Take the Wardner-Fort Steele byway for intimate close-ups of mountains rising sharply from flat ranchlands, herds of foraging elk, flocks of wild turkeys, sand cliffs densely colonized by swallows, and the chance of finding a gold nugget in Wild Horse Creek.
Starting Milemarker or TownThe byway runs between the villages of Fort Steele (through Bull River) and Wardner
Points of Interest and Highlights along the Drive
The origins of Fort Steele can be traced back to the small settlement of Galbraith’s Ferry born during the 1864 Kootenay Gold Rush. Today, over 60 restored or reconstructed homes and buildings are waiting to take visitors back to yesteryear. You'll cross the Wild Horse bridge and also pass by the Trout Hatchery. The Kootenay Trout Hatchery rears up to 2 million baby trout each year and provides research facilities for fisheries biologists. A tour guide is on hand daily from May through August. If you'd like to try your luck at gold panning, Bull River runs southeast of Fort Steele. It empties into the Kootenay River north of Wardner. Wardner was a lumbering town in the 1920s. It consisted of a lumber mill, 2 hotels, 2 general stores, 2 garages, post office, police station, church, cafe and homes. The town died in 1933; all that remains are 2 stores, the post office and a church. You'll marvel at the rugged Rocky Mountains.
The Wardner-Fort Steele Road is a pleasant 35 km (21 mi) drive along the left bank of the Kootenay River, connecting the Highway 93/95 at Fort Steele to the Crowsnest Highway at the Wardner bridge. From Fort Steele, turn north to reach the Wardner-Fort Steele Road.