Forests, mountains, pristine lakes and rivers, hot springs and waterfalls: this is the West Kootenays. The folks who call this place home are farmers, mountaineers, ski bums, young families and retirees, or those seeking ‘off the grid’ lifestyles, all of them friendly to a fault. Its towns and small cities are ready and waiting with history, culture and, of course, beer.
For anyone seeking a break from the mainstream society, the West Kootenays is filled with folks who enjoy a slower pace, away from the hubbub of larger centres. Many visitors are tempted to join them once they discover the region’s unique combination of wilderness activities and urban communities. Peppered throughout this paradise of mountains, rivers and lakes is a diverse of array of creative, entrepreneurial craft breweries, including a true pioneer and many more recent arrivals.
The Trail Beer Refinery embraces that city’s mining history. Rossland Beer Co.’s comfortable vibe makes it a favourite with locals and visitors alike. The Lion’s Head Smoke & Brew Pub in Robson is an oasis of craft beer in the wilderness, with its own brewery in the works, and Castlegar’s Tailout Brewing celebrates the region’s love of fly fishing. Erie Creek Brewing acts as a community hub in Salmo.
Nelson, the “Queen City” that is essentially the capital of the region, is home to 10,000 people, some gorgeous architecture, and three breweries, including the region’s oldest, Nelson Brewing, which has been a local favourite since it opened in 1991, along with Torchlight Brewing and Backroads Brewing. Nearby, Kaslo’s Angry Hen Brewing is a brewery with a view of beautiful Kootenay Lake.
Start your West Kootenay adventure in Rossland, located at the intersection of Hwy 3B and Hwy 22, an approximately 7 hour drive from both Vancouver and Calgary. The closest airport is the West Kootenay Regional airport (YCG), near Castlegar, a 30 minute drive away.
Stop by for locally roasted coffee and fresh-baked-daily muffins, scones, cookies, cinnamon buns, and more. Gluten-free baked goods are made in house too!
Get your adrenaline pumping at the Millennial Trail Expansion at RED Resort - three loops totaling 5.8kms of all-new mountain biking trails focused on flow, fun, and variety.
Possibly one of the last official saloons remaining from the Gold Rush days - The Flying Steamshovel has an unmatchable atmosphere, 14 craft draught lines, an award-winning menu and great independent music on stage every week.
An award-winning brewery providing the historic mining community of Rossland a variety of irresistible craft beers.
Enjoy an easy, wide, hard packed 5 km loop trail gently meandering around Nancy Greene lake. Or if paddling is more your speed, rent a paddleboard or canoe and go for a cruise.
Drive to Trail, approx 10 mins
With a name that reflects Trail’s historic connection to mining, refining, and smelting, this brewery has a strong community focus.
Drive to Salmo, approx 30 mins
Enjoy Kootenay crafted beer in this small town brewery. Drop by for a flight, order in some food from a nearby restaurant, and fill a growler to take away with you.
Treat yourself to a soul-enriching evening of French-inspired fine dining and locally-inspired drinks.
Rossland has plenty of accommodation options to choose from - head to the explore more section to find your perfect stay.
Rossland is perched high in the Monashee Mountains. The Gold Fever Follies present a live musical theatre show and the Rossland Museum is the site of the LeRoi Gold Mine offering a Geology Centre, display of artifacts and a gold panning attraction.
Hike up Kootenay Columbia Trail for aerial views of Rossland and the Columbia River.
Winter: With 300″/7.6m of annual snowfall, wide-open groomers, epic vertical (2,919ft/890m!), in-bounds cat-skiing ($10/run!), 360-degree descents, a rich tradition, and – phew! — the BEST tree runs in BC, it’s no wonder The New York Times voted RED and Rossland “#8 Best Place in the World to Visit in 2013.”
Drive to Castlegar, approximately 35 minutes
An artisan bakery and coffee house right in the heart of downtown Castlegar serving up a delicious array of house-baked pastries and breads. Organic, dairy-free and wheat-free options.
Enjoy a leisurely walk through the downtown of Castlegar while marveling at a rotating exhibition of sculptures by artists from around the world. Don’t forget to vote for your favourites! P.s. Humble Bean is a great stop on the Sculpturewalk for a delicious cold drink in the summer!
Get a glimpse of the hustle and bustle of the early 1900’s at this 100+ year old Canadian Pacific Railway Station. Browse archives of newspapers and view the historical artifacts.
Immerse yourself in Castlegars rich history through exploring historical buildings, artifacts, audio/visual galleries, and interactive displays of the culture and heritage of the Doukhobors
This historic pub is a hub of outdoor recreation. Across the street from a boat launch popular by fisherman and paddlers. Behind the pub is a famous climbing wall and often you will see bikers end their ride at the pub. Home of BC Craft Beer, with names like Spinnakers, Cannery, Nelson, Mt. Begbie, Crannog, and Fernie beers rotating through 12 taps.
