Columbia River Source

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 What:  The source of the Columbia river 5hours north of Spokane in British Columbia. From very near Fairmont Hot springs, the river flows north for hundreds of miles before going another 1000 miles south to the Pacific Ocean. Called N'chi a wana by the Natives it is the largest river falling into that ocean body. At its source the river begins as green water mixed with glacial flour from the Rocky Mountains creating a beautiful flat emerald color. It is little more than a canal at its beginning but see the map of all the rivers that add their weight to the total. Check out Fairmont Hot Springs resort as a great place to stay at the north end of the lake where the river is sourced.

Plant life: Higher up you will see Douglas fir, Lodge pole pine, Rocky mountain juniper, Sagebrush. Near the lake you will see Douglas Maple, Cottonwood, Spruce, Poplar, Water Birch, Willow, Cat-tails, Water Lilies, and Rushes. Common flowering plants of these areas are the Crocus, Shooting Star, Brown-eyed Susan, Ox-eye Daisy, Tiger Lily, Camus, Bitterroot, and buttercups to name a few. Some of the more common flowering shrubs and berries are Rose Hip, Saskatoon, Chokecherry, Mockorange, Huckleberry, Cranberry, Gooseberry, Kinnikinnick and Honey Suckle. Two plants that grow relative to conditions of the hot springs are: Wild Asparagus and Poison Ivy.

Wildlife: The Upper Columbia Valley is well known for its large herds of Elk, Deer, Moose, Mountain Goat, and Bighorn Sheep. Other mammals found in this area are the Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Lynx, Cougar, Coyote, and Wolf. Small abundant animals include the Beaver, Muskrat, Gophers, Badger, Chipmunk, Yellow Bellied Marmot, and Squirrel. During the winter months, a herd of 200-300 Elk forage on the bottom land south of Fairmont Hot Springs on the east side of the lake which is a large wetland area uninterrupted by development except a crude 2-rut dirt road. The Columbia and Kootenay River watersheds teem with various bird species because they are part of the Pacific Flyway which is the route take by migrating birds lying west of the "Great Divide". Some resident birds found in this area include: the Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle, Blue Grouse, Spruce Grouse, White and Red breasted Nuthatch, Pileated Woodpecker, Blackcapped and Mountain Chickadee.

 Where:  Drive north on Hwy 2 and go either north on 20 to the Canadian border, or continue on 2 to Bonners Ferry and cross the border there. Anyway you have two routes one to the way out and one for the way back. Get yourself over to Cranbrook and up either of the northerly routes to the Fairmont Springs area. If you like hotels, Fairmont Springs is the largest odorless hot springs in Canada and we were very surprised at the pleasant accommodations, but reserve well in advance. Banff is only another hour north from here.

 Cautions:  Get as detailed a Canadian map as you can for all kinds of ideas for detours along the way like Top of the World park, etc.

 List:  Water, camera, binoculars, picnic, and in summer swimming suit. Email Us