BULMER'S POINTE . Kootenay Lake & area

The wild vastness that envelopes the West Kootenay, fostering serenity, offering solitude, tempering every aspect of daily life. It's protected by vertical topography: the mountains.
- Kathy Copeland, Where Locals Hike in West Kootenay

The Selkirk and Purcell mountain ranges form the natural boundaries of the West Kootenay region, an area renowned for its scenic glaciers, clear blue lakes - most notably Arrow, Slocan and Kootenay and natural hot springs. West Kootenay is also home to several provincial parks and protected areas, including the Goat Range Park, the Purcell Wildlife conservancy, Valhalla Park and Kokanee Glacier Park.

With its lush vegetation, relatively mild seasons, moist wind (called the banana breeze) and wide open spaces, the Kootenay Lake Valley is an enormous year-round playground brimming with activities.

The valley is sparsely populated, but still offers visitors all major services in the towns of Kaslo, Nakusp and Nelson, the region's largest centre.

The Kootenay Lake itself stretches north to south for about 144 kilometres (90 miles) in the B.C. interior. Narrow and deep, the lake is, on average, four kilometres (2.5 miles) wide and up to 152 metres (500 feet) deep. Formed during the Ice Age, Kootenay Lake is the Columbia River's second largest tributary. Fed by numerous streams and creeks, its shores are dotted with small bays, beaches and outcrops as well as parks, campgrounds, parks and marinas. Lake water is clear and clean, an ideal habitat for fish such Kokanee salmon (inland sockeye), sturgeon and Dolly Varden and Gerrard Rainbow trout. And the perfect setting for fishing, canoeing, kayaking and other marine pursuits.

Founded in 1897, Nelson is the West Kootenay's largest centre and offers all services. The city's history and Victorian aesthetic are wonderfully preserved: Nelson has more than 35 designated residential and commercial buildings. Set in the Selkirk Mountain on the western arm of the Kootenay Lake and the junction of highways 3A and 6, the city is alive with arts and culture and features great dining, shopping and outdoor activities.

For more information, visit www.discovernelson.com.

Originally called Kane's Landing, Kaslo is one of the West Kootenay's incorporated towns. Once a centre for gold, silver and lead mining, Kaslo is now renowned for its heritage buildings, scenery and outdoor activities: hiking and biking trails, fishing, camping and golfing. As well, the town has a thriving arts community, an annual jazz festival and annual May Days, an event that's been held every year since 1893.

Located on the western shore of Kootenay Lake on Highway 31, Kaslo has a population of 1,100 and offers numerous services and amenities including groceries stores, gas stations, a marina and several specialty stores.

For more information, visit www.kaslo.com.