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The Ultimate 10 Day Kootenay Hot Springs Road Trip

A Koontenay hot springs road trip had been on my list of things to do in BC for a while.

Living in Vancouver, it takes a bit of planning and effort to make it to the Kootenays and especially to plan this Kootenay Hot Springs road trip which takes you close to the border with Alberta. It’s a long way but it’s definitely worth it!

If you’ve already done a Canadian Rockies road trip and are looking for something a little quieter, but just as beautiful, then the Kootenay hot springs circle route could be for you.

Along the way, you’ll have the chance to soak in up to 10 hot springs, go on incredible hikes, discover beautiful National and Provincial Parks and soak up the vibes in some of BC’s coolest mountain towns.

Highlights of a Kootenay Hot Springs Circle Route Road Trip

These are just a few of the best things about doing a Kootenay road trip!

Overview of the Kootenay Hot Springs Itinerary

Below is a map of the Kootenay Hot Springs Route and the hot springs that you can stop off at along the way. You can use this BC hot springs loop map when planning your trip to make sure you don’t miss anything.

This trip can take anywhere between a week and 2 weeks (or longer!) depending on how long you want to stop off in the various towns. If you want to do a lot of driving and not many other activities you could easily do this in a week.

Personally, I’d recommend spending the majority of a day in some of the bigger towns such as Revelstoke, Nelson, Banff and Golden. This gives you time to do activities such as hiking, paddleboarding or biking plus soaking in some beautiful British Columbia hot springs!

  • Day 1: Calgary – Banff (via Canmore)
  • Day 2: Banff to Radium Hot Springs (via Kootenay National Park)
  • Day 3: Radium to Fairmont Hot Springs (via Invermere)
  • Day 4: Fairmont Hot Springs to Creston
    • Optional days 4 & 5: Fairmont Hot Springs to Fernie (via Kimberly). If doing this side trip to Fernie, add an extra day or two to your itinerary.
  • Day 5/6: Creston to Nelson (via Kaslo)
  • Day 6/7: Nelson to Revelstoke
  • Day 8/9: Revelstoke to Golden
  • Day 9/10: Golden to Calgary

The Kootenay Hot Springs BC Circle Route

If you’re looking to soak in hot springs, drive through beautiful scenery, eat incredible food and enjoy outdoor adventures then the Kootenay Hot Springs Circle Route is the perfect road trip for you.

This itinerary is for 10 days but can be done over a shorter or longer timeframe depending on your own time constraints and what you want to do!

I.e. if you want to hike or mountain bike the hot springs circle route will take you a little longer. If you just want to go from town to town with a couple of stops, this Kootenay hot springs circle route will probably take you fewer days.

Day 1: Calgary to Banff (Via Canmore)

If you’re flying in from abroad, I recommend flying to Calgary as it’s much closer to the Kootenays than Vancouver.

Skyscanner is what I use to find cheap flights.

Calgary is a popular international airport so you should be able to find flights from wherever you’re travelling from, even if they require a stop in Toronto or Vancouver.

From Calgary airport, pick up your rental car and drive towards Canmore.

I use comparison sites like DiscoverCars and RentalCars to book my car rentals as it’s easy to check prices and compare the best deals!

Check out this 4 day Banff itinerary!

Canmore, AB

kootenay hot springs road trip

Canmore is a super cute town that’s reminiscent of Banff but (in my view) even prettier. The town is surrounded by the Three Sister Mountains, beautiful hiking opportunities in Kananaskis, the beautiful Bow River and great places to eat and drink!

Read more: Banff vs Canmore? Should you stay in Banff or Canmore?

Banff National Park

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The town of Banff in Banff National Park, AB is larger than Canmore but has a similar vibe in terms of the surroundings and being able to see the mountains every which way you look.

You’re within Banff National Park so you will need a Canada National Parks Pass. These can be bought from visitor centres, booths along the highway or in advance online. If you’re planning to spend a week or so in National Parks, it may be worth getting an annual pass.

There are so many things to do in Banff and you could easily spend 4 days in Banff (or more!). There are fantastic hikes in Banff and Lake Louise as well as great restaurants, the Banff hot springs and lakes to go paddleboarding or kayaking on.

This itinerary recommends you stay a night in Banff so that you can spend a few hours exploring.

Day 2: Banff to Radium Hot Springs (via Kootenay National Park)

Today it’s time to leave Banff and head to Radium Hot Springs through Kootenay National Park. Grab breakfast from a cute cafe such as Whitebark Cafe or Wild Flour Bakery and get ready for a beautiful drive.

You’ll drive through mountain valleys and end up with a drive through the canyon at Radium.

Kootenay National Park

floe lake trail
Floe Lake – Read my backpacking guide!

Along the way, you can check out some of the best things to do in Kootenay National Park. Kootenay National Park is much quieter than Banff and Jasper but just as beautiful.

In the park, you can find the Continental Divide marker where the continent of North America is divided into east and west, the Paint Pots trail and Marble Canyon.

Don’t forget to stop off at the Kootenay Valley Viewpoint and Olive Lake as you come into Radium.

