Where to Stay
This park has four campgrounds, all of which require a fee and one of which is open in winter (Dolly Varden campground). Reservations can be made for Redstreak campground, which is open May 9 to Oct. 8, depending on weather. The McLeod Meadows, Marble Canyon and Dolly Varden campgrounds are first-come, first-served. There are also more luxurious accommodations at the Kootenay Parks Lodge, centrally located within the park at Vermillion Crossing, Radium Hot Springs Lodge just inside the park's south entrance and the Windermere Creek Bed and Breakfast Cabins 11 miles south of the park.
What to Do and See
The route on Highway 93 is a scenic drive over the Continental Divide and through the Vermillion and Kootenay River valleys. Marble Canyon is an area where you can take a short walk and view the deep canyon and frigid creek below. The area was overcome by a large wildfire in 2003 and now teems with new vegetation during the beginning of its regrowth. Make sure to visit the Paint Pots, just an hour's drive from Radium. The 20-minute walk will bring you to where cold, iron-rich mineral springs bubble up in small pools. This is where First Nations people drew the ochre color from the earth for their art. At Vermillion Pass, take the 15-minute Fireweed Trail, where interpretive panels serve as your guide. There are many other sights, including Olive Lake, just a 15-minute drive from Radium, Sinclair Canyon, Redstreak Restoration Trail and the Kootenay National Park Visitor Center, where you will find historical exhibits, a gift shop and any information you need from Parks Canada. The telephone number for the visitor center is (250) 347-9331.
The terrain and weather can vary greatly across Kootenay National Park. At its southwest end is prairie and desert, and at its northeast end are glaciated peaks. Near the southwest end at Radium Hot Springs, the climate is quite warm and dry. Average summer temperatures are in the high 60s and winter temperatures in the low teens. Toward the north end of the park it is damp and cool. Average annual precipitation ranges from 15 inches to 49 inches from the valley floor up into the mountains.