Where: Various locations (the ones I’ve visited are all in British Columbia, Canada, though there are hot springs throughout the world)
Description: Hot springs provide the opportunity to soak in mineral-rich, naturally heated pools of water outdoors in beautiful surroundings. Many people believe that the minerals in hot springs provide health benefits such as:
- Soothing sore muscles
- Enhancing blood circulation
- Accelerating the healing of certain injuries such as pulled muscles
- Reducing pain from conditions such as arthritis
- Reducing problems associated with certain skin conditions
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving digestion
- Detoxifying the lymphatic system
Whether or not the springs provide these particular benefits (and to my knowledge, there have been no major scientific studies undertaken to prove or disprove these claims), they are certainly effective in promoting mind and body relaxation and reducing stress, which is bound to have a positive impact on health overall.
Cost: Free for the undeveloped springs; variable for those at resorts
Time: As long as you’d like (most developed springs have a cut-off time late in the evening); for some of the more remote springs, you’ll need to factor in hiking time.
Difficulty: Anyone can enjoy the springs. They tend to be relatively shallow, so visitors don’t need to know how to swim. However, getting to some of the more remote, undeveloped springs requires physical fitness due to the long hikes and/or scrambling down embankments involved.
Required Equipment: Bring a swimsuit for the developed springs (there are usually towels available at the resorts). Most of the undeveloped springs are clothing optional, so bring a swimsuit and a towel or just a towel, depending on your preferences (keep in mind that there may be other people there, so plan your nudity according to your comfort level with strangers).
- Certain springs get really crowded during peak times and seasons, which is fine if you feel like socializing but annoying if you want peace and quiet, so go during off-peak times if you prefer solitude.
- Bring flip-flops or other slip-on shoes during the cold season – it’s really unpleasant to walk on the cold icy ground from pool to pool in bare feet.
- If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of close proximity to naked strangers, you may want to avoid the undeveloped springs, especially during sunny weekends, or you might see things you wish you hadn’t.
- Many undeveloped springs are located far away from stores and there is often no cell phone reception in the area. When visiting wild springs, bring food, water, and anything else you need with you and be conscientious about safety risks.
- Some undeveloped hot springs can only be accessed via rough roads. Check the conditions of access roads to the springs you want to visit ahead of time and travel in an appropriate vehicle so that you don’t get stuck or have to turn back.
The following are descriptions of the hot springs I’ve visited (with photos). Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list, as there are plenty of hot springs I haven’t checked out yet.
Undeveloped Hot Springs:
- St. Leon Hot Springs
- Skookumchuck Hot Springs
- Halfway River Hot Springs
- Clear Creek Hot Springs
- Hot Springs Cove
- Sloquet Hot Springs
Developed Hot Springs:
For additional hot springs in BC, see the main government hot springs site.