Natural hot springs are more than just a big hot tub. Geothermally heated water tends to be rich in minerals, so people have long believed that soaking in it has many health benefits. Plus, they’re often surrounded by gorgeous landscapes, making a trip to any natural spring good for the soul. These 10 spots to visit in Canada range from secluded to accessible and from fully natural to resort-like, meaning there’s something for everyone. Road trip, anyone?
Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon
If you’re anywhere near Whitehorse, make the half-hour drive to these popular springs for a soak. (Pack clean flip-flops to wear around the deck and changerooms.) The water ranges from about 42C (where it enters the first pool) to 37C (at the end of the second pool) and contains calcium, magnesium and iron, the latter adding a touch of red to its colour. Come in February on a cold day during the Sourdough Rendezvous festival for the annual hair freezing competition, during which bathers dunk their heads then arrange their locks in icy sculptures.
Halcyon Hot Springs, B.C.
The southeastern corner of B.C. is known as the Kootenays, and the region is so rich in natural springs that the tourism board created a signposted driving loop around them known as the Hot Springs Circle Route. Among the many hot springs on the list is Halcyon, a beautiful resort with outdoor soaking pools that overlook Upper Arrow Lake and the Monashee Mountains. A fun feature here: You can alternate between the hot (42C) or warm (38C) pools and the cold plunge pool, which at a chilly 12C, will jar you awake and have you ready for another round.
Ainsworth Hot Springs, B.C.
This resort isn’t far from Nelson, making it a great combination with skiing at Whitewater nearby. Long known by local First Nations, the spring was originally developed in the 1930s, including its biggest claim to fame, the steamy, dim, horseshoe-shaped artificial cave that bathers will circle through and rest in before cooling down in the plunge pool.
Hot Springs Cove, B.C.
As if there wasn’t enough to do in Tofino, they also have super-cool natural hot springs just up the coast that are a must-visit if you’re in the area. Accessible only by boat or float plane, the springs are part of Maquinna Provincial Park, and involve a gentle half-hour boardwalk hike after you’ve been dropped off at the dock. The springs themselves are hot waterfalls that cascade through a series of rocky pools (no comfy bench seats here) before flowing into the Pacific Ocean. If you’re brave, jump into the waves for a refreshing post-soak swim.
Lussier Hot Springs, B.C.
These springs sit in Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park, about 20 km down a gravel road from Highway 95 and an hour from the cute town of Kimberley. The hot water goes through a couple of circular rocky pools before flowing into the chilly Lussier River. There are cold and warm pools, so you can go back and forth depending on how you feel. Like all springs, these can get crowded, so come early or late for more peace and quiet.
Radium Hot Springs, B.C.
Canada’s biggest hot spring pool sits in Kootenay National Park and is very popular with road-trippers who come to enjoy the mountain views and the 27C swimming pool. The hot pool ranges from 37C to 40C and contains odourless minerals like calcium and silica. There’s also an onsite café, walking trails as well as a day spa in case you want to indulge in a massage after your soak.
Kraus Hot Springs, Northwest Territories
Nahanni National Park Reserve contains multiple hot springs, but this riverside pool might offer the best views (and easy access to a natural plunge pool). It’s a lot harder to get to than many of the others on this list, but you’ll find the crowds (or lack thereof) to match. You’re most likely to run into paddlers making their way down the Nahanni River; why not join them on an epic canoe trip?
Miette Hot Springs, Alberta
You’d think Jasper National Park already has enough features to show off, but these springs are the hottest in the Rockies – they come out of the mountains at 54C and are cooled down to 40C as they enter the pool for a comfortable soaking temperature. There’s a café and several walking trails on-site, or drop by after you’ve experienced some of the park’s awesome hiking – or ice walking!
Liard Hot Springs, B.C.
Right at the top of B.C., close to the Yukon border, these out-of-the-way springs – the second-largest in the country – probably wouldn’t get many visitors at all were it not for their location along the Alaska Highway. Since they’re part of Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park, the springs are open year-round. The large “alpha” pool (the “beta” pool is now closed) ranges from 42C to 52C and is surrounded by forest and accessible by a boardwalk.
Banff Upper Hot Springs, Alberta
These springs are probably the most well-known, with stunning views to match. The current facilities have been in place since 1995, but road-trippers have been making their way here for over a hundred years. While winter is a pretty magical time to visit, the natural springs flow cool at this time and are topped up with heated municipal water; come in summer (ideally at sunset) for the real deal.