After a picturesque drive on Highway 6 from Christina Lake we arrived at Nakusp Hot Springs Chalets and Campground around 5:00 pm on a sunny August evening. Just outside the town of Nakusp is the turn off for the springs and after the12 km drive, seemingly mostly uphill, and at the end of the road, is Nakusp Hot Springs.
This was day 6 on our circle tour looping up to Nakusp Hot Springs taking Highway 3 and then Highway 6 to Nakusp and Hwy 6 back to Vernon before running down Highway 5 to Merritt and home on the Trans Canada Hwy 1 to Port Moody.
After checking in at the front desk located in the Hot Springs building, which houses the change rooms and racks full of local tourism brochures for the taking, we drove down to our campsite, which backed onto the Kuskanax Creek. The Creek cascades down the valley and has that soothing bubbling sound of running water over boulders. In the next site was a couple from Montana who later that evening joined us for a campfire, stories, a beverage and campfire snacks, smores of course! The campground provides wood and each site has a firepit.
There is an evening pass at the Hot Springs Pool that you can purchase after 6:00 pm and it includes swimming all the next day – the cost at the time of writing $17.50 per adult. We purchased two and then enjoyed an evening soak in the pools watching the August sun light up and set over the valley.
Nakusp Hot Springs has two outdoor, open-air hot pools for people wanting to relax on one of the many pool noodles provided. The hot springs have therapeutic mineral waters piped in from the mountain springs. Hot spring mineral waters have been reported to provide many preventative, psychological and medical benefits. We both find the waters and atmosphere calming.
Some history and facts. The hot springs in Nakusp, BC were first staked in 1894 by Ellen McDougal. In 2004 the hot springs were designated a Class A Park and purchased by the Village of Nakusp. Today, the hot springs include 2 well-kept and upgraded mineral pools with 200,000 litres of fresh, filtered water entering each pool every day, a gift store on site, snacks and beverages can be purchased at the cafe, the campground and some cute cedar chalets.
The next morning, after a great sleep in the RV, it was bright but cool as the elevation in the mountains was cloaked with mountain air. Putting on sweat shirts we cooked breakfast outside on the picnic table and planned the day, agreeing on two sessions in the pools and a short hike.
The springs have well maintained changing rooms with large lockers and being a Thursday in August the pool was not crowded and our fellow bathers were chatty. As we floated around the pools we learned about how many times swimmers returned to this spot year after year for relaxation and rejuvenation.
We were brave enough to dip in the hot pool then to the cooler pool with a few cold showers in between for him but not me. The hot pool was posted as 103°F (38°C) while the larger cooler pool was 97°F (36°), but the shower is fed by water from the glacial creek and shocked the body after being in the heat (the experience I am told is like taking the ice bucket challenge a sharp intake of breath!)
At lunch we took a break from soaking and hiked the short trail to the award winning footbridge over Kuskanax Creek. The hiking trails are easily accessible from the hot springs and the area has over fifteen kilometers of well used marked trails.
Three recommended walks/hikes are Cedar Grove Trail ½ km which allows you to walk through old growth forest and is accessible to nearly all. The person looking for more difficulty should take the Kimbol Lake Trail, which is 4 km each way and the trail visits the high subalpine lakes. Alternatively avid hikers can take the Kuskanax Summit Trail approximately 8.5 km each way.
After a second night at the hot springs campground listening to the creek serenade us all night, Esmerelda the RV headed down to the Needles ferry through the town of Nakusp. We were on day seven heading through Kelowna and on to Merritt.
Follow Joss & Darlene’s circle tour.