In the West Kootenays, there is no better place to relax than in Nakusp, a picturesque setting at the foot of the Selkirk Mountains on the east shore of the Arrow Lakes.
Ringed by the Selkirk Mountains to the east, the Valhallas to the south and the Monashee Mountains to the west, Nakusp offers two hot springs and a host of outdoor recreational opportunities.
Nakusp is a rare Kootenay Gem, where big water, big mountains and big smiles are awaiting for anyone who takes the time to explore this vibrant community.
Nakusp was first established during the mining boom in the Slocan Valley at the turn of the twentieth century. It was expected that Nakusp would also become a mining boomtown, and the Nakusp Slocan railway was completed in 1893. With the building of the smelter in Trail, however, the plan for a smelter in Nakusp vanished.
Rich timberland in the Nakusp area gave growth to a local sawmill and logging industry, while many pioneers settled the fertile land along the Arrow Lakes and established prosperous fruit and vegetable farms.
Several paddle steamers came into service on the lakes, transporting settlers, produce, vacationers, and just about everything else. The boats were retired from active service in the early 1950s.
The town name is derived from an Okanagan Indian word meaning ‘closed in’ or ‘come together’.
Location: Nakusp is located on the eastern shore of Arrow Lakes in the Kootenays, at the junction of Highway 6 and Highway 23, 29 miles (46 km) northwest of New Denver and approximately 60 miles (96 km) south of Revelstoke.
Nakusp and District Museum features an interesting collection of 3,000 unique artifacts, antiques and photographs, including photos of the now submerged towns that dotted the Arrow Lakes before the flooding of the 1960s. Located in a building constructed as a schoo in 1912, visitors can flip through pictures dating back to 1904, view period clothing, and learn about the grand time when paddlewheelers were the only way to travel the Arrow Lakes. Look for the bizarre ‘deformed pig’, preserved for nearly one hundred years, which died shortly after birth and has 8 legs, 2 tails, 3 tongues and 3 eyes.
Waterfront Promenade: Enjoy a half-mile paved walk on the Nakusp waterfront promenade, featuring a Japanese Garden and the Spicer Garden. The trail continues after you pass the public beach, becoming unpaved and passing over more difficult terrain.
Paddlewheeler: Marvel at the historical sternwheeler gracing the Nakusp and District Chamber of Commerce office on First Street, a romantic reminder of the area’s past and dependence on sternwheelers.
Nakusp Hot Springs is nestled in the Selkirk Mountains, 12 km up a paved and well-maintained mountain road. Known as the Hidden Gem of the Kootenays, visitors can soak their bones in a beautiful mountain setting of trees and rushing creeks, go hiking and mountain biking, or camp at the resort’s campground in the serene setting amongst old-growth cedars and hemlock trees beside the Kuskanax Creek.
Halcyon Hot Springs is located north of Nakusp. With 100 years of tradition and surrounded by spectacular alpine peaks, crystal blue lakes, rivers and streams, and an abundance of wildlife, Halcyon Hot Springs is a place of recreation and wellness.
Ione Falls is a 60-foot high waterfall conveniently located beside Highway 23 at the Ione Falls rest area, approximately 19 km north of Nakusp. Expect to get wet from the spray at the base of the waterfall when the water flow is high.
Summer in Nakusp is a feast of mountain climbing and rock climbing, hiking, camping and mountain biking, with the Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes providing great canoeing, swimming and fishing possibilities.
Winter Activities: There’s plenty to do in these parts once Old Man Winter checks in. Located smack in the middle of the Selkirk Mountains to the east and the Monashees to the west, this area is a veritable playground for skiers, snowmobilers and even ice fishermen – on Box Lake and Trout Lake. Most communities in the area offer cross-country skiing, A few areas that offer trails are Barnes Creek between Fauquier and Edgewood, Wensley Creek Ski Trails closer to Nakusp, and the Upper Brouse Road area southeast of Nakusp. Snowcat skiing and snowmobiling also await visitors who are ready for an adventure to happen.
