Print Posted on 07/17/2017 in Road Tales

Nelson BC to Creston on Hwy 3A

Nelson BC to Creston on Hwy 3A

The Kootenay Region of BC has some of the most scenic rides in Canada, lucky for me I get to experience many of the local rides on a regular basis. One of my favorite rides runs from Nelson to Creston along Route 3A for a little over 75 miles.

Nelson itself is one of the most picturesque cities in BC, situated on Kootenay Lake, Nelson is home to several Historic Buildings including one of the nicest looking courthouses you hope to never see the inside of. Before leaving Nelson you need to make sure you have plenty of gas for the trip, as there is gas along the route there is a shortage of finding premium gas for you motorcycle. If your bike is anything like my Road King putting regular gas in it makes for a rough trip.

Leaving Nelson heading east on Highway 3A you cross over the West Arm Bridge, simply known as the "Orange Bridge" in the Nelson area. For the first while you are going to be riding around 60 KM/H (35 mph) as road is lined with water front homes. The road twists and turns meeting much of this part of the journey sort of following the shape of the lake.

Just miles from Nelson is the most famous house in the West Kootenay's, Blaylock Mansion. Originally owned by Selwyn G. Blaylock, a General Manager for Cominco and largely responsible for the development of the Elephant Brand Fertilizer, the mansion now available for guests to enjoy. Not long after the mansion the speed limit increases up to 80 KM/H (50 mph) as you ride along one of the longest straight stretches you find on this trip...and it isn't a very long straight stretch.

Continuing east along the highway and now 20 km's outside of Nelson you will go through Kokanee Creek Provincial, the park is a nice setting to camp at if you're camping along the route. The highway continues through the park for a short distance and the rest of the route up to Balfour with scattered views of the Lake as the road moves a little further off of the lake. That doesn't take away from this ride at all though, as you truly are riding through nice lush green forests with houses graciously spaced between them.

Once arriving in Balfour, you are likely going to have to wait for the ferry. The Balfour to Kootenay Bay ferry, The Osprey, is longest running free ferry in the world. Unlike most ferry's though, there is no priority boarding for motorcycles, you wait in the same lineup as all the other cars, often in the summer this can lead to a one sailing wait. I normally like this, as a hamburger lover the pub that is at the ferry terminal provides a fantastic burger.

Once the 35 minute ferry ride docks at Kootenay Bay Ferry you will be directed off the ferry, I suggest for your own pleasure of the road to pull off the side of the road and let all the traffic go by. You probably got off the ferry somewhere in the middle of the vehicles, as again they don't let the bikes off first. There is very few places to safely pass for the next 50 km's and with how much enjoyment you can have on this road let the traffic get well ahead of you so you can experience the road the way a biker should.

During the next 30 km's you will experience the road that many riders have come to BC to experience. The road has jaw dropping views of Kootenay Lake with tall crisp mountains in the background, it is seldom straight and never boring. Some of the corners are very tight, with narrow bridges. There are plenty of places along the side of the road to pull off and get pictures for memory keepsakes.

Several small towns along the way provide a place to grab a drink, or camp for the night but one final stop along the route is one of the most unique stops you will experience in your life. David H. Brown's Glass House built of approximately 500,000 glass embalming fluid bottles sits on the shore of Kootenay Lake just outside of the rural community of Boswell. The house is available to be toured as a roadside attraction during the summer months...the best time to experience this road anyways.

The experience of riding route 3A from Nelson to Creston is one that I have done pretty much every year since I have been riding, it is a route that I get excited about doing days in advance. Although it is just 120 km's long I never do this as an afternoon trip, I always give myself the entire day. Ride it, Enjoy it, Remember it...


More pictures of this trip are available in the Riding From Nelson to Creston along Kootenay Lake Picture Gallery

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