Reader Ride: Kaslo, British Columbia “Lookout” for Your Friends

Text: James and Grace Smith • Photography: James and Grace Smith

Our 2010 KTM 990 Adventure easily rolls along the smooth forest service road adjacent to the Columbia Wetlands, the largest of their kind anywhere in the province of British Columbia. This portion of our tour was unplanned, but we did take the advice of our innkeeper the night before to avoid the overly busy Highway 93. And in return, we are rewarded with wonderful vistas and peaceful roads.

This is the first full day of our August tour; it was to be a solo trip with my wife, Grace, and me. Obviously my enthusiasm for this tour was not kept to myself as two of our good friends soon asked if they could join us with their spouses. Overnight, we became three couples on three motorcycles.

Riding High and Slowing Down for Kootenay Lake

After a brief lunch in the small Bavarian community of Kimberley, we head west for the highly anticipated Gray Creek Pass. This relatively short route takes us over the mountains to Kootenay Lake and avoids weekend traffic in the process. As we approach the summit at 6,800 feet, the good gravel gives way to rough, steep switchbacks with 14-percent grades. The descent on the west side proves to be just as steep but with much more impressive views. I wisely keep the heavily-loaded 990 in first gear while feathering the dual front Brembos. Within a few minutes, we are back on the smooth, curvy pavement of Highway 3A North toward the longest free ferry ride in the world. The trip across the lake takes about 35 minutes, and we all take advantage of the cool breeze coming off the water before we gear up for the final leg of the day, which brings us into the charming little town of Kaslo, BC.

Historic Kaslo has always been a point of interest for Grace and me. As we pass the large Victorian mansions from the last century, we are reminded of a more prosperous time when this area was rich with silver mining. In the late 1800s, this small settlement had a population of nearly 3,000, quite a contrast to its current population of only 1,000.

After settling into our accommodations for the next two nights, we remove the heavy luggage from our bikes and head to dinner. At the end of the day as we dine on the deck of the Kaslo Hotel, we are pleasantly rewarded with spectacular panoramas of Kootenay Lake and the adjacent peaks reflecting on the water.

Mining Towns and Fire Towers

The morning of our third day begins as planned with a ride west along Highway 31A. I have been reassuring my V-Strom-mounted companions that this 29-mile (47 km) stretch will be some of the best pavement riding anywhere! The grin on the faces of everyone while we eat breakfast in the town of New Denver is confirmation that we are all in agreement.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the September/October 2015 back issue.