Lussier Hot Springs

I was told visiting the Lussier Hot Springs in winter was a must.

The juxtaposition of steam rising from snow-glazed rock pools while crystalline cuts of ice flow down an aquamarine stream sounded nothing short of surreal. There was just one obstacle – location. Set at the tip of Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, the pools are accessible via a 17 kilometre gravel logging road, which, rumour had it, could make for a formidable ride during the frigid season.

At first blush it was difficult to see what all the fuss was about. Because the road is used by logging trucks it is gravelled and kept in good repair. That is before it takes a dramatic plunge into the valley below and narrows to a single lane leaving little space between you and oncoming logging trucks, and a steep drop to your right. Those willing to endure the spine-tingling ride, and a tentative walk down a 150 metre icy pathway, will be treated to nature’s finery. At the bottom of the hill the turquoise waters of several pools reveal themselves, sparkling in their surroundings. Set amongst thickly-clad snow-capped pines the hot springs exude serenity. And this is no mud bath. The surface is lined with pebbles visible through the clean, lucid waters.

Of course being natural mineral pools the sulphur can leave a little odour. Take a water bottle with you not only to wash off the sulphur smell but also to stay hydrated while bathing. While you may be soaking in 43 degree temperatures in the Hot Springs warmest pool, outside the mercury on the temperature gauge rarely rises above zero. Before you slip into the soothing waters think about where you place your towel and change of clothes. Too far and you will be dashing near-nude through the cold, nullifying the hours spent soaking yourself into a slumber. Too close and you may find your towel has transformed into a sheet of ice, the effect of moisture from the sulphur mist. The same goes for any exposed areas of the body. It is difficult to stay submerged before getting the urge to sit up on the edge of the pool to cool off. This brings about the odd sensation off having one half of your body immersed in steaming waters while the hairs on your upper body frost. Better to move to one of the lower rock pools. Gravity cools the water as it trickles down on its way towards the nearby icy river which, for those that dare, makes for a perfect plunge pool. To turn a trip to the hot pools into a full-day experience there are a number of surrounding attractions.

You could check out Fernie’s sister resort in Kimberley for a couple of runs; what better way to soothe those aching knees than a natural hot tub après ski. Or you could take a step back in time by spending the day in the heritage town of Fort Steele. If you’re not up for the turn-off, further north on Highway 93/95 are the commercial developments of Fairmont Hot Springs and Radium Hot Springs. Both are set in the backdrop of the Rockies, and both offer resort-style spa packages, accommodation and other activities. Look out for roaming big horn sheep in Radium.

While they may be easier to get to, one thing they do not have over Lussier is affordability. With no charge to enter the Lussier Hot Springs make for the perfect family day outing.

Need to know Locations Lussier Hot Springs – 17 kilometres up the Whiteswan Forestry Road, East off Highway 93/95. 22 kilometres North of Skookumchuck and 8 kilometres South of Canal Flats. Costs. There is no charge for the Lussier Hot Springs.

Photo Credit: