It all starts deep underground. Unfathomable pressures and temperatures work their magic on underground rivulets, filling their waters with concentrations of dissolved minerals not found on the surface.
Eventually, pressure forces these supercharged waters topside as hot springs whose healing powers verge on the supernatural. While the natural rejuvenation of a hot soak is universally understood, the concept of transdermal absorption, the transfer of trace minerals through the skin itself, has been linked to pain relief, increased circulation, deeper sleeps and better mental health.
On the shore of Kootenay Lake, Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, or Nupika
Wu’u, Spirit Water, as it is known in
the local Ktunaxa language, emerges from the ground at a scalding 47 degrees in
the only Kootenay hot spring within a "cave". Ainsworth water boasts a complex
array of dissolved minerals that include calcium for muscle tone, endurance and immune system maintenance; magnesium for relaxation and detoxification; potassium to combat arthritis, headaches and nerve function and lithium, which has long been linked to helping heal everything from traumatic brain injuries to anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Ainsworth Hot Springs & Kootenay Lake, photo by Kari Medig
Overlooking the Arrow Reservoir North of Nakusp,
Halcyon Hot Springs Resort has long touted the restorative properties of its lithium,
strontium, magnesium, sodium, and calcium-rich waters. Halcyon’s water has even
been bottled and shipped overseas as a health tonic.
Halcyon Hot Springs, photo by Andrew Penner
At least eight natural hot springs dot the
mountains of the East Kootenay. The
well-loved, family-friendly Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, are equal parts joy,
relaxation, and natural healing. With between 10 and 1000 parts per million of
dissolved calcium, magnesium, and sodium compounds, as well as dissolved silica
and radium, these waters are literally a health soup.
The Cool pool at Fairmont Hot Springs, photo by Zoya Lynch
So whether your path is to seek out hidden hot springs or you prefer the drive-in access of Halcyon, Ainsworth, or Fairmont, a soak in any Kootenay hot spring will allow you to contemplate the idea that intense heat and pressure can actually help you relax, and be great for your health.
Relaxing in the hot pool at Fairmont Hot Springs, photo by Kari Medig
A Day of Karma Yoga: Visiting Kootenay Bay's Yasodhara Ashram
Getting into Hot Water: Kootenay Hot Springs
Run to the Hills! Retreat Golden 5 Pillars of Mountain Relaxation
Renew Yurtself: Wilderness Wellness at Radius Retreat
Ski & Soak: Top 5 Hot Springs and Hot Tubs along the Powder Highway
Soothing Spas in the Kootenays
Top/cover photo by Kari Medig at Halcyon Hot Springs Resort.
Words by Dave Quinn. Born in Cranbrook, BC; Dave is a wildlife biologist, educator, wilderness guide, writer and photographer whose work is driven by his passion for wilderness and wild spaces. His work with endangered mountain caribou and badgers, threatened fisher and grizzly, as well as lynx and other species has helped shape his understanding of the Kootenay backcountry and its wildlife.