By Brian Lawrence
It's hard not to love the Creston Valley in the summer. With top-notch hiking trails and cycling routes steps away, and impressive waterways — Goat and Kootenay rivers, and Duck and Kootenay lakes — close at hand, the valley meets a wide range of summery recreation needs.
If you grew up with a Creston summer experience, though, you don't always realize how amazing it is until you're older — and that’s when you want to show it off. That was the case with Creston-born and -raised Glendan Lawrence, who owns Creston Valley Tour Co. and the Valley View Motel with also-Creston-born-and-raised Gillian Kemle.
“I just really love the valley,” says Glendan, who previously spent 10 years as an oilfield drilling consultant. “When I was growing up here, I kind of took it for granted. I finished high school and couldn’t wait to leave. Then you get out into other places and realize just what Creston has to offer and how amazing it is.”
And there’s so much to find impressive, with tours on the couple’s 25-seat bus including visits to wineries, orchards and artisans. With summer finally making an appearance, water is top of mind for visitors and locals alike, so Creston Valley Tour Co. offers rental and delivery of water sports equipment
Hot Spots to Cool Down
Glendan and Gillian are still developing specific water tour routes, but have some favourite spots to visit.
•“Obviously, you can’t beat Kootenay Lake on a calm day, whether you want to canoe, paddleboard or kayak,” says Glendan. “Paddleboarding on the lake is great. You can cover a lot of ground. If you had it for a day, you could paddle across to the beaches on the other side.” From Creston the Kuskanook Harbour & Boat Launch is the nearest place to launch kayaks, canoes and paddleboards and of course boats. And if the beach is more your scene, then a visit to the idyllic Twin Bays Beach, about 20 minutes north of Creston, is a must.
•Kootenay River can be accessed from a few locations, and one of the easiest is the former West Creston Old Ferry Landing on Kootenay River Road. I’ve kayaked from there, and always enjoy the perspective from the water level, as well as the opportunity to quietly get a closer look at wildlife on the water’s edge.
From this launch, paddlers can enjoy a trip upstream to where the Goat River empties into the Kootenay River, or downstream to the bridge across Highway 3 on the Creston flats. The river is also an excellent spot for stand-up paddleboarders. “Kootenay River has a pretty mellow current most of the summer,” says Glendan.
•Canoeing and fishing are popular on Duck Lake, which plays host to huge flocks of migrating swans each spring, located just north of Creston and extending to the south end of Kootenay Lake. “Right now, the channel between Duck Lake and Kootenay Lake is high enough you can paddle right out into Kootenay Lake,” Glendan says.
•Closer to Creston, Goat River and then nearby Riverside Wilderness Park are also popular for swimming and fishing. The park is also a good spot for kayakers to drop in and paddle down the Goat and Kootenay rivers before ending at the Old Ferry Landing.
Water and Wildlife
For something a bit different, the Kootenay-Columbia Discovery Centre Society combines education and recreation, offering guided canoe tours from May to August in the ponds and channels of the Corn Creek Marsh area of the Creston Valley Wildlife Management Area (CVWMA). Trained naturalists lead tours that offer insight into the wetland and its wildlife.
The larger CVWMA is 7,000 hectares (17,000 acres), which include Duck Lake and 17 marshes, with a number of launch points for canoes and kayaks. Nesting waterfowl and fluctuating water levels create challenges, though, so be sure to get in touch with their team before making a journey on the water.
More in Store
The Creston Valley Tour Co. is looking beyond summer — with backcountry skiing and private ski hills relatively nearby, Creston could easily become a four-season destination.
“We want other people to see how amazing Creston is,” says Glendan. “We want to help make Creston a destination rather than a stopover point.”
Planning Your Own Adventure?
For further information on the Creston Valley area's rivers, lakes, beaches, boat launch points and gear rentals visit the Swimming & Paddling Section of our website.
Freelance writer Brian Lawrence is a former editor and publisher of the Creston Valley Advance. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and trail running, and acting in and directing productions with Creston's Footlighters Theatre Society.