Shaped like a lightning bolt, the narrow 140,600-hectare (34,700-acre) Kootenay National Park lies northeast of Radium Hot Springs  and is bordered to the east by Banff National Park  (Alberta ). Highway 93, extending for 94 kilometers (58 miles) through the park, provides spectacular mountain vistas; and along the route you’ll find many short and easy interpretive hikes , scenic viewpoints, hot springs, picnic areas, and roadside interpretive exhibits.
Kootenay National Park isn’t particularly noted for its day-hiking opportunities, but backpacker destinations such as Kaufmann Lake and the Rockwall rival almost any other area in the Canadian Rockies .
Day-use areas, a gas station and lodge, and three campgrounds are the only roadside services inside the park. The park is open year-round, although you should check road conditions in winter, when avalanche-control work and snowstorms can close Highway 93 for short periods of time.
Kootenay National Park Visitor Centre (250/347-9615; summer daily 9 a.m.–7 p.m., spring and fall daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m.) is outside the park in the town of Radium Hot Springs, at the base of the access road to Redstreak Campground . Here you can collect a free map with hiking trail descriptions, find out about trail closures and campsite availability, get the weather forecast, browse through a gift shop, buy park passes and fishing licenses, and register for overnight backcountry trips.
The other source of park information is at Kootenay Park Lodge , at Vermilion Crossing (summer only). It’s worth noting that this is the only privately operated official information center in any Canadian national park—a reflection on the folks running this lodge.
Passes are required for entry into Kootenay and Yoho National Parks . Passes are interchangeable between parks — including adjacent Banff and Jasper National Parks  — and are valid until 4 p.m. the day following purchase. The cost of a National Parks Day Pass is adult $10, senior $8.30, child $5. There is a maximum per-vehicle entry fee of double the adult (or senior) rate.
Leaving Radium Hot Springs , the road parallels Sinclair Creek to tiny Olive Lake, which is ringed with bright yellow wildflowers in summer, and Sinclair Pass. The highway then descends to the valley floor, passes two riverside picnic areas, and crosses the pretty Kootenay River at Kootenay Crossing. The highway then climbs a low saddle and descends to the Vermilion River. On the descent, you pass a particularly nice picnic spot at Wardle Creek. Across the river, the mountainside is scarred black, the result of a wildfire that devastated over 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of forest in the summer of 2001.
Continuing north, the highway passes Kootenay Park Lodge (lodging, food, gas, and an official park information) then climbs through an area affected by a fire that swept through the entire valley in 2003.