Once a bustling mining town, Riondel is a small retirement village in the Kootenay Valley, on the east shore of Kootenay Lake.
Riondel offers breathtaking views overlooking Kootenay Lake, the neighbouring mountains and Kokanee Glacier, a great sandy beach, abundant hiking trails and good fishing – an excellent spot to cast for trout from shore.
Riondel was once the mining capital of the lake country and home of the historic Bluebell Mine, named after the flowers that can still be seen throughout the area today. The Bluebell Mine had a thick vein of galena ore, rich in lead, zinc, and silver, and was the reason a smelter was built at nearby Pilot Bay. The legendary Bluebell Mine was a stop on Kootenay Lake for the steamers of the Great Northern Railway Company, with mining operations continuing until its closure in 1971.
Location: Riondel is located on Riondel Road on the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake, 6 miles (10 km) north of Kootenay Bay, the eastern terminal of the Kootenay Lake ferry. Riondel is a 1-hour drive from Creston, and a 90-minute drive from Nelson, using the scenic free ferry ride.
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Museum: Call the local Historic Society to arrange a visit to their small museum showcasing the history of Riondel; located in the Community Centre.
Hot Spring: Geothermal records show a hot spring located near Riondel, about 10 km north of the ferry dock at Kootenay Bay. However, the spring is located deep in one of the many old mine shafts, so swing by one of the area’s easily accessed springs instead.
Walkway: Follow the historic walkway that meanders through the old mining site.
Visit the Purple Door, Home of the Wizards and other trippy stuff by local artists.
Hiking: Take a Hike on the East Shore, along one of the many area trails; The Waterfront Trail in Riondel follows 1.5 km of the lakeshore from the south end of North Bay beach; The Pebble Beach Trail 7 km north of Riondel leads from the Kootenay Lake East FS Road to a south-facing, pebbled beach; The 15-minute Pilot Bay Lighthouse Trail near Kootenay Bay leads to an historic 1907 lighthouse; The one-hour Pilot Bay Marine Park trail leads through varying terrain as it follows the lakeshore; The Plaid Lake Hiking Trail near Crawford Bay is a full day hike to the alpine Plaid Lake on the west side of the Purcell Mountains; The Duck Lakes Dykes Trail near Sirdar offers miles of almost level hiking through some of the richest waterfowl habitat in BC.
Golf: Golfers in Riondel have two golf clubs to choose from; the 9-hole Par 3 course at the friendly Riondel Golf Club, located on Galena Bay Wharf Road just 10 minutes from the Kootenay Bay ferry, and the 18-hole championship Kokanee Springs Golf Resort in Crawford Bay, a 20-minute drive to the south. Golfers can also head to the magnificent Balfour Golf Course and Eagleview Golf Course in Balfour, on the western shore of Kootenay Lake. Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
Fishing: Kootenay Lake maintains considerable populations of various fish species, including kokanee, rainbow and cutthroat trout, dolly varden, burbot, and whitefish. Kootenay Lake supports record-sized rainbow trout. ‘Kokanee’ means ‘red fish’ in the Kootenay Indian language and is the name given to the land-locked salmon that spawn in large numbers in Kokanee Creek in the late summer. The best fishing is in the fall and winter months.
Recreation: Other outdoor opportunities include canoeing or kayaking the pristine waters of the 75-mile long and 5-mile wide Kootenay lake (rentals available), swimming, wildlife and nature viewing, boating and sailing, horsedrawn adventures, and backcountry exploration.
Camping: the private Riondel Campground is located 1 km from the Riondel Market, and a second campground and RV park is located 12 km north of Riondel.
Pop down to Boswell, where the Glass House of the late David Brown features half a million empty, square embalming fluid bottles used to build this curiously beautiful house.
Circle Tour: See the best of the area on The Okanagan and BC 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.