Current Location: Home in Rocky Point Oregon
I spent a lot of time reviewing the few options for RV parks in the vicinity of Kaslo before we made our reservation. I know that reviews are not always accurate, but if there are bad reviews, I try to check for the date and then see if the good reviews are a response to the bad ones. Sometimes it is fairly clear that the park owners or managers have tried to offset the negativity.
In this case, I decided to ignore the few bad remarks about the Municipal Park and pay attention the bad remarks about some of the other places. Turns out I made a good choice. I wanted hookups, and what I didn’t learn from the reviews is that anything more than 15 amp power is rarely available. The Kaslo Municipal Campground had just three sites with 30 amp power, so I was extremely glad that I had made a reservation.
When we arrived, there were a couple of other rigs in line, and as I walked up to the crowd of people, the manager said, “Excuse me, but I need to attend to Sue here before I check you in because she has a reservation”. She knew who I was from our rig! Pretty nice. Then she gave me a choice. We could take the nice shady site on the hill, not very level, and with 15 amp power, or we could take the crowded sunny (hot) site with a sliver of lake view next to the park and 15 amp power until the next day when we would get the 30 amp post.
I was all for the shade, but Mo opted for the 30 amp. Either way, our first night was going to be a hot one. Once again, we put the fridge on gas only and didn’t even bother trying to turn on the air. The fan had to be enough and with the temps a hot and somewhat humid (for the west) 90 degrees F we waited for a breeze.
Nice thing about our site, however is that it backed up to the park, with just a few hundred yards to a spot where we could launch the kayaks. With fairly strong winds on the lake, we didn’t unload them the first night, deciding to wait for better weather the next morning. Instead we had supper before taking a lovely stroll along the lake and up toward the sweet little town of Kaslo.
It still had the charm that I remembered, but just a bit more so, with many eateries, little shops, and the beautiful Kaslo Hotel right above the shoreline and the marina. Even with the smoky skies, the surrounding mountains were magnificent.
My favorite moment, however, was spying these two ladies in their rigs visiting along the park in front of their lovely retirement home. If it weren’t for winter, this might be a really nice place to spend your last days.
The next day we launched the kayaks, in spite of the strong breezes and managed a few miles south of town along the shore, and then back north and into Kaslo Bay. The water was deep and clear, but the beaches near the campground are made up of large rocks, making for some gingerly walking to get the boats in and out of the water.
On another day we decided to explore the road north toward Duncan Lake, and took the long dirt road to the towns of Argenta and Johnsons Landing. We read about these two historic places in the Kaslo travel guide and Mo loves old small historic towns, so 30 miles or so round trip on a dirt road seemed worth it. To our surprise, Johnson’s Landing is completely locked up and private, and we didn’t drive as far as the world famous trailhead at the entrance to Fry Canyon. There are a LOT of day hikes and longer hikes in the Kaslo area.
Someday, when Abby doesn’t need to be pampered with short walks, we may come back and hike the canyon, but on this day we knew long hikes were not on the agenda. Abby is doing well, but long hikes are out of the question.
On a bit more sober note, I took several photos of what looked to me like a glacial outburst type of landform, adjacent to the lake near Johnson’s Landing. Nowhere did I find information about this until today, researching links for this blog, when I found the story of the devastating Johnson’s Landing Landslide of 2012. (link here) It is somewhat disturbing to me that I could blithely drive around this area, that I could talk to people in Kaslo about being there and going there, and not one local person mentioned this tragedy. Just for perspective, here is another ( link ) to what we read about Argenta and Johnson’s Landing from the BC tourism website. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
We did finally find something to look at in the community of Argenta, where the travel guide said “there are many self sufficient types located here.” I imagined hunters and fishermen, but instead we found huge organic gardens and lovely tanned men in colorful sarongs and young women with beautiful hair driving older SUV’s. Not many mind you, but enough to realize that this area was an enclave to hippies in the best sense of what that word can mean.
Today, while researching this post, I found this rather fascinating story about Argenta that wasn’t in the Kaslo Visitor Guide. Seems as though a group of California Quakers established the community, building the Argenta Friends School where they taught homesteading skills and welcomed draft dodgers. The school was closed but the nature of the community has remained intact. Peace loving, simple living Quakers and peace loving, simple living hippies have a lot in common.
We drove north toward the Duncan Dam, found the beautiful overlook and gorgeous lake, and then traveled north even further to the tiny hamlet of Howser.
