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10 Amazing Things to Do in Castlegar BC Canada

Tunnel-Castlegar-Rail-Trail

Canadian Road Trip Adventures

Southern British Columbia activities, parks and trails

So many amazing things to do in Castlegar BC! Explore the outdoors while fishing, hiking, biking, birding or camping. Take a cultural dip into Castlegar's museum and art scene. Appreciate the confluence of two mighty Canadian rivers. It's a seamless backdrop for the meeting of some of British Columbia's most impressive natural and cultural adventures.

Castlegar, BC shines from Brilliant Overlook. Photo credit: Megan Kopp

Things to Do in Castlegar BC & Why?

Castlegar is situated at the confluence of the Columbia and Kootenay Rivers in Southern British Columbia. The city is located at the southern end of the Arrow Lakes in the Kootenay Rockies region. It is approximately 600 kilometres from both Vancouver, BC in the west and Calgary, AB in the east. Castlegar lies just 233 kilometres north of Spokane, Washington.

Mountains, lakes, rivers, and thousands of years of culture combine to make Castlegar and its surrounding regions one of the most perfect outdoor adventure getaways for hikers, bikers, anglers and RV travelers alike. Furthermore, there are prehistoric sites belonging to First Nations people. A more recent past is built on mining and logging as well as a unique Doukhobor heritage. The question shouldn't be 'why visit?' but rather 'why not go now' with so many things to do in Castlegar BC Canada.

What are you waiting for? It's Petal to the Metal for this Canadian road trip! Photo credit: Megan Kopp

Not-to-Miss Castlegar Outdoor Adventures 

Fishing the mighty Columbia River is a dream for many. The Columbia River is the longest waterway in the Pacific Northwest area of North America. Trollers love the Arrow Lakes. All anglers enjoy both the Columbia and the Kootenay Rivers. Kokanee salmon, rainbow trout, bull trout and non-native Walleye can be found.

Cyclists will love pedalling up the gentle grade of the C&W Rail Trail – part of the Trans Canada Trail. This section of the trail goes all the way to Christina Lake and includes a variety of tunnels and trestles. You can go as far as you want, but I'd suggest going as least as far as the second tunnel before turning around and coasting back down to your starting point near the Hugh Keenleyside Dam.

Hikers will appreciate the short but steep climb up to Brilliant Overlook. Off in the distance you can not only see the City of Castlegar but also the Kootenay River flowing into the Columbia River and the start of Lower Arrow Lake above the Hugh Keenleyside Dam. Those looking for an easier walk might appreciate the more relaxed pace and superlative birding opportunities along the Waldie Island Trail

Cool down after your more strenuous outdoor adventures by dipping your toes in the lake at Syringa Provincial Park. The park is near the southeast end of the Lower Arrow Lake. The lake was formed by one of the many dams on the Columbia River. Syringa was established on the lake in 1968. Specifically, the park is popular for fishing, boating and swimming. Did you know that "Syringa" or Mock Orange is a shrub with beautiful-scented flowers that is indigenous to the area?

Syringa Provincial Park makes an excellent base for exploration, but we chose Passcreek Campground for our adventures as it was closer to the boat ramp for the anglers. Adjacent to our site were a mixture of tents, small trailers and a couple of larger RVs. There is a nice walk up the creek and the campground also provides easy access for activities in and around the city. There are a few other options for RV camping in Castlegar including Syringa Provincial Park, Kootenay River RV Park and the Castlegar Golf Club & RV Park.  

Looking for outdoor adventure? Riding through a rail trail tunnel is just one of the many things to do in Castlegar, BC! Photo credit: Megan Kopp

Must-Do Castlegar Cultural Quests 

Head downtown and wander through the Castlegar Station Museum. Over a century old, it is one the best-preserved rail stations in the province of British Columbia. Read through the newspaper archives from the time period. Climb creaky wooden stairs up to the station agent's residence. Step outside and head back in time as you ride the rails in a perfectly-preserved caboose.

