In the early 1900s, residents of British Columbia lobbied the federal government of Canada to build a highway between the Columbia Valley region of Windermere and the important mountain hub of Banff, Alberta. The government agreed, on the condition that a five-mile wide swath on either side of the highway be set aside as a national park. The province and Ottawa came to an agreement, and in 1920 Kootenay National Park was born.
In my honest opinion, Kootenay is the least impressive of the Canadian Rockies national parks, but is still a lovely place to visit. Highlights here include the Kootenay Valley, the town of Radium Hot Springs, Olive Lake... and mountain goats!
1Inviting Path A boardwalk leads into part of the dense rainforest found in several locations in Kootenay National Park.
2Sinclair Creek Pretty Sinclair Creek runs southwest from Sinclair Pass towards Radium Hot Springs. The lighting was pretty harsh here, but I loved the field of fireweed and daisies in the background.
3Olive Lake A sparkling gem along the Kootenay Highway, Olive Lake was quite likely named after the color of its water, which is beautiful pale green.
4Wet Rose The wild rose is the provincial flower of Alberta, but they're happy to grow in British Columbia as well. :)
5The Columbia Valley Late afternoon sunrays illuminate the mountains west of the Columbia Valley. This image was taken from near the far southwestern tip of Kootenay National Park, near the town of Radium Hot Springs.
6Mount Whymper from Vermillion Pass Vermillion Pass is a gap in the great mountain ranges of the Continental Divide, and serves as part of the boundary between Banff and Kootenay National Parks, as well as the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia that contain them. From the pass, Mount Whymper is a dominating presence; it was named for Frederick Whymper, a nineteenth century explorer.
7Mineral Supplement In the summer, wild goats come down from the mountains to lick salt and other minerals exposed on cliffsides such as this one. They generally get quite engrossed in what they are doing, and are easy to spectate from the side of the highway. Their coloration almost exactly matches that of the rocks, though, which can make it hard to see them!
8Shedding the Winter Coat A billy mountain goat walks around in the weeds near the mineral cliffs I showed you in the previous image. Even in mid-July he still has his most of his winter coat, but you can see that it's starting to come off in a few spots.
9Kootenay Valley The Kooteney Highway runs southeast for many miles along the shore of the Kootenay River, then slowly climbs before turning southwest through the mountains towards the Columbia Valley. Near the turn is a beautiful overlook that shows the Kootenay Valley with the peaks of the Mitchell Range behind it. I really liked the diagonal lines in this composition, and the balance created by the white daisies and the clouds.
10Wild Vetch A close-up of some wild vetch growing near the shore of Olive Lake.
11Sentinels In contrast to the mountain goats engrossed in their, well, mountain licking, this mom-and-kid pair of bighorn sheep seemed to be almost standing guard over their patch of ground.
12Red Rock Canyon Walls Near the southwestern tip of Kootenay National Park, the Sinclair River and the highway that parallels it run through steep, orange-red cliff walls, some of which you can see here. This is one of many places in the world sometimes called "Red Rock Canyon".
13Sinclair Flow A view of another section of Sinclair Creek as it rushes southwest towards the Columbia River, and eventually, the Pacific Ocean.
14Wild Thimbleberry I am not 100% sure, but I believe these are flowers of the wild thimbleberry, a relative of the raspberry and blackberry. Whatever they are, they are quite attractive.
15Rolling Hills Near the western end of the Banff-Windermere Highway, which runs through Kootenay National Park and connects Radium Hot Springs to Banff, the mountains smoothe out into gentle rolling hills as you see here. They appear quite dry and only sparsely forested, a sharp contrast to the thick pine forests so common in the vicinity.