Things to Do in Invermere and the Columbia Valley
Looking for things to do in Invermere? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Located just three hours west of Calgary, Invermere and the entire Columbia Valley is one of our favourite British Columbia destinations.
Sandwiched between the Purcell Mountains and the Rocky Mountains in a stunning valley fringed by some of the largest wetlands in North America, Invermere is truly a paradise for those into outdoor adventure.
There are also lots of things to do in Invermere during all seasons, with world-class skiing and snowmobiling in the colder months and everything from hiking and biking to paddling and ATV’ing during the warmer months.
In this travel guide, we’re going to fill you in on the top things to do in Invermere.
Enjoy Windermere Lake
Besides the two mountain ranges, the many hot springs, the wetlands, and the valley itself, one of the main things that make Invermere a popular destination is Windermere Lake. While it’s popular year-round for different activities, the summer is when it truly shines, both figuratively and literally. This is when people get out on boats, go fishing, go swimming in the blue waters, or just enjoy the water in a variety of ways. If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one from Pete’s Marina.
Chill Out at James Chabot Provincial Park
Located on the northern edge of Windermere Lake, right in the town of Invermere, is the small but beautiful James Chabot Provincial Park. Here you’ll find a nice sandy beach, a playground, a variety of picnic tables, and even a wooden walkway to explore part of the neighbouring wetlands. People tend to come here and enjoy things like kayaking, canoeing, paddleboarding, and even windsurfing. We walked here one night for sunset and captured such a beautiful video of the lake and the mountains with many loons singing out in the distance.
Go Kayaking or Canoeing in the Wetlands
With Windermere Lake, the Columbia Wetlands, and the Columbia River, there are loads of paddling opportunities for those wanting to get out on the water. During our visit, we joined a guided kayaking tour with Columbia River Paddle and went through the wetlands and into the Columbia River, terminating in the town of Radium Hot Springs four hours later. This is such a beautiful tour as it’s a great chance to spot many birds (we saw loads of bald eagles), admire the two mountain ranges, enjoy one of the largest wetlands in North America, and so much more.
Whether you’re looking for a simple trail to go biking or some more serious downhill mountain biking, Invermere and the Columbia Valley are a great place to be. There are many trails around town to enjoy. One of our favourites is the Old Coach Road, which is fairly wide and goes along the cliffs of the Columbia Valley, giving you the chance to get lovely views over the wetlands and valley.
For those looking to get some adrenaline pumping, you can head to Panorama Mountain Resort, a ski resort that becomes a mountain biking haven during the summer months. The bike park has flow tracks, green trails for beginners, and plenty of intermediate trails for expert bikers. Just make sure you’re ready because mountain biking is not for the faint-hearted. When you’re done, Panorama also offers Eurobungy, tennis, a pool, a climbing wall, and mountain yoga.
For those who love to drive the ball, Invermere is paradise. With more than 13 golf courses situated in or within 60 minutes of the town, golf has become one of the top things to do in Invermere.
Some options include the 18-hole course at Eagle Ranch Resort, which offers a 72-par course with stunning fairways and small canyons. There’s also the family-owned nine-hole Setetkwa Golf Course, which doubles as an RV park or the Ridge at Copper Point, which offers an 18-hole course with par 62, making it a great option for a quicker game. For those looking for something even more serious, you might want to consider the Greywolf Golf Course, which was voted one of the top five courses in Canada.
If that’s still not enough, there’s also the very popular Springs Golf Course in Radium Hot Springs, which also offers incredible views. You could even stay there at the Bighorn Meadows Resort, which is located on the ninth fairway of the golf course.
Other options include Mountainside in Fairmont Hot Springs, Edgewater Hill, and Creekside.
Located nearby and just off the highway leading to Radium Hot Springs, Valley Zipline Adventures offers a thrilling and fun adventure for the whole family. Get strapped into your harness, throw on a helmet, and enjoy whizzing around through the forest on 7 ziplines, some of which are 300 feet long!
This was a fun zipline as you get a hands-on experience, taking charge of your own gear. Before embarking on the full course, you’ll actually get a training session on some very short ziplines near the main building. Once you’re confident, you’ll have loads of fun flying through the Dry Gulch Valley, including a double zip that allows you to race your friend or family member. All in all, this experience takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Take a Chairlift up the Mountain
There are many benefits to having a ski resort nearby and one of them is being able to ride a chairlift up the mountain for stunning views or alpine hikes. The chairlift takes you up to a whopping 5,300 feet for a truly breathtaking experience.
