Shaped like a lightning bolt, Kootenay National Park is centered on a long, wide, tree-covered valley shadowed by cold, gray peaks. Encompassing 1406 sq km, Kootenay has a more moderate climate than other Rocky Mountains parks and, in the southern regions especially, summers can be hot and dry, which is a factor in the frequent fires.
The interpretive Fireweed Trail (500m or 2km) loops through the surrounding forest at the north end of Hwy 93. Panels explain how nature is recovering from a 1968 fire. Some 7km further on, Marble Canyon has a pounding creek flowing through a nascent forest. Another 3km south on the main road you'll find the easy 2km trail through forest to ochre pools known as the Paint Pots. Panels describe both the mining history of this rusty earth and its importance to Aboriginal people.
Learn how the park's appearance has changed over time at the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint, where informative panels vie with the view. Just 3km south, Olive Lake makes a perfect picnic or rest stop. A 500m lakeside interpretive trail describes some of the visitors who've come before you.