This is the first in a five-part series exploring areas in British Columbia that offer a great deal to recreation property owners. Follow the series:Aug. 10: KootenaysAug. 17: ComoxAug. 24: VernonAug. 31: Bowen IslandSept. 7: Oliver It’s often called Alberta’s playground.And with the East Kootenay’s close proximity, abundance of lakes, warm weather, multitude of golf courses and outdoor adventure, it’s easy to understand why.But the area of British Columbia stretching between Radium Hot Springs and Kimberley in particular, has seen a lot of changes attracting a new generation of tourists and vacation homebuyers, says Kathy Cooper, CEO of Kootenay Rockies Tourism.That includes a focus on “soft adventure” where all members of a family can get outdoors to take part in activities like ziplining, non-motorized travel on trail systems, and water sports like kayaking.“It’s about getting out in nature in the front country rather than the back country. They don’t necessarily want to go into the woods or on a difficult trek. There’s just a broader appeal to all family members, whether grandparents or their grandkids.”And the area, surrounded by the Rocky and Purcell Mountains, has a lot to offer: from ski hills in Fairmont, Panorama, and Kimberley to 20 golf courses through the Columbia Valley, to popular Windemere and Columbia Lakes.And while the area has always attracted hikers, mountain bikers and birders, there is new, and accessible, outdoor adventure through kilometres of new, scenic, paved trails.The Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail will be a 25-kilometre pathway to walk or ride through the natural landscapes between Fairmont Hot Springs and Invermere. Ten kilometres are open (the seven-segment project is slated for completion next year) and National Geographic has already recognized it as a top geo-tourism travel spot. There are wheelchair-accessible picnic spots, benches, washrooms along the way.Kimberley, an hour down the road, also hosts the North Star Rails to Trails, stretching 25 kilometres between it and Cranbrook on a converted railway bed.Kimberley has also seen huge change, with a massive downtown revamp, including new locally owned shops and restaurants, a climbing wall, and modernization of the previous Bavarian theme in the “Platzl.”Farmers’ markets feature local produce and artisan wares, and there are craft breweries to visit along with hot springs in both Radium and Fairmont.And in small communities “you feel like a local,” whether you are from B.C. or Alberta, says Cooper.Tourists often turn into vacation homebuyers and nowhere is that more apparent than between Radium and Fairmont: Alberta homeownership percentages (2017) show Radium Hot Springs/Fairmont/Columbia Lake (65); Panorama (70); Invermere (47).That is unlikely to change, with some shift in buyer profiles.While baby boomers account for most recreational property activity (91 per cent last year), the millennial market (those aged 18-34) continues to grow, according to the 2019 Re/Max recreational report.This cross-country survey shows the majority of millennials (56 per cent) are in the market to purchase a recreational property, up 14 per cent from last year.Darren Close, past president of the Kootenay Rockies Real Estate board, says the area remains a constant attraction for Albertans in terms of vacation homes, and that is only increasing because Kootenay buyers do not face the recently-imposed 0.5 per cent speculation tax placed on out-of-province vacation home buyers in other popular B.C. areas such as Kelowna and Victoria.“Invermere and Radium are only three hours from Calgary so that attraction has not changed. Kimberley (20 per cent of homes owned by Albertans) is one hour more but property values are significantly less.”And while prices have returned to 2008 levels, he says there are still good buys, particularly in the condo market, citing a two-bedroom on-the-hill Kimberley unit for $200,000.While boomers still drive the market, Close sees more and more younger purchasers buying to invest and rent out the property when not in use. Re/Max’s report says 30 per cent of Canadians would use a recreational property as an investment, with millennials ranking the highest at 33 per cent.THINGS TO DONorth Star Rails to Trailtourismkimberley.comThe 25-kilometre-long trail between Kimberley and Cranbrook is built on a converted railway bed and offers gentle grades suitable to all family members, all year round. Walking, biking, geo-caching, skateboarding, rollerblading, cross-country skiing are all encouraged.Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trailourtrail.orgAt completion, this will be a 25-kilometre paved trail between Fairmont Hot Springs and Invermere. Ten kilometres are already open.Columbia WetlandsAt more than 180 kilometres in length, the wetlands stretch between Canal Flats and Golden, one of the longest undisturbed wetland ecosystems in North America and part of the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds. Rent a kayak or take a guided tour at columbiariverpaddle.com.Valley Zipline Adventuresvalleyzip.comWith seven ziplines, this Radium guided adventure, with views of wetlands and mountains, awaits, or hit the 32-foot climbing wall or 35-foot free-fall (with safety device) jump tower.Columbia Valley Golf Trailcolumbiavalleygolftrail.comGolf is still a major attraction and the group of eight courses between Radium Hot Springs and Fairmont Hot Springs offer much choice and beauty.