Hot Spring Nature

The sunshine that often comes with spring is beginning to peek through the clouds — even if it is in between bouts of fresh snow. And as we get coaxed to shed ourselves from sleepy hibernation and head into the great outdoors, we get out there and realize that it's still pretty damn cold. So what better way to kickstart your springtime activities than with a road trip to various hot springs?

If you want a road trip bursting with outdoor adventure, stunning scenery, and ample relaxation time, look no further then the spectacular British Columbia Hot Springs Circle Route. An easy-to-navigate journey through the mind-blowing vistas and dramatic terrain of the Kootenay Rockies, the circle features 13 stops to sight-see, dine, get active outside, and soak your weary muscles in mineral-rich pools. And get this—most BC locals don't even know about it.

Cranbrook

Flight time: between 1 and 1.5 hours

A direct flight can take you from Vancouver or Calgary to Cranbrook, BC — the perfect starting point for this adventure. Situated in the Rocky Mountain Trench, Cranbrook gets more sunshine than anywhere else in the province, and it's full of wildlife and amazing hikes. Catch some local talent at Key City Theatre or visit the Cranbrook History Centre to get up to speed on the city’s history and the region’s deep ties to the railway.

Kimberley

Drive time: about 1 hour

Follow highway 95A north for about 28 km/17 miles until you reach Kimberley. Known as the “City of Festivals” and the “Bavarian City of the Rockies”, there’s a non-stop roster of events to partake in. Kimberley is also home to world-championship golf courses and Canada’s largest freestanding cuckoo clock.

Lussier Hot Springs

Drive time: about 20 minutes

From Kimberley, rejoin the 93/95 highway north and take a right onto Whiteswan Lake Forest Services Road to reach Lussier Hot Springs at Whiteswan Provincial Park (total drive from Kimberley 83 km/52 mi). BC Parks maintains a short, five-minute trail down to these unique pools that are edged in natural rock with gravel bottoms. Each pool is a different temperature with the third just a few feet away from Lussier River itself. Travel a little further along to reach Fairmont Hot Springs, where you can soak up the hot water while taking in the spectacular mountain views. Founded in 1965, this historic resort offers three pools with mineral waters averaging 30-90 degrees celsius (single swim C$12 or day pass $18).

Invermere

Drive time: About 11 minutes

The town of Invermere is a quick 20-minute drive (27 km/17 mi) from Fairmont Hot Springs following the 93/95. If you’re looking for a place to stay and play, Panorama Mountain Village is a nearby Four Seasons resort renowned for its outdoor activities. Guests who treat themselves to a stay here can lounge in the Panorama spring pools and hot tub or take a thrill ride at the waterslide complex.

Radium Hot Springs

Drive time: about 1.5 hours

Radium Hot Springs is about 13 km (8 mi) from Invermere following the 95 north, and is home to Canada’s largest mineral pool set amidst the dramatic rock walls of Sinclair Canyon in Kootenay National Park. The odorless hot pool is open year round and every fall, winter, and spring you can spot Bighorn sheep roaming contentedly among the human visitors.

Golden

Drive time: about 1 hour

Continue to travel north along the 95 for about 106 km (66 miles) and you will reach Golden. At first glance, Golden seems like a quiet, small town with an industrial past, but it doesn’t take long to realize that this is where people flock from all over the world to seek out the best in outdoor activities. Choose your own adventure (depending on the season) from paragliding, mountain biking and river rafting to snowboarding, skiing and heli-skiing. Golden is the motherland for hardcore outdoor enthusiasts.

Canyon Hot Springs

Drive time: about 45 minutes

After tearing yourself away from Golden, take the Trans Canada Highway 1 and Rogers Pass through the majestic Glacier National Park to Canyon Hot Springs (116 km/73 mi from Golden). Open from May to September, this resort boasts natural restorative mineral pools including an impressive 15,000-gallon hot pool and a 60,000-gallon swimming pool. A single swim for an adult is C$12.50 or you can stay all day for C$18.50. Located in the Columbia Mountains, the breathtaking nearby hiking trails and picturesque camping and cabin accommodations truly make this a highlight of the circle route.

Revelstoke

Drive time: about 1.5 hours

Visiting Revelstoke is another mandatory attraction, especially for the extreme outdoor enthusiast and adrenaline junkie (Canyon Hot Springs to Revelstoke 33 km / 20 mi). Surrounded by the massive Selkirk and Monashee mountains, Revelstoke is full of endless opportunities to get outside. From hiking and mountain biking in the summer to skiing, cat-skiing, nordic skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, there’s an activity for every skill level. Revelstoke Mountain Resort is a top attraction offering world-class powder on the slopes and a plethora of dining and shopping options, and another huge adventure park is coming soon.

Halcyon Hot Springs

Drive time: about 30 minutes

After flexing your muscles in Revelstoke, it’s time to soothe them again at the Halcyon Hot Springs (a 56 km/35 mile drive via highway 23 south, plus a ferry ride). Flanked by the jaw-dropping Monashee mountain range and a clear blue lake, this resort boasts four mineral-rich hot springs for your soaking pleasure (C$13 per dip or C$22 for a day pass). Spa services and fine dining at the Kingfisher restaurant elevate the resort to a luxury destination. Continue to drive along Arrow Lakes to the village of Nakusp (about 25 km/15 mi) to delight in the striking waterfront gardens. The Nakusp Hot Springs are situated in a lovely mountain setting with creeks rushing blissfully by.

New Denver

Drive time: about 1 hour

Travel south on Highway 6 for 46 km to reach New Denver. A worthy break point for weary travellers, quaint New Denver offers artisan shops, pretty walking trails and the Nikkei Internment Centre as convenient attractions to check out. 

Kaslo

Drive time: about 20 minutes

Another option as a resting point, Kaslo comes just a short drive later (46 km/28 mi via highway 31A east). By now you’ve almost completed the circle, so why not take a break among the totally stunning mountains and waterways? Kayaking, canoeing and hiking are just a few of the outdoor activities to choose from. Rent a houseboat from Kaslo’s shipyard fleet or hike in one of the five provincial parks including the spectacular Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park.

Ainsworth Hot Springs

Drive time: about 1 hour

One more hot spring visit is in order before you wrap up the road trip, and Ainsworth Hot Springs is the perfect location for just a little more pampering. A short drive from Kaslo on highway 31, Ainsworth Hot Springs features odorless pools with a horseshoe-shaped cave framed by stalagmites and stalactites (single adult swim C$12.00). Be adventurous and explore the cave pool (averaging 43 degrees celsius) or chill in the main pool (averaging 35 degrees celsius). The resort also has casual to fine dining and rooms that look out over the striking view of Kootenay Lake.

Balfour

Drive time: about 2.25 hours

At Balfour, 14 km (9 mi) south of Ainsworth Hot Springs, take the free Kootenay Lake Ferry to Crawford Bay. From there, road-tripping along highway 3A and the east shore of Kootenay Lake gives you ample opportunity to visit the cute artisan shops dotting the route. A lovely final breaking point on the circle route is Creston - full of beautiful orchards and gardens. A one hour drive takes you back to your starting point of Cranbrook undoubtedly with an abundance of amazing memories and replenished from this unforgettable adventure.

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