The Slocan Valley is located in the Kootenays region of British Columbia. The discovery of silver in the 1890s brought prospectors by the thousands to the Slocan Valley.
Known for good reason as the Silvery Slocan, most communities in the area owe their existence to silver. Once a booming city of 6,000 people around the year 1900, Slocan City today is a small logging and mill town.
Slocan City was founded by Frank Fletcher of Nelson in 1892. The name Slocan is derived from the Okanagan First Nation word meaning ‘piece, strike on the head’, which refers to the aboriginal practice of spearing or harpooning the salmon that used to be plentiful throughout the Slocan district.
A drive up the Slocan Valley and the Upper Arrow Lake area runs from Salmo to Galena Bay via Highways 6 and 23, as well as a side trip to Kaslo on Highway 31A, including Valhalla and Monashee Provincial Parks. This is a very pretty drive, not to be attempted in a rush. By their very nature, the Selkirk Mountains define this part of the Kootenays. Highway 6 links silvan Salmo with Highway 23 and stern-wheeling Nakusp, and forms alliances with branches of Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway) to wrap all who journey here in a seductive embrace. Love at first sight is the reaction of many visitors to the Kootenays.
Two of British Columbia’s major mountain wilderness parks, Valhalla and Kokanee Glacier, are situated here. Cody Caves, a unique area of karst topography, also occurs here. (A karst is a limestone region with underground drainage and many cavities and passages caused by the dissolution of the rock.) Serrated, glacier-cloaked granite peaks dominate the landscape. Huge lake-filled glacial valleys provide habitat for many kinds of wildlife and offer excellent opportunities for water-based recreation. The range of wilderness experiences offered throughout the West Kootenays is exhilarating and diverse. Hot springs, alpine meadows, spectacular winter recreation, wildlife observation, and photography are among the many reasons to visit.
Throughout both the East and West Kootenay regions winds the majestic Columbia River, with its source in Columbia Lake near the town of Fairmont Hot Springs on the Rockies’ western slopes. The river flows north for over 186 miles (300 km) before hooking west and south to begin its long journey – more than 250 miles (400 km) – to the US border. For nearly half this length it widens to form the Upper and Lower Arrow Lakes, vast reservoirs of water that moderate winter temperatures and help retain moisture in the local atmosphere, thus greatly influencing the types of vegetation found there. The river crosses the border just south of Trail and passes through Washington to its mouth at Astoria, Oregon.
Location: The Slocan Valley is located in the Kootenays region of British Columbia. Highway 3 (Crowsnest Highway) leads west from Creston and east from Castlegar to Salmo. Highway 6 leads east from Vernon to Nakusp. Highway 23 leads south from Highway 1 at Revelstoke to Galena Bay via the Shelter Bay ferry.
The following towns and major parks are located in or near the Slocan Valley:
The quaint little hamlet of Kaslo is nestled on the shores of Kootenay Lake, between the Selkirk and Purcell Mountains. Elegant Victorian era buildings, tree-lined streets and magnificent lake and mountain views give credence to these titles.
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.
On the shores of the giant Kootenay Lake, Nelson is one of the prettiest towns in British Columbia, in one of the most beautiful settings. Life in Nelson is unhurried, and people still smile and greet visitors.
Founded in 1892 on the shores of Slocan Lake, the Village of New Denver saw its first houses built by the calloused hands of mining prospectors. 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.
After driving up the Slocan Valley from the south, Passmore is the first place where you really get an appreciation of the beautiful Valhalla mountain range in the Selkirk Mountains situated to the north. The Passmore bridge over the Slocan River marks one of the most important mid-valley crossings over the Slocan River.
The small village of Salmo, to the east of Trail in the Kootenays region of British Columbia, is another of the booming mining towns whose prosperity was curtailed by a decline in gold and mineral mining successes.
Travel back in time at the Ghost Town of Sandon, once the Capital of the Silvery Slocan and now a renowned and restored historic site. Sandon was an incorporated city of 5,000 people at the height of the mining boom in 1892, with 29 hotels, 28 saloons, an opera house, 2 newspapers, 5 men’s clothing stores, a bank, and several other gambling halls, brothels, offices, stores and businesses.
The small village of Silverton was first settled in 1892 by miners working the south face of Idaho Mountain, extracting the rich deposits of lead and silver. The area was first inhabited by the Kootenai and Salish First Nations, whose pictographs can still be seen along the shores of Slocan Lake.
Once known as Slocan City, Slocan Village was the smallest incorporated city in the British Commonwealth, and perhaps the smallest city in the world. Slocan is located at the extreme southerly end of Slocan Lake in the Slocan Valley.
The small community of Winlaw is located on the eastern bank of the Slocan River. Situated in the picturesque Slocan Valley, Winlaw offers a host of recreational activities amongst the surrounding mountains, rivers and lakes.
Nestled high in the Monashee Mountains, next to Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, the year-round playground of Revelstoke has some of the most spectacular scenery in all of British Columbia. Flanked by the snow-capped peaks of the Selkirk Mountains to the east and the Monashees to the west, Revelstoke was proclaimed The Capital of Canada’s Alps and was known as The Mountain Paradise in the early 1900s.
Valhalla Provincial Park is a magnificent world-class wilderness, encompassing 49,600 hectares of natural landscape and 30 km of the pristine shoreline along Slocan Lake. According to Norse mythology, Valhalla was a palace roofed with shields, wherein lived the bravest of the slain Norse warriors.
Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park is located in the Slocan Range of the Selkirk Mountains between Slocan Lake and the north arm of Kootenay Lake. It is a mountain wilderness of more than 32,035 hectares, providing protection of significant grizzly bear habitat. The Kokanee Glacier, for which the park is named, clings to the slopes of Kokanee Peak at the park’s centre. The Kokanee Glacier is one of three glaciers within the park that feed over 30 small lakes and form the headwaters for most of the park’s waterways.