Kootenay National Park
The park is located on the west side of the Rocky Mountains near the headwaters of the Columbia River in the Canadian Province of British Columbia. For thousands of years, the area which is now Kootenay National Park was part of the traditional lands identified by the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) and Kinbasket (Shuswap) First Nations people.
Archaeological evidence suggests the mountains were used primarily as seasonal hunting grounds. Groups also travelled across the mountains periodically to hunt bison on the plains east of the Rockies. Some sites are considered sacred.
Kootenay National Park was established in 1920 as part of an agreement between the provincial and federal governments to build the Banff-Windermere Highway – the first motor road across the Canadian Rockies.
A strip of land five miles (eight kilometres) wide on each side of the highway was set aside as a national park. The completion of the highway in 1922 expanded the new age of motor tourism in the Canadian Rockies and established a commercial link between the Windermere Valley, British Columbia, and Calgary, Alberta.
The character of Kootenay National Park is defined by its ecosystem – the dynamic interaction of its native species and natural processes. Preserving the natural state of the park requires maintaining the integrity of its ecosystem.
The ecological integrity of Kootenay National Park is threatened by such human impacts as development, fire suppression, introduction of non-native plants, habitat fragmentation and human/wildlife conflicts.
Parks Canada is taking a number of actions to restore and maintain the ecological integrity of national parks. From glacier-clad peaks along the Continental Divide to semi-arid grasslands of the Rocky Mountain Trench, where cactus grows, this is a park rich in diversity of landscapes and ecology.
In 1984, Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks of Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Yoho – national parks – and Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Hamber – provincial parks – were declared World Heritage Sites.
Kootenay Park Lodge has historical information of the area.
See map of the park.
See also: National Parks of Canada.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)