Another great thing to do near Panorama Mountain Resort is ATV’ing. Offered by Toby Creek Adventures, you can join them on a guided tour to go all the way up the mountain to see stunning waterfalls and a private alpine cabin overlooking some of the most incredible scenery in the area. Even if you’re a beginner, this is a great way to try out an ATV while getting truly unforgettable views.
Go Soaring through the Skies
Ever dream of soaring around the Canadian Rockies? For those who don’t know what “soaring” is, it is the sport of flying unpowered aircraft called gliders or sailplanes. Launched into the air by powered aircraft and using natural sources of lift, such as thermals, the two objectives of the sport are to stay airborne as long as possible and fly the longest distances.
Invermere is known as being one of the best-soaring sites in the world thanks to a wonderful mix of thermals, dynamic soaring, and wave. If this sounds thrilling to you, the best season is from May to September with June to August being the prime time. Learn more at the Invermere Soaring Centre.
With so much nature, it’s no surprise that Invermere and the Columbia Valley are home to some great hiking. Whether you’re looking for light hiking or alpine trekking, there’s something for everyone. One of the most popular trails is Lillian Lake, but there’s also Toby Creek Canyon if you want to see some hoodoos, Old Coach Road for views over the valley, and Juniper Trail to see Sinclair Falls. There’s also Kootenay National Park and Panorama Mountain Resort for more mountainous options.
Take a Dip in the Hot Springs
With so much adventure in the area, you’ll be pleased to know that this region is also home to quite a few hot springs for you to rest your tired muscles in. The closest hot spring is Radium Hot Springs, a popular one managed by Parks Canada. These are one of the most popular hot springs in BC with odour-free water boasting a temperature between 37 and 40 degrees. We love these hot springs because they back onto a cliff, making it a great place to be in nature while having man-made amenities, lockers, and more. We’ve even watched mountain goats climbing around from the pools.
Another option is Fairmont Hot Springs, which is just 20-minutes south and is home to the largest hot springs in Canada. There’s also a popular resort, golf course, spa, and more.
If you want a more wilderness feel, Lussier Hot Springs is a popular option. Located in Whiteswan Provincial Park, which is an hour’s drive from Invermere, this is a natural hot spring right next to a river. There’s no man-made pool for the water. You just sit on the rocks and enjoy. However, it is certainly not a secret and you can expect heavy crowds at times.
Drink Some Craft Vodka at Taynton Bay Spirits
Everyone loves a good craft drink from time to time, and in Invermere, you can taste some delicious spirits at Taynton Bay Spirits, the only distillery in town.
Made with wheat grown just miles away, these spirits are as locally-made as it gets. Not only will you get to try flavoured vodkas like orange turmeric and ginger matcha tea, but you can also do a tour to learn about the distilling process.
Drink Craft Beer at Arrowhead Brewing Company
If spirits aren’t your thing, or maybe you like both, head on over to Arrowhead Brewing Company for some tasty craft beer. Opened in 2012, this brewery creates a wide variety of beers, including permanent brews and some rotating seasonal taps as well. The taproom is a nice place to indulge in a pint or two, or you can do what we always do and order a flight, allowing you to taste a variety. Some popular options include the Blonde Bombshell and the Black Jack Irish Stout.
Visit the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives
If you’d like to learn about the history of this beautiful place, you don’t want to miss a visit to the Windermere Valley Museum and Archives. Home to a number of historic buildings, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time while enjoying stunning views of the lake and valley.
Some of the buildings include an old railway station, the original Brisco schoolhouse, a 1942 pioneer cabin from the Crook homestead, a Miner Cabin, and the Notary Building, which was originally constructed as a WW1 veterans’ memorial. Each building features a variety of interesting exhibits and artifacts relating to mining, farming, transportation, daily life, and much more.
Visit Pynelogs Cultural Centre and Art Gallery
Now that you’ve learned some history at the Windermere Valley Museum, learn about the culture and art scene at the Pynelogs Cultural Centre and Art Gallery.
Located in a historic log building that was constructed in 1914, you’ll find a great selection of art depicting various subjects and themes, ranging from painting and prints to sculptures and ceramics. This is also a great place to check out some events, such as comedy shows, music concerts, plays, and dramas.
