Our Environment

Our environment in the Slocan Valley directly influences the lives, work, and quality of life of the people who call it home. Its rugged wilderness drew us in and its awe-inspiring beauty keeps us here. Our environment inspires us, molds us, challenges us and drives us. It’s a place still viewed as the “last frontier” and we encourage those who visit, to love and respect the land as much we do.

We respect our environment and we expect the same from visitors. This means we:

  • Leave only footprints and take only memories
  • Pack out what we take in, and pick up what others haven’t
  • As a general rule, never pick wildflowers. If you are interested in wild plants, there are many knowledgeable herbalists in the area that can take you on a nature walk, let you know what’s endangered and what’s invasive, and some may even have some samples for you. Consult the Valley Directory under Agriculture & Gardening or Healing
  • Respect wild animals by not attracting them to human food & garbage; stay out of their feeding and breeding grounds at critical times of the year; inform ourselves about our wild friends; and take appropriate precautions so they don’t have to be destroyed because of our actions
  • Dispose of human waste in the proper manner
  • Minimize the use of motorized vehicles in the backcountry and stay on designated roads
  • Never litter and respect private property
  • Obey no-burn regulations and where and when fires are permitted and put campfires out fully before leaving


The Slocan Valley is home to a variety of animals and birds. It is not uncommon to encounter black bears, mule and whitetail deer, grouse, wild turkey, scissor beaks, turkey vultures, cedar waxwings, great blue herons, woodpeckers of all sorts, and golden and bald eagles.

Deer and elk are a real concern for drivers – especially at dusk, dawn and night. Slow down and stay alert.

Hikes into the backcountry mean you may spot more elusive creatures like grizzlies, cougar, bobcat, mountain goats, pikas, and marmots.

Being bear aware is crucial in the Slocan Valley. Black bears and Grizzly bears live in every part of our valley. They are a part of our community.

If you are not familiar with being around bears, please read these excellent sites about bear awareness:

Wild Safe BC

Bear Smart


The forests of the Slocan Valley are quite diverse, with many species represented here such as cedar, hemlock, pine, spruce, subalpine fir, larch, birch, and cottonwood.

Giant cedars can still be seen in small pockets throughout the Valley, including on the accessible Retallack Old Growth Cedar Trail.

Forest fires are a real threat here during the summer. For more information on forest fires in the region and how to protect our forests, please check out the BC Wildfire Service for campfire bans, wildfire news and other forest protection information.

Firesmart is a collaborative program that helps reduce the risk and impact of forest fires to local residents and communities.


Water is at the centre of daily life in the Valley. The Slocan River winds its way through every community from Crescent Valley to Hills.

Water is an integral part of our history from sustaining our First Nations; to transporting logs and train barges in the heydays of the logging and mining booms; to drawing new populations of ‘back-to-the-landers’ and recreationalists; to being the centre of struggles over watershed protection. Water is an important and precious resource here.

The Slocan Valley is known for its clear, cool mountain waters. Many residents drink untreated surface water from the creeks and are particularly dependent on clean water. Therefore, please treat our watersheds with respect.


“Geographically, the Slocan Valley is a slender, blue-gold arc of water, pastures, granite, and trees lying in the western shadow of the Selkirk Mountains, in the heart of the southern interior of British Columbia.

“It is not a particularly large valley – barely a hundred kilometres long, if one counts only the lake and river that it shelters, and five or so kilometres wide at its broadest plateau. The Valhalla Range of mountains forms the valley’s steep and forbidding western boundary. Its eastern boundary is shaped by the lesser slopes of the Slocan Range; smaller, but no less gentle.

“The lake squeezes its narrow string bean shape from north to south between their granite flanks. Every so often, the mountains deign to cede to human settlement tiny deltas of flat land, fringed with maples and cottonwoods, at the mouths of creeks emptying into the lake…

“The lake pours southward into the Slocan River at the point where the valley flattens itself out once again into a narrow plateau, barley a kilometre wide…it’s a gentle river for most of its length, chuckling quietly in a series of shallow loops to its union with the Kootenay River near Shoreacres”.

–Excerpt from Katherine Gordon’s book, The Slocan: Portrait of a Valley (Sono Nis Press, 2004).
Like many other mountainous and resource-rich areas of British Columbia, the geography and environment of the Slocan Valley have shaped our present and past.

The Slocan Valley is part of the 400km-long Kootenay Arc, a belt of sedimentary, volcanic and metamorphic rock. Its mountains, formed during the Jurassic Period some 200 million years ago, are rich in silver-bearing galena. The quest for this Galena sparked the mining rush of the late 1800s, early 1900s.

The harvesting of timber in the rich forests was once a mainstay of the Valley economy. While the north end of the valley saw a mining boom, the south end was prime for settlement. First Nations recognized this and built camps and burial grounds in the south part of Vallican, and settling pioneers worked the fertile valley bottom.


The Slocan Valley has four distinct seasons, and a relatively moist climate – except in the summer when it can be very hot and dry.

About 950 mm (38”) of precipitation falls every year, the majority in late fall and winter.

Temperatures vary with elevation and with proximity to Slocan Lake. New Denver and Silverton experience milder winters and cooler summers than elsewhere in the Valley.
 Average summer temperatures are between 20-25 C (68-77F) although days of 38C (over 100F) in July and August are not unheard of.

The average temperature in Winter is a pleasant -5C to 5C (12F to 41F), but can range from +5C to -25C (41 to -13F).

Sun: Best months for sunny hot weather are July, August and September (300+ hrs per month) and only 63mm or 2” of rain.

Rain: Best months for rain are October and November (sometimes June can be rainy which is why the locals like to refer to as Junuary).

Snow: Best months for big snow are December to February…averaging about 130cm or 51 inches per month in December and January. November, February and early March average about half of that. Most days from December through early March have a snow cover of 40cm (about a foot and a half) or more – and that is at the lower levels. Check www.avalanche.ca for avalanche conditions before going out into the backcountry.

Wildfire Smoke: Conditions vary from year to year. Monitor online at https://firesmoke.ca and https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/air/air-quality/air-advisories