After a long, arduous, and absolutely beautiful hike up to Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park we treated ourselves to a therapeutic hot soak in the hot springs at Radium. Nestled in the Kootenay Mountains on the western fringes of the park lies the Radium hot pools.
The Kootenay mountains and Kootenay National Park which houses a portion of them are stunning. Lush green valleys are bordered by massive stony peaks. As we drove south from very busy Lake Louise, the mood changed when we entered Kootenay National Park. The park is essentially a single road weaving through a valley with trails and campgrounds and their accompanying parking lots alongside the road. Gone were the huge tour buses full of travellers from Asia and Europe shuttling them from one opportunity for a stunning picture to the next. In Kootenay National Park we found the occasional backpacker who was in the middle of a multi-day hike through the mountains and several day hikers, like ourselves. Gone were the crowds, with cameras around their sun burnt necks, dressed in the latest fashions from Perry Ellis and North Face shuffling out of their tour bus, snapping a picture and then shuffling back to be chauffered to the next must see attraction.
As we casually drove through the park (at 90kph obviously), stopping occasionally to take photographs and enjoy the natural beauty, we decided we better get off the beaten track and take one of these hikes up into the mountains. We chose what must have been the longest single day hike we could find, which was the 22 km trek up to Floe Lake and its glacier and back. We could even end the day with a hot soak at Radium. It was a plan.
After a night of incognito camping in one of the parking lots we hit the trail up to Floe Lake early. The hike was stunning and is still one of our all time favourites (future list?). We followed the edge of a ridge back into a valley, slowly climbing towards the glacier. The view behind us towards the highway and the mountains were breathtaking. We climbed through an area recently ravaged by fire as dead trunks swayed above our heads in the wind, hurrying us along. Our legs ached as we slowly ascended. Finally after several hours of climbing we reached the torquoise lake and the glacier which fed it clinging to the side of the cliff. Words cannot describe the elation of reaching the top to take in the view and finally getting to sit down and rest. After a brief time taking photos of the beautiful surroundings we began our descent. After seven hours and accomplishing the longest hike of our lives up to that point we finally arrived back at our van. Our legs ached and our feet were tender. We were giddy with anticipation of a hot soak.
When we arrived, the facility was being renovated so there was only one pool available for soaking (the price was generously discounted because of this, which was nice). We gladly paid the discounted rate, changed in the large locker rooms, rinsed off in the showers and plunged our sore bodies into the healing waters of the large rectangular public pool. We were stuck using the large lap pool for soaking while the other pools were being fixed, improved or revamped. Around the pool they had fashioned make shift benches for sitting. If one were brave enough they could even swim out to the deep end and totally submerge their body in the hot water. We chose to stick to the shallow end, finding ourselves a nice spot on the bench. We felt we had exerted ourselves enough for one day.
We relaxed and rehydrated while looking up at the mountain peaks surrounding the pool. The tub is set low, below the neigbouring highway, so there is no mountain vista to enjoy but the surrounding cliffs give the unique feel of being in a tight canyon. While relaxing our tired muscles we struck up conversation with several other travellers to pass the time as we enjoyed the view. We talked to a mormon couple from Salt Lake City, Utah, who told of many more beautiful and truly natural hot springs south of the border in Idaho, Oregon, California, and Utah. Our appetites were wet from Miette and Radium, we could not wait for more as we continued our adventure south. As much as we appreciated the convenience and cleanliness of paid hot spring resorts we longed for the natural variety hidden away in a thick mountain forest or dry, sandy desert. We would find many of these places in the future, and many of them were not only beautiful soaks they were truly amazing experiences.
The Radium facility is a few minutes' drive from the small touristy town of Radium, BC that has all the amenities one might need. There are a plethora of small hotels and restaurants and shops waiting to serve. At the pools, there was a small gift shop and a small restaurant. What there is now, after the renovation, I do not know. We experienced the area under renovation. There was only one large hot pool with a standard locker room to shower and change and water fountains to hydrate. It may be completely transformed since their renovations.
Overall, the Radium that I experienced is a standard paid hot spring with few frills or anything noteworthy but if you are looking for hot water to soak in after a long arduous hike among the beautiful Kooteney mountains, Radium Hot springs will do the trick. If you are looking for a more unique and wild, experience I would recommend driving a bit further south in the Kootenay Mountains to another hot spring on our list.
Cleanliness = 4
Amenities = 4
Exclusivity = 1
Scenery = 3
Community = 2
Camping = 1