Learn about the Kootenay Rocky
Mountains by reading Wilderness Retreats in the
Kootenay Rocky Mountains- British Columbia, Canada by
Sandy Zimmerman, Travel Writer. It features a mini, but
thorough tour of the destination, plus all you'll need to
know to plan your trip including getting there, objective
information on places to stay and eat, and things to do. At
the end of the article, we've provided a summary of the
contact information for your easy reference. Enjoy!
Wilderness Retreats in the
Kootenay Rocky Mountains- British Columbia, Canada
by Sandy Zimmerman, Travel Writer
Hikers from the Purcell Mountain Lodge enjoy one of the many hikes
All photos courtesy of Sandy Zimmerman
Our travels have taken us to wilderness retreats
away from the norm, away from things we have done before, and away
from the crowds.
When we were invited to the remote Purcell Mountain
Lodge in the Canadian Kootenay Rocky Mountains, I did not know what
to expect. I really mean remote because there are no roads
penetrating the wilderness and the only way to reach the lodge is by
helicopter! We arrived at the helicopter hangar and stepped on the
large floor scale to join five other passengers for a group weigh
in. The flight only lasts ten minutes, but what a flight! The pilot
flew over glaciers, mountains, rivers, and breathtaking scenery. The
helicopter climbed up to one of the tall mountain peaks and suddenly
it disappeared and we looked straight down. Finally we reached the
lodge, nestled 7,200 feet above Bald Mountain, on the remote border
of Canada’s Glacier National Park. I expected to “rough it” but the
beautiful lodge offered everything anyone could want for a vacation
in the mountains. Purcell’s motto: Unforgettable, Simple, Luxury.
The focus is on the 3,000-acre wilderness area around the lodge.
This is a totally different experience. It's so
isolated. Guides take guests to Bald Mountain, one of the largest
alpine meadows in southeastern British Columbia, great for people
who were not avid hikers and want to get out and see the scenery and
nature. It is very low impact and easy, with a minimum elevation
gain. Above average hikers can take a high Alpine climb right up to
the peak. We see some wild animals - usually more tracks than live
Guests choose winter cross/back-country skiing,
downhill skiing, alpine touring, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or
tobogganing. In the summer, everyone swims in the mountain lakes.
Meals are served buffet- style. Guests eat box lunches together on
their hikes or skiing trips. When they return, guests usually have a
sauna and some snacks, then appetizers at 5:30 pm, followed by
The price is All-Inclusive - including the
helicopter, guide, food, and accommodations. There are only 10 rooms
in the lodge, honeymooners or couples who just want to be away from
everybody can stay in the Chateau Suite, in a separate building.
Indian guide demonstrated some ancient techniques during the
Aboriginal Wilderness Tour.
Aboriginal Wilderness Tours
The Aboriginals proudly share thousands of years of
their culture and traditions with us. It is an extraordinary
experience! The Kootenay Wilderness Tours are not your usual
wilderness tour. The native Elder guide Sequoyah True Blood focuses
on native culture and ceremonies as well as wilderness adventures.
First we walked across 3 wooden logs, which were put
together to form a natural bridge over the creek. Nature always
looks great when it is unspoiled! Sequoyah led us through the
wilderness to a clearing with three tepees. These tepees are based
on the traditions of the Blackfoot, Nakoda, and Kootenay tribes of
Inside Sequoyah’s tepee, we sat in a circle around
the fire pit. Cedar bows acted as his carpet, an eagle feather alter
and colorful blankets hung from the walls. He lit a fire in the pit
and closed the flap to the tepee so the smoke would rise up to the
opening above. Sequoyah joked, “This is the original solar home.”
He began by explaining the ceremony of smoking the
peace pipe. When the bowl and stem are joined, the pipe is ready.
Sequoyah lights the pipe and passes it to each person in the tepee.
We all had the opportunity to ask questions and participate. Every
part of this ancient ceremony has a meaning and is performed
according to tradition. Sequoyah shook a rattle as he chanted and
sang in his native tongue.
Later he demonstrated the Eagle Bone Feather
Whistle’s song. We learned about some powerful natural medicines for
cleaning out the lungs, helping asthma, and other medical
conditions. He has an abalone shell for burning these natural
Natural hot springs pool at Radium Hot Springs.
Radium Hot Springs has the hottest water and the
largest hot springs facility in the Canadian Rocky Mountains! Inside
the Kootenay National Park, you can soak in the hot springs pool,
gaze up at the rock cliffs, and watch for Bighorn sheep. Choose from
the hot (104° F) or cold plunge pools. The hot springs occur
naturally loaded with dissolved minerals. The Pleiades Massage & Spa
is steps from the hot springs.
The Radium Hot Springs Lodge is perched on top of
the mountain, minutes from the Radium Hot Springs pools and spa.
Take the Lodge’s direct elevator access, walk, or drive to the
recreation area. As the only hotel in the park by the hot pools, you
are near everything. Lounge on the viewing deck to watch the bighorn
We have 36 golf courses, white water rafting, guided
hiking, jet boat skiing, horseback riding, canoeing, fishing, heli-skiing,
cross-country skiing, and more. Their Cliff Hanger Dining Room has
magnificent views of the mountains for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Kootenay Mountains Details
Air Canada has daily non-stop and connecting
flights to Calgary and Vancouver. 888-247-2262,
in Calgary or Vancouver, you'll want to refer to the resorts
mentioned below for specific directions or to make
arrangements for transportation to them, i.e. for Purcell
Mountain Lodge, you'll need to be helicoptered in.
Things to Do
Places To Stay
Notice: This information is current as of August 2007. It is
recommended that you contact the numbers, and/or visit the websites
above to determine any changes to the information.