Summit Lake Ski Area offers downhill skiing and snowboarding on 10 runs ranging from beginner to expert levels. Located 20 km south of Nakusp on Highway 6 to New Denver. In addition to the fantastic downhill conditions, Summit Lake also offers spectacular cross country trails, both groomed and ungroomed, and snowmobiling is also offered in the area. For those seeking more of a challenge, local helicopter skiing companies will whisk you and your guide high into the backcountry, where the finest virgin powder snow lies.
Golf: The 9-hole Nakusp Centennial Golf Club (2,610 yards, par 34) is located on Highway 6, just two minutes southeast of Nakusp. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Camping: Campers can find several good private campsites in Nakusp, or head to the Recreation Campsites at Box Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Wilson Lake, and many more.
Valhalla Provincial Park is a magnificent world-class wilderness encompassing 49,600 hectares of natural landscape, and 30 kilometres of pristine shoreline along Slocan Lake. The park is located high in the Valhalla Mountain range along the west shore of Slocan Lake, with numerous cascades and waterfalls scattered throughout the park. Backcountry hiking and camping are popular in the park.
Goat Range Provincial Park is 87,947 hectares of untamed wilderness deep in the Selkirk Mountains west of Nakusp. Goat Range Park has much to offer in terms of wildlife, plantlife and physical features. There is the spectacular 63-metre high Wilson Creek Falls, the 3,089-metre high Mt. Cooper topped by the Spokane Glacier, peaceful alpine meadows of heather, and miniature icebergs floating on azure lakes. The park also protects some of BC’s most unique and endangered wildlife, and is home to the world’s largest concentration of the rare white grizzly, with its distinctive unique blonde colouring. Other wildlife includes bears, elk, deer, mountain caribous, and mountain goats.
Nakusp Music Fest is the largest classic rock festival in the interior of British Columbia. The family-oriented outdoor 3-day music festival is held annually in mid July in sunny Downtown Nakusp, featuring around 20 bands, two stages, two beergardens, Vendor Village, and a Kid Zone.
Build, Bail and Sail is an annual event on the Sunday of the August long weekend in Nakusp. Twelve two-person teams build a boat and paddles in three and a half hours, and then race their creation from Nakusp public beach. Teams paddle their boats around a buoy, then the teammates switch positions and race past the next buoy to the finish at the beach. Any design goes, but there is always a sinker or two.
Ghost Town: Travel back into the history of this region, to the Ghost Town of Sandon, once the Capital of the Silvery Slocan. Located 8 km east of New Denver, Sandon was an incorporated city of 5,000 people at the height of the mining boom in 1892. Two railroads once served this Monte Carlo of Canada, with its twenty nine hotels, twenty eight saloons, an opera house, two newspapers, five men’s clothing stores, a bank, and several other gambling halls, brothels, offices, stores and businesses. Now a renowned and restored historic site, Sandon lures thousands of visitors each summer.
Southeast of Nakusp is New Denver, located on Highway 6 on the shore of Slocan Lake. The former mining town is now noted mainly for its spectacular location on Slocan Lake, with the peaks of the Valhalla Mountains rising more than 2,100 metres on the opposite shore.
Southwest of Nakusp is Burton, a friendly little lakeside village on Lower Arrow Lake. Burton is also located on Highway 6, en route to the Faquier/Needles ferry crossing of Arrow Lake, and beyond that to Vernon and the Okanagan Valey.
North of Nakusp is Revelstoke, accessed from Nakusp on Highway 23 via the Galena Bay/Shelter Bay ferry across Upper Arrow Lake. Flanked by the snow-capped peaks of the Selkirk Mountains to the east and the Monashees to the west, Revelstoke has some of the most spectacular scenery in British Columbia.
Circle Tour: See the best of the area on The Okanagan and Kootenay Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through Boundary Country and the Southern Okanagan to complete the loop.
Circle Tours in British Columbia.