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BC04 - The Kootenays / Hot Springs / Nelson


Distance: 740 km

Duration: 2 Days 

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Route Summary


The Kootenays / Hot Springs
Vernon-Nakusp Hwy 6 
New Denver-Kaslo Hwy 31A 
Kaslo-Nelson Hwy 31
Nelson-Rock Creek Hwy 3A/3 
Rock Creek/Kelowna Hwy 33

- 740 km 2 days
- relax in "BC's Jewel".... The Kootenays

-  incredible roads
- hot springs (Nakusp, Halcyon and Ainsworth)
- recommend overnight at Ainsworth Hot
  Springs or in Nelson
- Sandon.. a mining goast town
- the city of Nelson..very unique
- the Columbia River dams


Vernon-Nakusp Hwy 6


If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Someone should tell this to the Ministry of Highways before they go straightening perfectly good roads. Fortunately, they limited their "improvements" to the final 16.0 km (10.0 mi) of this 128.7 km (79.8 mi) odyssey. What genius thought a multi-million dollar multi-laner was needed on a road where the only access from its western end is a ferry that holds forty cars? This road is so quiet, ranchers herd cattle on it. Despite the Ministry’s misguided efforts, this bridge across the Monashees between the Okanagan and Kootenays remains one of southern B.C.’s finest Destination Highways. An enormously varied riding experience, it ranges from farmland to wilderness, canyon to mountain summit, and tight narrow twisties to long, leaning sweepers. As for the freeway at the end? Like the signs say, that’s your tax dollars at work.


New Denver-Kaslo Hwy 31A


This road is a must, especially if you’ve read the bike magazine articles touting it as one of B.C.’s great motorcycling roads. Truth be told, while this reasonably scenic highway scores top marks for twistiness and is unblemished by development, it does have its faults. Poor sightlines, the occasional dose of gravel and cracking, bumpy pavement make it a challenge to ride well. Up one series of rivers and down another, past the crumbling ghost towns of the Silver Rush, it’s sometimes a tight squeeze through the mountains between New Denver and Kaslo. Demanding? Yes. But if you haven’t ridden this classic, you haven’t ridden B.C.


Kaslo-Nelson Hwy 31

Kaslo to Balfour is a nice road. It's the kind of road you’d feel comfortable taking home to your parents, if you could. But something’s missing. Yes, it has its share of twisties, the pavement is great and the road parallels a magnificent lake. So, what's the problem? It does have a little more traffic than the other roads in the area, but that’s really not it. Somehow, the Ministry of Highways was able to take the natural qualities that make up a great road and, well, engineer the excitement out of them. Still, your parents would probably like it.


Nelson-Rock Creek Hwy 3A/3


More magic from the Crowsnest. And another captivating motorcycle road conjured up from B.C.’s major southern route. With broad and sweeping elegance, this manicured highway bows east out of Grand Forks, winding through the Sunshine Valley, assisted by the lovely and talented Kettle River. After the river vanishes into Christina Lake, the road embarks upon its greatest feat: a twisty but mesmerically engineered climb into the mountains toward the spellbinding heights of Bonanza Pass. With numerous passing lanes, you’ll probably be oblivious to the audience of pylons in attendance. But you won’t be deceived by the pavement. It’s as if the road’s been sawed in half, like some cheap trick. Until Paulson Bridge, the highway is as smooth as a silk handkerchief. Beyond the bridge, the tar strips make it as unpleasant as a bed of nails. Obviously, it’s time the Ministry of Highways pulled a rabbit—or at least a little cash-- out of its hat. Nevertheless, this DH is still well worth the price of admission.


Rock Creek/Kelowna Hwy 33


If you like ‘em long and fast, we highly recommend this lightly travelled 127.0 km (78.7 mi) jaunt. Although straightish at the start, this well-engineered road becomes progressively twistier as you go along. Starting off in the flatland along the Kettle River, you soon switch to the remote and rugged terrain of the West Kettle River Valley. You negotiate rocky slopes, slim canyons and forested plateaus as this DH follows the river to its source high in the mountains. At the top, the pavement spills over the summit and makes a dramatic descent into the Okanagan Valley. The road surface is consistently good to excellent. We expect your mood will be too.

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