Kootenay Plains is one of the most interesting places in the front ranges of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta. Classified as a "Montane" range, its unique characteristics result in very little rainfall through the year and weather conditions can be very different than places just an hour's drive away.
Part of the area is preserved as the Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, and motorized access is controlled. Bicycles are allowed only on established trails. The area protects grazing ranges for elk, bighorn sheep and even mountain goats. Some plant species are found nowhere else.
Because there is little snow in the winter and temperatures tend to moderate, the Kootenay Plains becomes a very productive winter range for animals. Good hunting was one of the attractions for the Nakota Stoney people who established the Kiska Waptan Nakota Reserve at the north end of the plains. Ceremonial sites are found at various points on the plains.
Abraham Lake, created by the Bighorn Hydroelectric Dam, is one of the dominant features. A limited area allowed for development, the Whitegoat Lakes Development Node, is home to the David Thompson Resort, Aurum Lodge and Icefield Helicopter Tours. A proposed mineral spa and resort, going through the application process this spring, could also begin construction in 2004. At the south end is windy Point, aptly named, and featuring pine trees contorted by steady breezes.
The Siffleur Falls staging area is located along the David Thompson Highway on the plains and a pathway leads to the falls and on into the Siffleur Wilderness Area.
There are many commercial and forestry campground throughout the area and the scenery is breathtaking. It is a great place to enjoy exploring for a few hours or a few days.