An added bonus of visiting the cultural centre is the vibrant heritage garden that features flowers and vegetables that were common back in the day as well as a stunning landscape and a fountain within Dorothy Lake.
Attend the Annual MusicFest
Who doesn’t love music?
If you’re looking to enjoy this beautiful neck of the woods while also enjoying some incredible music, time your visit with the annual MusicFest, which takes part in August. The festival lasts for an entire weekend and showcases both Canadian and international talent, all next to the stunning Windermere Lake.
Soak Up Some Sun at Kinsmen Park
One of the popular lakeside beaches lies within Kinsmen Park, which is super close to downtown Invermere. The park is home to an old CPR Lodge as well as the stunning Columbia Valley Botanical Gardens. Visitors can enjoy views of the two mountain ranges, the garden, the beach, and food and drinks at the concession stand during the busy summer months. There are also washrooms, picnic tables, beach volleyball, and a children’s play area.
Enjoy the Invermere Rotary Splash and Spray Park
Another popular park, especially for kids, is the Invermere Rotary Splash And Spray Park, which is located on the Northern shore of Windermere Lake. During the hot summer months, kids can have a blast in the many water features.
Buy Some Art at the Artym Gallery
If you’re looking to admire some art or purchase some for your home, the award-winning Artym Gallery is a great place to visit. Featuring art from more than 60 Canadian artists, you can find a wide variety of stunning paintings, sculptures, and jewellery.
Explore Kootenay National Park
Located just north of Invermere and Radium Hot Springs is the absolutely incredible Kootenay National Park. Despite being just as beautiful as the world-famous Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park sees much fewer visitors, allowing you a more peaceful experience.
You can enjoy the scenic drive while stopping off at the various viewpoints, visit waterfalls and canyons that are located close to the road, or go on a variety of hikes, including multi-day hikes and backcountry camping adventures.
Another unique and wonderful experience is to join a guided hike to marvel at the UNESCO-listed Burgess Shale fossils, which are more than 500 million years old!
Spend a Weekend at Nipika Mountain Resort
Nipika Mountain Resort is a beautiful resort not far from Invermere. It’s ideal for spending a winter holiday as they have some attractive log cabin accommodation options.
Nipika Mountain Resort is surrounded by an amazing trail network set along the Kootenay and Cross River valleys. The trails make for a great place for cross country skiing, fat biking, and snowshoeing in the winter. In the summer you can enjoy endless hiking and mountain biking opportunities.
Ice Skate Along Lake Windermere Whiteway
If you happen to be in Invermere during the winter months and know how to skate, you should definitely check out the Lake Windermere Whiteway, which is claimed to be the world’s longest naturally frozen skating trail at a whopping 32 km (21 miles) in length.
Surrounded by stunning views of two mountain ranges, it’s truly one of the most breathtaking skating experiences you’ll ever have. If that sounds too long for you, don’t worry, there are shorter loops as well. Plus, in addition to the skating pathway, there are also opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice hockey.
Lake Lillian Whiteway
Another great thing to do in Invermere in the winter is go nordic skiing on the Lake Lillian Waterway just 10 minutes outside of Invermere. This 3km long trail is perfect for those that have already been out on the Windermere Whiteway.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Although there are many world-class ski resorts within an hour of Invermere, the closest one is Panorama Mountain Resort, which is just 20-minutes away. Located in the Purcell Mountains, Panorama is one of our favourite ski resorts thanks to its incredible runs, beautiful landscapes, hot pools, and ski-in-ski-out accommodation. Panorama Mountain Resort also has one of the biggest verticals in all of North America while retaining many runs for beginners and experts alike.
Plus, they also have a variety of trails for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and fat-tire biking.
Go Snowmobiling in the Mountains
Another really fun winter adventure in Invermere is to go snowmobiling with Toby Creek Adventures near Panorama Mountain Ski Resort. This guided tour takes you up a mountain, offering a variety of jaw-dropping views and a frozen waterfall, before making your way to a private alpine cabin where you get a BBQ meal next to the remnants of an early 1900s silver mine. Then, you’ll get free time to ride into a powder bowl where you can really rip around and have a blast in one of the most beautiful areas in BC.
Want More Things to Do in the Kootenays and Beyond?
While the Kootenays is home to some of the best things to do in British Columbia, there’s a lot more to this province, as well as the neighbouring province of Alberta. For more travel guides, check out these below.