Today we officially kickoff the second half of the A to Z Challenge with an area of BC I have yet to share with you – the Kootenays. More specifically, the city of Nelson in the West Kootenay region.
With a population of just over 10,000 people, Nelson is situated along the extreme left arm of Kootenay Lake in the Southern Interior of BC. Known as “The Queen City”, Nelson is celebrated for its collection of restored heritage buildings, established during its glory days in a regional silver rush. Visitors to Nelson will find plenty to fill their time, from outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, snow skiing, snowboarding, and rock climbing, to cultural events and unique shopping experiences. The city’s downtown core is packed with kitschy restaurants, coffee houses, local shops, and trendy art galleries, while the internationally known Shambhala Music Festival is held annually just forty-five minutes away.
Known within BC as something of a “hippie” town, Nelson is a unique part of the Kootenays, and likely the only place to find matcha tea and hemp clothing within 300 kilometers. It is also Canada’s unofficial “pot capital”. Marijuana is grown (legally and illegally) in the surrounding rural hillsides and visitors are all but guaranteed a contact high.
With beautiful scenery, a thriving cultural scene, and plenty of outdoor activities to get your heart pumping, Nelson is a wonderful stop for visitors to the Kootenays; the region, in southeastern BC, is home to some of the province’s most stunning scenery including snow capped mountains, jagged rocky cliffs, thick evergreen forests, and an abundance of wildlife (think elk, moose, and bears). While the region may not draw as many visitors as the Lower Mainland or Vancouver Island, those that do come know they’ve stumbled onto something incredibly unique.