One of my favorite road trips is cruising along Highway 93 in the Kootenays on the eastern side of British Columbia.
Invermere is a hidden gem community that boasts all the beauty of the Canadian Rockies without the crowds, so it’s definitely worth visiting.
Of all the things to do in and around Invermere (the hub of the region), taking a few days to explore the area is the perfect getaway whether you’re looking for family fun, outdoor adventure or to relax.
It’s less than 1.5 hours of driving time to get from Radium Hot Springs to Kimberley, but there are tons of fun adventures to be had along the way.
The east Kootenays is home to stunning mountain top vistas, vast valleys, epic mountain biking trails, warm lakes and sandy beaches, some of the best hot springs in BC, adorable Austrian-themed alpine towns and all the outdoor adventures you can handle.
Here are some ideas and the best things to do in and around Invermere to help you build an itinerary for visiting the east Kootenays.
This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through and make a purchase I may make a small commission. I only share information about things I know, love and trust!
Stroll Through Downtown Invermere
Invermere has a great downtown core. There’s great boutique shopping, art galleries and cafes, bistros and restaurants.
Kootenay Coffee Works is a little out of downtown, but they’ve always got the most unique soup specials on daily.
Stop in to see what’s on the menu, sometimes its soups like: potato curry, spinach wasabi and coconut chicken soup.
Kinsmen Beach and James Chabot Provincial Park
Wander down to Kinsmen Beach on Lake Windermere, which is what Invermere is most known for. There’s tons of space for everyone, lots of parking and nice water to swim in.
The beach is large and has sandy sections for the kids, and there’s even a waterslide and docks to jump off of.
The beach at James Chabot Provincial Park is also another nice spot with a large beach and plenty of shade, and you can also rent paddle boats here.
Craft Breweries and Distilleries
Stop for a pint of local craft beer at Arrowhead Brewing Company and enjoy the vintage taproom vibes or the dog-friendly all season patio.
Overlooking Kinsmen Beach is Taynton Bay Spirits, a relatively new distillery in town. But this is no ordinary distillery.
They make tea infused with vodka to produce ready to pour cocktails. Stop in for a tasting and try the ginger matcha or orange turmeric cocktails.
Visit Quirky Small Towns
Radium Hot Springs
If you’re making your way along Highway 93, the village of Radium Hot Spring will be your first stop. The Radium Hot Springs pools are a must visit (they’re so much better than the Banff Upper Hot Springs in my opinion).
The water is hot, extra soft and soothing from all the minerals, and the pool is huge so there’s lots of room to spread out. In the summer there’s also a cooler swimming pool for the kids and lap swimming.
But there’s also great hiking in the area, like Sinclair Canyon where the highway is blasted through the massive rockwall.
For a leisurely, yet scenic walk, go for a drive to visit Olive Lake, perfectly clear and still emerald green water. On the way you’ll pass by stunning red rock cliffs.
And above all, enjoy walking around this quiet little town in the mountains and admire all the adorable Austrian-themed hotels.
Chances are you’ll also bump into the bighorn sheep that roam freely around town, too! (just don’t approach them as they’re wild animals).
Finish off your visit in town with dinner at the Salzburg – the best German/Austrian food in the west!
Kimberley was voted best small town in BC for 2022, and after an hour strolling through town, it’s easy to see why.
The small downtown core is centered around the Platzl, and is pedestrian only, making it a perfect place to visit in the summer.
It’s fun to walk around and admire the German-influenced architecture, as this community bodes the nickname ‘Little Bavaria.’
Go Ziplining Over Dry Gulch
If you’ve never gone ziplining before, this is the place to do it. Valley Zipline Adventures take you and a guide on 7 zipline through the dry gulch valley.
All the staff are friendly and helpful and made the experience so much. We’ve ziplined in Mexico before and almost weren’t going to try this one, but I’m so glad we did.
Their system of clips makes it fool proof and super safe and it was SO SO much fun. Plan for about an hour and half here.
Soak in Natural Hot Springs
Lussier Hot Springs – Natural Hot Springs Near Invermere
The Lussier Hot Springs located in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park are the closest and most accessible natural hot springs to Invermere.
You’ll have to take Whiteswan Lake Forest Road for about 30 minutes to reach the parking lot for the hot springs. Then it’s a 5 minute walk down to pools that have been built up with boulders alongside the river.
Ram Creek Hot Springs
Ram Creek Hot Springs are 3 rock pools in the middle of the forest, only accessible by hiking for about 40 minutes. The springs aren’t scorching hot – more like bathwater temperature, but the setting is phenomenal.
They’re a bit tricky to find, but doable. Here’s how to get to Ram Creek Hot Springs.
Fairmont Natural Hot Springs
Behind the commercial pools at the Fairmont Hot Springs, there are ‘natural’ hot springs down below. They’re actually formed from the pool runoff above, but it makes for a unique adventure.
The pool runoff creates a warm waterfall, which has carved out a few small pools for bathers to enjoy. Park in the main parking lot and walk towards the RV Park. But turn right to descend down to the natural area.
Read more about how to find them here, in my post about 3 natural hot springs you can visit in one road trip.
Fairmont Indian Baths
Perched above a small hill overlooking the Fairmont Hot Springs building are the Fairmont Indian Baths, which are the old stone houses that originally house the hot mineral springs water.
A short 2 minute hike will take you up the hill to view the bath house ruins as well as the source of the springs which is a small pool that you can dip your feet in. Careful, it’s hot!
Hidden Gem Lakes for Swimming, Cliff Jumping and Kayaking
If you continue down the road from Lussier Hot Springs, you’ll reach one of the best swimming lakes near Invermere.
It’s crystal clear and never busy, making it the perfect spot for a hot summer day. If you have a kayak or canoe, even better – as this is a long and calm lake to explore. There’s a campground here too.
Twin Lakes/Bottomless Lake
This is a popular spot for cliff jumping not too far from Invermere. It’s a small but deep lake, but be warned, it’s very cold!
The water is also very calm and still, so bring your floaties or SUPs. The water is so beautiful, it’s a milky green turquoise color.
Follow Windermere Loop road east from Highway 93 for about 10 minutes and then another 5 minute walk through the trees brings you to this lake.
Quartz Lake/Rockbluff Lake
Located in Premier Lake Provincial Park is this stunning crystal clear lake surrounded by slate rock cliffs.
You’ll have to drive on a narrow gravel road that’s more like a trail, so a higher-clearance or 4×4 vehicle is recommended – however, we were able to make it in a honda civic.
Once you’re there, it’s quiet, it’s tranquil and breathtakingly beautiful. There’s a small beach and picnic area, a boat launch area and dry pit toilets.
Another emerald green clear lake for swimming, kayaking and SUPing. There’s a day use area as well as a campground. Look for the rope swings!
West of Canal Flats is a hidden gem – Whitetail Lake where you can hang out beside (or in) the turquoise blue water.
This is a great spot to visit if you’re looking for a picturesque lake without any hiking involved, as you can drive right up to the day use area on the north side of the lake.
Hikes Near Invermere
Mt Swansea Lookout Trail
If you can make it to the top of Swansea Mountain Road, it’s only a 15 minute hike to the summit which provides some of the best views of the entire Columbia Valley.
There’s also 7 shorter hiking trails all over Mt Swansea and you can hike to an abandoned copper mining cave. It’s a 5 minute hike down from the summit parking lot.
Bumpy Meadows and Pedley Pass
Pedley Pass is where you’ll get to view Mt. Assiniboine, nicknamed the Matterhorn of Canada because of its striking similarity to the more well-known mountain peak in Switzerland.
Lake of the Hanging Glacier
A true hidden gem in all of British Columbia, this hike brings you to a lake that easily rivals Moraine Lake and Lake Louise with its vibrant cyan blue color surrounded by glacier covered mountain peaks. This is a 16km out and back trail.
Geary Lookout Loop
This is an easy hike that starts from the RV park at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, and brings you past the lookout over the natural hot springs.
The Hoodoo Trail is a fun hike for the family. It’s just enough effort to feel like a hike, but no experience necessary. It’s uphill most of the way on a slow incline.
You’ll start the hike through the forest and end up top above the sandy hoodoos overlooking the valley.
Juniper Loop Trail
Descend through old growth cedar trees into Sinclair Canyon along the creek bed. You’ll have no idea you’re directly below the highway!
Leisurely Walks with Epic Views
Olive Lake is an adorable turquoise clear water lake with a great picnic area and washrooms. The trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Old Coach Trail
A Wide gravel trail suitable for all abilities. Provides a nice overview of the entire region.
Wilmer Wetlands Walk
Horseback Trail Riding
We went on a scenic afternoon horseback trail ride through the Kootenay wilderness.
It was a calm ride with gorgeous scenery through the forest and across a creek we booked it through the Fairmont Hot Springs resort, more information here.
River Tubing and Floating
You can float down the Columbia River from Invermere to Radium Hot Springs. A serene way to spend a few hours near Invermere if you’re not into hiking or hot springs.
If you bring your own tube, this activity is totally free. Otherwise you can rent tubes from the gas station or the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.
Stay in a Mountain Cabin
Sometimes the best way to soak up the essence of the mountains is to stay in your own private cabin among the forest.
In my opinion, this is the best way to spend a few days in the area. You’ll be able to enjoy views from your porch and have space to breathe in the fresh mountain air.
Plus, it’s nice to make your own coffee and cook dinner and most cabins that you can rent are self contained with everything you need.
My favorite cabins to rent near Invermere are the Fairmont Mountain Bungalows.
They’re affordably priced and pet friendly. And there’s a brand new hot tub and outdoor pool on site too.
Bighorn Sheep in Radium
When you visit Invermere and the Columbia Valley, there’s a high chance you’ll see all kinds of wildlife. Head closer to Radium Hot Springs where you’ll often find bighorn sheep roaming around town and crossing the roads.
Visit Lillian Lake to search for the painted turtles who call this lake home! You’ll usually find them sunbathing on logs near the shore.
This is also a great spot for swimming in the summer (there’s a floating dock) or a nice picnic area.
Pommier Ranch Meadery is a relatively new mead producer just outside of Skookumchuk.
You can stop in for a tour and a tasting of some interesting meads (honey wine) – the juniper and ginger meads are so unique!
Even if you’re not sure if you’re a fan of mead, the rural setting is charming and the mead maker is friendly and passionate.
Go on a Photo Journey Around the World
The east Kootenays are full of epic scenery and fascinating architecture. Make a day out of finding cool photography spots to jazz up your Instagram feed.
For some inspiration, wander through Radium Hot Springs and stage some photos to make it look like you’re in Bavaria, Germany, or Austria.
Find the iron red rock cliffs that make it seem like you’re in Sedona, Arizona.
Pose with the Hoodoos to make it look like you’re on another planet, maybe Tatooine perhaps?
Or go back in time by visiting the village of Wilmer, and snap photos of the historic Delphine Lodge, which looks like it’s stuck in the early 1900s.
Cycle (or run/walk) the Westside Legacy Trail
This is a paved multi-use trail that recently opened, which allows you to cycle from Invermere to Fairmont Hot Springs.
It’s 25 kilometres in length and has several parking lots along the way, so you can do the trail in segments if you wish to walk or run. There’s also benches and picnic areas to make a whole day out of it!
Waterfall Hiking: Findlay Falls
A short hike to scenic waterfalls with minimal elevation gain. Visit on a sunny day and the water will be sparkling in its full turquoise display.
Not only are there hundreds of mountain biking trails around Invermere and all over the east Kootenays, there are two bike parks and pump tracks in the area.
You’ll find one in Radium Hot Springs and the other beside the Invermere Skate Park.
A popular and scenic mountain bike trail is at the Lake Lillian Recreation Site. Follow the Johnson to bike along a canyon rim.
You can also go downhill mountain biking at Panorama Mountain Resort in the summer.
Funtasia Fun Park
This is a quirky adventure park hidden among the forest where you can play mini golf, bumper cars, walk through a forest labyrinth and hang out with donkeys, goats and alpacas.
All the views without the effort! In the summer, you can head to the Panorama Mountain Resort and take one of the chairlifts to an elevation of 5,300 feet.
At the top you can enjoy the views and take in the freshest mountain air, or hike around among the alpine wildflowers.
Canada’s Highest Suspension Bridge
Located in Golden, about one hour north of Invermere, is the Golden Skybridge, which is currently Canada’s highest suspension bridge.
Just opened in 2021, you’ll be 426 feet above a canyon, overlooking both the Purcell and Rocky mountain ranges.
There are actually two bridges (one has more sway), a giant swing and some extra activities like tree top climbing.
ATV and SXS Tours
Exploring the Columbia Valley on an ATV allows you to see parts of the wilderness you never otherwise would.
With Toby Creek Adventures you can take half-day tours either as a driver or a passenger, and see sights like an abandoned mining town or hidden waterfalls.