On the Thursday of our stay we decided to take a circular drive alongside the lake, through the Creston Valley and back up to Nelson.
The forecast was good, although the day started with a little high cloud. We drove East along the West Arm of the lake to Balfour. From here runs the longest free ferry route in the world, a 35 minute ride to the opposite shore of Kootenay Lake.
Mojo and I waiting at the ferry terminal in Balfour.
The ferry ramp
There is a small sandy beach in Balfour and we were surprised how clean both the beach and water were given it was adjacent to a marina and the ferry dock.
Views around Balfour
The ferry coming in (thanks Mum for this pic)
We loaded the car onto the ferry and then got out to enjoy the ever increasing amounts of sunshine. Views here back up the West Arm of Kootenay Lake from the ferry.
The small lakefront community of Harrop which is accessible only by ferry.
The West Arm of Kootenay Lake
Now we are approaching the main body of Kootenay Lake. The ferry will take us across this to the Eastern Shore.
David on the ferry
Views across to the East shore from the ferry
Looking North up the lake. It seems the mountains and forest just go on forever.
Mum and Dad on the ferry
Approaching the ferry dock in Kootenay Bay.
Now we are off the ferry and drive alongside a small inlet called Crawford Bay, before the remainder of the lake opens up.
Driving south on the East side of the lake we stop at Lockhart Beach Provincial Park. The small sandy beach provides beautiful views across the lake.
Thanks Mum for this photo too
This brief clip of video gives a panorama of Lockhart Beach Provincial Park. There was a reasonable breeze as seen by the waves on the lake but this always seems much exaggerated by the microphone on the camera !. Nonetheless, it was a really lovely location and unfortunately it was too early to stop for lunch because it would have made the perfect location for that too.
After another hour or so drive and a stop for lunch we finally reach the end of Kootenay Lake. It is an impressive size being some 90 miles in length from North to South, however beyond the end of the lake the valley continues as fertile farmland and eventually merges into the Creston Valley.
We reach the town of Creston. It's a small town of just over 5,200 residents. Having had a heyday in the gold & silver rush of the late 1800's this town has settled into a small rural farming lifestyle.
Views along the main street
After a stop and walk around Creston we take the Crowsnest Highway over Kootenay Pass towards the town Salmo and then North up to Nelson. The Kootenay Pass is the highest mountain pass in Canada that is (officially) open throughout the year. It does of course get closed periodically during heavy snow but it is intended to stay open. The highest point of the road is 1775m (5823ft).
Shortly after the summit we reached Stagleap Provincial Park, predominately used for backcountry skiing in the winter it is also on a key migratory route for mountain caribou and the Southern Selkirk population of grizzly bears. We didn't see either but it does have a small lake giving a good opportunity to get out of the car and stretch our legs.
View of Bridal Lake in Stagleap Provincial Park
Mojo on the hunt for some caribou or grizzly
Finally a view of the sun glistening on Bridal Lake.
It was a great day out with beautiful views and just the right length.