Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Kootenay National Park is a place to be humbled

Hiking to Stanley Glacier in Kootenay National Park.

Megan Robertson/Megan Robertson

To celebrate Parks Canada's 100th anniversary, we asked for your stories and photos. Reader Megan Robertson writes:

Passing through the improbable narrowness of Sinclair Canyon, the road curves and climbs into the Rocky Mountains. Kootenay National Park in southeastern British Columbia is a local, national and international treasure. Designated as a national park in 1920, the 1,406 square kilometres that butt up against the western edge of Alberta was recognized as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. It is a park of impressive facts and figures, and it is visited by millions of tourists who travel along the highway between the two provinces.

For sheer visual beauty, it's hard to beat. But what I like best about KNP is that it offers itself as a place to be humbled. Speeding by in the air-conditioned peace of a car is one thing; it's another to get off the road and spend time in this place.

Story continues below advertisement

Hiking above the tree line toward the Stanley Glacier, you notice the altitude, the silence, the coldness of the wind.

Descending past grouse and marmots, the moss returns and soon flowers line the trail that crosses streams protected by pine and spruce trees.

Farther east, the silver stalks of a burned forest stand among new growth - green stretching skyward. Bears amble in meadows, searching out summer berries.

To spend time in this place is to recognize nature moves at its own pace. We can push and prod it to serve our desires, but to be vulnerable to the park and its natural forces requires travelling at a different speed. It takes patience to watch a sunset turn the western sky into a kaleidoscope of yellows, pinks and purples. It takes patience to discover how the sunlight reflects off the iron-heavy water of the Paint Pots.

Leaving the park's western gates and descending into the Columbia Valley, you are greeted with a sign that reads, "The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People." I've often wondered why this sign is placed in such a way that when you read it, you stand with your back to the Rockies. But it's not the mountains that I take with me in my memories of this place: it's the peace of finding patience rewarded, of being humbled by nature, of being fully present in the world.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Share your photos and memories of Canada's national parks at . We'll feature the best throughout our national parks series.

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to