Central Park in New York City is the most renowned urban park in the world. It came about as part of a public landscape design competition in 1857 and today the 341-hectare green space in the middle of the world’s ninth largest city, boasts a zoo, carousel, running paths, and even a castle. But it doesn’t have a mountain bike park, nor are there three natural swimming pools complete with sandy beaches.
Castlegar’s Millennium Park may not be as famous as the Central one in the Big Apple, but it is arguably the best urban recreation area in the interior of British Columbia. For one thing it’s located five blocks from the downtown core yet it fronts the beautiful Columbia River so there are lots of opportunities to swim, fish, and paddle. Secondly, it boasts the largest bike park in the region. Over $200,000 has been put towards its pump tracks, dirt jumps, and other structures including the lumber drop in platform that’s one of the most aesthetic in the province.
At a size of 23 hectares, Millennium Park isn’t the largest in the province (Stanley Park in Vancouver is over 400 hectares) but it’s one of the only ones that offers everything from beach volleyball courts and soccer fields to pickleball and tennis courts and an outdoor green gym. It also has multiple playgrounds for the kids, walking trails, picnic areas, barbeques, concession stand, community gardens, and multiple off-leash dog parks. There are also many events held in Millennium Park throughout the year from outdoor movie nights to the popular Kootenay Festival, a multi-faceted celebration of the community’s diversity through entertainment, cuisine, and interactive educational activities.
Millennium Park is also connected to Zuckerberg Island via a suspension bridge. Named for Alexander Zuckerberg, a Russian-born artist, teacher and engineer, who moved to the region in the 1930s, the island is the site of the historic Chapel House he built in the style of Russian Orthodox country architecture. People can visit his home and find examples of his artwork, as well as walk the grounds where signage explains how the Lakes Salish people fished and built winter pit houses on the island thousands of years ago.
The real jewels of Castlegar’s Millennium Park, though, are the swimming areas, which are made up of three river-fed, sandy-bottom ponds as well as multiple shallow bays and beaches located directly on the river. Because they’re removed from the main current, they’re all calm and pleasant from June to October: perfect for families wishing to beat the heat on hot summer days.
Here are all 18 reasons why Castlegar’s Millennium Park is the best urban park in the Kootenays.
- The main entrance is only 5 blocks from downtown.
- Millennium Park is located on the shores of the beautiful Columbia River.
There are 3 sandy-bottomed swimming ponds that are fed via the river.
- Horseshoe Bay is a large natural water feature that’s lined by a sandy beach.
- Millennium Park boasts multiple river lookout points.
- It’s the site of the largest bike park in the Kootenays.
- The bike park has pump tracks, dirt jumps and trails for every level of rider.
- It’s 23 hectares so Millennium Park offers plenty of places to roam and find solitude.
There are various environments to enjoy, from sandy beaches and shallow ponds to forested glades and community gardens.
- Millennium Park has beach volleyball courts and soccer fields as well as pickleball and tennis courts.
- There’s an outdoor green gym made up of various exercise equipment.
Four off-leash dog walk areas are offered.
- There’s a playground for the kids as well as picnic areas, barbeques, a concession stand, washrooms and change rooms, making it the perfect family-friendly destination.
The Millennium Walkway is a 1.8-km-long paved path beside the river that’s handicapped accessible.
- Millennium Park is the site of multiple events throughout the year from outdoor movie nights to the popular Kootenay Festival in July.
There are many interpretation signs throughout the park explaining how indigenous peoples fished in the area centuries ago.
- The historically important heritage site of Zuckerberg Island is attached to Millennium Park via a suspension bridge.
- Millennium Park is home to a native plant conservation area that, among other things, showcases the camas, a renowned member of the lily family with starry blue or purple flowers.