GUIDE TO HOT SPRINGS IN THE
CANADIAN ROCKIES REGION
By Abby Cooper
From resorts to natural hot springs and hot pools that require a ski or hike in, soak up one of these experiences in the Canadian Rockies and neighbouring regions!
Dotting our glorious mountains is a collection of geothermal marvels known as hot springs. These special places provide solitude, serenity and often a soulful recalibration. Best embraced after a rigorous outing in the mountains, hot springs can also be a destination on there own. Whether you’re looking for an après-ski soak, a hike or ski to hot spring experience or a roadside stop, here’s what the Canadian Rockies region has to offer.
TIPS + ETIQUETTE
Before we give up the location goods, there are a few Do’s and Don’ts you should be aware of when you hit the hot springs next.
- bring a towel.
- alternate between hot and cold if there’s a river or cold pool nearby. Hydrotherapy is good for circulation and detoxification.
- hydrate. You’ll be sweating up a storm!
- be careful with your food storage. Whether it’s the parking lot of a resort or a spot out in the woods, you’ll be in bear country.
- pack everything out. You might see leftover towels, candles, wrappers, and socks. Even if it’s not yours, bring it out. It starts to seriously kill the vibe when there’s junk everywhere.
- enter any hot springs in areas that are off-limits to humans (these areas are ecologically sensitive).
- leave a single thing behind.
- add bubbles or other chemicals to the water.
- smoke in the pools.
- splash. Most folks are here for relaxation. This doesn’t mean you need to leave the kids – or conversation – behind, but be respectful.
- be completely surprised if some of the backwoods tubs host semi or fully nude people. It’s how some folks choose to relax and there are no official rules out there.
RESORT STYLE HOT SPRINGS
Established pools that feed the springs into a controlled environment are referred to as resorts. Each is open daily with set hours and an applicable fee. Most resorts offer a towel (for a small fee) if you forgot, as well as lockers, washrooms, and snack options. Many have accommodations at the resort or nearby.
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort
Access: Access is off of Highway 31, in the town of Ainsworth Hot Springs, B.C.
Experience: Once an ancient healing ground of Ingenious people, the Ainsworth Hot Springs is true to its heritage in offering a healing ground to all. The mineral-rich springs feature a naturally occurring mountainside cave that you can walk or float through. Naturally fed, these hot springs are possibly the most standout due to the cave and stream-fed cold plunge.
Banff Upper Hot Springs
Access: Located on Sulphur Mountain in Banff, Alberta.
Experience: There’s something pretty magical about knowing you’re sitting on top of a fault line soaking in its brewed water. Visited for over a century by the First Nations and mountain explorers alike, these healing waters have stories to tell.
Canyon Hot Springs
Access: Turn off at the Albert Canyon sign on Highway 1 and you cannot miss them. The turn-off is sandwiched between Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. Talk about a prime location for an adventure basecamp!
Experience: Deep with history and uber family friendly, these springs are now piped nearly 5km from their hidden source in the inaccessibly steep Albert Canyon. Once fed into cedar tubs by the early CPR workers, the now-modern pools can be enjoyed by all with ease. Open in the spring and summer, these seasonal pools are a sanctuary after a big day of playing in the Rockies.
Fairmont Hot Springs Resort
Access: These hot springs are right smack in the middle of the accurately named town of Fairmont Hot Springs BC. Highway signage will get you there, no problem.
Experience: The well-manicured hot springs pool is spacious and family friendly. An onsite pool boasts a diving board that undoubtedly provides entertainment for all.
Halcyon Hot Springs Resort
Access: Just south of the Galena Bay Ferry you’ll see signage for Halcyon Hot Springs. This resort is nestled on the shore of the peaceful Upper Arrowhead Lake.
Experience: Due to its remote location, Halcyon is very peaceful and never gets unbearably busy. The resort features a hot pool, warm pool, cold plunge and swimming pool – all with incredible views of the Monashee Mountains.
Miette Hot Springs
Access: Located in Jasper, Alberta.
