After Toni and I ate a full breakfast at the Best Western, we embarked on a fast paced day of exploration and activity in Radium Hot Springs, BC.
Our first stop was McLeod Meadows in Kootenay National Park, located off Highway 93 approximately 40 km East of Radium with views of the Rocky Mountains. Wildlife roamed freely in the grassland meadows. A Park Pass is required to stay here. This was a very nice campground in a wooded area with many tall spruce trees. The area was quiet as we drove along the narrow curvy roads. However, we were there on a Thursday so this is likely the reason. There were no reservations required but a self-registration area was noticeable as we drove in. McLeod Meadows is an unserviced campground for tents and RVs with spaces offered on a first-come first served basis.
Also, access for persons with disabilities is available. On the Parks Canada site, read this accessibility guide for more information. Pets are welcome at this campground too.
Water and firewood were accessible but check for fire bans during the summer. A daily fire permit (including the cost of firewood) is required when staying in all of the campgrounds at Kootenay National Park. Use of the Sani Dump Station is free to all registered campers.The Village of Radium Hot Springs, BC and Surrounding Area – Day 2 Part 4
The Kootenay River, in close proximity to this campground, is a haven for fishing and whitewater rafting, two of the most popular activities done in this area.
McLeod Meadows has about 80 campsites and they are all no hookup sites. Pull Thru sites are not available at this campground but tenting is allowed. Check out the Parks Canada website for more information about McLeod Meadows, the prices and amenities offered. The layout of McLeod Meadows reminded me of the Redstreak Campground and it was very well kept. The season begins late June and is open until the first week of September.
Our next stop was Kootenay Crossing which was north past McLeod Meadows, Dolly Varden, and Crook’s Meadow and just south of Vermillion Crossing. Kootenay Crossing was the area where Jeff, a staff member at the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre who I spoke to on the first day of our trip, informed me that there was excellent hiking and fishing there. I got out of the car to take a photo of the Kootenay Crossing building and area. It was deserted. The buildings may look abandoned but they are regularly used by the Resource Conservation staff and fire crew during the summer months.
Also, I discovered that groups can camp at Crook’s Meadow but not at Kootenay Crossing. Crook’s Meadow Campground can, however, be accessed via the West Kootenay fire road trail from Kootenay Crossing (over 10 km).
The West Kootenay Trail Junction/KNP boundary, Luxor Pass/Dolly Varden Trail Junction, Crook’s Meadows Group Camp and Dolly Varden Trail were accessible from Kootenay Crossing and listed on a sign along with the distance it took to get to each area. Other than this information and the fact that the river was close by, there wasn’t much information available for campers and RVers so definitely do your research beforehand.
Crook’s Meadow/ Pré Crook’s
We drove south from Kootenay Crossing and stopped at Crook’s Meadow but when we stopped and I got out of the car to take some photos, there was a gate blocking the entrance. There was a huge sign just off the highway with this information: “Group tenting by reservation only (250) 347-9615, Camping sous tente pour groups, par réservation requise.”
If you want to group camp in this private setting, a phone reservation must be made. Crook’s Meadow is open to the public from May until October and is situated 21 miles (34 km) north of Radium Hot Springs, one of the oldest homesteads in Kootenay National Park. For the history buffs, here is the true story behind Crook’s Meadow and how it was named.
After leaving Crook’s Meadow, we decided to stop at the Kootenay River not far from Crook’s Meadow so that I could try out my new fishing rod. I was excited at the thought of fishing since I hadn’t done so in years. We parked at a spot just past McLeod Meadows. This area had a parking lot and the Kootenay River was right next to it.
The Kootenay River is a south flowing river sourced from high in the Rocky Mountains of BC. The river meanders through much of BC’s terrain and ends up in Montana and Idaho where the name is changed to Kootenai. It crosses back into Creston BC entering Kootenay Lake and then appears again in Nelson BC and ends at Castlegar where it merges with the Columbia River. The Kootenay River is 781 km (485 mi) long. Read about the Kootenay River history here.
