Kootenay National Park hugs the eastern border of British Columbia in Canada. Not quite as well known as Banff or Jasper, Kootenay offers visitors generally less crowded hiking trails and parking lots along with Canada's largest hot springs.
Nearby Cities with Budget Rooms
Radium Hot Springs is by far the largest city in the park and offers a range of prices for rooms. Travelers en route to Kootenay could also use Cranbrook hotels, which are less than two hours by car from the southern entrance to the park.
Camping and Lodge Facilities
Kootenay has four campgrounds within its boundaries. Redstreak Campground offers the widest array of services and the highest prices: $27-$38/CAD night. MacLeod Meadows and Marble Canyon have sites for $21; primitive sites are available at Dolly Varden for $15.70.
Back country permits cost $9.80. If you'll be in the area for more than a week, an annual permit is available for $68.70.
Top Free Attractions in the Park
One of the great joys of Kootenay is simply driving Highway 93 and taking in the impressive scenery. There are places along the highway to have scenic picnics and relax.
An interesting stop is a place called Paint Pots, where cold, iron-rich mineral springs create small pools and stain the earth a dark orange color.
Canada's largest hot springs pool is located here. The town of Radium Hot Springs, as the name implies, offers a dip in the mineral water and other tourist-friendly activities.
Parking and Transportation
Parking generally isn't much of a problem, except perhaps at the top attractions during peak season.
Highway 93 begins near Lake Louise and stretches southward toward Radium. It runs through the middle of the park, affording access to hiking trails, picnic areas and attractions.
Canadian national park entry fees do not apply to people simply driving across a park with no intent of stopping. But when you actually visit the overlooks, hiking trails and other attractions, adults pay a daily fee of $9.80 CAD, seniors $8.30 and youth $4.90. This adds up quickly, but fortunately you can pay a fixed fee for your entire carload of $19.60 per day. The fee can be paid at visitor centers, and for convenience it's best to pay for all the days at once and display your receipt on the windshield. These fees also entitle you to enter any other Canadian national park during the time of validation. Those who try to avoid paying the fees become subject to big fines, so don't try it.
Nearest Major Airports
Kootenay N.P. is a north-south park. In fact, it's 94 km. (57 miles) from the northern entrance west of Banff to the southern boundary near the key town of Radium Hot Springs. From Radium, it is 280 km. (170 mi.) to Calgary International Airport. Canadian Rockies Int'l Airport in Cranbrook, B.C. is about 140 km. (85 mi.) from Radium. Air Canada, Pacific Coastal and Delta serve Cranbrook. The closest U.S. airport of any size is Spokane International, 282 mi. southwest. It's nearly an six-hour car trip from there to Radium.
Budget Airlines to Shop
WestJet is a budget airline serving Calgary.
For more information, visit Kootenay National Park within the Parks Canada Web site.