Wondering what to do on your summer holidays? Here’s a fab trip idea for locals or tourists heading out from Calgary, guaranteed to be memorable! One of our most relaxing and fulfilling trips was a hot springs tour that took us from Calgary and into the heart of the BC Rockies. Our itinerary was focused on visiting the pools of Halcyon, Nakusp and Ainsworth that we hoped would provide the rest and relaxation we were craving but we got so much more. The natural beauty of the BC Rockies, the serenity, solitude and escape from the usual crowds of summer will fill your soul and leave you feeling more fulfilled than any other vacation.
You’ll need a good week for this road trip, but you’ll come home feeling like you had a month off. Leaving from Calgary you’ll head up into the mountains towards the town of Lake Louise. You’ll be passing Canmore and Banff if you have the time and want to add these to your itinerary, but we were focused on getting out of Dodge and away from the busy, touristy spots. As they say, ‘the mountains shall bring peace’ and by the time you’ve reached Lake Louise you’ll be exhaling all the tension you left behind in the big city. At the Lake Louise Junction you exit towards Field, BC and then the towns of Golden and Revelstoke. Field is a great spot to pullover after 3 or so hours of driving, there is a great road stop just off the highway with washrooms and a nice picnic area for a short rest aside a little lake. Then you’ll continue on for a few hours through some incredible mountain scenery that takes you from Banff National Park, through Yoho National Park and into Glacier National Park. This trip is really about the journey, the destinations are the icing on top!
Golden is another good place for a pitstop, or you could add Canyon Hot Springs to your tour which you’ll reach shortly after leaving Golden. The next major center is Revelstoke situated on the banks of the Columbia River, it’s a great holiday locale on its own with tons of outdoor activities. We’ve hiked, whitewater rafted and skied (best in the Rockies) here in the winter. We had also visited the Mica Dam here one summer and I found it more interesting than the Hoover Dam tour we did outside of Las Vegas. It’s an engineering marvel but intimate and with some interesting history from the Columbia River Treaty signed by Canada and the United States in 1961. The area has lots to offer and can be a destination in itself but we were just passing by on this trip, a stop in Revelstoke would require another day.
From Revelstoke you’ll turn onto Highway 23 South that will take you to the free, Shelter Bay Ferry which crosses the beautiful Lake Arrowhead. It can depend on when you arrive and the time of year but you’ll likely find that you’ve escaped the crowds and wondering why it isn’t busier. A cue usually forms between ferry crossings but quickly disperses on the other side where you’ll turn right and continue on the 23 to Halcyon, our first stop.
We had made prior reservations (which I would recommend as it fills up in the summer) for one of the cottages at Halycon Hot Springs and bought a reasonable package that included dinner and entrance to the pools. There are also chalets available for larger groups and a campground for those wanting to rough it.
We stayed three nights lounging around the pool, taking short nature walks, an early morning yoga class poolside, a massage at the spa and enjoyed sipping wine on our veranda while watching the incredible sunsets over the Selkirk Mountains. Can life be any better? I think not, you can’t help but feel like you are truly in God’s country here.
We enjoyed a really great meal at their King Fisher Restaurant, my expectations weren’t high for this remote locale but it was surprisingly good. We didn’t want to leave this bit of paradise but it was time to hit the road again and we left with every bit of tension drained from our bodies, feeling euphoric and limp as a noodle!
Our next destination was the idyllic town of Kaslow,BC. On the way we passed through Nakusp which we would stop at on our circle back but passed through onto Highway #6 towards New Denver. We made a quick detour here to admire the scenery by the lake and grab a coffee which was a bit passed our turn but worth the side trip. Backtracking we took the 31A to Kaslow arriving without a plan for accommodations, so we stopped at the information center in town for suggestions. The lady at the info center recommended a place called Wing Creek Resort that was run by friends of hers and what a find this place turned out to be. The cabins were quaint, peaceful, romantic and surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. We felt like we were the only ones here and the owners were great at making us feel like special, welcomed quests with lots of suggestions on things to do and see in the area.
We spent 3 more nights here taking in the abundance of sightseeing opportunities. Kaslo is a lovely town steeped in history as it was the site of an internment camp for the Japanese during the second world war, we learnt all about it at a great little museum in the towns center. We also visited the Moyie Steam wheeler, permanently moored on the edge of the lake downtown. It was an integral part of the boom years of the early 1900’s as the area expanded and the demand for passengers commuting and hard goods had her dubbed the Queen of the Kootenay’s. Visiting it took you back to an era and I was amazed at how much smaller people were in those days, everything (the beds, furniture, shoes…) seemed child sized.
We also enjoyed some cocktails, lunch and a dinner at the Kaslo Hotel and pub which had some great food and the best patio views over the lake. Another evening we ventured out on a suggestion to the Kaslo Golf and Country Club for a casual dinner while taking in their scenic offerings and atmosphere
Our last day we took a late afternoon drive out to Ainsworth Hot Springs and took a dip in its therapeutic waters. It includes a cave that has much hotter waters for those wanting a more intense soak and again it was pretty quiet, we almost had the place to ourselves. We left early in the evening feeling relaxed and ready for the road again. Kaslo is a gem of a town, the scenic and curvy drive on highway 31A makes it a popular destination for bikers but it was still relatively quiet over our visit and we were so glad we came.
The next day, circling back from hence we came we made our way back to Nakusp for one night. We had dinner at Café Lago Restorante Italiano, another hidden gem in the old Leland Hotel in Downtown Nakusp. The food was great and the patio was spectacular, looking over the lake you’ll think you were dining al fresco on the swiss/Italian border. We ran into some friends here from Calgary which were out on a group motorcycle trip, small world.
The following day we took in the waters at the Nakusp Hot Springs, a smaller pool than the others but it was quiet and a beautiful day to sun and relax poolside. Besides the hot springs, Nakusp has many great beaches and opportunities for water-sports or other outdoor activities.
That afternoon was the end of our hot springs tour and we headed back for the long drive home. It was later than we had thought and the drive a little longer than anticipated so we decided to spend a night in Revelstoke for an early rise and continuation homeward bound. Although sad our vacation had come to an end we felt fully satiated and blessed to have had the best time together, returning home relaxed and ready to face another busy period of work. We highly recommend this itinerary, if you can’t enjoy yourself on this one there is no helping you!