If you are willing to take multiple baths in the mineral-rich waters of Nakusp hot springs in British Columbia, at least three can be visited in a single day. Who wouldn’t want to…? I know I would! Two hot springs, Halcyon and Nakusp, offer accommodation on-site, and the other one, Halfway, allows camping.
Although each hot spring at Nakusp is one of a kind, they are worth a visit. It was a pleasure to research this post, as nothing beats a warm, sometimes even cold, soak in hot springs. So combine the hot springs with some exploration in this beautiful part of the Kootenay.
The Georgous Nakusp Village
Nakusp, a village of just over 1,605 people, is located near Arrow Lake in the Kootenays. Although it’s not easy to reach, that’s part of the attraction. Nakusp can be found approximately 100 km south of Revelstoke by Highway 23. An Arrow Lake ferry is also free, and it’s about 250 km north of Nelson via Highway 6.
Suppose you plan to camp at Halfway Hot Springs, stock up on last-minute supplies in Nakusp before you leave for any of the hot springs. Then, before you leave town, take a walk along the waterfront walkway. You can also enjoy views of the mountains and Arrow Lake. The walkway is a delight for gardeners, with its beautiful flower displays.
The Beautiful Nakusp Hot Springs
My friend and I arrived at Nakusp Hot Springs, assuming they were the Halcyon Hot Springs, which I must admit. But that is the kind of mistake I don’t mind making.
Nakusp Hot Springs is the nearest to Nakusp. The Nakusp Hot Springs, located in the Kuskanax valley in the Selkirk Mountains foothills, is called “one of BC’s best-kept secrets.”
Two pools are fed by mineral springs in the forest at the Nakusp Hotsprings. The pool is warm, and the other is hot. The warm pool is heated to 97°F (36°C) in summer and 100°F (38°C) in winter. In summer, the hot pool heats up to 103°F (39.5°C), and a steamy 107°F (41.5°C) in winter.
I am a massive fan of cleanliness, especially with public pools. These hot springs were a great choice, the pools were clean, and the changing rooms were kept clean.
You can also stay at the Nakusp Hot Springs. You can also find a campsite, an RV site, and cedar chalets.
What can you do other than the hot springs?
While spending an hour in hot springs can be a fantastic way to spend a part of your day, there are many other things to do in the Kuskanax valley. You can hike more than 15 km of trails from Hot Springs Road. The Kuskanax Summit Trail has excellent views, while the Kimbal Lake Trail takes visitors to a mountain lake. You can access the trail from the Nakusp Hot Springs parking lot.
Go mountain biking. The Kuskanax Creek/Hot Springs Trail is a popular route that winds through cedar and hemlock forests for 8.5 km, and it ends at the Kuskanax Creek Bridge, just outside the Hot Springs. You can also find many other trails, most of them in the gnarly section.
Winter is an excellent time to snowshoe and cross-country ski the trails. You can also enjoy the outdoors at any time of year.
Halfway Hot Springs
Halfway Hot Springs is a natural hot spring still undeveloped, located halfway between Halycon Hot Springs and Nakusp. There is only a small changing area and a few bathrooms, but that’s all. In addition, you will find trails that wind between pools and signs warning about poison ivy.
In the past, Halfway Hot Springs was a popular party destination. There have been many stories of broken glass and drunkenness. BC Parks managed the place in 2016. It has been thoroughly cleaned up, with no signs of glass or garbage. It can be loud at times and full of drunk people, but it was not the case when we visited in July 2019. We were all treated with respect by everyone we met.
The temperatures of the pools vary greatly, from very cold to steaming hot close to the river. One pool was so hot that you could boil an egg in it. You can check them all to see which one suits you best.
As a camper, it was a great experience to wander to the hot springs. Be aware. You will need to be able to climb a set of steep stairs in both directions, up and down. After 150 steps, I lost track.
Camping at Halfway Hot Springs
Bob Moody, the camp’s resident caretaker, will greet you upon arrival. He will also give you some information about camping and how to get to the hot springs. But first, you must dispose of all trash!
Halfway Hot Springs offers two options for camping. Each night costs $15.
Car camping is the most popular, but only 12 spots are available for vehicles. That means campsites can fill up by 4 pm on a sunny summer day. Also, because the vehicle access spots are close together, you can expect car noise from other people searching for locations and noise from your neighbour camping.
The second option is camping on tent pads at the bottom of steep hills, but you must transport all your gear. We only heard of the Halfway River, and it has a wooden platform for tents, a picnic table, and a huge log to rest. I preferred that since it was also a short distance to the outhouse.
Important Tip: Before driving down the steep hill, refill your water bottles if you plan to go camping. You will find the spring on your right as you travel towards the hot springs, and it is about half a kilometre from the steep hill.
How to get to Halfway Hot Springs
Drive north on 6th Avenue from Nakusp’s corner of Broadway and 6th Avenue SW. It becomes Canyon Road North in a short time. For approximately 24 kilometres, continue on this road. Look for the BC Parks sign, which says Halfway Hot Springs. It points to a 400m turn just before a bridge. Turn left onto the dirt road. Drive south for approximately 22 km if you are coming from Revelstoke. Turn left onto the dirt road. Before you do, make sure to check for BC Parks signs.
For 11 km, follow the dirt road. Then, follow the dirt road for 11 km. Finally, you will reach a junction at 11.5km. To reach the campground, turn left and go down the steep hill. Or you can use the day-use area to your right.
Although the hot springs can be used in winter, they are not “open”. You may have to snowshoe, ski or snowmobile into them, and they can be magical if you are lucky enough to visit them.
The Interesting Halcyon Hot Springs
Halcyon Hot Springs has the highest development of all three Nakusp Hotsprings. The resort offers accommodation, full-service dining, and a variety of activities on the lake. The scenic location of their lodge is Upper Arrow Lake and Monashees as the backdrop.
The upper deck has hot and warm pools. The cold plunge pools are for those who have overheated. I was shocked at how cold the plunge pool was until my feet were in it. It was home to many people who were enjoying the blissful experience of floating in it.
You can also dip in the large pool on the lower deck.
After you’ve enjoyed the hot springs, pools and spas, go to the lake. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards can be rented for half or full days. Fosthall Falls, located across the lake, is said to be a worthwhile destination.
The Kingfisher Restaurant offers a great view from the deck and delicious meals when hungry. The resort tries to provide local food, with most of its food coming from within 100 miles. Seasonally, the menus change, and there is also a special menu for children.