Kaslo is a village of almost 1,000 people (2016) in the West Kootenays of British Columbia. It is the oldest incorporated community in the Kootenays, and is sometimes called the Switzerland of the Americas.
Kaslo was designated as a sawmill site in 1889, and grew on the silver boom of the 19th century. It retains much of the history from its mining days. The town today relies mainly on the industries of forestry and tourism.
Kaslo was incorporated as a city on August 14, 1893, making it the oldest incorporated community in the Kootenays. It was an important center for shipping and silver ore mining. After the silver rush Kaslo's fortunes faded but it was re-incorporated as a village on January 1, 1959.
- 1 Kaslo Visitor Centre, 324 Front St, Kaslo, British Columbia, V0G 1M0, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. May 10-Oct 12: daily 10AM-6PM; mid Oct-mid May: closed. The visitor centre is on Kootenay Lake with views of the Purcell and Selkirk Mountains. There is a swimming beach with picnic area. The centre is wheelchair-accessible, dog-friendly and has a gift shop.
- Kaslo is about 65 km north of Nelson (British Columbia) along the west side of Kootenay Lake. The easiest way to get to Kaslo is by vehicle as there is very limited public transit in this area.
- There is a small paved air strip near town which is used by small private planes but no commercial airlines land here.
- The closest airport with commercial airline service is in Castlegar (YCG IATA), almost 2 hours away.
- Central Kootenay Transit provides limited bus service between Nelson and Kaslo. For some time, this has meant service one day each week.
- Mountain Man Mike's Bus Service. Weekly bus service along Highway 3 on Sunday from Vancouver through New Westminster, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Manning Park, Princeton, Keremeos, Osoyoos, Rock Creek, Greenwood, Grand Forks, Christina Lake, Castlegar, Nelson, and Balfour en route to Kaslo. The return trip west goes on Saturday.
Kaslo is small enough to be easily walkable and the main "shopping district" is only about a block long. Park your vehicle on a side street and wander. "Lower Kaslo", as the name suggests, is closest to Kootenay Lake and is where stores and shops can be found. "Upper Kaslo" is mainly residential with great views of the village's natural setting.
- SS Moyie National Historic Site. 9AM - 5PM. A world's oldest intact passenger sternwheeler, lovingly restored by the Kootenay Lake Historical Society, now making its home on the lakeshore just a minute or two walk from downtown. $7.
- Kaslo Jazz Etc Festival. Usually held over the August long weekend, this is an internationally recognized music festival that attracts crowds and famous musicians.
- May Days and Kaslo Logger Sports. Over the third weekend in May (a holiday weekend), Kaslo celebrates May Days with the main attraction being the Logger Sports activities. It's a good display of the varied skills found in this erstwhile logging town. With the logging industry going through a sustained slowdown, these skills seem to be finding more use in the tourist business than in the woods.
- Village Hall. Built in 1898, it is one of only two intact wooden municipal buildings that are still in use in Canada.
- Kaslo River Trail. Hike this 3-km scenic trail loop from town along the Kaslo River and across the Kaslo River Bridge and back to town. The whole project, trail and bridge, is the legacy of a local trail group, the Kaslo Trailblazers [formerly dead link]
Kaslo has most of the essential shops available, including a grocery store, an organic food store, a bakery, liquor store, post office, a couple of gas stations and a selection of shops selling flowers, clothes and souvenirs.
Eat and drink
- Kaslo Hotel & Brew Pub, 430 Front St, ☏ . A renovated building in the centre of town with great views from the pub and restaurant out to Kootenay Lake and the Purcell Mountains to the east.
- Treehouse Restaurant, 419 A Front St, ☏ . This seems to be where the locals often go for breakfast and such.
- Kaslo Golf Course, 418 Pine St, ☏ . 7AM to 8PM. The clubhouse has a good restaurant which is developing a reputation for quite decent food. The view from the restaurant, inside or from the deck, is really quite inspiring and looks out across Kootenay Lake to the Purcell Mountains.
