The road from Nelson to Kaslo is quite heavily travelled. Just north of the turn-off for the Balfour ferry is the Ainsworth Hot Springs. If you are looking to relax and unwind after a full day of riding, this may be just the place. The hot springs are situated atop a hill and offer breathtaking views of Kootenay Lake.
About 7 miles north of Nelson at the little community of Duhammel there is a little pub called Chiller's. There are big signs that clearly mark the turn-off to this pub. Saturday nights they serve prime rib, which they are famous for. The wait staff is pretty friendly here, the food is good and the beer is cold. They also generally have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. This is one of our favorite stops. Also the little store here is a great place to find some picnic fixings and a cold six-pack, if that's more your style. There is a nice picnic area a short ways north of here.
Just north of Balfour (a little south of Ainsworth) is the infamous Toad Rock Motorcycle Campground. If you are riding and camping in this area, I strongly urge you to spend a night here. Owner Mary and her hubby Steve are avid riders and you won't believe how welcome they'll make you feel. One word of caution, they hold a motorcycle rally here on the July first weekend every year and you won't be able to find a campsite there that weekend.
A little north of Ainsworth is the community of Woodbury, home of JB's. This is another favorite stopping point of ours. The restaurant has nice views of the lake.
As mentioned in an earlier tip, the town of Kaslo has plenty of places to explore, including the restored SS Moyie paddle wheeler. We love the Treehouse Cafe in downtown Kaslo, we've never had a bad meal there yet.
The Balfour ferry to Creston leg of this trip is another really great, curvy road. But the traffic on this road will probably drive you nuts if you can't get past it. We always try to fuel up with gas before we board the ferry - there is gas available at Balfour and in Crawford Bay. They usually let the bikes off the ferry first or very close to first. So, if you don't need to stop and re-fuel you can roll out and only have to worry about passing a few vehicles. That way you are free to enjoy this little piece of road at your own speed!
If you're not in a hurry, Crawford Bay is an interesting little town with plenty of artisan shops and great restaurants. The Glass House is east of Crawford Bay and is an interesting side stop. The house is built entirely of old enbalming fluid bottles! It is actually lived in during the winter, when it is closed to the public. During the summer months you can tour this castle-like home.
The tiny town of Sirdar is home to the Sirdar Pub and General Store. The pub serves some great food and the owner is a biker himself, so bikes are always welcome here. They're open 7 days a week. If picnics are more your thing, there are 2 rest areas along this piece of road and both of them overlook Kootenay Lake. There are also lots of neat little resort towns along this road, with several cafe choices.
The route from New Denver to Nelson winds through the Slocan Valley and passes through many small towns along the way. Fuel is plentiful on this leg of the trip, although premium is a little more difficult to find.
Valhalla Provincial Park overlook, south of Silverton is a great place for a picnic stop, if you happen to have grabbed a little lunch and an adult beverage in New Denver. There are no picnic tables here, but the big flat rocks are a great spot to sit and take in the view. But keep those adult bevvies out of sight - open liquor in public is against the law in Canada!
Silverton has a great little ice cream shop and candy store, for those of you who like to eat your dessert first!
The drive from Creston to Cranbrook via the #3 highway is another incredibly scenic piece of road, particularly the portion from Yahk, BC to Cranbrook.
Once you leave Creston, fuel is available in Yahk (45 km), Moyie (35 km) and Cranbrook (35 km).
Moyie is home to the Kokanee Cove Pub and we never pass through here without stopping at the pub. (which is the reason we were on the Creston/Salmo pass at 11:00 pm, but that's a different story entirely!) The steaks at the Kokanee Cove are *to die for*! I really mean that. The bbq prawns are equally delicious. Check out the 10 oz steak and prawn entree for $14, is that a bargain or what? The pub overlooks Moyie Lake, and if you head to your right when you enter the hotel you will see the door that leads to the outside deck, where you can enjoy the sun and the views while refueling your body.
I am ashamed to admit that I really have no pictures of this piece of road, which is a shame because it really is beautiful. For all the times we've stopped in Moyie, I've only taken one picture! I will have to change that next summer.
This portion of highway 3 will take you over a very high mountain pass known as "the Creston Salmo" as well as a second mountain pass known as "the Salmo Castlegar". (who knew?)
The Creston/Salmo, which is officially called the Kootenay Pass (but don't let the locals hear you calling that, they'll laugh you outta town!) has an elevation of 1,774 metres. This is a really beautiful pass and is a much quicker route from Creston to Nelson, if you're in a hurry. Be sure to fuel up before you leave Creston as it's some 85 km to Salmo and the next gas station.
We once rode through this pass at 11:00 pm. I don't recommend this, as the wildlife on this road at night is enough to give you a heart attack when you're on a bike! On a more positive note, when travelling through here during the day I have seen big horned sheep, deer, moose and even a yearling black bear cub.
The little town of Ymir is north of Salmo, on the way to Nelson. Ymir used to be famous (or infamous maybe) for a bike rally that used to be held there every summer, hosted by the owners of the Ymir Hotel. Alas, the Ymir Hotel is now under new ownership and 2007 was the last year for the Ymir bike rally. Rumour has it the new owner of the hotel does not "like" bikers....