Located between the Rocky and Purcell Mountains in southeast BC, the Columbia Valley is just a short trip from Alberta and the USA border, and about a ten hour drive from Vancouver. Situated along the Upper Columbia River, the wetlands surrounding these friendly communities are renowned for their birdlife. Stretching from Golden in the north, a short hop from Banff and Calgary, to Cranbrook in the south near the Montana and Idaho border, the Columbia Valley Trail is full of outdoor adventure opportunities.
Golden, an hour from Alberta and the scenic destination of Banff, is home to the wetlands of Moberly Marsh along the Columbia River, a critical resting and feeding area for resident and migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway.
Following the river south, you’ll come to Radium Hot Springs and Invermere. The bountiful wetlands around the Wilmer National Wildlife Area offer a great mix of birds from the Pacific Flyway, as well as those found more in the Rockies and across the Prairies. With the mountain resort of Panorama nearby, you have lots of outdoor options at any elevation.
Continuing south, you’ll want to make a stop at Canal Flats on Columbia Lake before heading to the Kimberly area. The Columbia Wetlands here provide some of the best birding in the province, as well as being a major nature conservation area.
Nearby Cranbrook is the main southern hub of the Columbia Valley Trail, meaning a charming town and all its amenities are nearby as you explore the surrounding wetlands. With a mix of marshland, rivers, lakes, and forests, you could spend an entire trip right here.
Whether you pop over on a day trip from Alberta or make it into a week-long roadtrip with the family, just let the river guide you to fantastic birdwatching all along the Columbia Valley Trail.