The phrase “hidden gem” gets used too often, but there are times when it really fits. Halfway Hot Springs in the Kootenay region of British Columbia is a secluded, undeveloped off-the-beaten-path set of natural hot springs that really are a hidden gem. These hot springs are different from other hot springs, because they are rustic, rugged and all natural. They are very popular in summer. We visited them in early spring when there was still snow on the ground. Getting to these hot springs was challenging, but it was well worth the effort to soak in the serenity and beauty of Halfway Hot Springs.
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Why are They Called Halfway Hot Springs?
The hot springs are located halfway between Nakusp and Revelstoke along the Halfway River. The hot springs are named after the river upon which they sit. These natural hot springs bubble out of the hillside along the river into mud bottomed pools that are lined with stones. Halfway Hot Springs is a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city – a place to disconnect and relax.
Getting to Halfway Hot Springs
From Revelstoke, the trek to Halfway Hot Springs involves some pre-planning. Getting there involves crossing the Shelter Bay Ferry about 54 km (33.6 mi) south of Revelstoke on British Columbia Highway 23. The ferry is free of charge and leaves every hour. Check out the ferry times here: Ferry Schedule Once you have arrived at Galena Bay, you will continue on Highway 23 for another 22 km (13.7 mi). The turn off for Halfway Hot Springs will be a logging road directly after you cross the Halfway River. Once you reach the logging road, your adventure truly begins.
What’s the Deal with this Logging Road?
The logging road up to Halfway Hot Springs is unpaved and not well maintained. Even in summer, you are best to drive it in a SUV or a truck. A small car would have a difficult time on this road. In winter and early spring, it is unplowed and can be impassable. We visited near the end of March and the road was basically undrivable due to the snowy conditions. We made it about 3 km (1.9 mi) up the 11 km (6.8 mi) road before parking and hiking the remainder of the road. During our hike, we passed several other groups of people who attempted to make the drive and got stuck. One group even told us they had been stuck there for two days! We were glad that we made the choice to stop earlier and make the trek up by foot.
More Adventures With Kelsey Olsen: Read Kelsey’s post about hiking Nihahi Ridge.
What to Expect When you Visit Halfway Hot Springs
Once you arrive at the trailhead, it is a 0.7 km(0.4 mi) hike down to the hot springs. The hike is steep, and ice covered in the winter and spring, but there are ropes tied to help make the descent safer. The trail is well maintained with handrails and stairs as well. Once you finish the descent, there is a short walk through the trees. When you see the cedar changing room hut on your left, you’ve made it to Halfway Hot Springs! The changing room is a handy area to pop on your bathing suit and store your bags. A sign on the change room reads, “There is no place, like this place, near this place, so this must be the place.” This saying truly captures the essence of Halfway Hot Springs. There are three hot pools located in the vicinity so try them out and see which one is your favourite! We loved the first one because it was the hottest and we needed to warm up after the cold 8 km (5 mi) hike to the hot springs.
Visiting Halfway Hot Springs in the Summer
It’s easier to get to Halfway Hot Springs in summer, because you can drive up the logging road instead of hiking up it. The road is drivable in the summer, but four-wheel drive is still recommended, however, many people have made it just fine without. The hot springs become much busier in the summer. You can beat the crowds by going early in the day.
Visiting in the Winter and Spring
When visiting in the winter or spring be very careful not to get stuck on the logging road. It is very difficult to get a tow truck and often takes a few days. Many people bring snowmobiles and ride up but if you’re like us and don’t own a snowmobile, hiking is your best option. The hike up involves trudging through deep snow and snowshoes are recommended. If you don’t have snowshoes, waterproof shoes and microspikes would also be helpful.
Camping at Halfway River Hot Springs
From May 1 to October 31, you can camp at Halfway River Hot Springs. The site is managed by B.C. Parks and there is an onsite campground manager. There are 20 vehicle accessible campsites available and 10 more sites for dispersed tent camping. There are six outhouses, but no garbage receptacles, so you have to pack out what you pack in. The fee for camping is $15 per night ($7.50 per night for seniors).
Three Things to Watch Out For
- If you visit this site in summer, watch out for Poison Ivy. The area surrounding the hot springs is covered in it.
- Nude bathers – Nude bathing is against the law. Bring your swimsuit.
- If you go in winter, plan on hiking in along the logging road. If you get stuck, it may take several days for a tow truck to rescue you.
Why You Should Visit
Whichever time of the year and however you manage to get to Halfway Hot Springs, the trip is nothing short of spectacular. There is nothing that can quite compete with sitting in a natural hot spring completely off the grid. It truly is magical!
More Natural Hot Springs
St. Leon Hot Springs are just south of Halfway Hot Springs on the side of a wooded hill. They are on private property. Another natural hot spring very similar to Halfway Hot Springs is Lussier Hot Springs in British Columbia’s Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park. These hot springs have a single pool rimmed with rocks. The pool sits right beside a river and is accessed via a logging road. At this time, Lussier Hot Springs is closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but it will open again when it’s safe to do so. Make sure you visit the park’s website to check for updates before you head out.
Looking For More Amazing Adventures in British Columbia? Read our post about Sturgeon Fishing on the Fraser River.