IN HOT WATER - A 6-PACK OF B.C. HOT SPRINGS
We have paradise to ourselves: three pools snugging into the hill. The lowest, edging the banks of the Lussier River, is luring us to try its frigid temperatures, but it's too cold. At 44°C, the top pool is just a tad too hot. In true Goldilocks style, I step into the middle pool and proclaim it just right.
While eagles overhead check the river for different delights, I'm in Nirvana, wrapped in the springs' soothing mineral waters. How can anything so pleasurable be good for you? Nevertheless, the Kootenay Rockies' hot springs are known for their therapeutic benefits. The mineral content of the waters are widely believed to increase metabolism, accelerate healing, soothe muscles, improve blood circulation and detoxify the body's lymphatic system, not to mention what they do for the soul. On Day 3 of our 8-day circular hot springs tour, my partner. David, and I are already humming.
For the past two days we've been making tracks in our Pleasure Way RV toward the start of the tour in Cranbrook, delighted to soon cross off one more dream on our bucket list- renting a small RV and driving the hot springs route, camping in comfort as we go. This undeveloped hot springs in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park is the first to be savoured.
After picking up our RV at Canadream in Delta, we made tracks for Osoyoos and Nk'Mip Campground. Day 2 led us to Cranbrook and nearby Moyie Lake Provincial Park. Now on Day 3, with swimsuits donned, we've quickly covered the 225 km. to Lussier.
We rise reluctantly from the waters, but knowing Fairmont Hot Springs is just half an hour away provides incentive. We ogle the crumbling hoodoos rearing precariously up over the highway en route, before rolling into the community of Fairmont Hot Springs and then into Fairmont's highly rated RV park.
The views of the Purcell Mountains are awesome, the facilities great, the expansive pools a short walk away, and there are many activities to engage in before and after soaking. We tug on our still damp suits and tumble blissfully into yet another indulgence that's good for us, already excited about next morning's kayak trip. After all, the next port of soak, Radium Hot Springs, is only 37-km. away.
Day 4 and we meet up with our kayaking guides to bounce down the Columbia River, splashing and bucking our way through rapids, spotting eagles, ospreys, and woodpeckers and getting crimped necks from staring up at the Rockies.
And the cure for stiffness is…? A long soak at Radium Hot Springs, of course, and we're soon doing exactly that in 39°C mineral waters. The road to Radium Hot Springs slices through a dramatic cleft in the canyon walls, and if that if that doesn't impress you, the mountain goats who seem to own the road, may. High in sulphates, calcium, and bicarbonates, these springs are located in Kootenay National Park, as is our Redstreak Campground. Sprawled on a sunny plateau almost overlooking Radium, the large forest campground offers all amenities and throws in campfires with a permit.
After a quiet night, we awake to the aroma of wood smoke and the promise on Day 5 of two more hot springs. Today we climb up Rogers Pass, rub up against more Rockies and shortly after Revelstoke enjoy a free ferry cruise over Upper Arrow Lakes, soon to be greeted on the other side by well-named Halcyon Hot Springs.
Spotlessly clean and beautifully located over the lake, abutted by the Monashee Range, Halcyon offers three pools on two levels. After another idyllic soak, we carry on a further 35-km. to Nakusp Hot Springs, at the end of a winding mountain road. There, surrounded by old-growth forest, we luxuriate in its 200,000 litres of fresh, filtered water entering each pool daily and drinking in the pure mountain air. The day winds down with a 36-km detour to Burton Historical Park on Arrow Lake and another snug night in our rolling hotel.
Day 6 and 150 km. later we're in Ainsworth in Kootenay Lake, reluctantly about to have the final soak in the last of our 6-pack. Intrigued by tales of the magical caves here we splash there first. It's 44°C in this steamy grotto, so we soon start dissolving. Time now to try the cooler pool before rinsing our suits and turning our thoughts to Osoyoos once again. Tomorrow we'll be savouring a final treat, dinner at Nk'mip's Mica restaurant, raising our glasses of their Riesling to celebrate a great road trip.
IF YOU GO:
The official hot springs circle website. (www.hellobc.com/driving-routes/9/hot-springs-circle-route.aspx)
And if you're an islander. (www.bcferries.com)
RVing and camping in B.C (www.campingrvbc.com)
Regional info: (www.kootenayrockies.com)
Caution: If going into Lussier Hot Springs in a rental RV, be sure to check vehicle is permitted on dirt roads.
PHOTOS: Cherie Thiessen
1. The B.C. Hot Springs route
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