Experience: Natural minerals, including sulfate, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium and sodium make up the unique waters of Miette. Famously known as the hottest hot springs in the Rockies, Miette’s location is just as well known. Jasper offers a stunning hub for all adventurers year-round, and this is the perfect après reward.
Radium Hot Springs
Access: Cradled by a canyon, these hot springs are conveniently located just off Highway 93S, but out of view and earshot of any traffic.
Experience: The sunken pools offer a unique atmosphere. Recently renovated, the facilities are top-notch and the pristine pools are welcoming.
NATURAL HOT SPRINGS
BC Parks or BC Trails and Recreation manage these hot spring locations. The water flow is not regulated or altered in any way. The tubs or pools to soak in are made with natural supplies and exist in the origin of the spring.
Halfway River Hot Springs
Access: The access road is 26km north of Nakusp or 22km south from Galena Bay Ferry if you’re coming from Revelstoke. You’ll take the forestry service road that parallels the Halfway River on the south side of the river for 11.5km to the parking lot. Please note that you’ll need 4×4 and decent clearance to access the hot springs parking lot. In a typical snow year you can access June 1 – November 1. In the winter you can access via snowmobile or ski tour.
Experience: BC Trails and Recreation manages the site and keeps it in beautiful condition. Natural pools are built of river rock. Camping is available for $12 a night per person and fires are permitted in the rings, as long as there are no fire bans in effect. There is poison ivy surrounding the trails, so use caution as you explore the six different pools scattered along the Halfway River’s edge.
Lussier Hot Springs
Access: In the heart of Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park lies this spectacular set of springs! At the turn off for Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park head up on the main forestry service road and stay on it for 17.5km. On the right side of the road you’ll see a parking lot with an outhouse – this is the parking for the springs. You can make it in a car as the road is graded nicely, but in winter 4×4 and snow tires are must. The elevation gain is substantial and can be quite icy. The road is also very tight with steep cliffs lining it at the final approach, so drive slowly and use the pullouts.
Experience: Five pools line the riverbank, each shaped by boulders from the uphill slope. Keep in mind that when the river runs high there are fewer hot pools, as the lower pools become quite cool or completely under river water. There is a pit toilet at the parking lot so if you’ve got to go, do it before making the descent. The walkway down to the falls can be a slippery one, especially in winter, so use caution and wear proper footwear. Managed by BC Parks you’ll often see rangers checking in to reinforce the rules. This is the most regulated of the “wild” hot springs out there. The rangers keep it in tiptop shape.
NOTABLE HOT SPRING ADVENTURES
These hot springs experiences involve some research and reconnaissance but will be that much more memorable. Be sure to explore respectfully, and stay safe while doing it!
Navigation-savvy hikers with four-wheel drive will welcome this luxurious placement of hot springs nestled off the hiking trails that span above St. Mary Lake.
Just outside of the structured hot springs resort you’ll notice a few buildings perched above the parking lot. Old soak houses don’t look as friendly as the modernized pools, but just above you’ll find small pools perfect for a foot soak or shallow sit. Be careful, as the running water surrounding them is piping hot!
Now an ecological reserve, the fragile environment is suitable for hiking but not for motorized vehicles. You’ll need to do some serious map scouting before attempting to find these hidden gems. To get you in the right direction, search for Ram Creek and use the access past Lussier Hot Springs. Let your research guide you from here.
These springs cross private property and you’ll need permission from the owners to cross, so please plan accordingly. The access road is located south of the Halfway Hot Springs forestry service road and requires a hike into the final destination. Here, you’ll find a naturally built-up pool, a change room and steamy tranquility.
A NOTE FROM CROWFOOT MEDIA: You, the reader, are responsible for your own safety and gathering the information you require to tackle these hikes and trips.
A lover of all things outdoors, Abby Cooper is a splitboarder, climber, hiker, adventurer, photographer and writer. She’s living life one adventure to the next with her dog by her side.
The views and opinions expressed in the articles on CrowfootMedia.com are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the editor, the editorial team or the publishers.