First settled in 1906, the tiny community of Gray Creek with a population of 125, is located on the eastern shore of Crawford Bay on Kootenay Lake. In 1913, English pioneers opened a landing and supply centre here to service the steamboats plying the waters of Kootenay Lake. This also became the site of the ferry terminal between 1931 and 1947. Today, operating as the Gray Creek Store, this oldest store on Kootenay Lake has an interesting collection of local history books. Other historic buildings can be found in the area including the Gray Creek Hall built in 1911 and still in use by the community and an old wooden electricity water wheel at McFarland Creek.
Gray Creek is located on Highway 3A on the eastern shore of Crawford Bay on Kootenay Lake, 64 km (40 mi) north of Creston, and 18 km (11 mi) south of the eastern terminal of the Kootenay Lake ferry at Kootenay Bay.
Kootenay Lake's oldest general store, Gray Creek Store, is located on Chainsaw Avenue. A prominent service centre for the East Shore and still under the same family ownership, proprietor Tom Lymbery's father started the business in 1913. It has a great collection of BC history books, a large hardware selection, and continues to display its wares in the original display cases. Between 1931 and 1947, the Gray Creek Store was also the location of the ferry terminal.
The Lakeview began in the early 1930s as a campsite for workers building Highway 3A up the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake, and it's been a grocery store since the early 1940s. The old wooden water wheel, once used to drive the electrical generator that originally powered the site, is still visible on the creek. Today, The Lakeview is a fully stocked grocery store serving the local community, selling fresh produce, specialty cheeses, specialty coffee beans from local roasters, some organic and bulk foods, fresh bread, and more. It also serves as the local post office, rural liquor agency, and gas station.
Located 40 km (25 mi) north of Creston on Highway 3A, Lockhart Beach Provincial Park, and the adjacent Lockhart Creek Provincial Park, extend from the sunny shores of Kootenay Lake to the headwaters of Lockhart Creek. This small park provides easy access to a day use area and a sand and fine gravel beach where visitors can relax and enjoy the clear waters of Kootenay Lake.
Kokanee Springs Golf Resort in nearby Crawford Bay, is one of Canada's finest championship 18-hole courses. This graceful track, considered by many to be the flagship of the Kootenay golf courses, resides in a magnificent mountain setting on Kootenay Lake. Every hole is framed by spectacular panoramic views of the Kokanee Glacier and the surrounding area. Kokanee Springs is a Norman Woods original, characterized by its long driving fairways, immense rolling greens, immaculate course upkeep, and ability to interest and challenge golfers at all levels.
Enjoy a fascinating day on the water in this mountain paradise. Breathtaking vistas of the lake and mountains are the backdrop for the living history of Kootenay Lake. Stories of sunken ships and 2,500 year-old native trading routes unfold as the enchanting coastline passes before you. Intricate rock formations and the unusual geology of the Kootenays provide pictures of the past and present living together here in this tranquil valley. Recreational trails through the forests are easily accessible from this ancient highway.
Year-round fishing is available at Kootenay Lake, where visitors can catch three varieties of trout (Gerrard rainbow, Dolly Varden, and Kokanee) and whitefish. The lake's largest catch is a 35lb 12oz Gerrard Rainbow trout, and the world's largest recorded Kokanee - almost 10 pounds - was caught here. The Kootenay area also has many creeks, small lakes, and rivers to challenge any skill level.
The West Kootenay region contains over 80 hiking trails, all of which provide hikers with spectacular mountain scenery, breathtaking glaciers, alpine lakes, flower-strewn meadows, and incredible wildlife.
Kayaking and canoeing offer an opportunity for a unique and timeless experience. Four and five-day kayak trips can be planned and plotted out using maps of the area or you can take several daytrips, staying in any of the accommodations available. The area is full of wonderful sights, historical treasures, and great places to explore. The water is crystal-clear and all the destination spots are garbage-free. A great place to come and relax.
Miles of unmarked powder are characteristic of the ungroomed trails in the area. With mild temperatures, an average of 10 to 15 feet of fabulous snow, and breathtaking scenery, the ride is always a thrill. A wide variety of terrain provides a memorable experience for all riders, from the novice to the expert, and even those looking for "extreme snowmobiling". If you're looking for an uncommon experience and like to make new tracks in new snow, make this area a priority for your next trip. The elevations run from about 2,000 feet all the way up to 7,000 feet. The main season runs from December to April.
The annual Gray Creek Sailing Regatta is held on the Labour Day Weekend in September at the Lakeview Store and Marina in Gray Creek on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake. Sailboats of all sizes to large cruisers participate.
Starbelly Jam Music Festival is an outdoor musical extravaganza, held annually in Crawford Bay. The festival showcases musical talent from near and far. Many musical styles are featured, from folk and blues, reggae and world music, a bit of country or classical, and a touch of Celtic here and jazzy stuff there. This two-day event is all about fun and celebration; kids are very welcome at Starbelly and the event organizers go out of their way to give them a larger-than-life experience they won't soon forget. There are activities for kids, children's workshops, and special entertainment. Plus the giant parade - a colourful and noisy Starbelly tradition! There are also family workshops, a craft fair, and a variety of food booths.