10 Must-Do Adventures in East Kootenay & Banff

From the relaxing and healing waters of Radium Hot Springs to the stunning turquoise waters of Lake Louise, the region encompassing the East Kootenays and Banff is a must-do summer or fall road trip. The scenery here is so fantastic that much of it can be experienced from a vehicle, but there are also countless hiking, paddling, off-roading, fishing, and camping opportunities that shouldn’t be missed. Below, we feature just a small sample of some of the unforgettable attractions in the East Kootenay region and Banff. 

10 - Hunt For Elk in Cranbrook

Considered one of the best places for hunting in British Columbia, Cranbrook is a must-stop for hunters.

Located within the Kootenay Region 4, WMUs near Cranbrook include 4-20, 4-21, 4-22, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5 and 4-6. The most commonly hunted species include elk, whitetail, and turkeys.

Surrounded by mountains, forests, and hills, Cranbrook is a beautiful backdrop to any hunting adventure. 

9 - Camp Along the Beautiful Bow River

Running through the charming town of Canmore, this glacial river is a beautiful shade of emerald blue. Camping can be found in the Bow Valley Provincial Park, and also at the scenic Bow River Campground.

There are also several rustic and backcountry campgrounds scattered along the river for those looking to escape the crowds. Popular river activities include fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding.

8 - Visit The Grizzly Bear Refuge at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

While there is the possibility of spotting a grizzly bear throughout many of the backroads in the East Kootenay region, for a definitive sighting head over to the Grizzly Bear Refuge, located within the beautiful natural scenery of the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

This 20-acre area is home to Boo the grizzly bear, who was orphaned as a cub when his mother was shot and killed by a poacher in 2002. Tours are available year-round, and in the summer months, a gondola passes right over his enclosure. 

7 - Drive the Icefields Parkway

Also known as Highway 93, the Icefields Parkway is truly one of the most scenic highways in Canada. From Lake Louise to Jasper, the parkway follows a narrow valley for 230 kilometres (143 mi) between the breathtaking peaks of the main range of the Rocky Mountains.

Highlights of the drive include the Columbia Icefield, where you can walk right up to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier, several waterfalls, mountain lakes such as the stunning Bow Lake, and possible sightings of bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

6 - Explore Marble Canyon

This provincial park contains two small lakes, fantastic rock climbing and ice climbing opportunities, and several hiking trails. What sets this park apart is the expansive, limestone canyon that the park sits within.

Made up of white, chalk-faced slopes, Marble Canyon is a rare geological formation in British Columbia, where most cliffs and canyons are made up of granite.

A great opportunity for photography and exploring, Marble Canyon is located 40 km northwest of Cache Creek, off Highway 99.

5 - Ride the ATV Trails in Golden

A true outdoor adventurer’s paradise, Golden has a seemingly endless network of forestry service roads perfect for off-road exploring. Most of these service roads lead to a variety of different trails and terrain that create a great day of ATVing.

Scenic rivers, remote lakes, and expansive mountain ranges provide the perfect backdrop for any ATV adventure. 

4 - Fish For Bull Trout in Fernie

When you think of Fernie, you might think about skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports. However, Fernie is also home to some giant bull trout.

The Elk River flows through Fernie and is well-known for its population of large bull trout running from 20-30 inches – although larger is not unheard of! For anglers that are chasing a big fish, or even anglers that just love to be out on the river surrounded by epic scenery, Fernie is a must!

3 - Marvel at Lake Louise

The crown jewel of Banff National Park, Lake Louise is truly awe-inspiring. The brilliant turquoise waters of this glacial lake are bordered by forested hills, a hanging glacier, and a backdrop of Mount Victoria.

This beautiful lake draws in countless visitors each year, and it’s easy to see why! Just stopping at the lake for photos is a worthwhile trip, but other common activities include canoeing, hiking to one of several viewpoints over the lake, or ice skating and snowshoeing during the winter months.

Another great adventure in Banff National Park is the 4.3 km (2.7 mi) one-way trail that leads up to Larch Valley, a stunning sea of yellow gold hen the larch trees turn from green to gold in the autumn months. 

Credit: melissamn / Shutterstock.com

2 - Relax at Radium Hot Springs

Located in the town of the same name, the Radium Hot Springs are one of British Columbia’s top natural hot springs. Features include a hot and cool pool, both filled with 100% natural mineral water, a diving board, two slides, and change room facilities.

A relaxing and rejuvenating experience, these hot springs are a must-stop on any road trip or adventure through the East Kootenay region!

1 - Explore Yoho Waterfalls

Yoho National Park has several fascinating waterfalls to explore, with the most well-known ones being the Takakkaw Falls and Wapta Falls.

At 373 metres (1,224 ft), Takakkaw Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies, and the second tallest in Canada. This stunning waterfall cascades down a cliff face, passing by strands of tall pines. From the parking lot, an easy 1.5 km (0.9 mi) return trail leads to the base of Takakkaw Falls.

Also located in Yoho National Park is Wapta Falls, a wide waterfall on the Kicking Horse River measuring 30 metres (98 ft) tall and 150 metres (492 ft) wide. This waterfall is set within beautiful scenery, with tall, forested cliffs surrounding turquoise blue pools at the base of the falls. An easy, 4.8 km (3 mi) return hike leads to the base of this stunning waterfall.

Ready to explore all that the East Kootenay region and Banff have to offer? Be sure to pick up a copy of the brand new, 2022 edition of the East Kootenay BC Waterproof Recreation Map to make trip planning easy. For those that prefer an app, check out the BRMB Maps App and web map for all these adventures and more across Canada.

Are we missing any of your favourite East Kootenay or Banff adventures? Be sure to tag us on social media at @backroadmapbooks or #BRMBLIFE on your photos!