Kootenay National Park Travel Guide

Discover the attractions, activities, food, accommodations, transportation, and safety tips to enjoy Kootenay National Park to the fullest.

Introduction to Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park is a pristine wilderness located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. The park is teeming with breathtaking peaks, pristine lakes, thundering waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. The park covers over 1,400 square kilometers of pristine wilderness, and it is home to some of the most dramatic scenery in the Rockies.

List of Places to Visit in Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park boasts a wide range of attractions for visitors to explore. The park is divided into two main areas: the western side, which features major highways, and the eastern side, which is more remote and rugged. Here are some of the top places to explore in Kootenay National Park:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Parks Canada Visitor Centre - Learn about the geological, ecological, and cultural history of the park.
  • Radium Hot Springs - Soak in the natural hot springs and explore the historic bathhouse.
  • Sinclair Canyon and Redstreak Campground - Explore the scenic canyon and visit the historic lumber camp and sawmill.

Natural Attractions of Kootenay National Park: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Marble Canyon - Hike along the stunning canyon, or explore the hoodoos and rock formations.
  • Paint Pots - Marvel at the vibrant ochre beds and learn about their cultural significance to Indigenous people.
  • Rockwall Trail - Hike or backpack through the dramatic peaks of the Rockies.
  • Stanley Glacier - Hike to a dramatic glacier and learn about its geological significance.
  • Simpson River Trail - Discover one of the most remote and stunning parts of the park.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park has countless hiking and biking routes for visitors to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned backcountry adventurer or looking for a leisurely stroll, the park has a trail for you. Some of the top hiking routes include the Rockwall Trail, Stanley Glacier Trail, and the Simpson River Trail.

Best Things to Do in Kootenay National Park: Activities and Tours

Kootenay National Park is teeming with activities and tours for visitors to enjoy. Some of the top experiences include:

  • Guided Hikes and Backpacking Trips - Join a Parks Canada guide and explore some of the most stunning trails in the park.
  • Wildlife Watching - Look for elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and other wildlife throughout the park.
  • Horseback Riding - Take a guided horseback ride through the Rockies.
  • Rafting and Kayaking - Paddle down the Kootenay River or the Columbia River.
  • Fishing - Cast a line in one of the park’s pristine lakes or rivers.
  • Snowshoeing and Skiing - Explore the park’s snowy landscapes on a guided tour.

Week-Long Itinerary for Kootenay National Park

If you’re planning a week-long trip to Kootenay National Park, here’s a sample itinerary to help you make the most of your visit:

Day 1: Explore the western side of the park, including the visitor center, Radium Hot Springs, and Sinclair Canyon.

Day 2-3: Backpack the Rockwall Trail.

Day 4: Go wildlife watching or take a guided horseback ride in the eastern side of the park.

Day 5: Raft or kayak down the Kootenay River.

Day 6: Soak in the hot springs and explore the historic bathhouse at Radium Hot Springs.

Day 7: Relax and enjoy the stunning scenery of the park before departing.

Food and Drink Scene of Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park’s food and drink scene is focused on local, natural, and sustainable ingredients. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Bison Burgers - Made with locally-raised bison, these burgers are a true taste of the Rockies.
  • Wild Salmon - Fresh from the nearby rivers, this salmon is a healthy and delicious option.
  • Okanagan Cherries - These juicy, sweet cherries are harvested from nearby orchards.

Local Beverages

  • BC Wine - Try a glass of award-winning wine from nearby vineyards.
  • Craft Beer - Sample a cold pint of beer from one of the many craft breweries in nearby towns.

Where to Stay in Kootenay National Park: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Kootenay National Park offers a wide range of accommodations, from rustic campsites to luxury lodges. Here are some of the top options:

  • Radium Hot Springs Lodge - This historic lodge features comfortable rooms, stunning views, and a natural hot spring.
  • Baker Creek Mountain Resort - This charming resort features rustic cabins, cozy rooms, and a delicious restaurant.
  • Kootenay Park Lodge - This remote lodge offers a quiet retreat in the heart of the park.

What to Buy in Kootenay National Park: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

If you’re looking for a unique souvenir or gift from Kootenay National Park, here are some great options:

  • Indigenous Art and Crafts - Support local Indigenous artists by purchasing their beautiful and meaningful artwork.
  • Wildflower Seeds - Take home a piece of the park by planting wildflower seeds in your garden.
  • Local Honey - Enjoy the delicious taste of honey made from local bees.

Local Culture and Customs of Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park is home to several Indigenous groups, including the Ktunaxa and Shuswap people. Visitors are encouraged to learn about their cultures, traditions, and contributions to the park.

Best Time to Visit Kootenay National Park

The best time to visit Kootenay National Park is in the summer, when the weather is warm and dry, and the outdoor activities are in full swing. However, the park is also beautiful in the fall, when the leaves change color, and in the winter, when it is blanketed in snow.

Do’s and Don’ts of Kootenay National Park

To ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable visit to Kootenay National Park, here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:


  • Respect the park’s wildlife by observing them from a safe distance.
  • Pack out all your garbage and leave no trace.
  • Follow all park rules and regulations.


  • Feed or approach the park’s wildlife.
  • Camp or build fires in undesignated areas.
  • Remove any natural or historical objects from the park.

Safety and Health

Kootenay National Park is generally a safe and healthy destination. However, visitors should be aware of the following concerns:

Safety in Kootenay National Park

  • Wildlife encounters - Keep a safe distance from bears, cougars, and other wildlife.
  • Weather and climate - Be prepared for sudden changes in temperature, precipitation, and wind.
  • Road conditions - Be cautious when driving on narrow, winding mountain roads.

Health in Kootenay National Park

  • Altitude sickness - Some visitors may experience symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea, and fatigue.
  • Dehydration - Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.

Getting to Kootenay National Park: Transportation Options and Logistics

Kootenay National Park is easily accessible by car or bus from nearby towns such as Banff, Calgary, and Cranbrook. Here are some transportation options to consider:

Airports Near Kootenay National Park

The closest international airports to Kootenay National Park are in Calgary and Cranbrook.

Bus Stations Near Kootenay National Park

Greyhound and other bus companies offer service to nearby towns such as Banff and Canmore.

Other Options

For a more immersive experience, consider renting a car or RV and exploring the park on your own schedule.

How to Get Around in Kootenay National Park

The best way to get around Kootenay National Park is by car. Several major highways run through the park, providing stunning vistas and access to all the major attractions.

Where to Go Next from Kootenay National Park: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

After exploring Kootenay National Park, consider visiting nearby destinations such as Banff National Park, Yoho National Park, or Glacier National Park.


Kootenay National Park is a stunning wilderness destination that offers something for every type of traveler. Whether you’re a seasoned backcountry adventurer or looking for a relaxing soak in hot springs, Kootenay National Park is sure to impress. With stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and unique cultural experiences, Kootenay National Park is a must-visit destination in the Canadian Rockies.