We’ve probably driven to the cabin at least a dozen times – and to Fernie or area a few more – and every time we take basically the same route – south of Hwy 2, and then maybe Hwy 22 before heading west. This trip I decided we should completely switch things up, and take advantage of a whole day of driving time, by taking a different route – through Banff and Kootenay National Parks along Hwy 93.
Jon and I have hiked in Kootenay once (when we tackled The Rockwall) and driven as far as Invermere but I’d have to say that most of the area is new to us – making it the perfect spot for an easy adventure. Last spring break we explored the more famous northern half of the route – The Icefields Parkway – so it seemed fitting that we explore the southern portion this spring break.
We had a later than hoped for departure from Calgary – we’d left packing and grocery shopping for our vacation until the morning off – but managed to head out of the city around 11:30 am. For the Friday of a long weekend traffic was pretty quiet and the only backup was at the park gates (luckily we had our park pass and zipped right through!). There are tons of spots to stop along the way (and lots of places we need to go explore some day) but our goal was to explore a little bit in Kootenay NP so we didn’t stop until we’d started heading south on Hwy 93.
Marble Canyon is one of the first “points of interest” after you enter Kootenay NP and the parking lot had a few other cars when we stopped – even though there was a few feet of snow at the trailhead. We started with a brief detour up the trail towards Tokumm Creek which was well packed from snowshoers.
Then we returned to the actual interpretive trail and proceeded to hike along the canyon. According to the park website the loop is 1.6 km and should take about 30 minutes but we ended up spending an hour wandering. The trail was snow covered and a little bit slippery at parts but well packed down. Definitely a pretty stop in the off-season but I imagine it is very busy in the summer.
We ate a quick (and late) lunch in the Rover before continuing our drive. It is a beautiful route – snow-capped mountains and all. It was pretty quiet on the road and we just cruised along until we exited the park at Radium. By this point the snow had basically disappeared and we stopped in the Redstreak Campground in Radium to hike again. The campground isn’t open so we parked at the lot partway up the road and then walked into the campground along the Valley View Trail. It was hot and dry and a change from our stop at Marble Canyon.
Once in the campground we hiked the Redstreak Loop Trail (which ended up being about 4 km or so of hiking including our walk in). Not the most scenic compared to the mountains but a good chance to stretch our legs again and tire out the dog.
After our walk we continued on our way. We didn’t stop again (since it was 5 pm and we still had 2 hours of driving) but I was fascinated by the scenery (Columbia Lake, mountains, dry hills). We drove through Wasa and Fort Steele (where you could stop if you had more time) and finally reached the cabin around 7 pm. The trip took us longer than our normal route but was definitely more enjoyable. It felt a little more vacation like to take our time heading down here and we got to explore somewhere new.