The commercial center of the Columbia River Valley is Invermere (pop. 3,500), on the shoreline of Lake Windermere 15 kilometres (nine miles) south of Radium. The population swells threefold throughout summer as vacation homes in Invermere and surrounding lakeside communities fill with a mostly Albertan influx of visitors who come for the water sports, the swimming, and the holiday atmosphere.
Off the Invermere access road, toward Wilmer, a small plaque marks the site of KOOTENAE HOUSE. Established by David Thompson in 1807, it was the first trading post on the Columbia River. The Columbia Valley’s first permanent settlement, known as Athalmer, was alongside the outlet of Lake Windermere, but continual flooding led to the town’s expansion on higher ground. The old town site is now a popular recreation area, where a pleasant grassy area dotted with picnic tables runs right down to a sandy beach and the warm, shallow waters of the lake. It’s on the left as you travel along the Invermere access road. As you approach the town itself, consider a stop at WINDERMERE VALLEY MUSEUM (622 3rd St., 250/342-9769, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon. to Fri. in summer, donation), where the entire history of the Columbia Valley is contained in seven historic buildings.
Panorama Mountain Resort
In the Purcell Mountains immediately west of Invermere, Panorama Mountain Resort (250/342-6941 or 800/663-2929, www.panoramaresort.com) is a sprawling year-round resort and residential development highlighted by a ski resort and challenging GREYWOLF GOLF COURSE (250/341-4100), where the signature sixth hole, “the Cliffhanger,” requires an accurate tee shot across a narrow canyon to a green backed by towering cliffs. During the warmer months, there are also chairlift rides, white-water rafting and inflatable kayak trips down Toby Creek, and horseback riding. In the village itself, you’ll find tennis, a climbing wall, and a network of connected hot pools.
Skiing first put Panorama on the map, mainly because the resort boasts one of North America’s highest vertical rises (1,200 metres/3,940 feet). The village is also home to R. K. HELI-SKI (250/342-3889 or 800/661-6060), one of the few heli-ski operations that specialize in day trips (from $1,000 for three runs).
Along the highway, just south of the Invermere turnoff, is the INVERMERE VISITOR CENTRE (651 Hwy. 93/95, 250/342-2844, 9 am-5 pm daily July-Aug., weekdays only the rest of the year).
FOUR POINTS BOOKS (1125A 7th Ave., 250/341-6211, 10 am-5 pm daily) is a welcoming independent bookstore in downtown Invermere. It stocks lots of local history and hiking books, as well as maps, and general fiction.
The following Invermere webcams are maintained year-round. The only one pointed along the main street of downtown is this one:
The District of Invermere operates a webcam at Kinsmen Beach on Lake Windermere.
NAV Canada operates webcams pointing north and south at Invermere Airport.
The Copper Point Golf Course webcam (golf season only) points toward the 9th green, with the mountains visible in the distance.
Panorama Mountain Resort has webcams mountain at the day lodge and also at the resort’s highest point.