Invermere-on-the-Lake. Sounds quaint, but in reality, this busy mountain town, enveloped by natural hot springs, lakeside beaches and a top-notch ski resort, is best known as the gateway to BC’s wildly rugged Kootenay Rockies region.
See: Invermere-on-the-Lake, or Invermere, draws cultural explorers June through September for its annual Art Walk, two-footed exploration of the town’s nine galleries, capped with live music, local treats, artist demonstrations and more. Year round, enthusiasts can make their way to the historic Pynelogs Art Gallery & Cultural Centre, a showcase of local Columbia Valley artisans and their work, or simply stroll Main Street to peruse an eclectic offering of pubs, cafés and shops.
Do: With a glorious backdrop of mountains and forest, there’s little wonder why Invermere is home to exceptional outdoor play. In summer, lively on-the-water adventures, courtesy of Columbia River Paddle, include kayak, canoe and even paddleboard trips; guided excursions, such as the Columbia River Interpretive Wetlands Tour, offer an insider’s perspective of the landscape, its resident wildlife and rich Aboriginal culture.
Backed by granite giants, nine mountain golf playgrounds promise challenge and drama, no more than 40 minutes from town. There’s Greywolf Golf Course at Panorama Mountain Resort, for example, with its stunning signature hole, Cliffhanger — a true bragging rights feat. Eagle Ranch and Copper Point Golf Club offer no less, each calling for skilled play along 18 holes set high on the bluffs overlooking Lake Windermere.
For a change of scenery, Toby Creek Adventures makes seasonal transitions with ease, thanks to guided summer quad tours that take in fresh mountain air and winter snowmobile rides that motor through scenic trails and little-known spots. Handy, too, that the outdoor adventure crew makes its home at Panorama Mountain Resort; when the snow flies, this winter hot spot entices skiers and boarders to explore 120 trails and glades, alongside backcountry-style riding at in-bounds Taynton Bowl.
For those who still have steam, Lake Windermere’s Whiteway trail beckons enthusiasts to lace up and “skate the lake” along the 30-kilometre (19-mile) frozen pathway that, according to the team at Guinness World Records, ranks as the longest ice skating trail on Earth.
Eat: Days are best kicked off with a jolt from Kicking Horse Coffee, a local fair trade favourite that has become a celebrated Canadian ritual; a visit to the factory-front shop that started it all promises a satisfying cup of joe. Year-round cold treats can bring the temperature way down at Gerry’s Gelati Cafe, while those who wish to linger longer can sample local menus within the quaint heritage home setting of Strand’s Old House Restaurant, or nibble on authentic Bavarian dishes (bratwurst!) at The Black Forest Steak and Schnitzel Haus. A short drive from town, Copper Point Resort proves an equally tantalizing option, with Elements Grill offerings that feature seasonal fare, backed by Rocky Mountain views.
Sleep: To recharge for another mountain adventure, Copper Point Resort’s mix of well-appointed rooms and suites meld luxury with the warmth of home, while Lake Windermere Resort’s new deluxe condominiums promise cosy respite. And for those keen to make the most of their mountain setting, year-round overnights at Panorama Mountain Resort’s spacious lodges are sure to please. Tip: Panorama Springs, with its ski-in, ski-out access, is home to Canada's largest on-mountain hot pools — the perfect locale to soak the day away.
For more information, or to find out what other adventures await in Invermere-on-the-Lake, visit InvermerePanorama.com