Lussier Hot Springs – a must visit experience
January 15, 2019
“Lussier Hot Springs, definitely.”
“Have you been to Lussier Hot Springs?”
“Lussier Hot Springs is a must.”
These were the enthusiastic responses from the locals when asked what we should visit in the Columbia Valley area.
So, after some debate on whether 1.5 hours of round-trip driving might be worth it, we grabbed our bathing suits and towels and headed off to explore these natural hot springs.
The hot springs are located in the Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada. The parking lot is located around the 17-kilometer mark on the Whiteswan Forest Service Road. There is parking for about 20 vehicles.
One of the locals cautioned us “Be careful! Watch out for those logging trucks”. It is an active logging area so there will be fully-loaded trucks driving the same roads. We found the drivers to be courteous and confident yet we did take care to give them right-of-way.
The drive on the forest service road is a twisty scenic mountain drive through the Kootenay Ranges of the Rocky Mountains. Guardrails are not prevalent. During the winter, the road is snow-packed.
Bathing suits are required. There are two open-air, unheated outhouses in the parking lot area available for changing.
Laughter ensued as we tried to figure out how to quickly change out of multiple layers while touching the least amount of surfaces in the outhouse. The final answer was that the left back corner of the outhouse might be the best location as it was likely to have the least amount of crud on the floor.
During the winter, plan on wearing hiking boots (with winter grippers if you have them) and some outer layers over your bathing suit. There is a short but steep walk down a snow-packed and icy slope to get to the actual hot springs from the parking lot. Despite what some folks thought, flip-flops and high-heeled fashion boots are not appropriate footwear in the winter for the trek.
Consider taking a towel to the hot springs. If the weather is cold, you will want to do the ‘towel change’ before you march back up to the parking lot. Towel change = attempting to use a towel to minimize flashing fellow bathers as you change out of your bathing suit into dry layers. Some folks are more adept at the towel change than others. You hope the less skilled towel-changers are the bodies you don’t mind seeing.
After trudging down the steep slope, find a spot and shed your outer layers and shoes.
We were lucky – the pools were not crowded. Rumor has it that during the summer the pools are congested and you will have to wait your turn to get more than one toe into the water. The few folks in the pools shifted to make room for us. We quickly slid into a pool and yelped from the temperatures – either way too cool or unexpectedly hot depending on which one you chose.
The smell of sulphur spring-water almost overrode the smell of cannabis from some of the recreational users. The water is crystal clear but has a slightly slimy feeling on your skin. I have no idea what the mineral content is but it does soften your skin. One visitor works with concrete for a living and says he finds these springs to heal his cracked, tough skin after one soak. Expect the smell of sulphur to linger on your skin for a few hours even after a proper shower. Also, plan on a wanting a shower as your next event after a soak.
For a quick cool-off, the Lussier River runs along the springs. One brave soul described the dip as “liquid ice”. I can’t vouch for that as I found sitting on the edge of the pool to be a sufficient cool-down. The locals did confirm that the river temperature isn’t any warmer during the summer as it is glacier fed.
As we laid in the pools, we drank in the scenery. The Rocky Mountains towered over us. The Lussier River bubbled alongside us. The pools were rimmed with ice and snow. A bit of a snowstorm was creeping in so we had snowflakes rather than a blue sky. Birds soared overhead in the crisp air. I hoped for another wildlife sighting but I think all the real animals were bedded down from the cold.
When finished soaking, pay attention to your surroundings as you exit the hot springs. The rocks in the pools are moss-covered and slick and thus not good as stepping stones. The ice surrounding the springs is razor-sharp. You might find yourself light-headed from the water temperatures and the altitude. There were a few blood spatters outside the pool where some prior bather had an unsuccessful exit.
For a hot springs experience in British Columbia that is mostly undeveloped, visit Lussier Hot Springs.
- Trip Date: early December 2018
- Name: Lussier Hot Springs
- Location: Whiteswan Lake Provincial Park
- Cost: Free