The National Parks Corridor sub region stretches from Craigellachie in the west to Field on the Alberta border in the east. The corridor is split by Highway 1, the Trans Canada Highway, with a driving distance of 242 km (150 miles). Along the route is Mount Revelstoke National Park, Glacier National Park and Yoho National Park that connects with Banff National Park in Alberta and Kootenay National Park in the south.
Craigellachie is just a pullout on the Trans Canada Highway and is famous as the place the last iron spike was hammered in to complete the Canadian Pacific trans-continental railway. The place is named after the village of Craigellachie on the River Spey in Scotland, the ancestral home of Sir George Stephen, the first president of the Canadian Pacific Railway. The importance of the event is that the railway was key to uniting Canada and preventing British Columbia from aligning with the United States to the south. It allowed a new trade route across Canada and on to Europe.
Further east along Highway 1 is Three Valley Gap and Three Valley Gap Heritage Ghost Town. This is a fascinating pioneer community that has more than 25 restored historic buildings, gathered from around BC, as well as replicas of local buildings, all furnished and on display. The Historic Ghost Town is assembled near the site of the original town of Three Valley, which grew and quickly subsided in the 1880s.
The first major community of the National Parks Corridor is Revelstoke, nestled between the spectacular Selkirk and Monashee Mountains. During the summer months, visitors are drawn to the Grizzly Plaza where there is nightly entertainment in the band shell. Strolling through the beautifully restored downtown, you can see over 60 buildings that date back to the late 1800s. Heritage Walking Tour maps may be obtained from the Visitor Info Centre. Quaint boutiques, casual coffee bars and restaurants are all within easy walking distance.
As with many communities in south-eastern British Columbia, Revelstoke began in the 1880s as a transportation and supply centre for the mining industry. Both the mining industry and railway construction required substantial amounts of timber which prompted the early establishment and growth of the timber industry in the area. The Railway Museum features extensive displays, rolling stock, books, clothing and memorabilia from a bye gone era.
Just 5 km (3 mi) north of Revelstoke on Highway 23 is the Revelstoke Dam operated by BC Hydro. Further on is the great Mica Dam. Highway 23 south of Revelstoke takes the visitor into the heart of the Kootenays and on to the town of Nakusp in the Arrow Lakes and Silvery Slocan sub region.
Located next door to the City of Revelstoke is Mount Revelstoke National Park, a place of incredible contrasts. The 260 sq km/100 sq mi park is known for its spectacular summer sub alpine wildflower meadows and rugged peaks. The peak of Mount Revelstoke can be reached by travelling the 26 km (15 mi), Meadows-In-The-Sky Parkway which takes visitors through a dense rain forest of cedar and pine, sub alpine forest and meadows. It also offers a spectacular view of the ice-clad peaks of the Monashee Range and, on the eastern horizon, the Selkirk Mountains. Most summer visitors drive the parkway to Balsam Lake. From here the mountain can be explored on a number of hiking trails.
Along the Trans Canada Highway the Giant Cedars and Skunk Cabbage Nature Trails offer the chance to experience the park's lush interior rain forests and beautiful wetlands. An enjoyable trek along the Giant Cedars hiking trail takes you through a stand of 500 to 800 year old red cedar trees.
The distance between Mount Revelstoke National Park boundary and Glacier National Park is only some 16 km (10 mi) however the scenery is no less spectacular and Canyon Hot Springs is along the way.
The Canyon Hot Springs are located in Albert Canyon. The Canyon Hot Springs resort itself is open from May to September and water from the spring is piped almost 2 miles down the valley to feed the 15,000-gallon hot pool and the 60,000-gallon swimming pool. The mineral waters of Albert Canyon are thought to have been discovered by Canadian Pacific Railway workmen at the turn of the century. It is said the railway employees dug a pit at the hot springs and lined it with heavy timbers. Visitors and residents then used the open air "hot tub" for many years until the water was diverted from the hot springs to the pools of today. The Albert Canyon "ghost" town remains and is a short distance south of the present pool site.
A few kilometers east from Canyon Hot Springs along Highway 1 is the entrance to Glacier National Park. Glacier National Park's rugged peaks and sheer cliffs form a stark but beautiful part of Canada's natural heritage. As they did thousands of years ago in the Ice Age, more than 400 glaciers are still sculpting the landscape out of the park's many mountains.
The park's steep slopes and the high annual snowfall make it one of the world's most active avalanche zones. As you make your way to and through the 1,350 sq km/520 sq mi park, you will see that many snow sheds protect sections of the Trans Canada Highway, as well as the railway, from avalanches. In fact, with up to 23 m/75 ft of snowfall each year, the park is the perfect place for scientists and geologists to study avalanches.
Because half of Glacier National Park is above the treeline, visitors can hike almost any of the park's many trails and experience alpine tundra where, for a few weeks each summer, the meadows burst into a sea of flowers. At lower altitudes, the high precipitation has created a lush rain forest of cedar and hemlock.
A century ago, the diverse landscape of this region was an awesome challenge for the builders of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Today it offers visitors a unique mixture of ice and mountain, beauty and challenge. Backcountry skiing and backpacking are popular activities. Within the park, the Rogers Pass, site of the largest controlled avalanche area in North America, has been designated a National Historic Site to commemorate the history of this national transportation corridor.
Heading east from Glacier National Park, and located on the banks of the Columbia River, is the community of Golden. Golden is a small community that has changed from its railway heritage to become the focus of a burgeoning adventure tourism industry. Preserved remnants of early 19th century architecture harmonize with alluring shops and restaurants. Playgrounds, in-town hiking paths and a riverside park are appealing features. Nature prevails on a picture-perfect golf course with a nest of eagles on the 14th hole. Naturalists converge on Golden as a vantage point for wildlife viewing and birdwatching. Anglers fish the local rivers and lakes for trophy trout.
Golden is the gateway to Yoho National Park named after the Cree expression of awe. With breathtaking scenery, Yoho National Park offers hikers, campers and sightseers lots to see and do in one of the most beautiful settings on earth. The national park has 28 mountain peaks which reach more than 3,000 m (9,750 ft) towards the sky.
After the railroad opened up the area, a golden era of mountaineering and exploring began that created a culture rich in heroic stories, stunning artwork and volumes of literary work, celebrating the special features of this area.
High in the mountains above Emerald Lake, the Burgess Shale has preserved fossils in delicate detail that are the remains of an incredible variety of life forms from the Middle Cambrian time period.
Some of the heritage attractions within Yoho National Park include the Spiral Tunnels, which were cut through the park's mountains to make way for the railroad; Takakkaw Falls, with a free fall of 254 m (825 ft); and the Natural Bridge, where the Kicking Horse River has carved its way through solid rock.
With rock walls and waterfalls, Yoho National Park is a pocket of dramatic wilderness that offers adventurous travellers the chance to connect with nature, understand its complexities and appreciate its wild beauty.
Located in the Park is the village of Field nestled at the foot of Mount Stephen, on the banks of the Kicking Horse River and at the foot of the 'Big Hill'. It was here that 19th century railroad engineers faced and endured one of their greatest challenges - the steep narrow valley below Kicking Horse Pass. At 4.5%, the grade was twice the normal maximum and for decades, train wrecks on this section of the transcontinental railway were a regular occurrence.
Today, the highway follows the old rail bed, while trains safely use two ingenious spiral tunnels cut into the valley walls. Field is home to the Burgess Shale Foundation and to many artisans whose works can be found in the village.
Explore the Communities of the National Parks Corridor
Discover the Kootenay Rockies Sub Regions