There is a good number of places to find overnight accommodation, including a hotel, a motel, many B&Bs and several campgrounds in the area.
- [dead link] Kootenay Lake Guest House (Kaslo Hostel), 232 B Avenue, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. located in Lower Kaslo minutes from the lake and the village's stores and visitor centre. Dorm $25/night.
- Kaslo Hotel, 430 Front St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. $120 to $200 depending on season.
- Kaslo Motel, 330 D Ave, toll-free: .
- Mirror Lake Campground. About 4 km south of Kaslo on Mirror Lake.
- [dead link] Kaslo Municipal Campground. On the lakefront at the foot of A Ave in Lower Kaslo.
- [dead link] Kootenay Lake Provincial Park, HHwy 31 north of Kaslo. Two campsites (Lost Ledge and Davis Creek), 25 and 30 km respectively, north of Kaslo on Hwy 31 towards Meadow Creek. $15 & $10.
- Beach Gables Guesthouse Motel, 243 Front St, Kaslo, ☏ . A restored heritage building across the street from Kaslo's beach on Kootenay Lake within view of the SS Moyie and a block from downtown Kaslo. $85-105.
- Kaslo Manor Lodge, A Ave and Hwy 31a to New Denver (Upper Kaslo), ☏ . A complete restoration of an original 1896 original. Has complimentary high speed internet, cable TV and private baths. From $80.
- Kaslo Primary Health Centre, 673 A Avenue - Lower Level, Kaslo, BC V0G 1M0, ☏ .
Internet access can be obtained at several locations in town:
The Kaslo Public Library has Internet-accessible computers available for free public use. The Library has somewhat restricted hours of operation so it's best to check their website to see when they're open first .
Kootenay Lake Computers sells Internet access.
Kaslo InfoNet Society has free WiFi access  [dead link].
The Kaslo Hotel has free Wi-Fi access.
Internet access is also available at the bakery.
The village is also served by a funky little Library in the basement of the historic Village Hall building.
If you really want to get out, consider going on a challenging backcountry hike. There are many to choose from and they've been keeping lots of the locals busy for years. These aren't always easy to find and they are challenging, so you need to be prepared. Arm yourself with a copy of the trail guide Where Locals Hike in the West Kootenay, the latest copy of the Backroads Mapbook of the area, possibly a topographic map, a high clearance vehicle and some knowledge of how to conduct yourself in mountainous terrain where bears live and visit some of the truly stunning destinations available in the area. Some examples would include Monica Meadows, Macbeth Icefield trail, Whitewater Creek (not anywhere near the ski hill, despite the similar name), Fry Creek Canyon, Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park....
Rent a kayak and go for a paddle. These are available in Kaslo from Kaslo Kayaking. Just be aware that Kootenay Lake may look like a calm millpond at times, but can experience high winds that attack without notice, making the lake very rough and potentially dangerous. You could end up trapped on the other side of the lake, or worse....
At the right time of year, late August to October, the Kokanee salmon (aka Redfish) start spawning. An excellent place to see them is the Meadow Creek Spawning Channel [dead link] about 45 minutes north of Kaslo.
Drive to the top of Mt Buchanan for a fantastic view of Kaslo, Kootenay Lake and the surrounding mountains from an old fire lookout almost a kilometer above the town. Most vehicles can handle the Mt Buchanan Forest Service Road, about 12 km west of Kaslo on Hwy 31a towards New Denver, just be aware that it is steep in places and requires some care.
Visit Cody Caves Provincial Park just south of Kaslo about 3 km north of Ainsworth on Hwy 31. Drive another 10 km west on a narrow forest service road to the Park. Cave tours are available during July and August starting from $45/adult, $35/child for a 2-hpur your (1 hour underground).
After your day of fun, visit Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort for a soak. Cost is $10 for adults. This is part of a 43-room resort and includes a dining room.
|Routes through Kaslo|
|ENDS at N S ←||N S||→ Ainsworth Hot Springs-Balfour → END|
|END ←||W E||→ New Denver → END|