When I think of the Canadian Rockies, the first two places that come to mind are Banff and Jasper National Parks but do you know that Cranbrook is also in the Rockies? This city is located on the western side of the Canadian Rockies and is known as one of the sunniest places in British Columbia. I spent a few days in Cranbrook in the Fall and there is so much to do this time of the year. The autumn colours are stunning and the larches are still golden even in the third week of September, it’s also a great time to visit Cranbrook with less tourist traffic and the weather is a bit cooler for outdoor adventures.
I was able to visit this area courtesy of Cranbrook Tourism, Tourism Kimberley, and St. Eugene Resort. You can see more of what they offer in the area on their collaborative website, Rockies Exploring this Fall.
Table of Contents
- Chase Waterfalls
- Have a Picnic at St. Mary’s Lake
- Dine at These Popular Restaurants
- Visit Fort Steele Heritage Town
- Enjoy a Live Play at Key City Theatre
- Take a Heli Tour in the Canadian Rockies
- Stay or Golf at St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino
- Bonus: Where to Stay in Cranbrook
There are at least 7 waterfalls to see around Cranbrook in the Fall or any time of the year! The two I visited on this trip are Perry Creek Falls and Marysville Falls. Marysville Falls is a lot easier to reach than Perry Creek Falls because it’s right downtown Marysville. As you walk along the boardwalk path beside the creek, you will see mini waterfalls flowing down terraced rocks and your downhill walk is only about 300 metres until you reach the falls. Grab a coffee at The Koffee Kan before your leisure walk to the Marysville Falls.
Perry Creek Falls is a popular hike in the area. The path is steep and can be slippery at times, so make sure you have proper shoes for this hike. It’s about 1.5 kms downhill. Once you reach the waterfall you’ll see beautiful green moss and fast-flowing water.
The best waterfalls book you should pick up is “Waterfall Hikes in Southern British Columbia” by Steve Tersmette. This book describes the exact locations and how to get to each of the waterfalls featured. I foresee that my copy of this book will be heavily bookmarked and well-used!
Have a Picnic at St. Mary’s Lake
Note: I’ve found this lake listed as “St. Mary Lake” and “St Mary’s Lake” so if you Google it, just make sure it’s near Kimberley, BC as there is another St. Mary Lake on Salt Spring Island.
St. Mary’s Lake, in the Purcell Mountains, is a great place to spend some time. In the Fall it will be a bit too cold for swimming but you can fish or just relax and enjoy the scenery and golden autumn colours.
St. Mary’s Lake is not too far from downtown Marysville, about 17 kms, so it makes for a nice stop during the day.
Dine at These Popular Restaurants
Fire & Oak at the Prestige Hotel – Fire & Oak has something for everyone on the menu and for those, like me, with peanut allergies, they don’t have anything on the menu that contains peanuts so there is no worry of cross-contamination. They have a great selection of delicious food and feature steak, pasta, and pizza.
Firehall Kitchen & Tap -Originally built in 1929, this brick building was the main Firehall for the City of Cranbrook until 2011. It is now a craft beer tap house and gastropub and features the history of the building itself, as well as the firefighters who worked there. On the menu you can find gourmet burgers, poutine, and other delicious pub food.
The Heidout Restaurant — Another great place to stop for a meal is the Heidout Restaurant. I couldn’t resist ordering the Jäeger Schnitzel, and it was delicious! They have 5 Red Seal chefs in the kitchen plus award-winning Fisher Peak beers, brewed in-house…it can’t be any fresher than this!
Visit Fort Steele Heritage Town
Fort Steele Heritage Town is a living history museum. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the town, and if you visit in mid-September you’ll catch the Kootenay Country Fair. Fort Steele was operating at limited capacity due to COVID but for next season you can easily spend a full day here gold panning, going on train and wagon rides, enjoying the theatre, and eating at the bakery and restaurant.
Enjoy a Live Play at Key City Theatre
It’s great to see live theatre after so long! In Cranbrook we saw “Josephine – Burlesque Cabaret Dream Play”, a one-woman biographical musical that combines cabaret, theatre and dance, to tell the story of the iconic Josephine Baker, the first African-American international superstar and one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century.
Keep an eye on their website for upcoming events!
Take a Heli Tour in the Canadian Rockies
This is one adventure I will not soon forget! Thanks to Duncan of Eclipse Helicopters, we toured part of the Canadian Rockies to Fisher Peak and landed at an alpine lake. We were able to jump out of the helicopter to take photos and just experience the peaceful, quiet of the mountains. It’s one of the things that you must do when you visit Cranbrook and Kimberley!
Stay or Golf at St. Eugene Golf Resort & Casino
A great place to visit is St. Eugene Golf Resort & Spa, located on the Ktunaxa (pronounced “k-too-nah-ha”) Nation traditional territory in the East Kootenays. The Resort offers 125 rooms & suites, the Casino of the Rockies, a championship golf course, three restaurants, and a riverside RV Park. The Resort is located about a 15-minute drive from Cranbrook and the grounds are beautiful in the Fall.
“To our knowledge, the St. Eugene Mission is the only project in Canada where a First Nation has decided to transform the icon of an often sad period of its history into a powerful economic engine by restoring an old Indian Residential school into an international destination resort for future generations to enjoy. Elder Mary Paul would indeed be proud of the many successes we have had thus far.” (steugene.ca)
You can learn more about the heritage in their Ktunaxa Interpretive Centre. Thanks to the generous Ktunaxa people, they have assembled artifacts, artwork, photographs and other displays of traditional materials, to teach visitors more about the history, mythology, and culture of the Ktunaxa people.
Bonus: Where to Stay in Cranbrook
In addition to St. Eugene, I recommend the Prestige Rocky Mountain Resorts for a place to stay in Cranbrook in the Fall, or any time of the year! The property also includes Fire & Oak Restaurant and Don Cherry’s Sports Grill, as well as a hair salon, spa, indoor swimming pool, hot tub, and athletic centre. Guests are also encouraged to borrow their recreational items which vary by location and include sporting equipment, board games, and beach toys for added enjoyment.
Train car designer suites: Have you ever wondered what it would be like to sleep in a rail car? At Prestige, you have a choice of two beautifully decorated train car rooms—the Crystal Railcar Designer Suite and the Santa Fe Railcar Designer Suite.
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