Pass Finder

South Kootenay Pass

  • 2088 m (6850ft)
  • Naming History
  • Peaks and Rivers
49.1083N 114.1500W
Province: Alberta/BC
Park: Waterton
Year Named:
Named by:
Named for: The Kootenay Indians are said to have frequented the pass. Although a difficult pass to traverse, it was the most direct route to excellent buffalo hunting near Chief Mountain.
Mountain (NW): Kishinena Peak
Mountain (SE):
Headwaters (NE): Lone Creek
Headwaters (SW): Akamina Creek


Thomas Blakiston returned to the prairies via this pass in the fall of 1858. He had reached the Kootenay River Valley by way of North Kootenay Pass.

Of South Kootenay Pass, Part I of the Boundary Commission Report published in 1917 reads as follows: "This so-called pass is merely a lower elevation of the watershed ridge and there is no distinct gap. It appears on Palliser's map (1863) as "Boundary Pass" and has since been shown on all published maps of the vicinity as South Kootenay Pass. The significance it has acquired as a pass is probably due to its being a route of travel of the "Kootanie" Indians when on their way to the prairies of Alberta to hunt buffalo, who preferred it to the North Kootenay Pass when they had heavily loaded pack animals, on account of its easier slopes of approach; also to the fact that it was traversed by Capt. T. Blakison in 1958 on his return from a visit to the "Kootanie" Indians at Tobacco Plains. Capt. Blakiston does not appear to have been aware of the existance of Akamina Pass and, believing that the pass in question was next to the Internatinal Boundary, also, perhaps, because its western approach crossed that boundary, gave it the name of Boundary Pass in his report to Capt. Palliser. The Indians probably used it in preference to Akamina Pass on account of its being a more direct line of travel to their objective point, and thus it became known as South Kootenay Pass in contradistinction to their more northerly line of travel over North Kootenay Pass."

The official artist accompanying the 1857-1861 international boundary survey was James M. Alden. During his service on the commission he completed 66 water colours including one entitled, "Kishinena Pass." [The Mountains and the Sky -Glenbow]