By the time you're done touring the Station Museum, you'll be ready to pick up a pamphlet and take a sculpture walk. The City of Castlegar has been dubbed the "Sculpture Capital of Canada." Sculpturewalk is an annual outdoor exhibit of original sculptures held every year from May to October. Therefore local and international artists vie for the win as chosen by public ballot. It's a feast for the eyes – as well as a fun quest as you follow the map to find all 30+ sculptures scattered throughout town!

The Doukhobor Discovery Centre offers a unique glimpse into the Doukhobor lifestyle in the Kootenay region from 1908 to 1938. The Doukhobors were a Russian religious group. Many fled the Czarist government in the late 1800s and settled in Western Canada. The museum with its 10 historical buildings is set on the banks of the Columbia River near the original settlement of Brilliant.

Another fascinating cultural site is Zuckerberg Island. History here goes back thousands of years to when the Lake Salish people fished the Columbia River and built winter pit houses on the island. Today you can across on a suspension bridge, past one of the pit house depressions and enjoy the wonder of the Chapel House. Decades ago, Alexander Zuckerberg built this one-of-a-king Russian Orthodox Chapel House for his residence on the tiny island. He came to Castlegar in 1931 at the request of Doukhobor leader Peter Verigin II to teach Doukhobor children. Wander the paths and soak up the peace of this unique site.

The chapel house on Zuckerberg Island is definitely a drawing card for Castlegar's stacked deck of cultural attractions. Photo credit: Megan Kopp

Lastly, Check Off These Things to Do on Your Next Canadian Road Trip Adventure!

  1. Fish the mighty Columbia River
  2. Take a Sculpturewalk
  3. Wander Through the Castlegar Station Museum
  4. Cycle the C&W Rail Trail
  5. Go Birding Along the Waldie Island Trail
  6. Hike Brilliant Overlook
  7. Visit the Doukhobor Museum
  8. Dip Your Toes in the Lake at Syringa Provincial Park
  9. Cross a Suspension Bridge to Zuckerberg Island
  10. Experience RV Camping in the Kootenays


Even 
More Fun in Castlegar Area

If you are road-tripping in Southern British Columbia, don't miss a side trip to nearby Nelson for an historic, self-guided walking tour or a visit to see the Salmo Stone Murals

 10 Amazing Things to Do in Castlegar BC Canada

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Comments 6

Janel Coe on Sunday, 17 October 2021 12:23

Nice blog post, Megan! The chapel house on Zuckerberg Island has such interesting architecture, I'd love to see it in person someday.

Nice blog post, Megan! The chapel house on Zuckerberg Island has such interesting architecture, I'd love to see it in person someday.
Megan Kopp on Monday, 18 October 2021 15:11

Thx Janel - and I hope you do get out this way to see the chapel house!

Thx Janel - and I hope you do get out this way to see the chapel house!
Eh Canada Travel on Monday, 18 October 2021 04:08

Nicely written Megan. Brought back many memories. Did not know of these tunnels though. Good one.

Nicely written Megan. Brought back many memories. Did not know of these tunnels though. Good one.
Andrea Horning on Monday, 18 October 2021 04:46

Zuckerberg Island and the Suspension bridge are so neat. I did some geocaching there last summer. And I only went to the 1st tunnel on my bike ride on the trestle trail, but I was pregnant... and it was raining haha. I need to go back and go further And now I definitely have some new things to check out next time I'm in that area! Thank you for this great article.

Zuckerberg Island and the Suspension bridge are so neat. I did some geocaching there last summer. And I only went to the 1st tunnel on my bike ride on the trestle trail, but I was pregnant... and it was raining haha. I need to go back and go further :) And now I definitely have some new things to check out next time I'm in that area! Thank you for this great article.
Megan Kopp on Monday, 18 October 2021 15:13

The rail trail seems to be missed by many - but it'll be a highlight for your next trip.

The rail trail seems to be missed by many - but it'll be a highlight for your next trip.
Melanie Adair on Sunday, 24 October 2021 16:58

That viewpoint is incredible! Makes me want to drive the 4 hrs to go there!

That viewpoint is incredible! Makes me want to drive the 4 hrs to go there!
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