There is a lovely Provincial campground at the end of the road, and we were really sorry we hadn’t put the kayaks back on the car after our day on the water at the bigger and windier Kootenay Lake. I took photos of campsites where the MoHo could fit, with only a couple of miles of dirt road to navigate. I am sure we will return to this place. Both of us loved Duncan Lake more than Kootenay Lake: it was far more remote and protected with the glassy water kind of kayaking and bird life that we love.
We also checked out the two Provincial campgrounds right on Kootenay Lake just a few miles north of Kaslo. Both Davis Creek and Lost Ledge campgrounds are on the water with beautiful views. No hookups and no reservations, but there were spaces available on the day we visited, so we do hope to someday return and camp. We decided a few days of boondocking would be interspersed with a day or two at the Municipal Campground where we could charge up and dump before going back to the north.
A nice advantage of returning to Kaslo was the delightful outdoor eatery, boasting gluten free sourdough bread, and non GMO foods. Healthy alternative lifestyles are the norm in this part of British Columbia and it was so refreshing. Of course, I had a Rueben hot dog, not very healthy or gluten free, but oh so yummy! They had home made ice cream there as well, but we never managed a return visit.
Our last day turned out to be cooler and rainy, and we just took some time to relax, go for town walks, and in the afternoon Mo drove me 12 miles or so back south along Highway 31 to Ainsworth Hot Springs, high on my list of todo’s in this area. Mo didn’t want to leave Abby for an extended time, so while I went to the springs, she explored the lakeshore toward Balfour and found a gorgeous beach with beautiful water and sand where Abby played and swam. Mo said she even swam all on her own just for fun without Mo having to throw something to encourage her.
(I took no camera or phone to the springs, so these photos are from the internet)
I spent two glorious hours, for the paltry sum of $11.00 Canadian, soaking in the hot odor free mineral waters that have made Ainsworth famous. The springs are no longer in their natural state, but the water is wonderful, and in the big pool the exchange rate is about 6 times per day. I was glad it wasn’t a weekend, but the place was quite crowded with kids and people, mostly Canadians, but I heard many different languages being spoken. French, of course, but also Russian and I heard a woman with a beautiful accent from South Africa.
It was fun being there alone, and I didn’t engage much, but listened to the Canadians talking about their country and their towns. Especially interesting were the conversations about Calgary becoming way too big with crime coming into the neighborhoods and Lethbridge being a gorgeous place to live with a wonderful university. I do love my country, I wouldn’t choose any other, but I did find myself unwilling to give away my US accent. I felt like a true foreigner in a foreign land. Don’t let the similarities fool you, Canada is NOT the USA.
The best part about Ainsworth Hot Springs are the caves. They are shaped like a big horseshoe, and the water is about waist deep and the temps were 104F on the day I visited. You enter the cave, and then walk through into the dark hot steamy interior. Part way in a very hot waterfall provides a great neck massage if you can stand it and by the time you reach the other end of the horseshoe you are ready for some cool air! The cave ends in another hot pool, and adjacent to that is the ice plunge pool. On this hot day, the ice plunge was a balmy 49 degrees F, but after the heat and steam it was still enough of a shock to get your blood tingling. The ice pool also has a waterfall that is a bit harder to stand under than the hot one.
After a few rounds through the cave and the ice plunge, I would go back to the main pool and eavesdrop on all sorts of nearby conversations. When Mo returned two hours later to pick me up I was limp as a dishrag. Once again, don’t pay attention to the negative reviews. Ainsworth is a treasure to enjoy for exactly what it is. Not fancy, not natural, but a special place.
There is so much to see in the area, great art galleries and some small museums in Kaslo, including the beautiful sternwheeler the Moyie, but on this trip even three full days and half another didn’t give us enough time to enjoy all of it. The S.S. Moyie is the world’s oldest intact passenger sternwheeler and has been lovingly restored in the last few years. It represents a great era of the history of Kootenay Lake and Kaslo. I loved hearing the loud steam horn blow in the afternoons.
It was with a bit of melancholy that we left on Thursday morning. But there was something very special waiting for me back in Klamath Falls on the coming weekend and I wasn’t about to miss it. We knew our time wouldn’t be long enough but it was OK. We saw enough to know that this is a place we will return without question. It is under 1,000 miles from home and best of all, it isn’t at all crowded! After being in the Canadian National Parks of Banff and Jasper when it felt like a crazy zoo, it was so refreshing to enjoy the beautiful Canadian Rockies in such peace.
If you are interested in ALL the photos, they are here in my SmugMug trip gallery:
Next: the Long Way Home