Welcome to the beautiful Creston Valley, a relatively undiscovered gem located in the southeastern part of British Columbia. Nestled between the Purcell and Selkirk Mountain ranges, the mild climate lends to warmer winters and a fabulous growing season as well as a varied landscape of forests, lakes and valleys. This diverse area is home to talented artists, musicians, award winning wineries, a brewery, fruit growers and so much more. Each community that makes up our valley is unique in its own right.
The Town of Creston has a population of just over 5000 people and is growing. It is becoming a popular destination for young retirees due to the climate and services that Creston has to offer. Recently the downtown core has undergone a revitalization project and the landscape continues to grow and change. The community offers unique shopping opportunities, two chain grocery stores, restaurants, galleries and an extensive library all framed by the backdrop of a picturesque valley. The College of the Rockies offers opportunities for furthering one’s education in either a classroom setting or on-line and the multi-million dollar Creston and District Community Complex boasts an ice rink, a curling club, a fully equipped gym, two pools, meeting and banquet facilities and so much more. The Creston Valley Hospital is a full service hospital and is currently undergoing a major renovation to its Emergency Department. Be sure to stop in to the Creston Museum, one of the best small museums in BC and the Columbia Brewery, home to Kokanee beer (among others) and a great tour.
Home to the bulk of fruit growing in the valley, this fertile community is a major contributor to the cherry industry worldwide. Erickson is also home to two award winning wineries, Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery and Skimmerhorn Winery. One feels like you’ve been transported when sitting next to the vineyards sipping wine, taking in the breathtaking scenery. A definite “must stop” when in the area. Several fruit stands sell locally grown produce, baked goods, local honey, fresh flowers and handicrafts. A “must stop” for tourists and locals alike!
Accessed by either Highway 3 from the east or Highway 3A from the west, this community is primarily residential. The landscape is varied, but is mostly treed. The views from the west side are of the valley below and the Purcell Mountains across the valley. If you’re lucky, you can see Duck Lake and Kootenay Lake beyond. A little higher in altitude, this area is more forested, although there are some nice open areas where a great garden can be grown.
Just 12 minutes east of Creston lays Kitchener in a valley that is home to a lot of recreational pursuits such as hunting, fly fishing, snow mobiling, quadding and more. The area is spread out with residential housing throughout the area.
Yahk is the community furthest east in our area. It is an eclectic area and is quite spread out. Yahk is home to Yahk Soap Company where you can watch goats frolic on the grass covered roof and buy some fantastic smelling soap at the same time. There is also a great ice cream shop (Two Scoop Steve) that is always busy in the summer months.
One of the most picturesque areas in our valley, the Canyon and Lister area is home to rolling hills and wide open spaces. Mostly an agricultural area, it is becoming popular with newly constructed homes and small hobby farms. Lister is also home to Kootenay Alpine Cheese Company, a fabulous organic dairy producing old world cheeses and other dairy products. Be sure to stop by and sample the cheese and buy some fresh milk.
Most well-known for the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area, this 17,000 acre habitat is home to many endangered species and other wildlife. The interpretive center is open from spring until fall and gives a great insight into this very important flyway. Miles of trails take you around the wetlands so that you can appreciate the full beauty of this special area. West of the management area are clusters of residential housing, most with amazing views of the valley to the east.
Wynndel is a quaint and diverse community and is home to WynnWood, a specialty lumber mill operating since 1913; Wynnwood Cellars, farmers and many artisans. The Kunze Gallery is a fabulous collection of different types of artwork from paintings to sculptures to whimsical items. A most stop on your way to Kootenay Lake. It is a varied area with residential housing in the hills and amongst what the locals refer to as “the Flats”. When you see the area, you’ll know why. The “Flats” is a reclaimed area that was once primarily under water until a series of dykes were constructed in 1935. Large scale cultivation started in this area once the construction was complete.
Kootenay Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in Southern BC and one of the largest lakes in BC. It is approximately 400 square kilometers with a width of anywhere from 3 to 5 kilometers. The main lake stretches about 104 kilometers from south to north with a west arm that extends about 35 kilometers to the west. It is a deep lake at 150 meters (490 feet) at its deepest and does not freeze in the winter. When travelling from Creston, there is a real “wow” moment when you reach the bend in the road and the lake is first revealed to you. Flanked by the Purcell Mountain range to the west, the windy road gives you spectacular views for most of the hour long trip to the Kootenay Lake Ferry. Along the way, you will find small communities with lots of history. Sirdar, the first community at the south end of the lake, still has its post office that was opened in 1900. Other communities include Kuskanook (a harbour and launch site for your boat), Boswell (mostly residential, but home to Lockhart Creek Provincial Park), Gray Creek (a community with lots of history and don’t forget to stop at the Gray Creek Store), Crawford Bay (home to Kokanee Springs Golf Resort and many neat artisans, including broom makers, glassblowers and weavers), Riondel (off north from the highway-a quaint community of about 300 people and a really nice camp site) and finally Kootenay Bay (where one catches the longest free ferry ride in the world and Pilot Bay Provincial Park).