Nelson BC is a small city in the Selkirk Mountains on the far western coast of Kootenay Lake. It is located in the southeastern part of the province, and is known for its ensemble of restored buildings that reflect the history of British Columbia and its nineteenth-century silver rush. Both gold and silver were found in the region in 1867 and the town grew into a transportation, commercial, and cultural hub of the region. In addition to the stately architecture, Nelson BC has more recently become known as a cultural center, enhanced by the influx of often well-educated Vietnam-era draft dodgers who were given sanctuary and settled here in the 1960s and 1970s. Possibly related is the region's reputation as one of Canada's prime growers of marijuana.
Things to do in Nelson right in the city include tours of the historic buildings (many of which were designed by Francis Rattenbury, a noted Victoria architect) and a wide range of cultural activities. There are great dining spots, microbreweries, art galleries, and handcraft shops. Numerous artists have settled in the beautiful region, and you can find their work in many of the galleries. During the pleasant weather of the summer months, there are exhibitions of local talent throughout the downtown area. A 45-minute drive away is the Salmo River Ranch, site of the August Shambhala Music Festival, one of the region's most important events.
In the winter, the most popular things to do in Nelson involve the snow, and British Columbia skiing is important during the season. Less than 30 minutes from town is the Whitewater Ski Resort, which has downhill slopes suitable for novices and advanced skiers. Around this resort and in the wilderness areas around the town are hundreds of miles of cross-country trails and areas suitable for snowmobiling, dog sledding, and snowshoeing. There are a number of operators offering heli-ski flights to more remote areas where expert skiers challenge slopes on virgin powder.
The mountains, national parks, and wilderness areas that hug the western edge of the Canadian Rockies provide numerous things to do in Nelson that take advantage of the rugged and beautiful wilderness. Nelson hiking and rock climbing is excellent here. There are two easily accessible local trails, including the Nelson-Salmos Great Northern Trail that is suitable for novice hikers. The Pulpit Rock Trail is shorter but more challenging. In addition, backcountry Nelson hiking is available for those who are prepared with basic wilderness gear and a good dose of common sense. You will also find Nelson hiking a little further afield in the magnificent Yoho National Park and Kootenay National Park. There are numerous rock climbing areas, and mountain biking trails are available along the same routes as many of the hiking trails.
Camping in Nelson British Columbia goes hand in hand with hiking. There are scores of campgrounds. Around the lake, many of the camping areas are like small resorts with a number of resort-type facilities from playgrounds and activities centers to motor home and recreational vehicle hook-ups. You can also book Nelson BC vacation rentals in the form of houseboats that can sleep as many as fifteen to twenty people, and the lake offers excellent fishing in addition to all the other water activities available.
Image: Tourism British Columbia