In the Canadian Selkirks: Water Everywhere
Water. It is everywhere – from the snow on mountain tops to placid lakes, swollen rivers, mineral hot springs and waterfalls, both furious and trickling. This place is along the Upper Arrow Lake below the Selkirk Mountains of British Columbia.
About 9 hours east of Vancouver by car, it is a destination of grand vistas, relaxing woodland hikes and soul-cleansing hot springs. On this early summer trip, my companion and I stayed at the Halcyon Hot Springs, located about 40 miles south of Revelstroke off Highway 23, a trip that includes a ferry ride across the Upper Arrow Lake from Shelter Bay.
Scattered throughout the grounds, Halcyon has nicely-appointed private cabins with kitchens, a full-service restaurant, nearby hiking trails, a fitness center and a spa. But it’s the four mineral pools – of various sizes and temperatures – that are the star attractions.
Built and operated as “Halcyon Sanitarium” until 1955, its pools have higher concentrations of lithium – yeah, that lithium … the mood enhancer. After a short while drifting from one pool to the other, the serene effects of the water are noticeable. Strangers start out quiet, but within a half hour or so of soaking, conversations and laughter begin. It’s a very friendly place.
After a dip, if you feel like exploring the area, head south about 25 miles on Highway 23 to the quaint town of Nakusp, where there are more restaurants, a market, and coffee and breakfast shops. One recommendation: What’s Brewing on Broadway because of the stirring coffee and friendly shopkeepers.
About nine miles north of town at the end of Hot Springs Road off Highway 23 is Nakusp Hot Springs, a smaller, more rustic destination located alongside the Kuskanax Creek. The resort has two pools, private cabins and spots for tent or RV camping. If you go, be sure to take the time to hike in the nearby almost fairytale-like forests along the creek.
For those more adventurous souls who seek undeveloped hot springs, there are a few scattered around Nakusp. However, some are on private property and a few require long hikes into the mountains. Consult the internet for exact locations.
Fun fact: You know what doesn’t go well with serenity and water? Cell phones. Here you connect with nature not Facebook. Postings can wait because cell phone service and the wi-fi are spotty at best outside of Nakusp or Revelstroke.
Another fun fact: the road trip from Vancouver really does takes the better part of a day, despite what Google Maps reports. The Trans-Canadian Highway 1 is for the most part a two-lane road with passing lanes spaced about every 10 miles. The highway also meanders through small towns with reduced speeds, stop lights and traffic. Outside of the towns, the top posted speed is 60 miles an hour. Also be aware that road repairs can reduce traffic to one lane with long wait times. However, all is forgotten once you sink into those warm inviting waters and the weariness of the road melts away.
IF YOU GO:
Halcyon Hot Springs: halcyon-hotsprings.com
Nakusp Hot Springs: nakusphotsprings.com
For information about hiking, hot springs and year-round activities around Upper Arrow Lake: nakusparrowlakes.com
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