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Cranbrook as a tourist destination

Written by Michele Leyenaar
Edited by Joanne Elves

The city of Cranbrook – Janice Strong

I’m an island girl – no wait, I was an island girl until I relocated to Cranbrook. So, I’m used to big mountains, lakes and rivers and all the sites that beautiful B.C. has to offer. But moving off the island was a quick lesson on just how big mainland B.C. is. The 12 hour drive to Cranbrook was a long one but I remember clearly the memory of seeing “Welcome to Cranbrook” for the first time.

Gateway to the Rockies – Cranbrook has the most recordable sunshine in all of BC

As I passed the welcome sign and drove into the city, there wasn’t a whole lot to see at first. It was rather uninspiring. You know, the regular lineup of gas stations and fast food outlets. But then, Bam! It hit me. Fisher Peak of the Kootenay range standing tall, towering over the small city like a human to an ant.

That’s when I realized I entered the Gateway to the Rockies.

Even though I was not new to mountain ranges, the site of Fisher Peak over Cranbrook seemed almost unreal. I don’t know if it’s the contrast in size over the small city or the sharp edges of the steep range, but the snowy peaks of the Kootenay Rockies sure were beautiful and was like something I hadn’t seen before.

St. Eugene Golf Resort and Casino is much more than an historical site. Photo: Janice Strong

Highway 3/95 into Cranbrook takes you right into the heart of BC’s Rocky Mountain Trench with the Purcell range to the west and the Rockies to the east. The relatively flat valley between the two ranges is home to several lakes and rivers and historically was an important stop on the railway. The highway coming into Cranbrook has no real aesthetic, but a short way off the strip and you’ll find hiking trails, quaint shopping, ski hills, fishing, lakes, restaurants, camping and of course, the rest of the little towns that make up the East Kootenays.

It didn’t take long for me to appreciate life in the valley and the mountains. Being an island girl my travels were at the mercy of ferry traffic but now that I’m a mountain girl, I head off on adventures in any direction.

All kinds of mountain activity here – Rob Porter

If you’re traveling to Cranbrook be sure to check out the many tourist attractions:

Fort Steele Heritage Town 

Cranbrook History Centre  

Canadian Museum of Rail Travel 

St Eugene Golf Resort and Casino

Plus, the area is an outdoor adventure mecca for people looking to hike, bike, climb, swim, camp, fish, view wildlife or take a dip in hot springs and waterfalls. Everything that goes along with the lifestyle of the East Kootenays is right here.

If you’re not driving and prefer to fly, Cranbrook also has the largest airport serving the Kootenays with regular flights connecting international travel

Cranbrook really is a tourist destination!

Canadian Rockies International Airport – credit YXC