Radium Hot Springs

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Radium is home to Radium Hot Springs which are owned by Parks Canada and so are some of the cheapest hot springs around at just $8.

The hot springs don’t have that eggy smell that you’ll find in others due to the way the minerals in the rock interact with the waters. The hot springs get busy so try and visit later in the day or early in the morning.

In the town of Radium Hot Springs, there is a great brewery (Radium Brewery), plenty of hikes, and you can go white water rafting with Kootenay River Runners which I’d highly recommend!

Read more: Best things to do in Radium Hot Springs

Day 3: Radium Hot Springs to Fairmont Hot Springs

Start your day with breakfast from Bighorn Cafe in Radium Hot Springs and then take a half-day white water rafting adventure with Kootenay River Runners.

On the half-day tour, you’ll head back into Kootenay National Park and float down the river spotting waterfalls and perhaps some wildlife along the way. You also get a tasty snack included!

When you return, it’s time to head south and explore Invermere and Fairmont Hot Springs!

Invermere BC

Invermere is one of the larger towns in the area and is super popular as a vacation destination. There is great food, a brewery, lots of hiking and biking and a few beach areas along Lake Windermere.

I’d recommend getting something tasty for lunch from Circle Market + Cafe or Fuze before hitting the road again to Fairmont Hot Springs.

See more: Best things to do in Invermere BC

Fairmont Hot Springs

fairmont natural hot springs waterfall (6 of 10)

Fairmont Hot Springs is best known for the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort which has a ski hill in winter and in the summer has camping and accommodation options as well as the Fairmont Hot Springs themselves.

What lots of people don’t know is that you can access Fairmont natural hot springs pools for free just next to the resort itself.

Other things to do in Fairmont include finding the hoodoos and floating down the Columbia River!

Day 4: Fairmont Hot Springs to Creston (via Kimberley)

things to do in invermere (4 of 7)
River floating on the Columbia River

The Local Coffeehouse is a good option for your coffee and breakfast before leaving Fairmont today.

As you drive towards Kimberley, BC it’s worth stopping off at Race Trac Gas for a view of the hoodoos if you didn’t already hike out to them. Another worthy stop is at the Columbia Lake Viewpoint and if you want a quick morning walk, then walk the Source of the Columbia River Trail in Canal Flats.

This interpretive trail takes you to the source of the mighty Columbia River through a picturesque area with wildlife spotting opportunities and crystal clear waters.

If you’re travelling with a 4×4 or good AWD vehicle take the Whiteswan Lake Forest Service Road out to Lussier hot springs which are some of the best hot springs in BC, Canada.

Rejoin the highway and head to Kimberley BC.

Kimberley BC

things to do in kimberley bc

Kimberley is a Bavarian-inspired town which is also home to the world’s largest cuckoo clock. There’s a fascinating mining tour here where you ride a train into the mine and learn about how the area was transformed by the mine and what it’s like to work in one.

If you’re visiting Kimberley in winter there’s a great ski hill and plenty of x-country skiing opportunities too!

Read more: Best things to do in Kimberley, BC

You can get lunch at one of the great Kimberley restaurants and then decide whether you want to head towards Creston BC or take a longer route out to Fernie.

Creston BC

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fresh fruit in Creston!

Creston, BC is an up-and-coming town which is becoming known for its great food. There’s a year-round farmers market, fruit and veggie stalls along the roads and several vineyards to explore too.

It’s a fun place to spend a couple of hours and you can stay here before heading up the Kootenay Lake and down to Nelson the following day.

Read more: Best things to do in Creston BC

Optional: Kimberley to Fernie

things to do in fernie (2 of 5)

From Kimberley, you can head back east towards Fernie. Fernie is a super cool mountain town with great boutique shops, incredible hikes, mountain biking and more.

We spent a night in Fernie and did the walk out to Fairy Creek Falls, enjoy breakfast bagels from Big Bang Bagel and watched people float down the river.

Best things to do in Fernie, BC!

Heading to Fernie is also a good option if you want a shorter Kootenay Hot Spring road trip since you’re heading back in the direction of Calgary.

Days 5 & 6: Creston to Nelson (Via Kaslo)

things to do in kaslo bc
Lake views at Kaslo

It’s time for some more scenic driving! Head to Fly in the Fibre to grab a coffee and pastry and hit the road heading north alongside Kootenay Lake.

There are some great beach areas to stop along the way including Lockheart Provincial Park. This is also a great place for some Kootenay Lake camping.

At Crawford Bay take the Kootenay Lake Ferry to Balfour. This ferry is free and it’s actually the world’s longest free ferry!

The views as you go across the lake are beautiful!

Once you’ve landed at Balfour, head north up towards Kaslo. Stopping off at Fletcher Falls either on your way to or from Kaslo, is worth the trip. The falls are in amongst the forest and are impressively tall. Plus there’s a beach area (where you can camp for free) which is ideal for a cool-off mid-road trip!


things to do in kaslo bc (1 of 3)

Kaslo BC is a super cute town with old, frontier-style buildings and a sad but interesting history of being a Japanese internment camp during WWII.

