One of British Columbia’s greatest gifts to humanity is its abundance of hot springs. While some are well developed with squeaky clean pools and spa services, others (our fave!) are off the beaten path, harder to find, and a bit more on the magic side of things.

One fine weekend in October of this year, our kids had a couple extra days off school, so we high-tailed it to BC’s Central Kootenay for a little hot spring hopping.

If you haven’t gone on an autumn adventure, we highly recommend it. The colours around every twist and turn were spectacular and the hot springs were a little less crowded than during summer’s peak holiday season. 

These were the highlights of our Central Kootenay Hot Spring Circuit.

Ainsworth Hot Springs

Ainsworth is completely on the beaten path, right along Kootenay Lake on Highway 31 between Kaslo and Balfour.

But. But. But.

It gets on our hot spring list because of its cool factor. Plus, if you stay at the on site resort (we got a deal on a room that included our hot spring admission), you get access to the pool area a couple of hours before the public. Plus… look at that autumn foliage!  

The pool (pictured above with our two youngest daughters) is just one part of the equation. Just to the right of the Ainsworth sign is the hot spring cave network that you can swim in and meander through surrounded by stalactite-esque scenery. The cave has lighting, so it’s not impossible to navigate. How fun! (Though, all of our kids were a bit scared of the cave.)

Ainsworth Hot Springs at dawn with a lovely view of Kootenay Lake. 

St. Leon Hot Springs

We had heard of St. Leon hot springs for several years, but for one reason or another had never had the time to find them. This time we did. And we were rewarded with having the place almost entirely to ourselves. 

St. Leon Hot Springs are just north of Nakusp (and just south of Halfway Hot springs), down a forestry road, and nestled on the side of a wooded hill. In recent years, it’s become more popular, and of course, as popularity grows, so does the impact on the site.  

Warning — nude bathing is very common at this location. 

Natural rock pools surrounded by fresh mountain and forest air at St. Leon hot springs. 

Halfway Hot Springs

While we visited Halfway Hot Springs over the summer, we wanted to explore one more time. We thought (wrongly) that it would be quieter in the fall. The site was overrun by a college party, but thankfully, most of the partiers were still sleeping in their tents when we rolled in at 7:30 in the morning and we had the farthest pool to ourselves.  

Halfway hot spring pool right next to the Halfway River. 
The walk down to Halfway Hot Springs follows a meandering trail through the woods. 

Which type of hot springs top your bucket list?