The Kootenay National Park (English Kootenay National Park of Canada, French Parc national du Canada Kootenay ) is a Canadian National Park, located in southeastern British Columbia. It covers an area of ​​1406 km ² of the Canadian Rockies, is since 1984 a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is bordered on the northwest by the Yoho National Park, on the northeast by the Banff National Park and to the east by Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park.


Highway 93, known as the Kootenay Parkway, through the park to 94 kilometers in length. The highway reaches the park over the 1651 meter high Vermilion Pass, follows the course of the Vermilion and Kootenay Rivers and leads over the 1486 meter high Sinclair Pass and the Iron Gate to Radium Hot Springs. The main valley is bounded on the east by the Mitchell Range, the west tower above the chalk hills of the Vermilion Range and the Brisco Range and limit the park to the Columbia River. The highest mountain in the park is the 3424 m high mountain delta form, the deepest point in the park is situated at 918 meters.


The mountain ranges in the park area consist of folded sedimentary rocks, which were formed by erosion from wind, ice and water. The overturned fold, the jagged mountain ridges and rounded ridges in the south park area are typical of the western Rocky Mountains. Due to the location of the park at the fracture line of the Rocky Mountain Trench hot springs occur on days that low-level radioactive Radium Hot Springs in the southwest of the park. The hot springs and the Sinclair Canyon and the Redwall Faults in the Southwest are important geological phenomena. The Sinclair Canyon has vertical, red-colored by oxidized iron walls. Through the canyon once flowed the Sinclair Creek, which, however, in a concrete channel flows below the highways since 1965. The towering, also red-colored by oxidized iron cliffs of the Redwall Fault are the best examples of tectonic breccias within the national parks of the Canadian Rockies. In the north of the park appear cold springs to light in the water, iron is also solved. This Paint Pots mentioned mineral springs form tümpel -like basins, which are colored by red ocher brown mud. The Paint Pots are not only geologically interesting, but by their use by the First Nations also of historical and cultural significance. The Marble Canyon in the north of the park is an excellent example of a landscape that was created by the forces of erosion by glaciers and rivers. The rock of the canyon consists of limestone and dolomite, which is similar by its white color marble.


Due to its geographical location, the climate of the park is very different. In the north of the park fall on the Continental Divide 1250 mm annual rainfall in the southwest of the park, in the rain shadow of the Purcell Mountains, just 350 millimeters. In the deeper layers it operated in a semi-arid climate, while in the north of the park prevails a cooler, humid climate. The average temperatures in the valley of the Kootenay River are in winter at -7 ° C, the averages in July at 22 ° C.

Flora and Fauna

The park represents the southwestern region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, a region with different landscapes and ecosystems. Due to the difference in height, three different ecosystems come in the park before: Above the tree line elevation of 1800 m the vegetation consists of alpine tundra, from 1800 to 1300 meters above sea level are sub-alpine meadows and mountain forests predominant, while the wide, relatively warm and dry central valley of Kootenay River is almost completely forested. The forest in the north of the valley, because of the higher precipitation from mixed forest of Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir, while in the southern part of the park there are the forests of Douglas fir. In the southwestern region of the forest is no longer closed. Here grow ponderosa pines and sandy areas Fragile ears cacti, a Opuntienart. Several forest fires destroyed large park areas, as in 1926, more than 6,000 hectares were in the valley of the Vermilion River destroyed by fire in 1968 devastated a fire at the Vermilion Pass 2,500 hectares. 2001 a fire raged at Mount Shank, 2003 at Tokumm Creek and Verendry Creek. Meanwhile, the ecological importance of forest fires has been recognized; the fire of 1968 at the Vermilion Pass is considered one of the most researched forest fires in the Rocky Mountains. Due to the different ecosystems in the park are over 990 species of plants, many large mammals and 195 bird species. Because of the small amount of snow in the winter living in the southern part of the park year-round moose, white-tailed and mule deer, elk and bighorn sheep. Other mammals include grizzly and black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, bobcats, and wolverines. Mountain goats are the wild animal symbol of the park, on Mount Wardle lives throughout the year a large population. The construction of the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state salmon had disappeared from the rivers in the park since 1933. 1983 spawning sockeye salmon in the Kootenay River was discovered, which had migrated from the Koocanusa reservoir in the U.S. state of Montana upstream.


The park area has been 10,000 years of the Ktunaxa ( Kootenay ) and Kinbasket ( Shuswap ) First Nations used as a hunting ground. The hot springs at Radium Hot Springs were the original inhabitants already known, and the Paint Pots were a sacred place in which they obtained from the ocher mud dye for dyeing of fabrics or for war paint for the First Nations. The first, known by name whites in the area was the Governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, George Simpson on his world tour 1841. Starting from 1912 the construction of a first motor road from Calgary to Windermere via the Canadian Rocky Mountains was planned. Since the province of British Columbia, the cost of construction could not take over in 1919 an agreement between the province and the federal government is closed, in which the federal government took over the construction of the highway. In return, the province set eight kilometers of land along both sides of the road as a national park. The park was established on 21 April 1920 as Kootenay Dominion Park, the Highway was opened in 1923. The park's name goes back to the park springing Kootenay River. In 1923 the first building for the park administration built in Radium Hot Springs, the same year the Canadian Pacific Railroad opened the Vermilion River Camp, today's Kootenay Park Lodge. With the National Park Act of 1930, the park was renamed in Kootenay National Park. Since 1985, the park belongs together with the Jasper National Park, Banff and Yoho a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Tourist Facilities

The park has two visitor centers in Radium Hot Springs and in the Kootenay Park Lodge at Vermilion Crossing, which are open seasonally. In the park there are four campgrounds are located along the Parkways numerous picnic areas with sanitation facilities. The park is crossed more than 200 miles of hiking trails. The 54 -kilometer Rockwall Trail starts at the Paint Pots and performs on the Vermilion Range to Rockwall Pass to descend on the Ottertail Trail back to the Parkway. Still within the park boundaries are the baths of Radium Hot Springs.