This sunny Par 3 Golf Course is family-oriented and suitable for all ages. You can also enjoy an afternoon of golf at Castlegar Golf Club and RV Park.
With a passion for everything outdoors, you’ll find community and amazing craft beer at this brewery that celebrates the region’s love for fly fishing.
Castlegar has plenty of accommodation options to choose from - book your perfect stay at the link above.
Looking for outdoor adventure? Check out multitudes of easy afternoon hikes to scenic viewpoints or stunning waterfalls. Be sure to take advantage of the amazing rock climbing, paddling sports and scenic hikes in Castlegar!
Castlegar boasts many open areas in which to nordic ski for free, such as Millenium Park, located near the city’s downtown core, and the C&W Railway Trail, which you can access at the terminus of Arrow Lakes Drive. The beauty about nordic (aka cross-country) skiing in the Castlegar area is you can do it whether there’s a lot of snow or not. The West Kootenay region is world-renowned for quality and quantity of snow but there are times when fresh powder is scarce. This doesn’t matter when participating in the sports of classic or skate skiing: the smallest amount of snow is all you need to glide through the woods or on a track.
Good morning! Coffee and Avocado toast anyone?
Drive to Nelson, approximately 35 minutes
Celebrating the culture and history of Nelson and surrounding area. Museum, archives and art gallery.
Nelson’s little nano-brewery that could.
Craft beer culture in counter-culture central.
The all-organic Nelson Brewing Company is one of BC’s pioneer craft breweries.
English-style pub located in the boutique Hume Hotel. Local beer, and tasty food.
With more restaurants per capita in Nelson than any other city in North America, your palette will be satiated. Many pubs pour local and regional beer.
There are plenty of activities year round for the adventurous and the cultural explorers. Stroll along the many beaches and relax and admire your surroundings. Hike up into the Old Growth forests or along the Great Northern Rail Trail. Venture into the snow at Whitewater Ski Resort of Nordic Ski at some on the groomed trails. The Nelson Visitor Centre has staff, maps and guides to help plan your Ale Trail.
Plan your stay in Nelson and area using our list of Places to Stay and handy digital map.
Authentic and artisanal coffee. Organically-grown and fair trade. Enjoy a community warmth in the cafe.
Drive to Kaslo, BC, approximately 1 hour
Take in amazing views from the main pools or retreat to the peaceful soaking experience of a tranquil limestone cave.
Stop for lunch as this historic cafe bisto showcasing true local organic ingredients.
After plying the waters of Kootenay Lake for over 60 years, the sternwheeler S.S Moyie is now a beautifully restored museum.
Kaslo River is a fairy tale of a trail, winding along the burbling river and mossy banks. The main loop arcs over the river on two covered bridges, both painted an enchanting shade of red.
In the heart of historic Kaslo, the Angry Hen offers delicious beers and snacks with a spectacular view of Kootenay Lake.
Looking to “earn your beer”? Spend some athletic time outdoors golfing at Kaslo Golf Club, paddling with Kaslo Kayaking or Mountain Biking, Cat and Heli Skiing, and Nordic skiing. Kaslo has several heritage sites, restaurants, performance venues, and even some electric charging stations.
Kaslo is also a great place just to sit, relax and enjoy the views of the Purcell and Selkirk mountains while on the shore of Kootenay Lake. The Kaslo Visitor Centre is located at the SS Moyie and is open May to October with maps and guides, and even an opportunity to tour the oldest intact sternwheeler, The S.S. Moyie.
Plan your stay in Kaslo and area using our list of Places to Stay and handy digital map.
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The Birthplace of Adventure
In the southeast corner of British Columbia, the jagged peaks of the Rockies rise in parallel with those of the Purcell, Selkirk and Monashee ranges. In between are valleys, rivers and lakes that have enabled human existence for thousands of years. With incomparable scenic beauty around every turn, this is British Columbia’s Mountain Playground.
Rossland is located in the beautiful Kootenay Rockies Region of British Columbia and is home of Red Mountain Resort and Big Red Cats, the world’s largest cat skiing operation. With the addition of Grey Mountain at RED Mountain, we now have one of the biggest ski resorts in western Canada. Located on the Powder Highway, in the Kootenay Rockies, Rossland offers both summer and winter charm. An unpretentious community that still offers a unique and authentic experience to all of our visitors.
Your Trip, Your Way.
No matter your interests, there’s a Castlegar for you.
From breathtaking adventure to cultural exploration and family fun, we’ll help you plan your visit.
Located in the southeast corner of British Columbia, along the magical shores of Kootenay Lake, this region is an inspirational mecca for foodies, art-goers, music lovers, history buffs and adventure seekers.
Discover the East Shore from Wynndel to Kootenay Bay, cross the glacial-fed Kootenay Lake over to Balfour, on a free ferry, and journey along the shoreline to Ainsworth Hot Springs, Kaslo, North Kootenay Lake and Nelson BC.