Must-Visit Parks in Lake Louise – Kootenay

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

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Experience Kootenay National Park

Don't miss the beautiful sights in Kootenay National Park.

Don't miss the beautiful sights in Kootenay National Park.

LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – One of the great things about vacationing in Lake Louise is all the exciting places you can visit. One of them is the small but vibrant Kootenay National Park.

It’s only a short drive away and there’s so much to see and do when you get there. Make your way to Highway 93 and head south. When you’re on the road to Radium Hot Springs, you’ve begun your adventure.

Kootenay’s not large, but it is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. In one short day, you can go from the cool shade of a canyon to the heat of a desert – well, as much of a desert as you can find in the Canadian Rockies. You’ll be treated to the incredible scenery of a burned forest and the brilliant colors of vermilion rocks. All of this in a one day trip from Lake Louise.

In fact, it’s the burned forest that will greet you on your trip to Kootenay. This is the Vermillion Pass Burn, remnants of a 1968 forest fire. If you think it’s just desolation, look close – the area is actually teeming with wildlife. Moose love the area; they come for the ends of the bushes, which get a lot of sunlight and grow really well. Those same bushes also produce berries that attract bears. There are a number of flowers in the area as well which means you may see a lot of hummingbirds. To top it off, the rare and rarely-seen lynx can be spotted in the area, hunting snowshoe hares that live along the edge of the burn.

If you want to take a closer look at the burn, there are a couple of trails you can walk. The Arnica Lake/Twin Lakes trailhead is a good place to start. At the short Firewood trail you can learn more about a fire’s role in renewing the landscape.

There are two other trails worth checking out. One trail follows the edge of Marble Canyon, a short but very deep crevasse. Bridges across the canyon provide excellent views into the interior. The other trail goes to the Ochre Beds and Paint Pots. Sediments that flow from cold springs runoff here were mined for use as paints.

Next on your trip in Kootenay is Mt. Wardle Mineral Lick. Here you’ll find the official symbol of Kootenay National Park: the mountain goat. Nearly 300 of them live in the park, and if you want to see them, you’ve come to the right place. This natural mineral lick is right by the side of the highway – just look for the sign. In May and June, especially, they like to come to the area to lick the dirt. Minerals such as calcium are mixed in with the soil, which the goats – and particularly the nannies who have just given birth – require.

In fact, wildlife is among the best of reasons to visit Kootenay. Much of the park sits in the low-elevation Kootenay Valley. What does low elevation mean? Primarily, it means temperate weather: an easier winter and a longer, more dynamic summer. And that means wildlife thrives here. Coyotes, black bears, moose, elk, deer; all roam the grassy meadows and open forests. Keep an eye out, because you’re almost sure to see something. We urge you to keep a very careful eye out at dusk, when the something you might see could easily be right on the road in front of you!

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