Kootenay National Park
The Kootenays are a lesser explored gem of the Canadian Rockies. Situated west of Banff and Lake Louise on the BC/Alberta border, this national park showcases some of the most stunning glacial rivers and mountain scenery to be found. The park was founded in 1920 with over 1400 square kilometers of wilderness to explore as part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kootenay National Park along with Yoho, Banff, Jasper, and Waterton form the Rocky Mountains Natural Region of Canada.
Driving along the main artery of the park, Highway 93, the landscape changes dramatically from peaks adorned with glaciers and powder snow, to grasslands and deep valleys. The glaciated rivers are forever visible including the Kootenay River and the Vermillion River. The park also crosses the Continental Divide, ending at Radium Hot Springs. On the Continental Divide, you can be standing on the division between the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. The national park also forms part of the Rocky Mountain Trench, which represents a large break in the Earth’s crust and is evident in park’s long valley.
Highlights include Marble Canyon (formed from erosion and the movement of glaciers) and the Paint Pots, Dog and Cobb Lakes, Sinclair Pass, and the stunning Floe Lake Trail. Simply spending a day in the park, it is possible to spot deer, elk, sheep, and bears. The park suffered massive forest fires in 2003 and 2004, but where old growth is obviously visible, new growth also flourishes.