Called the “Crossroads of The Kootenays” because of its locale at the strategic Hwy 3 and Hwy 3A intersection, Castlegar’s real distinction may lie in its proximity to the several great waterways of the area. Castlegar is located at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers. The great Arrow Lakes stretch north hundreds of miles from here through the glacier capped Monashee Mountain Range. To the south, the mighty Columbia River brushes the city on its long journey to the Pacific Ocean. As befits a town where water is a central feature, Castlegar has a water park, an aquatic center, beaches, playgrounds and the best fishing and kayaking around. Fishing on the Columbia River is the best it has ever been! Castlegar’s Water Park offers a great way for parents to relax in the shade while the children play and cool off. Spouts and sprays of water are a sure-fire remedy to beat the summer heat.
There are many other recreational opportunities here as well. For golfers, the 18-hole Castlegar Golf & RV Park, which is located on a secluded plateau and set against the mountains, is known for its exceptional beauty. There are six other golf courses all within an hour and a half drive for you to enjoy.
This is a hiker & bikers’ paradise; the range of terrain is amazing! Hiking the mountain trails surrounding the region is a favourite summer activity. There is camping northwest of Castlegar on the eastern shores of Lower Arrow Lake at Syringa Provincial Park, which can be accessed on a paved road. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer are common to the area. You can also cycle 152-km on the Kettle Valley Railway Bike Route or Pathway Trail which takes you all the way to Christina Lake and Grand Forks on an easy railway grade, passing through 7 tunnels and 10 spectacular trestles. Allow 4 days for the entire route. The trail is best mountain biked, although hiking; Nordic Skiing and snow shoeing are possible. You can start your ride at the Station Museum.
Castlegar also has some great site seeing. Visit the Kootenay Gallery of Art, History and Science and enjoy exhibits from international, national and regional sources. Stop by the 93 year old Station Museum, located downtown, to view one of the best preserved railway station museums in BC. In early days the station was the hub of the town.
No visit to Castlegar would be complete without a stroll over the suspension bridge to Zukerberg Island Heritage Park for a self-guided tour. This bridge, built by the Doukhobors, (pronounced ‘duke–ho-bores’) is a marvel and deserves a look-see. The Doukhobors, who arrived in this area from Russia during 1908-1912, were a pacifist sect who actively practiced the motto, “Toil and Peaceful Life.” Just north of Castlegar on Hwy 3A stop in at the recreated turn of the century Doukhobor Discovery Centre and tour the 10 buildings to learn about their fascinating history. The Village Museum, with its hand-woven garments, and hand-fashioned tools gives a glimpse of life for these early settlers. Visit the wood fired sauna or “banya,” communal houses and recreated Blacksmith’s Shop. Visit Verigin’s Tomb where Peter the Lordly and other revered spiritual leaders are buried. The tomb with its gardens has a lovely overlook of the Kootenay River and the Doukhobor Suspension Bridge.
Don’t miss the opportunity to stay for a while and enjoy the area. But be forewarned, you’ll be “Hooked on Castlegar!”