Kimberley is a beautiful alpine town, located in British Columbia in the southern Kootenay mountains, and a perfect place to enjoy a Canadian weekend getaway. The town was originally home of the Sullivan Mine, which was once the largest lead-zinc mine in Canada. It operated from 1917 to 2001, but upon its close, the city has moved its pursuits toward tourism.
Kimberley now offers world class-skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, fishing, whitewater rafting, biking, hiking, and golfing on championship quality golf courses. The town has had a resurgence in the last few years and there is also an assortment of boutique shopping, dining, and entertainment options opening, as well as a variety of great day trips nearby. I have spent a lot of time in this area over the years watching it grow and change and wanted to share my favorite ways to enjoy a weekend in this great little mountain town.
Have Lunch in the Platzl
The ‘Platzl’ is the quaint Bavarian-themed downtown core of Kimberley, and with the ‘largest freestanding cuckoo clock in Canada’, cobblestoned pedestrian area, funky hand-painted fire hydrants, and water fountains available to enjoy. Kimberley is also known as the ‘City of Festivals’ and boasts unique artisans, street dancing, live music, parades, and special sports events, especially during the summer months. With lots of boutique shops and places to eat, there is sure to be something to please any palate. My personal favorites are the Bicycle Thief for their selection of drinks or The Green Door for their fantastic summertime patio.
Hike (or Snowshoe) in Kimberley Nature Park
Kimberley is superbly located in the Kootney mountains and is blessed with pristine nature surrounding the town. A great way to enjoy the great outdoors is to go on a walk in the Kimberly Nature Park, the largest urban park in Canada covering 1,977 acres (800 ha). It runs west along the side of town and can be accessed at various points. With 50 kilometers of trails, there is are beautiful paths and various viewpoints to be enjoyed. All of the trails are managed by the non-profit Kimberley Nature Park Society and are always evolving along with the old-growth cedar trees, rugged slopes, and pristine creeks and ponds. My personal favorite is to access the park just southwest of the Overwaitea Foods, where you can walk just a short distance to the picturesque Duck Pond. In the winter, this also makes a perfect place to snowshoe.
Visit the Cominco Gardens
In the summertime, plan a short stroll through the pretty Cominco Gardens to relax and enjoy the flowers. The small garden of 5 hectares is located in upper Kimberley, and it’s free to visit, but suggested a donation is appreciated. Boasting 45,000 flowers during the summer months, it’s well maintained and worth a short visit for a beautiful picnic lunch or to take photos.
Explore the Old Sullivan Mine
You can explore Kimberley’s mining roots at the Sullivan Mine. The mine itself is now a 750-foot-long (230 meter) underground mining interpretative center, built on its fully operational miniature 3ft narrow-gauge railway system to carry its occupants through the attractions. It’s a great place to visit if you are visiting with kids.
Visit Marysville Falls
Marysville is a small township just south of Kimberley along the 95A Highway, and the home of a very nice and easy-to-access waterfall stroll. There are multiple wooden walkways and bridges along Mark Creek, with several small waterfalls and pools to enjoy before eventually leading to the stunning 30-meter Marysville Falls. There isn’t really a spot to stay and enjoy the view outside of the barrier viewpoint, but it’s a short trip that won’t take much out of your day for a great photo opp and a nice lunch in Marysville.
On the way back, the trailhead for Eco Park is located next to the statue of the west slope cutthroat trout, a wonderful celebration of the native species returned to Mark Creek after an extensive watershed restoration project.
Swimming in Wasa Lake
One of my absolute favorite swimming and picnic spots in all of British Columbia! Wasa Lake is located about 25 mins north of Kimberley and has several public day-use areas and beaches. It’s one of the warmest Lakes in the Kootenays and a wonderful place to spend an afternoon lounging and swimming. The beaches aren’t as rocky as some others in BC, and the lake is a nice depth and size for a variety of activities.
Until recently, there weren’t any motorized vehicles allowed on the lake but it is still blissfully quiet and undeveloped, even with a few boats. Secure a picnic area in a day-use area along the east side, enjoy a swim, and nap in the sun. Perfection.
Picnic at White Swan Lake
About one and a half hours drive north from Kimberley is the peaceful Whiteswan Lake. Take the Whiteswan forestry service road, past Lussier hot springs to White Swan Lake and enjoy some solitude in nature. Drive around the north side of the lake, and take a left to Home Base campground. This is a very quiet and peaceful spot where you can use, or book one of the five available camp spots also available. There are various day-use areas, three boat launches and is quite famous for rainbow trout fishing. There are great views all over the lakesides, abundant wildlife to photograph, and it would be a very relaxing spot to spend the night camping with friends.
Relax in Lussier Hot Springs
Unfortunately, word has gotten out about this lovely spot, and weekends find it obnoxiously busy. But it is still worth a visit in off-peak hours (early morning) or on weekdays. The natural hot springs are built into a riverbank with large stones to form pools of varying temperatures. The springs have a slight smell of eggy-sulfur, but it’s not off-putting enough to prevent enjoying a relaxing natural soak.
Access the hot springs via Whiteswan Lake Forestry Road off highway 93/95. There is a parking lot, as well as a well-maintained change room and outhouse. From the parking lot, the springs are 5-minute walk downhill and it’s a suitable place for families.
Ski (or Bike) at the Kimberley Alpine Resort
The Kimberley Alpine Resort is one of the biggest attractions in this area; it’s an easy to access mountain resort within the town, which has fantastic powder skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. It is an RCR resort, so it is linked with other resorts on the RCR Rockies discount card (like nearby Fernie and Kicking Horse). The resort offers ski and stay packages, equipment rentals, lessons, and night skiing! It’s a smaller ski hill, but one of my favorites, especially for learning how to snowboard.
The major highway through Kimberley, is the 95A, the alternate longer route past Fort Steele’s 95 Highway junction. Known as the Kimberley Highway, it’s a beautiful scenic route that flows over the St. Mary River towards Kimberley, Marysville, and Ta Ta Creek Communities.
The Cranbrook/ Canadian Rockies International Airport (IATA, YXC, ICAO, CYXC) is the international airport located 20 kilometers southeast of Kimberley. And now it’s partnered with Westjet, so it is even more accessible.
There is a wide price range of accommodations available in Kimberley itself or a great campground at Wasa Lake for the more rugged explorer.