No matter what time of year it is, there is much enjoyment to be found in the natural healing waters of one of British Columbia’s hot springs. Halcyon Hot Springs, in the Kootenay Rockies just north of Nakusp on Hwy 23 South, offers serene surroundings with overlooking views of Upper Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains. Whether it’s a summer adventure you seek, a warm up on a cold winter day, or an escape from the dreary fall fog like we had been experiencing for about a week in the valley late this October; Halcyon Hot Springs has just the right fix.
Taking the ferry across the lake from Shelter Bay always feels like the start to a special adventure and I was thrilled to hear that my father-in-law who was visiting from Ontario felt the same excitement about the experience as we arrived at the dock. The ride across on the ferry is fairly short but it does give you a chance to relax and take in the sites of the mountains and the vast water of the lake. Only a short 15 minute drive from the Galena Bay port on the other side, we arrived at the welcoming Halcyon Hot Springs.
Nestled into a short bluff below the highway and above the lake, you step into the quaint village of cottages, cabins, and campgrounds that feel quite remote despite the close proximity to the road. I was pleasantly surprised to see so much accommodation variety with lots of character and charm. Home to CMH Heli Skiing in the winter and a vibrant retreat for cottagers and campers from as far as Calgary and the Okanagan Valley in the summer months, I was in awe of the good hum the resort had despite it being shoulder season – a good sign that we had hit a gem for sure.
Our stay was in the Ferguson – a cabin named after an early establishment in the area that serviced local miners in the late 1800’s and now remains as a ghost town. The one bedroom plus loft design with full kitchen, living room, and balcony was the perfect set up and space for the three of us. The variety of accommodation at Halcyon Hot Springs ranges from luxury suites to one room cabins plus a generous size RV camping area so there are plenty of configurations and options to suit any group.
Equipped with plush robes in each of our rooms, we didn’t waste any time getting into our suits and heading down to test out the luring waters of the hot springs. Between the two hot pools and the cool plunge pool, I started to work a rotating routine and with each moment I soaked, I could feel the relaxation kicking in. The pools were fairly quiet as it was around dinner time so I felt free to drift around with one of the foam noodles they provide in the larger pool which sits at a comfortable temperature of 99°F/37.22°C. The smaller, hotter pool sits at 104°F /40°C which is still cooler than the source temperature which comes out of the earth at a piping 129°F/53.89°C. After a good, long soak which left us feeling all rubbery and completely relaxed, we all voted to head back to the cabin for a light snack and an early night – letting the soothing effects of the water lull us into a deep, peaceful sleep.
The next day, I couldn’t help but return to the springs one last time and enjoyed a refreshing morning dip before heading up for breakfast at the Kingfisher Restaurant. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and offers panoramic views of the lake and mountains. After skipping dinner the night prior, everything on the menu looked delicious from mascarpone stuffed french toast to a full classic breakfast. I enjoyed a hearty omelet with wild mushrooms, broccolini, tomatoes, and feta while my husband and father-in-law tucked into the hearty full breakfast that came on a huge platter with a good portion of fresh fruit on side.
A walk around the premises after our satisfying meal revealed a small chapel – a last remaining building from the former resort that existed until 1955. Last owned by General Frederick Burnham, a medical doctor drawn to the hot springs by its renowned healing powers, the chapel marks the resting site of his wife, Anne. A read into Halcyon’s history reveals quite a fascinating story!
Feeling refreshed and renewed by our hot spring therapy, we decided on departure that it may be worth the effort to see if we could get above the fog on a mountain road – particularly because my father-in-law really wanted to see the peaks that he couldn’t quite visualize with the heavy, low fog that had been sitting in the valley his entire stay. We grabbed our backcountry road map and figured out a route up Halcyon Mountain, situated directly across the highway from the hot springs and towering to an impressive vertical of 2069m/6788ft. Equipped with a bottle of Halcyon Lithia water in-hand, we made our way up above the clouds for some added Vitamin D to what had now become our health fix trip (I had been loaded with a nasty cold prior to arriving at the hot springs and surprisingly started to feel much better after my healing soaks).
A bit of a climb and a few bumps along the way we were rewarded with incredible sunshine and breathtaking views. I would certainly advise that anyone thinking of exploring backcountry roads to have an appropriate vehicle, experience with off-road driving, and an updated, well-marked map. It also doesn’t hurt to double check with some of the local folks on the area you plan to access as well.
Back on the road to Revelstoke, I reflected on my enjoyable 24 hours at the Halcyon Hot Springs and said goodbye to my foggy fall blues.
Hot springs in the Kootenay Rockies region of BC
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