Tips for British Columbian Hot Springs Tour? Naksup, Halcyon, Ainesworth
May 15, 2016 7:41 PM   Subscribe

So to escape the U.S. post-presidential election madness a buddy and I are planning a hot springs tour of Canada for four days (Novemeber 9-13). We are thinking about visiting Naksup, Halcyon and Ainesworth hot springs and staying at two of them. I would appreciate any tips on each hot springs, lodging, good places to eat or drink along the route, etc.

Our route is from Spokane to Kalispell (we live in Montana and will be visiting a buddy in Spokane on Novemer 8th to watch the election results.) We are experienced travelers and hot springs visitors.
posted by ITravelMontana to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The hotsprings in Tofino are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen
posted by PinkMoose at 9:13 PM on May 15, 2016

Nelson has good food. No particular restaurant -- I've never had a bad meal there. It's been a few years since I've been in the kootenays, but we didn't find anything memorable between Nelson and Fernie.
posted by morspin at 11:03 PM on May 15, 2016

Definitely stop in Nelson on the way north. Lots of good food options there, really too many to list. Stop at the bakery in the alley (Au Soliel Levant).

I think you can stay at all three hot springs, but all of them are out of town, so limit your food options. I can't recommend anywhere particular to eat in Nakusp. There are a couple nicer options in Kaslo (definitely drive through Kaslo for a more interesting route, not back through Nelson). The pub in Balfour (Dock and Duck) is fine if you are waiting for the ferry, nothing special. Nothing great for food in Creston open in November. In Cranbrook, Sakura sushi is not bad and the Spice Hut Indian is OK. The Heid Out is an OK brewpub.

The SS Moyie is worth a stop if you like museums (in Kaslo, it is an old paddlewheeler) as is the railway museum in Cranbrook. Kaslo and Nakusp are worth wandering through, though they are all very small with only one main street, and Nelson is definitely worth wandering through. Kimberley is worth a stop if you don't mind going 30 minutes out of your way.

In general, it will be pretty dead in November on your route (shoulder season) and more touristy options may be closed.

I live in the area; feel free to ask if you want any particular details.
posted by ssg at 11:45 PM on May 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, Lussier Hot Springs are a nice rustic option if you don't mind driving on a logging road a little. I'd stay and eat in Kimberley for those, though I'm biased.
posted by ssg at 11:52 PM on May 15, 2016

And I'd like to correct myself: the perogy place in Creston is open all year and is pretty good.
posted by ssg at 12:00 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

It's far from where you are going, but if you are a hot springs enthusiast, I really have to second Tofino as one of the worlds greatest. It's actually a bit further north of Tofino, past where the roads stop. You charter a Boston whaler to ferry up (very likely to see whales, sea otters, seals, bald eagles, etc on the way) and you get dropped off at a dock that leads to about a half mile boardwalk. There, surrounded by ocean, old growth forest, and snow capped mountains, there is a succession of pools cascading down a steep shoreline and emptying into the Pacific. In November there will be amazing storms rolling in from the North Pacific as you lie in bath water warm pools, right at sea level with the occasional wave cresting gently through a crevice. Truly one of the most beautifully amazing spots on Earth. Talk with a local guide about the best time to go to avoid other tourists. This time of year, it is easily possible to have the place to yourself.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 3:28 AM on May 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't recommend staying at the Ainsworth hot springs; stay in Nelson (about 45mins away).
posted by larthegreat at 5:37 AM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the tips so far.

Tofino is more than we have time for, though it is on a longer to-do list.
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:30 AM on May 16, 2016

Thanks, sag, I will likely get in touch with you when it gets closer to our trip.

"Also, Lussier Hot Springs are a nice rustic option if you don't mind driving on a logging road a little."

Not at all. We are Montanan's so we're used to all kinds of roads in all kinds or weather and will have a Subaru Outback with studded tires.
posted by ITravelMontana at 1:57 PM on May 16, 2016

I'd definitely recommend Lussier then. The road is good and generally ploughed so that a 2WD car is fine so you should have no problem (don't try it right after a snowstorm, obviously). They smell a bit sulfurous, but I find it much more enjoyable to dip in a pool made of rocks rather than the developed pools at the commercial operations. If you go during the week, you'll likely have the place to yourself in November.
posted by ssg at 9:15 PM on May 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

We're back!

So some quick tips for others who may read this thread. I have this same username on TripAdvisor if you want more detail.

Nakusp Hot Springs is very, very good. Being at the end of a road (not a bad road) in a place with only 8 rooms was wonderful. The pool is a great design, staff were very friendly, we want to go back.

The town of Nakusp has a few great restaurants and a very nice walk along the lake. Walk up and down the main street to see and visit most of the restuarants. For a small town, it was very impressive food-wise and a wonderful walk along the beach. Stop at the Visitor's Center for good advice from chatty people and great tips.

Ainesworth Hot Springs is the opposite of Nakusp. Very busy, lots of familes and tour groups stopping by for an afternoon soak. The restuarant was good, bar was expensive.

About a kilometer south of Balfour on the right-hand side is the Kooteny Gourmet restaurant or some such name. We got a great 6-ingredient pizza for $25 and he was making $10 shepherd pies that looked mouthwatering

If you are so inclined, I qualified for a medical MJ card on Nelson in two minutes. It's legal in Canada for patients and prices are reasonable.

It was a great trip through good country. Be prepared to drive slow around a lot of curves and take your time. If you get a chance, check out the ghost town/mine at Sandon and tell me why they hace 11 electric trams parked.

And a shout-out to ssg above for good tips.
posted by ITravelMontana at 7:17 PM on November 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

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