afternoon. Very nice, thank you very much!
Radium is just down the road, which is home to commercial hot springs, wildlife, and Radium Brewing!
Just south of Fairmont you will pop around a corner to find… Hoodoos! There is a hiking trail on top, and you used to be able to hike around the bottom, but no more: the area has been sold for a house.
With hot springs on my mind, I am off to Lussier Hot Springs, which are non-commercial, in a river, all-natural hot springs. You want to be looking for White Swan Forest Service Road, just south of Canal Flats. 16 k’s up an active logging road, so travel with your lights on, and if you see something coming at you that looks like it’s a lot bigger than you… at the very least stop with your four-ways on. If you can, get on to the shoulder. Watch your mirrors too…They go a lot faster than you do. There are lots of great camping spots, including one of them at 14k’s.
After a great soak and a sound sleep with no trains, trucks, or cars, I am off to Cranbrook. First things first… a super-duper sani-dump/freshwater location at the Info Centre, as you enter town from the north. Look for Home Hardware.
Cranbrook has a fabulous brewhouse teamed with a restaurant.
The Heid-Out Restaurant is home to Fisher Peak Brewing.
Like many of the Kootenay towns, Cranbrook has its roots in lumber, mining, and the railway. There is a pretty cool museum and rail yard if that’s your jam. Foamers is the term for those passionate about anything rail…
Pretty much everywhere one looks is history. Sometimes in the form of buildings, homes, churches…
Driving through Yahk, I bet almost once a day someone stops and tries to buy this caboose. It was rescued from demolition years ago, and now just sits on the land.
I am heading to Creston — once a land where never, ever would there be a craft house.
Creston is the longtime home of the Columbia Brewery (a Labatt brewery) but things have changed! There is now a craft brewery, too, called Wild North Brewing!
Rikki has her blanket… I have a beer… A mighty fine IPA!
You won’t see a grain elevator just anywhere now. But..in Creston? yessir, there is!
If you are travelling in a portable home whether it be a car, RV, or van, the City of Creston has a big overnight parking area for you across from the college. It even sports a full-on sani-station and fresh water. It’s the little things…
Headed for Kootenay Lake and a ferry ride — Crawford Bay to Ainsworth.
Heading right off the boat and following the road to Kaslo.
First stop: the Angry Hen for a thirst-quenching IPA.
We talked about moving to Kaslo once. At the time, we lived in Kitimat and we thought… heaven.
Heading up the hill out of Kaslo, for New Denver on the Slocan Lake via highway 31.
Lots of old mines and mining. About 4 k’s from New Denver, a left turn off Sandon, if you like old stuff including an out-of-sight Tesla generating station, still operating and sending power to the grid…
New Denver is on Slocan Lake — such a gorgeous little place.
It seems like there are two New Denvers — the north side of the bridge and the south side. The south side has the history: “Beginning in early 1942, the Canadian government detained and dispossessed more than 90 percent of Japanese Canadians, some 21,000 people, living in British Columbia. They were detained under the War Measures Act and were interned for the rest of the Second World War.”
I really hope this encourages people to go and witness this place. It is not a sad thing. The folks stayed there until 1954 — it had become home. But, there are lessons to be felt.
Just across the Kootenay River from Castlegar is the long-standing Doukhobor community of Brilliant. From Parks Canada website: ”It was built in 1913 by community labour, the bridge connected Doukhobor settlements on both sides of the Kootenay River and served as a vital transportation link in the area for over 50 years. Today, this structure, also known as the Brilliant Suspension Bridge, stands as an enduring symbol of the collective toil of these Christian pacifist pioneers, and their contribution to Canada’s development.”
My last stop before heading back home was Tailout Brewing in Castlegar.
I was carrying greetings from the brewer at Whitetooth — the two brewers worked together in Canmore.
One for the road and a four-pack to take home.
Get more inspiration for craft beer and RVing adventures in BC!
Or scope out these resources:
- Get tips for RVing in BC at campingrvbc.com
- Follow @SnowBirdsRVTravelers for TV destinations, reviews, events, and routes
- Check out Destination BC’s road trip ideas
- Find campgrounds and RV parks across BC
- Check out this Destination BC RV road trip across Northern BC
About Gary Haupt
I am a gypsy that will, at the drop of a hat, drive off in the 4×4 RV to another destination. I love hoppy craft beers. I spend most winters wandering the deserts of the southwest, and springtime in BC and Alberta. After spending most of my adult life driving a city bus in Vancouver, Penticton is now home, and with 8 craft breweries, hundreds of wineries, and distillers all over the place, I guess I am here for the rest of the journey. If you have any questions about RV’ing or car/van camping, you are welcome to find me on FB.