The Columbia Valley

Just a scenic 2½ hour drive from Calgary, Alberta and convenient to the US border, the Columbia Valley is situated in the southeast corner of the province of British Columbia. The valley lies nestled between the Rocky and Purcell Mountains, following the upper Columbia River from its headwaters in Columbia Lake.

As you exit Kootenay National Park on Highway 93, surrounded by tall iron stained cliffs, you’ve reached the gateway to the Columbia Valley and are welcomed in to Radium Hot Springs. Informally and commonly called Radium, is a village of 776 residents situated in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. The small village has access to many small shops and restaurants, and you’ll find many fun activities as well, including ziplining, off road segway tours, white water rafting, and more. 

The village is named for the hot springs located in the nearby Kootenay National Park. The hot springs were named after the radioactive element when an analysis of the water showed that it contained small traces of radon which is a decay product of radium. The radiation dosage from bathing in the pools is inconsequential, so enjoy a long hot soak! 

Just 16KM South of Radium on the north shore of the valley’s beautiful Lake Windermere is the town of Invermere, with a population of about 3,500 permanent residents plus several thousand part-time, recreational residents. As the economic hub of the area, Invermere boasts a huge selection of activities from mild to wild, along with parks with sandy beaches as well as quaint boutiques, art galleries, cafes and fine dining restaurants.

About 20KM South of Invermere you’ll find Fairmont Hot Springs, commonly referred to as Fairmont. The community has a population of 476, but receives frequent tourists from Calgary. The local resort is centered around a soak pool and swimming pool fed by natural mineral hot springs. The original springs building, surrounded by hot spring water seeping out of the ground, still stands.

The community contains three golf courses, campgrounds, RV Parks, and it also has a strip mall including a market, restaurants, and a gift shop. Fairmont Hot Springs is home to the Dutch Creek Hoodoos, which are sandstone cliffs (hoodoos) with hiking trails located next to Dutch Creek, a source of the Columbia River and formerly a salmon breeding stream. Fairmont provides the only road access to Columbia Lake Provincial Park, five kilometers south.

If you travel 95KM North of Radium Hot Springs, you’ll be visiting Golden, BC where you will find plenty of restaurants, shops, and adventures. Golden is nestled in the Rocky Mountain Trench, built around the confluence of the Columbia and Kicking Horse rivers, surrounded by three different mountain ranges (most notably the Purcell Mountains and Rocky Mountains) and five National Parks: Yoho National Park, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Glacier National Park, and Kootenay National Park.