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 comapground throughout
the area and the scenery is breathtaking. It is a great place
to enjoy exploring for a few hours or a few days.