The Getaway
15 Things to Do in Invermere, Panorama, and the Columbia Valley

Invermere, Panorama, and the broader Columbia Valley are the "sunbelt" towns of the Canadian Rockies, where the days are pleasantly long for a more significant portion of the calendar. Come in summer or winter, and you'll find much to do along British Columbia's Powder Highway, filled with grade-A ski resorts and year-long attractions. Majestic mountains and serene lakes and rivers set the stage for unforgettable recreational experiences, from high-octane whitewater river rafting to calm meanders through woodlands on guided forest "baths." Cue the happy sighs.

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01 Thrilling white water rafting adventures

You could start easy with a leisurely float between Invermere and Radium or up the ante with whitewater rafting on class-III rapids at Toby Creek in Panorama. Folks between the ages of 8 and 85 can enjoy this 2-hour beginner-friendly activity with Kootenay River Runners. If you're looking for something more challenging, head for the Kicking Horse River near Golden, where you're guaranteed to be soaked while navigating class IV rapids during a four-hour adventure for individuals 12 and over. Rafting on the less-wild Kootenay River is open to children who are five years old, and full-day tours include an eight-hour itinerary. Other highly-rated companies like Glacier Raft Co. also offer rafting options in this region.

02 Golfing amidst breathtaking scenery

Spring comes early in the valley and brings long, sunny days perfect for honing your skills. Go for birdie over bogey at one of the ten excellent Columbia Valley Golf Trail golf courses. The Springs course is one of the country's premier golf destinations and will, at times, leave your jaw on the floor with tee shots across ravines and other memorable features. Eagle Ranch in Invermere is another masterpiece suitable for golfers of all levels. You won't forget the canyon landscape anytime soon. Windermere Valley is shorter than average, but the family-friendly course gets a thumbs up for its beautiful, laid-back setting.

03 Discover pristine beaches and water activities

If you prefer paddling on a kayak, canoe, or SUP rather than a raft, Invermere's natural lakes and waterfalls will give you the self-paced, peaceful workout you're after. Columbia River Paddle offers lessons if you're just getting started, and they don't rent out equipment without first providing safety instructions and weather info. You can DIY the journey from Invermere to Radium or go on a tour with a guide who'll share interesting tidbits about the wetlands, its inhabitants, and history. Keen on chilled-out beach vibes? There are several public beaches on lake shorelines to check out, from the popular Kinsmen Beach and Rotary Splash Park to James Chabot Provincial Park, also on Lake Windermere.

04 Hiking trails for every adventurer

Lower Bugaboo Falls with lots of mist above the fast flowing river rapids

With hundreds of trails to choose from, hiking in the Columbia Valley can suit your mood and experience level. Lower Bugaboo Falls is a solid option for an undemanding but rewarding family-friendly walk, or customize your distance while birdwatching on the Old Coach Trail.

The approximately three-hour Silver Basin hike in Bugaboo Provincial Park is so scenic it defies description, but you can look forward to alpine meadows, dramatic granite spires, and glaciers—you'll need a high clearance vehicle to reach the trailhead, as is the case at Pedley Pass and Mt. Swansea. Knowledgeable overnight hikers may want to take on the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay National Park. Many hikes in the region are in bear territory, so don't forget to pack bear spray and the Ten Essentials on longer hikes. The Markin-McPhail Westside Legacy Trail and Valley Trail at Panorama Mountain Resort are wheelchair accessible.

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05 Explore vibrant downtown Invermere

Downtown Invermere is cute as a button, and 7th Avenue is full of eating places and boutique shops. Sample the extensive range of gelato at Stolen Church, taste authentic South Asian flavors at Spice Hut Indian Cuisine (the butter chicken, fish pakoras, biryani, and mango lassi are winners), or take a selfie with the pretzel-topped bakery. Effusion Art Gallery's service is top-notch, and the staff can help you work out how various pieces will look in your home. End the day with a patio dinner at the Elements Grill at nearby Copper Point Resort.

