Elkford, British Columbia is a small community in the southeast region of the Rocky Mountains known as the ‘Wilderness Capital of BC'. Surrounded by pristine wilderness, its proximity to Elk Lakes Provincial Park and Height of the Rockies Wilderness Area situated on the continental divide, attracts outdoor enthusiasts year-round.
Hiking, world-class fly fishing, horse riding, plus cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and skiing on the local Wapiti hill provide fun for all ages and abilities in Elkford and the surrounding area.
Elkford is located 35 km (22 mi) north of Hwy 3 at Sparwood, British Columbia via Hwy 43. Situated a 45 minute drive from the British Columbia/Alberta border via the Crowsnest Hwy (Hwy 3) and 133 km (83 mi) north of the USA border on Hwy 93.
Elk Lakes Provincial Park is located 69 km (43 mi) north of Elkford. Stunning lakes, mountain peaks, glaciers and spectacular Petain Falls make for a visually amazing experience. Hiking, mountain climbing, hunting, horseback riding are all available. Canoeing and kayaking in the lakes, fishing for Bull trout, Rocky Mountain whitefish and Cutthroat trout are all popular.
Alpine meadows provide a canvas of wild flowers including fireweed, Indian paintbrush, blue violet, elephant's head and giant ragwort. An abundance of wildlife live in the park from chipmunks and beavers to moose and elk. The astute visitor may catch a glimpse of a grizzly bear, black bear or Bighorn sheep and mountain goat.
This wilderness park lies along the Great Divide and has significant biodiversity values, sustaining an environment for a wide array of animals and plants. Lush forests and icefields are protected within this park and seven major mountain passes characterize the stunning southern Rocky Mountains.
Activities within the park include fishing for Cutthroat trout; hiking and walking trails most of which are user maintained; horseback riding, hunting plus cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Height of the Rockies Provincial Park can be accessed north from Elkford, via the Elk River road. Only non-mechanized vehicles may be used in this park.
The open-pit mines in the area around Elkford are well hidden from view. Visitors can board a bus at the Elkford Visitor Centre and will be taken on a tour of the enormous open-pit mining operations of Greenhills and Fording River. Tourists will see giant excavators and 220-tonne dump trucks at work and tour guides will explain the mining process.
Elkford is 1,300m (4,265 ft) above sea level and enjoys over 350cm (138 in) of snow annually making it a great winter sport destination. Enjoy a day on the slopes at "The Mountain' which has 14 complete ski runs with 1,000 vertical feet of elevation change and suitable for the whole family.
Elkford's trails are maintained by the Elkford ATV Club, Snowmobile Club and Recreation Development Society who are dedicated in making the backcountry accessible and safe for everyone. ATV trail map, snowmobile trail map and snowmobile trail passes are available locally.
The town of Elkford, British Columbia was created in the early 1970s to house mine employees and their families. Coal mining had thrived in the area around nearby Sparwood since the early 20th century but mining further north in the Elk Valley was cost prohibitive. However with the high demand for coal pushing up prices, in 1971 Fording Coal Ltd. (now Elk Valley Coal Corporation) opened its open-pit mine in the area and Elkford was born. The name of Elkford is derived from the Elk River and the original coal company's name. Several coal mines developed in the area creating an economic boom for Elkford.
Today, there are five open-pit coal mines within an hour's drive of Elkford all owned by Teck Resources. Many of Elkford's residents work for the mines or in service industries connected to the mines.
Close to 3,000 people live in Elkford today.
Elkford Visitor Centre
Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia