The thriving community of Radium Hot Springs is a great support system for the area’s popular Radium Hot Springs Resort, offering fine dining, quaint little shops, grocery stores, gas stations, golfing, skiing and a fine selection of accommodation – a wonderful therapy for tired travellers!
Located within the boundaries of Kootenay National Park, which has the same mountain peaks and glaciers as Alberta’s more famous Banff National Park, people come from all over the world to soak in the hot springs, considered to be amongst the finest in the world, and boasting one of the best year round climates in all of Canada.
The actual Radium Hot Springs Pools make an ideal soaking stop at the base of the Kootenay Mountain Range. The hot springs, open to the public all year round, are equipped with two pools: one heated, the other cooler for more athletic swimming – fed from four sources in the canyon of Sinclair Creek beneath the pools.
Unlike some hot springs, these waters are free of odorous sulphur. The water temperature varies with the season; in spring, the snowmelt cools the thermally heated springs.
Those staying in Kootenay or Banff National park overnight need to stop at the park entrance and pay a user fee. If you didn’t pack your bathing suit, don’t worry; they’ll rent you one for a small fee.
Accommodation and camping facilities are available at a variety of privately operated motels across the road from the pools, and in the village of Radium Hot Springs.
Location: Radium Hot Springs borders Kootenay National Park at the junction of Highways 93 and 95 in the Kootenay River Valley, 12 miles (19 km) north of Invermere and 65 miles (105 km) south of Golden.
Approximately 250,000 visitors per year visit the Radium Hot Springs Pools, which are operated by Parks Canada. This allows bathers to enjoy peace and relaxation, especially between late fall and June, when the pool is at its quietest. The hot pool curves against the cliffs above, giving a wonderful sense of being in the canyon, and sometimes you can see bighorn sheep on the ledges above the pools.
The clear, odourless and sulphurless waters of the springs were first used for medicinal and healing purposes by the Kutenai Indians. The earliest discovery of the springs by white explorers dates back to the 1840s.
Radium is most welcoming to people with disabilities, as the pools and change rooms are all fully wheelchair accessible, and the staff are appropriately trained to help people that require assistance.
This beautiful village boasts almost every recreational activity one can think of – located either in Radium Hot Springs or in the area, including 2 mini golf courses, go karts, paintball, bumper boats, a petting zoo, trail rides, biking trails, canoe and kayak trips, and excellent fishing – or you can simply admire the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that roam freely throughout the village.
Alpine to wetland hiking and backpacking trails are available in Kootenay National Park, Bugaboo Provincial Park and numerous BC Forest recreation areas. Trip planning information, permits and weather reports are available at Radium Hot Springs and Kootenay National Park Information Centres.
Hang-gliding and paragliding enthusiasts can launch themselves from the peak of Mount Swansee and soar over the majestic Columbia Valley for a birds-eye view of the stunning scenery in the area.
For the more adventurous, there are many rock and ice climbing opportunities in Kootenay National Park, Bugaboo Provincial Park and the Purcell or Rocky Mountain ranges.
Golf: Radium Hot Springs offers superb golf courses in spectacular settings, including the 9-hole, public Edgewater Hilltop Par 3 course, 9-hole Spur Valley Greens, 9-hole Se-Tetkwa Golf Course, and the two 18-hole courses at Radium Hot Springs Resort (Radium Course and Springs Course). Nearby golf courses include Eagle Ranch Golf Resort in Invermere, Greywolf Golf Course at Panorama Mountain Village, Windermere Valley Golf Course in Windermere, and the 2 courses at Fairmont Hot springs; Riverside Golf Resort and Mountainside Golf Course.
Golf Vacations in British Columbia.
For the more conventional sightseeing trip, visitors can take a scenic and awe-inspiring plane flight high above the vast Rocky and Purcell Mountains.
Enjoy the breathtaking scenery combined with the thrills of whitewater rafting and kayaking, from a leisurely float down the Columbia River to the wild excitement of Class IV whitewater. Numerous professional operators offer rafting trips.
Some like it hot, some like to cold, but for those who like both, Radium Hot Springs is the place to be. Radium has some of the best snowmobile riding areas found anywhere. Combine fantastic riding with a dip in Radium’s natural hot springs at the end of the day and you’ve got a superb and unique snowmobiling experience.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Some of the most inviting trails in Radium are those in the surrounding pristine winter wilderness. Ice fishing, dogsledding, tobogganing, and skating also make for an unforgettable winter experience. It doesn’t take long to discover why this part of the province continues to attract new arrivals from across the country.
Every fall the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep gather in the upper Columbia Valley for their annual rut (head bangers). This November, take a “ewe turn” to Radium Hot Springs and discover a world of wild sheep in their natural habitat, in the annual Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Tour. In a rarely witnessed spectacle, the rams will determine their status in the herd by battering themselves against the coiled horns of their rivals. After some resounding collisions the loser walks away while the victor gains a harem.
The Great Blue Heron Rookery, beside Hwy 95, 30 km north of Radium Hot Springs, is the second-largest colony of its kind in Western Canada.
Sinclair Canyon offers a stunning entrance to the park (or the Windermere Valley, depending on which way you’re travelling). The iron-rich walls of the Redwall Fault just east of the hot pools are a splendor of colour. Keep an eye out for bighorn sheep.
Picnic Sites: A short drive through Kootenay National Park east of Hwy 93 from Radium Hot Springs will bring you to several good picnic sites and swimming spots, including Sinclair Creek, Olive Lake, Kootenay River, Dolly Varden, Hector Gorge, Wardle Creek, Numa Falls, Paints Pots, Marble Canyon, and Tokumm Creek.
The most overwhelming viewpoints in the East Kootenays are dotted along Hwy 93 between Radium Hot Springs and the British Columbia-Alberta border in Kootenay National Park. In fact, this entire stretch of highway is one big viewpoint. Standouts include the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint, about 15 km east of Radium Hot Springs on Hwy 93, and the main event, the Continental Divide, about 95 km east of Radium Hot Springs at the BC-Alberta border. Simply put, with scenery like this, it should be illegal not to stop.
Due to its remote location in the Toby Creek Valley of the Purcell Mountains, Panorama Mountain Ski Resort is more of a mountain retreat, comfortably able to handle 7,000 day-skiers – only 3,000 skiers and boarders show up on a busy day. Panorama has all the trappings of a tremendous destination resort: walk-to-lifts accommodation, high-speed quad chairlifts, 4,300 vertical feet (1,320 m) of skiing, and even several outdoor hot tubs located right at the base of the lifts for soaking your weary bones after a day on the slopes.
Skiing & Winter Activities in the BC Rockies.
Trails: Kootenay National Park offers fabulous camping, backpacking and great hiking trails. Two trails in particular are worth mentioning: Floe Lake/Hawke Creek trail leads west to a glacier-fed lake, and the Stanley Glacier Trail is a short, strenuous hike that leads to a hanging valley and glacier.
Situated on the west side of the Continental Divide, Kootenay National Park extends across the valleys of the Vermilion and Kootenay Rivers, touches on the Rocky Mountain Trench at Radium Hot Springs, and straddles the Main and Western Ranges of the Rockies. Some of these peaks rise 3355 m (11,000 feet). The waters at Radium Hot Springs come out of the Redstreak breccia fault line, a unique area of red cliffs and shattered rocks, and, like most hot springs, these are well worth relaxing in.
If you can’t get into Kootenay National Park, you might try Dry Gulch Provincial Park, just 8 km south of Radium Hot Springs on Hwy 93. Dry Gulch is frequently used as an overflow campground for the popular national park nearby.
Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, located about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Radium Hot Springs, on the border between British Columbia and Alberta, requires experience and self-sufficiency but offers many heavenly rewards. To get into the park you have to take one of four major hiking-access trails, two of which originate in British Columbia.
Most hikers take the Lake Magog Trail (strenuous; 12 miles/20 km return) from Hwy 93 in Kootenay National Park. Visitors are strongly advised to pick up a park brochure and the National Topographic Series (NTS) map #82J/13 before going into Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park. Once you’re in the park, there are a number of trails to choose from, ranging in difficulty from easy to strenuous. There are also several undeveloped routes that lead to some of the most scenic areas in the park; ask a ranger for advice. Wilderness campgrounds, four alpine cabin shelters, a group-camping area plus other backcountry tent sites, climbing shelters, and ranger stations are available. For information, call BC Parks, 250-422-4200.
Bugaboo Provincial Park and Alpine Recreation Area, is a first-class mountaineering region; its challenging peaks in the northern extremity of the Purcell Mountain Range have attracted climbers from around the world since the late 1880s. Particularly, the North Howser ‘Tower’ and the South Ridge of Bugaboo Spire are considered very difficult. It’s certainly breathtaking, but you shouldn’t attempt to hike or climb this region unless you’re experienced, well-equipped, and in good physical condition. The Bugaboos lie 28 miles (45 km) west of Highway 95 at Brisco, north of Radium.
See the best of the area on The Okanagan and BC Rockies Circle Tour. Travel the sunny interior of British Columbia, north through the Okanagan to Sicamous, following Highway 1 into the mountains of the BC Rockies. From Golden, head south through the Columbia Valley to Creston, and west through Boundary Country and the Southern Okanagan to complete the loop.
Circle Tours in British Columbia