There are great hiking trails including the Kaslo River Trail and mountain biking nearby too.

Read more: Best things to do in Kaslo BC

Between the ferry and Kaslo, or Kaslo and Nelson is Ainsworth Hot Springs which is super cool! These are the best-known hot springs near Nelson BC.

The springs are part of a small resort with a hotel and they also have a cave area that you can swim into. It’s definitely unique compared to some of the other hot springs on the hot springs circle route.


things to do in nelson bc

From Kaslo, head back south along the road you came up from the ferry and follow it over the orange bridge into Nelson.

Nelson is a fun BC mountain town with lots of mountain biking and hiking and there are so many great restaurants in Nelson!

I recommend staying at least one night in Nelson to truly experience what the town has to offer (and have the chance to eat at more of their great restaurants!).

Hiking up to Pulpit Rock, hiring a paddle board for Kootenay Lake and checking out one of the breweries in Nelson is a must!

Some of the best Nelson BC hot springs are found at Ainsworth, on the way to Kaslo.

Discover more of the best things to do in Nelson!

Days 7 & 8: Nelson to Revelstoke

It’s time to head north again from Nelson up to Revelstoke!


revelstoke bc mountain town
Lake Revelstoke

Revelstoke is one of the best mountain towns in the Kootenays and there are so many hot springs in Revelstoke. They’re a great mixture of man-made, resort-style pools and more natural hot springs.

Some of the best are Nakusp Hot Springs and Halfway River Hot Springs. There are also the Crazy Creek Hot Pools and Halcyon Hot Springs Resort. For the former it’s best you have a 4×4 or AWD to get down the rougher roads there. These are some of the best hot springs in the Kootenays so try and visit at least one!

Once in Revelstoke, there are so many things to do whether you’re looking for things to do in Revelstoke in the summer or looking to go skiing, dog sledding and more in the winter in Revelstoke.

Revelstoke is not only a cool town full of people who love outdoor activities, but you’re also super close to both Glacier National Park and Mount Revelstoke National Park. Both are beautiful and best explored in the summer when the alpine meadows are full of wildflowers, they’re more accessible and you can enjoy some sunshine and views.

Again, staying at least one night in Revelstoke is a good idea to give yourself more time to explore.

Days 8 & 9: Revelstoke to Golden

things to do in golden BC (1 of 5)

The best places for breakfast in Revelstoke are Dose Coffee or La Baguette so make sure you stop in at one before the shorter drive to Golden.

The drive between Revelstoke and Golden is under 2 hours so you don’t have too far to go and along the way, you’ll go through Glacier National Park and the beautiful Rogers Pass area. Stop off a the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre to learn more about the area and soak up the views!

Golden is actually one of my favourite towns on this Kootenay Hot Springs road trip route. It just has such nice energy and it’s in such a beautiful area!

In Golden, you’re surrounded by National Parks with Glacier National Park and Yoho National Park, the Bugaboos Provincial Park and more around you. The Golden Skybridge is worth checking out too!

Read more: Best things to do in Golden BC

If you decide to stay in Golden, be sure to go to Reposados for burritos or tacos and margaritas!

Days 9 & 10: Golden to Calgary

best things to do in calgary ab (1 of 1)

The last days of the Kootenay Hot Springs road trip are here but there’s still plenty to see on the way back!

From Golden, you’ll pass through Yoho National Park which is well worth stopping at. Some of the best things to do in Yoho National Park are to visit Emerald Lake and hike to Lake O’Hara (notoriously difficult to get passes for but if you’re fit and an experienced hiker you can visit Lake O’Hara without reservations). There’s also the incredible Takkakaw Falls!

From Golden, you’ll continue on the highway through Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore and back to Calgary!

If you have time, plan to spend a day or two exploring Calgary including checking out the best day trips from Calgary.

FAQs about the hot springs circle route

How long to drive from Vancouver to Nelson BC

It will take at least 7.5 hours to drive from Vancouver to Nelson BC. The drive is around 660 km long.

How long to drive from Calgary to Fairmont Hot Springs

The drive will take about 3 hours and 15 minutes and is around 300 km long.

How far is Kootenay from Vancouver?

Kootenay National Park is 852.2 km from Vancouver by road or at least 6 hours of driving depending on traffic and road conditions.

What are the Kootenays BC?

The Kootenays are a mountain range in BC. They’re in Eastern BC and are also where you’ll find Kootenay National Park.

How long to drive from Calgary to Nelson BC?

About 7 hours, or 614 km.

Final thoughts on this hot spring loop road trip BC

There are lots of Koonteay’s hot springs to be discovered as you embark on this road trip. From hot springs near Nelson BC, to those closer to Radium and Revelstoke, this BC road trip takes you on an adventure through some of the best BC Provincial Parks, Canadian National Parks and beautiful scenery.

If you’re looking for more road trip BC itinerary, check out this road trip from Vancouver to Whistler, the itinerary for the best Kamloops to Whistler stops, the best guide to driving from Lake Louise to Jasper, and my ultimate 7-day Banff and Jasper road trip from Vancouver.

Last Updated on June 21, 2023 by Hannah

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