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Posted: September 3, 2017

A hot Kootenay escape

Rubber Tire Roaming

Route One

By Ian Cobb and Carrie Schafer

Radium Hot Springs

Sometimes you just have to get out of town.

So where do you go when you live in the place most people tend to flee to when they need to get out of town?

Of course, their big, teeming cities are an option. But that’s for another time.

A really quick, simple and hot escape for those of us living in the East Kootenay, especially the southern realms, is one of the several loop trips available.

One of the longer Kootenay loop trips includes a first night in Radium Hot Springs and a second night in Ainsworth Hot Springs, north of Nelson.

Adding to the Kootenay zip of this road trip is the Trout Lake to Kaslo portion, where venture into the sweet quiet of interior British Columbia. Dips in two beautiful hot springs to begin/end each day was nice, too.

We took this trip earlier in the summer.

Here is a brief glimpse of an escape that began in Cranbrook on Friday after work.

We ventured to Radium Hot Springs to take in Radium Days. After the Saturday morning fun at Radium Days we headed north up Highway 95 to Golden and Highway 1 and then west to Revelstoke. From Revelstoke we took Highway 23 south to Shelter Bay to catch a ferry, with one arriving every ??.

After departing the ferry at Galena Bay, there are two options; one being continuing on Highway 23 south to Nakusp. For our trip we took the Balfour / Kaslo /Galena Bay Highway (road) – or turn left for Trout Lake, through to Meadow Creek, before rolling through Lardeau and then into Kaslo. Ainsworth is a short hop from Kaslo. The next day we headed to Nelson for a visit to Gyro Park and a tour down Baker Street, before heading to Ymir for a drink in the back garden of the Ymir Hotel. From there it was to Salmo and home to Cranbrook on Highway 3, over Kootenay Pass and through Creston for some fresh produce.

Trip total distance (from Cranbrook) (Aprox.) – 760 km (475 miles)

Trip price range – $$$$$ out of 10; affordable.

Ainsworth Hot Springs

Communities/parks/attractions you will see:

Columbia Valley communities including Radium Hot Springs; Kootenay National Park; Columbia Valley wetlands; Golden; Glacier National Park; Rogers Pass; Mount Revelstoke National Park; Revelstoke; Shelter Bay (ferry ride over Kootenay Lake); Trout Lake; Gerrard; Meadow Creek; Lardeau; Kaslo; Ainsworth Hot Springs; Balfour; Nelson; Ymir; Salmo; Kootenay Pass; Creston; Yahk; Moyie.

Expect to experience:

Lakeside driving vistas, riverside driving vistas, numerous places to stop and enjoy the landscapes, funky, off-the-beaten-track communities, pastoral imagery, wildlife galore and more.


– A portion of the Trout Lake road is of fair logging road quality; okay for cars. We would not recommend this route during a winter adventure. Take the more travelled road to Nakusp, where you have a couple of options for continuing south and back to the East Kootenay.

– If weather becomes sketchy and Kootenay Pass could be a drag, take the ferry at Balfour and take Highway 3A to Creston.

– If staying in the Kaslo / Ainsworth area on night two, grab dinner sooner than later as we had to leave Kaslo during peak dining hour to find somewhere to eat (props to Woodbury Village pub). Word has it is extremely difficult finding capable chefs in Kaslo and area.

Meadow Creek

Lead image: Looking toward Galena Bay from the ferry crossing Upper Arrow Lake. Ian Cobb and Carrie Schafer/e-KNOW images

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