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Journey to Yahk N' Back - A Guide to Exploring BC's Quirkiest Village

A trio of goats stand on top of the roof of the Yahk Soap & Candle Company in Yahk, BC
The charming Yahk Soap & Candle Company is well worth a visit!

By Brian Lawrence

So, you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, perhaps breathing deeply the smell of the forest, or relaxing with a good book to the sound of a gently rushing river? Welcome to Yahk, BC—a charming and quirky village nestled along the Moyie River in the stunning Purcell Mountains east of Creston.

Yahk boasts a rich history, stunning natural beauty, and unique attractions that make it a must-visit destination. Whether you're an outdoor enthusiast eager to explore rugged landscapes or a family looking for a peaceful getaway, Yahk has something special to offer. Join us on this journey to Yahk N' Back as we uncover the best of what this delightful village has to offer!

The History of the Yahk Area

The Yahk area was traditionally a central meeting place for the Ktunaxa First Nation, whose members would gather here from other parts of their territory in the Kootenay region of BC, northern Idaho, and northwest Montana. The area's name derives from the Ktunaxa word "yaak," meaning "bow." which the Ktunaxa originally applied to the nearby Kootenay River, inspired by it's bow-shaped journey - flowing south from Cranbrook into Montana, then taking a scenic tour northwest to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, before making a sharp turn north through the Creston Valley and finally spilling into Kootenay Lake. Talk about a river with a sense of direction! This name even extends to Yahk's American cousin, Yaak, just across the border in northwest Montana.

Yahk got its start as a lumber town, cutting ties for CP Rail. BC Archives

By the late 1800s Yahk was buzzing with activity as a booming lumber town. Settlers to the area were chopping down trees left and right to make rail ties for the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) — some reports even say one million ties were cut in a single winter in the early 1900s! Today, remnants of those boom years are few, with only the old Yahk Hotel building, a few CPR crew houses, and the railway itself being all that's left.

Nowadays, Yahk has mellowed out quite. a bit, with a year-round population of a whopping 179 folks who relish the peace and quiet. It also serves as a gateway between both the East & West Kootenay regions of BC as well as northern Idaho. Located at the crossroads of BC Highways 3 and 95, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to the Kingsgate-Eastport border crossing just a few minutes to the south. Whether you’re heading to Creston (30 minutes), Cranbrook (45 minutes), or Bonners Ferry, Idaho (30 minutes), Yahk makes for the perfect pit stop or home base.

Exploring Yahk's Outdoor Playground

Flowing through the middle of Yahk, the Moyie River offers recreational opportunities galore! The riverside is dotted with a number of campgrounds and RV Parks and it’s not uncommon to see people fly fishing and swimming, especially in early summer. While the water levels do drop later in the season, many deeper pools remain perfect for cooling off in!

A woman fly fishing in Yahk, BC
Fly Fishing is a popular activity on the Moyie River

The backcountry to the southeast of Yahk is also a popular recreational area for ATVing & dirtbiking thanks to it's extensive network of forest service roads. Recreation Sites at Canuck, America and Hart creeks are also popular for camping, swimming and more fishing (particularly trout at America Creek). These are generally accessible with 2WD vehicles, but on active logging roads, so be sure to turns on your lights and drive with caution!

For some family or group-friendly fun closer to Yahk, the Community Hall features a baseball field, courts for basketball and hockey as well as bocce and horseshoe pits. There's plenty to keep everyone active and entertained!

Soap and Sandwich, Anyone?

A visit to Yahk isn't complete without stopping at the quaint and cheery Yahk Soap & Candle Co. This cheerful little shop offers a rainbow of handmade soaps in scents so unique you’ll be tempted to take a bite—think cinnamon hearts, root beer, and campfire coffee!?! But it’s not just about soap; this place is a treasure trove of candles, skin and body care products, and even goat’s milk soap. Plus, with an assortment of gifts from local Kootenay artisans, you're bound to find something special for yourself or a loved one. And of course keep an eye out for the resident goats—Walter, Toot, and Buttin—often perched atop the shop's roof, adding to the shop's quirky charm!

People sit on the patio in front of Two Scoop Steve Ice Cream Shop in Yahk, BC
Two Scoop Steve is a must visit cafe located next door to Yahk Soap & Candle Company!

Next door, prepare your taste buds for a treat at Two Scoop Steve! As the name suggests, ice cream is the main draw for this seasonal gem (Open May to September), However, they also serve up scrumptious homemade soups, sandwiches, and baked goods, all crafted with as many local ingredients as possible. You can enjoy your goodies in the café or on the patio, but for the best experience, I’d recommend wandering the trail behind the café to the Moyie River. There, you can savour your snacks while listening to the soothing melody of the river—an experience that truly tops off any day!

Gather 'Round in Yahk: Fun for the Whole Family!

Looking for the perfect spot to host your next family reunion, wedding, or community gathering? Look no further than the spacious Yahk-Kingsgate Community Hall! With its large hall, indoor and outdoor kitchens, and stages both inside and out, this charming venue has everything you need to create unforgettable memories.

A excellent outdoor stage is part of the Yahk-Kingsgate Community Hall.

On top of that, this community centre boasts an indoor gym and is home to regular yoga classes — so no excuse to let your fitness slide! Music lovers will also enjoy the popular jam sessions held regularly, perfect for anyone looking to play or just enjoy some local tunes.

Plus, the Hall also doubles as Yahk's main events centre throughout the year. Mark your calendars for the seasonal fall and Christmas craft fairs, where you can discover unique treasures by local artisans. And let's not forget the annual Yahk Summerfest and Winterfest celebrations—these festive events offer a one-of-a-kind experience you won't want to miss. Who's in for a friendly game of milk jug curling? Count me in!

Kick Back and Stay a While: Yahk's Cozy Retreats

With its tranquil surroundings and easy access to the great outdoors, Yahk may seem like a slice of paradise—and guess what? It gets even better with some fantastic places to stay!

Tranquil forests and, a rushing river are part of what makes a visit to Yahk special.

Nestled alongside the Moyie River, Yahk Provincial Park beckons with it's rustic 26-site campground and day-use area. Created in 1956 to offer camping and picnicking for travellers, the park is open seasonally from mid-May through September. For those seeking a riverside retreat with more amenities, River's Edge Ranch RV Park offers fully-serviced RV sites and non-serviced tenting sites, showers and a playground.

Not a fan of camping under the stars? Then the Yahk Motel might be a good bet. It’s welcoming to well-behaved pets, and has a playground, laundry service and wi-fi. It also has three fully serviced RV sites and showers for those who still prefer a taste of outdoor living!

And although Yahk is a small community, it’s still well serviced when you need to stock up. With two convenience stores offering gas, groceries, snacks, and drinks you'll find everything you need. And if you're needing more, Creston is just a quick 25-minute jaunt away. For American visitors, a stop at the Kingsgate Duty Free Shop is also a must, with well-stocked shelves full of Canadian goods ready to take home!

More to Experience

With its tranquil riverside beauty, charming local shops, outdoor recreation and family-friendly amenities, Yahk promises a relaxing experience. But don’t stop there—your visit to Yahk, BC can also be the perfect basecamp for further exploration. Nearby Creston offers a plethora of shops, restaurants, and attractions that invite you to extend your stay and dive deeper into the area. Checkout the the Play, Shop and Eat sections of our website to learn more! And for other ideas and inspiration for things to do and places to visit in the area, be sure to read the rest of our Get Inspired Blog!

Whether you visit for a quick scoop of ice cream or a full-on camping adventure, enjoy the charm and peacefulness of Yahk, BC!

Brian Lawrence

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.


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