What a girl needs after a long, wet winter on the coast is some hot water to soak the old joints in. That’s what the old man needed too. The search for the perfect stop on our annual migration from Vancouver Island to Manitoba began.
We’ve had some experience with BC’s hot spring circuit but they’ve all been pools with rules. We were looking for something a little more relaxed this time. Our son Pete mentioned the hot springs near Nakusp. “I was there a few years ago. Not sure what they are are called, or exactly where they are but just ask in Nakusp, they’ll tell you.” Nakusp is a charming town in the heart of the Kootenays on highway 6. “I’ll just warn you, there might be some nakedness,” he added.
If you’re looking for more traditional resorts in the area, you can visit Nakusp Hot Springs or Halcyon. These are the Halfway Hotsprings, named for the river it’s on and because its half way between Nakusp and Revelstoke.
Discover the Secret
I’ve been accused of revealing too many idyllic spots on this blog. This isn’t one of those times. Everything you ever needed to know about Halfway Hot Springs can be found within minutes on an Internet search. The BC government now manages the site and collects camping fees. http://www.sitesandtrailsbc.ca/search/search-result.aspx?site=REC2279&type=Site There’s a Facebook page for these and a whole host of other BC hot springs.There’s this website https://www.halfwayhotsprings.com/, and this one https://www.halfwayhotsprings.ca/. So don’t blame me for the popularity of this place, blame the well-connected hippies and locals that we soaked with (yes, some of them naked).
Halfway Hot Springs are located about 25 kms north of Nakusp on highway 23, and then 11 kms east along a very bumpy logging road. Heading north the access road you will be looking for is on your right, well marked, and just before the bridge over Halfway River. You could miss it but you’ll be on the bridge right away and just need to make a U-turn.
Much is made on one of the web sites I read about the difficulty of maneuvering that 11 km road. I imagine at times it could be worse than it was this May. The Facebook page has good information about current conditions. In the winter, I was told, it is an excellent snowmobiling destination but not so much open for traffic. Today it was just very bumpy.
Most of the people we soaked with were locals there just for the day.
Nestled deep in the forest and surrounded by mountains are about 20 gorgeous little camp spots, each one with a fire pit and a picnic table. Very clean biffies are available and spaced out around the site. Our little Tab had no trouble getting in, but neither did some much larger trailers.
Bob is the reason this place is so special. There is no doubt about it. Bob’s job is to run the whole site. He was there to greet us moments after pulling in. The cost is $15 a night. A deal! But if you’re old it’s only $7.50 a night, an even better deal. Bob has a van full of dry wood. An entire wheel barrel comes for $20. He showed us to the trail down to the hot springs and politely asked us not to take glass down. There’s nothing about dogs and leashes so Tucker went exploring and met a big old black mutt to sniff around with. Bob also drains and cleans the pools every morning.
The Main Event – The Hot Springs
Tired, cold and hungry we thought we’d wait until morning to visit the pools. After a bit of food and drink around the fire we thought better of that and grabbed our towels and wine and went in search of some heat.
The main springs are a short 300 metre hike from the campground. 200 metres are relatively flat but the last 100 are down some rather steep, and when we were there slippery stairs. Proper footwear is advised but good sandals will suffice. The stairs are relatively new and appreciated.
There are three or four natural pools right at the bottom of the path, along with a change house and a biffy. Halfway River rushes by, ice cold and furious this time of year. The pools are full this evening. The one I got into was full of naked people. They tried to clothing shame me a bit but I’ll have none of that. Many hours later we realized we should bring more wine next time.
We soaked all evening and well into pitch darkness. When we got lost in the forest stumbling up the wrong trail, someone found us and pointed us in the right direction. We soaked all the next day too. There are other pools hidden somewhere but we didn’t go looking. Check the links above for more information about that.
There’s a zen that develops while sitting in hot water with strangers for many hours. It’s a wonderful way to meet interesting people, and really only interesting people get out to places like this. I wanted to go cool off in the rushing river. The girl beside me took me by the hand and we stumbled over the slippery rocks together. She showed me where it was safe to get in and we squealed together as the icy water washed over us. There were loggers taking a fog day and travelers from Idaho stopping off on their way home from Alaska. The dogs had their own drama playing out.
I’m not revealing any secrets here, but I am giving this stop a five star review, two thumbs up and kudos to Bob for all he does for the place.
Whatever stress is involved in the packing and preparing for a 4 month trip melted into that hot water at Halfway Hot Springs and ran off down the rushing river, never to be seen again.