Hot Springs in Canada?
While planning your visit to the Canadian Rockies, your itinerary is no doubt full of epic hikes to gorgeous, teal-blue alpine lakes and stunning views. But what could compare to soaking away your post-hike aches and pains in the middle of nowhere, completely undisturbed by other people?
Designate a day during your stay to take a drive and discover not just one, or two, but THREE gorgeous and steaming hot pools in the East Kootenays of British Columbia. If you’re visiting the Mountain Parks (Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay) you’ll find these just south of Kootenay National Park by taking the Highway 93 South from Castle Junction.
This area is a mecca for hot springs and brings a steady stream of tourists that come to bathe in the developed pool maintained by Parks Canada in the town of Radium and the privately-owned Fairmont Hot Springs just a bit further (check here for rates and availability).
While these commercialized pools are worth a visit, we’re mainly here to discuss the natural hot springs in the area. It’s here you’ll find less people, better views and an all-round better outdoor spa experience.
1.Lussier Hot Springs
Lussier is the most well-known and popular natural hot springs in this area and for good reason. A series of different pools of varying temperatures line the side of the freezing cold river where you can cool off if the springs get to be a little TOO hot.
You’ll feel like the Goldilocks of hot springs as you bounce around from burning hot to lukewarm pools, trying to get yourself the right temperature and making friends with other hot springs lovers. A note about Lussier: It gets BUSY.
To avoid the crowds, come early in the morning or just before sunset. You need to drive about 20km down a logging road to get here so make sure you have a vehicle that can handle bumpy, pothole-filled roads.
You can read our complete guide to Lussier Hot Springs here
Another quick note about hot springs in Canada: none of these are clothing optional.
2. Ram Creek Hot Springs
Probably our favorite natural hot spring in the area, if you’re willing to put in the work to find it. I’d come across Ram Creek several times on Google while searching for natural hot springs in the area but I was never that impressed by the photos that came up and thus, never bothered to go.
I guess the people that know about this hidden gem would like to keep it off the radar, lest it become like the tourist trap that is Lussier. We ask that if you share pictures on Instagram that you tag the generic area like “British Columbia” instead of “Ram Creek Hot Springs”.
We spent the better part of a day here, lounging in these gorgeous pools set into the hillside, completely alone. It wasn’t until we were just about to leave that another group showed up. Several notes about Ram Creek:
- The area has been reclaimed and part of the road is closed so you’ll need to hike in if you want to go.
- Depending on the time of year, a river crossing is involved.
- Ram Creek is known to locals as more of a “warm springs”.
- Watch out for little red worms! You’ll be sharing the pools with ’em.
- Please be mindful to leave the place exactly as you found it and pack out any trash. ALWAYS practice Leave No Trace (LNT) Principles when enjoying natural places like this. Let’s keep these places wild!
3. Fairmont Hot Springs
Just to be clear I’m not talking about the developed Fairmont Hot Springs Resort here, I’m referring to the natural springs that actually feed into the man-made pool located behind the resort.
These pools are actually fed by a WARM WATERFALL. Yup, you read that correctly. This makes for some really beautiful and interesting photos in the winter (see below).
A note about the Fairmont Hot Springs Waterfall: this area has been destroyed by floods more times than I can count. If you choose to drive out there, make sure you have a plan B in mind because it’s almost always a gamble.
You never know if the pools have been washed out, the waterfall isn’t flowing, etc. Locals do put effort into rebuilding the rock pools every time a flood happens but it’s not a guarantee.
Click here for our full blog post on Fairmont Hot Springs’ secret waterfall and how to find them
4. Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hike
What’s the best compromise between hiking and hot springs? How about a hike that ends at a hot spring with a view? If that sounds like heaven to you, Mist Mountain is exactly the spot you’re looking for. It’s actually on our list of the Most Breathtaking Hikes in Kananaskis!
Check out our pros and cons list before you go:
– You get to stay closer to Banff. If you’re here on vacation sometimes a 4-5 hour drive to hot springs isn’t exactly your idea of a relaxing day; especially if you’ve booked yourself into a hotel in Banff or Canmore and can’t be flexible about where you’re staying.
– Absolutely stunning mountain views.
– Lesser known and therefore less likely to be crowded.
– Warm springs which can end up being quite chilly if you choose the wrong day.
– The pools are tiny and there are only 2 of them. I’m talking maximum 2 adults per pool. If you arrive and there are other people already soaking, you may end up having to wait your turn.
Click here to read our full guide to Mist Mountain Hot Springs
Special Mention: Radium Hot Springs
I know this is supposed to be a post about NATURAL hot springs but Radium is worth a mention because:
1) these developed pools are fed by a natural spring, and
2) it’s still set in a pretty picturesque location.
If you’ve spent a day driving around visiting all these natural wonders and are in need of a good shower, this is the place to come. Parks Canada runs these pools and at least you’ll be paying towards a good cause.
Where To Stay in the East Kootenays
Fortunately, 4 of these 5 hot springs are actually in quite a small area, so you can base yourself in one spot and make short trips to each one.
In this case, the best places to stay are in Radium, Invermere or Fairmont. As these towns are all considered quite remote, they’re fairly limited in their offerings, especially when it comes to food.
Our personal preference is to either day trip from Banff, or to stay in Radium. Radium has a variety of decent hotels, and a strangely high concentration of Austrian/German restaurants (though, honestly there’s nothing better than a schnitzel and a German beer after a long day of soaking!).
You can read more about one of our earlier summer trips to Radium and the things we got up to here.
Finally, if you’re looking for something closer to Vancouver or on the west coast, why not check out our post on Hot tubs and Hot Springs near Whistler!
Check here for rates and availability in Radium