About

The Kootenay region is an incredible part of British Columbia, and one well suited to exploring on a motorcycle or offroad-capable vehicle.

At 1,500 km in length this is a big one, but well worth the time investment.

 

Basic Information

Base Difficulty: D2/6

Available Difficulty: D4/6

Base Distance: 1,500 km

Time of Year: May – October

No. of Days: 3-6 Days

 

SECTION 1

You will be travelling a valley bottom with jagged Rocky Mountain tops on either side. Very scenic!

Leaving Radium, take it easy heading east on Hwy 93 until you are through the canyon and past the hot springs. Watch for a right turn off the highway at Settlers Road and let the fun begin.

The route eventually splits and continues along both sides of the Kootenay River. Settlers FSR is on the west side, and Kootenay Palliser FSR in on the east. Both sides are scenic, flowing rides, with the west route being slightly harder. The east side of the river is 10 km longer and offers more camping options.

The Kootenay River bends off to the west to join the Columbia River near Canal Flats. This is a bailout point to return to Hwy 93 if you feel the need or some blacktop, or to grab fuel in Canal Flats.

When you roll into Fernie, there are lots of services along the highway, but head a couple of blocks east to downtown for more food and coffee shops. It’s a funky little town with lots to offer.

SECTION 2

Fuel up in Fernie and roll out of town along the east side of the Elk River.

This is a beautiful section, taking you over a couple of passes along the Can – USA border. Very nice double track riding!

At the 1550 m summit of Boyd Creek FSR, there is a 2 km route up to a fire pad at 1800 m. It’s a bit spicier than most of what you’ve tackled so far. We rate it a D3/6.

 

When you roll into Yahk, stop by 2 Scoop Steve’s for a cone or some lunch. If you’re feeling grimy, look for the goats on a roof to guide you to the Yahk Soap & Candle Company for some artisanal soaps!

SECTION 3

Top up your tank in Creston and make an important route decision. Do you feel like Blacktop or Dirt today?

If you’re feeling like a bit of blacktop, Hwy 3 is a fun, winding paved road to the Kootenay Pass summit.

If Dirt is on the menu today, follow the route along the US border. It will take you through a short section of very steep switchbacks. These switchbacks will be a challenge on a loaded big bike in favourable conditions, and much more challenging on wet days.

Cautionary Note: This section of dirt can be very spicy. We give it a D4/6. Be sure you are up to the challenge before you go. A lot of backtracking will be required if you find yourself in over your head!

From the Kootenay Pass summit, you are on blacktop to the USA border. Turn west just before the border crossing to begin a great stretch of dirt riding along the Pend Orielle River.

You can get gas and food in Trail or Rossland, with Rossland offering a bit more variety.

SECTION 4

Kick this Section off with a route decision. The red route will take you through City of Paris mine site and a short section of quad trail. This is not a technical trail, just less travelled than most. The blue option is a winding road that is easier.

Pump the brakes in Greenwood for a snack and coffee at Deadwood Junction or Copper Eagle Cappuccino. Both have a great selection.

The route leads north along the Granby River and on to Edgewood where gas, a convenience store, and camping is available. It’s a good idea to fuel up in Edgewood.

Carry on north past Whatshan Lake. Check Whatshan out if you have time. It’s stunning! After Whatshan Lake, look for the Arrow Park Ferry. This is a free “on demand” ferry operating from 5am to 9 pm with a lunch break from 12 pm to 2 pm.

Staying out of Nakusp? If you are camping you don’t need to cross the ferry. But do you need fuel? It’s 140 km to regular fuel at Trout Lake. Be advised, the Fuel Station has very limited hours! And a further 70 km to Meadow Creek Gas.

Headed to Town for Rest & Fuel? Grab the ferry, then follow the lake into Nakusp. You will come back down this same route to cross the ferry at the start of the Section 5.

SECTION 5

3 ferries in one Section? Let’s do it!

Leaving Nakusp you ride south 28 km of paved to the Arrow Park ferry to cross Arrow Lake. This is an on-demand ferry from 5 am to 9 pm with a lunch break from 12 – 2 pm.

It is a great 80 km ride up the west side of the lake to the Upper Arrow Lake Ferry where you cross the lake again. The ferry runs every hour from 5 am to midnight.

Cell service and free WIFI are available in the parking area on the east side of the lake.

Back on solid land, you have 200 km to go, but the next section south to Trout Lake is easy and you can pick up the pace.

Trout Lake is worth a stop. The store has gas (regular only) in one of the last gravity fill pumps in existence. The Trout Lake Hotel is owned by keen riders and worth a look. If you want to stay there, you need to book in advance through Facebook.

At Meadow Creek, you hit blacktop to the Kootenay Lake Ferry at Balfour. The ferry departs Balfour every 50 minutes from 6:30 am to 9:40 pm.

It is only 5 km from the ferry dock to Crawford Bay. Great coffee and bakery at Red’s in the Kootenay Chalets location.

SECTION 6

Get fuel in Crawford Bay!

If it is not summer, check with the locals about Gray Creek Pass. The summit sits at over 2000m and can easily have snow in early or late season.

Pass is Closed: Follow the twisty blacktop. This alternate route is 100 km longer than the Gray Creek Pass route, with the section along the lake rated the best paved road in BC. You won’t be bored!

Head way down south, following the lake on blacktop until Kid Creek FSR D2/6. A dirt option to staying on the highway, Kid Creek peaks at 1780m and may have snow early season. This route will reconnect you with Grey Creek Pass in Kimberly.

Pass is Open: Leaving Crawford Bay, you have a bit of pavement before the Gray Creek store. Head offroad just past the store to start the climb up Gray Creek Pass.

The entire Pass is a great ride and finishes with a fast easy ride along the river into Kimberly.

After enjoying the section between Wasa and Canal Flats, you have almost wrapped up this CDR. A short, paved ride up Hwy 93 and then you’re out of the traffic on Westside Road thru Invermere and on to Radium.

Take a Look

 

Difficulty

A lot of this route is on resource roads (D: 1/6). It’s not challenging for people people, just way out there and super scenic. There are some segments that get a little more spicy (D: 2/6 mostly). Several of the harder options will take you into D: 3/6.

For a detailed description fo the difficulty rating system please see our FAQ page.

Suitable Motos

Motorcycle riders should refer to our difficulty rating system as it adapts to the different sizes of motorcycles.

Stock four wheel drive high clearance vehicles such as Jeep Wranglers, Broncos, and Tacomas are well suited. Longer and wider vehicles may encounter issues. There will be scratchy sections, so be prepared for some Okanagan pinstriping.

Duration

The entire route takes most groups 5 days, however, this is somewhat of a leisurely pace affording time to enjoy a little down time in the towns and associated lovely little cafes.

Motel Nights

If you are staying in motels, and not camping, here are the usual stops.

  • Radium
  • Fernie
  • Creston
  • Grand Forks
  • Kimberly

Camping, eh?

If you decide to camp, you have a LOT of options. The GPS package shows over 50 campgrounds. Even if you don’t plan to camp, we suggest packing some gear and you may find yourself smitten by the possibilities.