Standard highway rest stops offer a parking lot and one or two grungy bathrooms. Some, if they’re really trying, throw in a picnic table or two, a dog walk area and maybe a concession stand. The rest stop at the top of Kootenay Pass, the summit of Highway 3 between Salmo and Creston, has all of them beaten — it has Bridal Lake.
Bridal Lake isn’t big and it isn’t deep. What it is is calm and beautiful, with a lovely trail wending through the woods beside its quiet waters. And for travellers tired of the wildfire smoke filling the valleys below, it has wonderfully clean air and blue skies.
We came upon this wonder as we drove between Slocan and Creston in mid-September. It was our first time driving up Kootenay Pass and, pulling our small travel trailer, we were keenly aware how steep and high the highway was. It only seemed natural to stop at the top to take a look around.
We walked the path around Bridal Lake, taking in the foliage that was just one step closer to fall colours than we had seen below. No wildlife menaced us, just the usual outraged squirrels loudly chattering demands that we leave their territory. The walk didn’t take long — perhaps 30 minutes from one end to the other and back — but it refreshed and reinvigorated us for the plunging highway ahead that would carry us to our next campsite in Creston.
Researching later we discovered the lake and rest stop are in Stagleap Provincial Park and there are many more trails to explore should we ever return. I can’t say we won’t!
(See below for a couple more views of Bridal Lake and its surroundings.)