It’s not hard to see why Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is a popular spot. Bathers have a 180-degree view of the Purcell Mountains across from Kootenay Lake. On the other side of this British Columbia property, a picturesque pine forest hosts birds, squirrels, and the like. Sunsets are spectacular here, to say the least, and there is no sulfurous smell to speak of.
As with most hot springs, the indigenous people, in this case, the Ktunaxa First Nations, was the first known to discover the springs. Revered for their healing powers, George Ainsworth, a man from Portland, Oregon, sought a pre-emption for the area in 1882, and the public has been visiting the springs since the 1930s.
Today, it is back in the hands of the Ktunaxa Nation with Yaqan Nukiy.
Natural Hot Springs Pools
Note that access to the hot springs is through reservations only. You can book your spot Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 6:30 pm. It’s closed on Monday and Tuesday.
There are multiple options for bathing including a huge outdoor, chlorinated mineral water lounge pool surrounded by potted flowers. The cold plunge pool is fed by a stream and serves as a place for quick dips for those daring enough to get in. The main pool is 96-101℉ (35-38℃), and the cold plunge is a chilly 40-50℉ (4-10℃).
An additional cave hot spring pool is other-worldly and sauna-like. It’s dark and steamy inside with water falling from the ceiling, creating a natural shower and forming a waist-deep dipping pool. The temperature in the cave range from 104-114℉ (40-42℃). The heat transfers to the stone, so even relaxing on the edge of the water is cozy.
The Ainsworth Motel plays host for anyone spending more than a few hours in the area. Including a complimentary pass when staying, the motel boasts views of the mountains and has outdoor seating areas to relax on the lawn by the river. Picnic tables and grills are set up for anyone who wants to whip up their own dinner or simply to dine outside when the weather is nice.
Room types include a Family Suite, as well as Single and Double Units.
Family Suite – This suite comes with a fully-stocked kitchen, a microwave, stovetop, coffeemaker, toaster, cookware, and refrigerator/freezer.
Single Units – There are 2 of these, each with a queen bed and stocked kitchen.
Double Units – There are 5 of these, with a few different bed combinations available.
Dining and Spirit Water Spa
Hungry bathers will be pleased to find the Ktunaxa Grill is just steps away from the springs. This family-friendly restaurant has floor-to-ceiling glass around the dining area offering a stuffing view of the water and peaks.
The luxurious Spirit Water Spa is also located on the property and is full-service. Massages, energy work, clay applications, and body wraps are all offered on the third floor of the resort. Let go of all your tension with a clay foot detox of a medicinal plant body wrap that ends in scalp massage and rejuvenation.
For those looking to explore the area, nearby, the Cody Caves are just north of the springs in a provincial park and are where the water source originates. Both single- and multi-day guided cave tours are available to explore the limestone spaces in every season but winter.
If you’re interested in history and culture, the JB Fletcher store, built after a town fire in 1896, is not to be missed. Located in a historical building, it houses more than just architectural history such as original counters, gas lights, an original cash register, coffee grinder, and weigh scale on display.
The surrounding area is also known for its excellent skiing, fishing, golfing, and rafting for those looking to spend a day out of the pools.
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is on Highway 31 on the west side of Kootenay Lake. To get there from Grand Forks, go East on Highway/BC-3 to Nelson. It’s about an hour and a half drive (85 mi or 137 km). From there, take BC-3A to Balfour-Kaslo-Galena Bay Highway/BC-31 N in Ainsworth. It should take another 45 minutes or so.
Address: 3609 Balfour-Kaslo-Galena Bay Highway, Ainsworth Hot Springs, BC, Canada
Hours: Reservation only from Wednesday-Sunday, 10 am-6:30 pm; Closed Monday and Tuesday