Update July 31, 2017—Trails in the Sunshine Meadows and north along the Bow Valley Highline (Simpson Pass, Healy Pass, Egypt Lake, Whistling Pass) reopened Wednesday, July 26. But increased fire activity prompted Parks Canada to close the trails and Sunshine Village again on Monday, July 31st. For the latest on fire activity and closures, check Parks Canada’s daily Verdant Creek Fire Update.
A lightning-ignited wildfire in Kootenay Park’s Verdant Creek valley has forced Parks Canada to close a number of trails in Kootenay and Banff National Parks, including the popular Egypt Lakes area and the Bow Valley Highline backpacking route.
On July 18, the closures were expanded to cover all trails in the Sunshine Meadows area and in the northern half of Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. Gondola/shuttle bus access to Sunshine Village is still operating.
The fire started following an electrical storm that passed over Kootenay Park Monday evening, July 10. When it sprang to life on the weekend, Parks Canada closed adjacent trails and evacuated campers along the busy Bow Valley Highline hiking region on the eastern slope of the Great Divide.
A front moved across the region from the northwest on Sunday afternoon, bringing strong, gusty winds that pushed the fire into Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and up the Simpson River valley. Closures will not likely be lifted until the fire is brought under control.
Trails in the closed area include the following (numbers refer to descriptions in the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, 9th edition):
Banff National Park
25—Sunshine Meadows Loop
26—Quartz Hill-Citadel Pass
27—Simpson Pass-Healy Meadows
28—Healy Pass-Egypt Lake
29—Egypt Lake via Pharaoh Creek
Egypt Lakes Area Hikes
33—Bow Valley Highline Trail (km 0.0 to km 21.0)
Kootenay National Park
171—Honeymoon Pass-Verdant Creek
172—Simpson River-Ferro Pass
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park
212—Mount Assiniboine via Citadel Pass (north of Og Lake Campground)
Individuals with backcountry reservations should contact 403-762-1556 or visit a Parks Canada Visitor Centre. For fire updates and maps, check Parks Canada’s Verdant Creek Fire Information Bulletin.