The Kootenay Rockies area is known for its fresh powder skiing and stunning landscapes, but it’s also a hotbed of incredible hot springs.
The route through the Kootenay Rockies is often dubbed “The Powder Highway” for its unmatched snow, unbeatable ski areas and pristine landscapes. But one of the overlooked gems of this region is its seemingly endless access to natural hot springs. Filled with steaming hot and freezing cold plunge pools, plus scenic vistas and world-class cuisine, the Kootenay Hot Springs Highway gives weary visitors a respite for their burning legs from long days on the slopes. If you’re more into the après-ski portion of ski trips, you might want to soak into these melt-worthy springs instead. Did you know – Culture Trip now does bookable, small-group trips? Pick from authentic, immersive Epic Trips, compact and action-packed Mini Trips and sparkling, expansive Sailing Trips.
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort
Ainsworth Hot Springs were first used by the Ktunaxa First Nations people hundreds of years ago, but the resort itself didn’t officially open until the 1930s, and the hotel on the property wasn’t erected until 1987. The Ainsworth’s water flows down from natural hot springs with temperatures that reach upwards of 47C (117F). At the resort, guests can dive into a horseshoe-shaped cave where water drops in all around you, or in the outdoor pool where the heat is lowered to a downright balmy 35C (96F). The healing properties of the water advertised by the resort come from the abundance of minerals that include calcium, magnesium and sodium, among others.
Tucked into the Kushanax Valley, the Nakusp Hot Springs, Chalets and Campground is an all-encompassing playground for hikers, snow-shoers, skiers and hot springs soakers. Chock-full of healthy minerals like silica, sodium, calcium and sulphates, the super-heated water at Nakusp flows down through a natural spring in the forest and completely recycles its own water every half hour. The steaming pool has jaw-dropping views of the surrounding valley and inspires very long soaks in the afternoon. Guests who stay here have the option of posting up in chalets, which include full kitchens, or an adjoining campsite for RV enthusiasts.
Halcyon Hot Springs
Just up the river from Nakusp, Halcyon Hot Springs sits on the banks of the Arrow Lakes and has both sizzling hot springs and a cold plunge pool to completely shock your system. The water here is laced with sodium, magnesium, calcium and lithium and is believed to treat sore muscles in addition to depression. Halcyon’s water is also unique in that it’s completely drinkable and is bottled for consumption. Beyond the soothing waters, Halcyon has the mouthwatering Kingfisher Restaurant and Lounge with world-class seafood in addition to a helipad where choppers can transport extreme skiers to the most remote, powder-filled back-country slopes. There’s also a luxurious spa with signature massages and a long list of skincare options. If you want to stay at Halcyon, there are cottages that can sleep up to eight people, and smaller cabins and suites for more intimate parties.
Canyon Hot Springs
Though it’s only open in the summer, Canyon Hot Springs’ resort, which is set on 200 acres (81 hectares), still provides ample amounts of pristine natural beauty. The springs here have water that’s piped in from a natural spring two miles (3.2 kilometres) away to its two giant pools that turn the heat up to 40C (104F). The resort is also near multiple national parks and ski slopes (like the unbeatable Revelstoke Mountain Resort) where you can hike and mountain bike through endless trails in warmer months of the year. You can also see some of the biggest and oldest cedar trees in the world at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk Trail only 3mi (5km) away and be wowed by the 500-plus year giants that rise up more than 66 feet (20 metres).
Fairmont Hot Springs
Canada’s largest natural hot spring, Fairmont Hot Springs has more than 1.2 million gallons (5.5 million litres) of mineral water flowing through the resort every single day. There are three separate pools, a hot soaker with temps at 39C (102F), a larger swimming pool that tops out around 32C (89F) and a dive pool with both high and low diving boards and a temperature of 30C (86F). If there’s any drawback here, it’s that there’s a minimal amount of chlorine added to the water taking some of the natural out of natural hot springs, but that shouldn’t dissuade from the stunning views and the mineral-rich liquid. This family-friendly resort has a variety of accommodation options like cabins, cottages, standard rooms and an RV park. Finally, if you come here in the summer, the hot springs are perfect for soothing your muscles after playing a round of golf on one of the resort’s three courses.
Radium Hot Springs
Radium Hot Springs has an incredibly picturesque backdrop as the steam from the outdoor pool rises up against a mountainous wall of rocky bluffs and overhanging evergreen trees. The springs are located within the UNESCO Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site and contain high amounts of sulphates, calcium and bicarbonate. For extra levels of relaxation, the Pleiades Spa and Wellness just inside the same facility offers a variety of treatments from massages and facials to aquatic therapies and wraps. There’s also an entire holistic program that includes yoga, cranial-sacral therapy, reiki chakra balancing and even clairvoyant tarot card readings.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Located near the top of the appropriately named Sulphur Mountain, Banff Upper Hot Springs are fed through a 6,560ft (2,000m) crack in the thick rocks of the Kootenay Rocky Mountains. The waters here are a mix of sulphates, calcium and bicarbonates, and spill into a giant, family-friendly pool. Visitors to this area have more than hot springs to explore, however. There’s the Cave and Basin National Historic area, which is part of the UNESCO Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site and houses interactive exhibits in addition to the hot springs source inside a cave. Also, you can hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain where the Cosmic Ray Station provides unbeatable views of the town of Banff.
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