Invermere & Radium Hot Springs, BC

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I had a couple of options for places to stop for the night.  Radium Hot Springs is near the entrance to Kootenay National Park — which would be the center of my attention on Day 5.  Just a few miles south, at the north end of Windermere Lake, is the town of Invermere.  Both offer a collection of motels, and while Invermere feels more like an actual “town”, I found that Radium offered better hotel rates.

Invermere

I’m willing to bet that there’s a lot more happening in Invermere in the summer, than I found in March.  On the rainy, cold day of my visit, Invermere seemed to be pretty dead.

Maybe things picked up later, when the shows begin at the Toby Theatre.

As of 2012, the Toby Theatre’s website says that it will likely close, once movies are no longer distributed on film.  It says it can’t afford to convert to digital.  And in the meantime, it might show the same movies on two weekends in a row, due to the increased costs of showing a fresh flick every week. 

In the center of town, there’s a small square around this memorial to World War I soldiers.

Westside Road

From Invermere, I took a short drive down Westside Road, just to see what I could see.  Even though this road follows the western side of Windermere Lake, I didn’t find many good places to view the lake, on the first few miles south of Invermere.  I stopped at the side of the road for this shot, then gave up and made a u-turn, and headed back to Highway 93/95, on to Radium Hot Springs.

Radium Hot Springs

Just before you arrive in the town of Radium Hot Springs, you’ll pass a couple of roadside turnouts.  There are good views of the Columbia River here…

… and if you’re lucky, you might also spot the herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep that live in the area. These guys…

… and gals, were on the hillside, just above the road.  I stayed on the other side of the highway, to give them plenty of space.

And even though I was at a safe distance, I still got stared down by one of the sheep, for just a moment, before he went back to munching on the grass and weeds on the hillside.

Earlier I mentioned that Invermere felt more like a real “town” than Radium, and here’s the proof.  You’re looking at about half of Radium Hot Springs.  My place to stay, the Big Horn Motel, is the green-roofed building in the upper-middle portion of the photo (it’s clean, well-kept, the owners are friendly, and it’s a good bargain).  A handful of restaurants, gift shops, and other businesses line up along Highway 93/95.  Just a couple blocks north of here, Highway 93 turns east, for the trip through Kootenay National Park.

When I arrived in town, I stopped at the visitor center (almost directly below, behind those trees in the foreground) and asked for rainy-day suggestions.  They didn’t offer much, but they did suggest hiking the trail up the hill, directly behind their office.  I’m glad I didn’t take their advice, because I figured out that there is also a road (Redstreak Road) that leads up the hill, to the same viewpoint — and I’m a strong believer that if you can drive somewhere, there isn’t much of a reason to hike it instead.

At the end of Redstreak Road, just beyond the viewpoint, you’ll find a campground. During the winter months, the campground is closed, and Redstreak Road is barricaded beyond the viewpoint.

Once you’ve driven through Radium Hot Springs (which doesn’t take very long), turn onto Highway 93, for the drive through Kootenay National Park.  As soon as you do, you’ll pass this odd contraption of a “house”,  A sign proclaims it to be the home of a woodcarver, and another calls it “The Home Off A Thousand Faces”.  Yes, “Off”.  I’m assuming the spelling errors, and generally junky appearance, are appealing to enough people to keep this roadside attraction in business.  Admission is $3, and apparently the house has been featured on the TV show “Weird Homes”.

The Woodcarver, by the way, is named Rolf, and he has goats, that live on the roof.  Think he’s a bit eccentric?  Yeah, probably.

I didn’t attempt to visit the Woodcarver’s Home, and it’s just as well, because his website says he usually travels during the winter.  It also says the home is “open when I feel like it”, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to meet Rolf and his goats.

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