The Kootenay River is a popular waterway for whitewater rafting and fishing, especially fly fishing. But I remember what Jeff told me at the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Centre about the rules regarding fishing. I wasn’t allowed to use a three pronged hook and the barbs that looked like thorns had to be flattened too. After reading the Rules and Regulations booklet from Parks Canada that came in the info package, I thought climbing a mountain would be easier compared to following all these rules. It’s important to follow them to avoid fines, but most of all to protect and respect the aquatic life in this National Park.
I took out the fishing rod and miniature tackle box I bought. It was a Shakespeare brand with a steel piece around the reel that was shaped in a half circle you had to pull back to release the line. I was used to the rods with an enclosed reel. Oh well. I put the leader, hook, two weights and a small float on the line and cast it out into the river a couple of times. I dabbled with the knob and this steel piece at the bottom of the reel to find out what they were for especially since there were no instructions about the functions. No diagrams, nothing came with the ensemble. As I cast out onto the river again, the line got tangled underneath the reel and I couldn’t get it untangled. After struggling for what seemed like an eternity, I was ready to toss my fishing rod somewhere, anywhere! While this was occurring, a van pulled into the small parking lot. It was a group of people who got out of the van and unloaded rafting gear.
I gave up on the fishing rod and laid it down on the ground. My attention was diverted to this group as they prepared for a day of whitewater rafting on the Kootenay River. A couple of young men got their kayaks ready too. I introduced myself to Brent who was from Calgary, a former paramedic and leader of the group. I asked him how often they go whitewater rafting on the Kootenay River. “It’s a yearly reunion and tradition for us,” he responded hurriedly. This group of close family and friends also had their RVs parked in a secluded area close by but Brent refused to tell me or anyone where because they preferred privacy and seclusion. As we chatted, Brent prepared these large plastic barrel containers in the raft. I asked what was in them. “Food and drinks” he said, “for the duration of our whitewater rafting day trip.”
It took them about 30 minutes to prepare the raft. We watched this group push off shore onto the fast flowing Kootenay River. It looked like so much fun, way more enjoyable than dealing with a tangled fishing line. After they left, there was no one around but us. I returned to the fishing rod and picked it up from the ground. I tried again to unravel the line but didn’t have the tools or the patience to get it untangled. I said to Toni, “I wish someone would help me with this line!”
I was just about to cut the line and call it a day when a heavy set bearded man walked out of his van from behind us with a large fishing tackle box and said, “I’ve been watching you for the last few minutes. Do you want some help with that line?”
“Sure!” I replied.
Initially, Martin Turgeon was from Montreal where he worked for one of the largest printing companies in Canada, Transcontinental Printing and then later with Quebecor. Now retired, he lives in Morden, Manitoba. Martin realized after years of stress on the job, there was more to life than hard work. Two of Martin’s favorite hobbies were fishing and traveling. He had travelled extensively in Canada, fishing along the way. He turned his van into a Leisure Travel Van set up with the basic necessities except a bathroom. This was the most economical and convenient option since he wanted to travel long distances.
Being an expert fisherman, he untangled my line with ease and added some items from his own supplies. What a kind gesture. We talked about a broad range of topics including his harrowing experience with a tempestuous forest fire in the Yukon while traveling there. Exploring Australia was next on his list. After Martin finished fixing my line, we said our goodbyes and he was off on another adventure. I will always remember Martin for his impromptu random act of kindness and coming to my rescue by the Kootenay River.The Village of Radium Hot Springs, BC and Surrounding Area – Day 2 Part 4
Toni and I decided to visit the Kootenay River Runners store to discover more about whitewater rafting and where people could sign up for an adventure. Since 1976, the store in Radium Hot Springs called the Kootenay River Runners had guides who assisted with river rafting excursions. They’ve guided thousands down the Kicking Horse, Kootenay, and Columbia Rivers as well as Toby Creek. Unique experiences and adventures have been offered whether it was challenging whitewater rafting, family rafting, or scenic wetland floats. There were full day and half day planned trips available to choose from. Prior to each trip, they instructed people on what they provide, what you should bring and what to leave behind. The Kootenay River Runners also made trips an educational adventure, as they shared facts about this historically rich area. Check the Trip Advisor for reviews of whitewater rafting with the Kootenay River Runners.
Contact Info for the Kootenay River Runners:
Radium: Hot Springs 250-347-9210
Toll Free: 1-800-599-4399
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson