Elk Valley

Length: 62 km (1.25 hours), one way
Overall Rating:
08 - Highly Recommended
09 - Dramatic
06 - Mixed
09 - Quiet

Most people traveling BC's southern Rockies probably know most of the popular stops on the Crowsnest highway - Fernie, the Frank Slide, and the highway's namesake mountain pass. Some may even stop at Sparwood's big truck for a photo.

In contrast, the road up the Elk Valley seems to be relatively unknown. There's little traffic on its length from Sparwood to Elkford and beyond, except for local workers serving the area's coal mines. While the mines are extensive operations, they are generally hidden from the road and are overshadowed by the valley's natural beauty.

The valley has abundant wildlife, and chances are that you will see elk, deer and bears on your drive. This is a highway to be vigilant with your speed; even though there are long straight sections where you think you can see for great distances, the deer can appear from roadside ditches and dart in front your vehicle.

Note the drive's routing once you get to Elkford; while the highway ends at the village, make sure to continue on the Fording River Road (if the pavement ends you're on the wrong road; we'll write-up that one at a later time). This will take you into a climb above the valley and into the mountains for more great views. You'll turn around once you arrive at the Fording River mine.

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