06 Mountain biking for all skill levels

Panorama Resort's DH Bike Park is accessible via the Mile 1 Express Chairlift. The cross-country mountain biking trails here range from beginner-friendly to expert terrain, so if you'd like to enjoy some flowy single-track and natural features, this is a good place to begin. Let gravity work its magic as you fly down the slope. Half of the 18 miles of DH trails will challenge even the pros out there. Buy a day pass online in advance for a discount.

07 Embrace tranquility with mountain yoga

Practicing yoga in the mountains enhances relaxation and connection with nature. Ascend the Mile 1 Express chairlift at Panorama Resort, and you can move from one asana to the next, with snowy peaks providing the backdrop. Breathe fresh mountain air with every inhale into position and savor the ideal start to a day in the Columbia Valley.

08 Family fun with pools and waterslides

Trying to craft a child-friendly itinerary? You won't have to try too hard at Fairmont Hot Springs, where the waterpark is a big hit with little ones, or Panorama Resort, where the wading pools and summer waterslides promise smiles. You might also like a round of mini golf at these resorts or at Ozzie's Amusements in Windermere. Ozzie's has go-karting, too, and an ice cream shack to cool everyone down.

09 The exhilaration of EuroBungy and other activities

Kids also love the rush at Panorama Resort's EuroBungy attraction, where they can do all sorts of acrobatics while shooting up to 25 feet high. The resort's rock climbing walls may give kiddos their first taste of climbing, and the Columbia Lake Recreation Centre has weekly archery sessions. You can hone your bow and arrow skills at Lake Windermere Rod and Gun Club, too. With more time in the area, consider packing your s'more ingredients and camping at Redstreak.

10 Winter skiing and snowboarding

Panorama Mountain Resort and Fairmont Hot Springs Resort are just two of the eight ski resorts on the Powder Highway. The former has been named North American Resort of the Year by the Telegraph Ski and Snowboard, so that tells you all you need to know about the world-class conditions here for winter sports. Panorama's legendary Taynton Bowl guarantees first-rate shredding on the slopes. You'll soon be skiing runs like White Tail, Never Never Land, and Heli High in your sweet dreams.

11 Experience the magic of winter in Panorama

Columbia Valley becomes a frozen wonderland in winter. There are few better places to relish the season's uniqueness than at Lake Windermere Whiteway, where the Guinness World Record-winning path invites you to, for example, ice skate, snowshoe, or cross-country ski the day away. Dogs are welcome, too. You can start at Kinsmen Beach or Windermere Beach and decide how much of the 18.6-mile skating trail you want to do—bring your own ice skates or rent a pair in Invermere.

12 Local culinary delights

You can rely on the local culinary scene to serve fresh, locally sourced ingredients and provide various eat-out options. Blue Dog Cafe in downtown Invermere caters to vegans and carnivores and has a dog-friendly patio. The breakfast burritos here are glorious, and the flavorful soups go down a treat when you want something light but satisfying. Go to Begginnings for a satisfying egg-centric brunch, or head to Edible Acres Cafe for organic, ethical farm-to-table fare.

Outside of Blue Dog Cafe Oleg Mayorov / Shutterstock.com

13 Cultural experiences and local art

Windermere Valley Museum is packed with archives and photos to peruse on a rainy day. You'll gain insight into the valley's history via heritage buildings and exhibits. Check out wildlife displays and learn about the region's Indigenous culture at Radium Visitor Centre, or pop by the Pynelogs Cultural Center in Invermere to see the works of dozens of local artists and catch live performances like drumming circles.

14 Relaxation and wellness retreats

The Columbia Valley offers a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of big-city life. The stunning scenery is like a screensaver coming to life and will give your eyes a much-needed break from staring at your laptop. To level up the relaxation, slow down and go forest bathing with Pat Bavin at Radius Retreat. You can DIY this gadget-free experience or go on a tour if you feel you might benefit from the sensory guidance and company. Book a spa session at Copper Point Resort or another amazing local spa to loosen up tight muscles and indulge in me-time.

15 Shopping and local handicrafts

At Three Bears Gift Shop in Invermere, you'll find an assortment of charming, high-quality keepsakes and gifts. New stock, including furniture, art, and garden ornaments, arrives weekly. You'll also stumble across unique finds at the summer farmers' markets, the Invermere Farmers and Artisans market being the largest for delicious food and handmade goodies that support the local economy.

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