The area around Nakusp is super special when it comes to Hot Springs! There are several places were hot water naturally flows out of the earth, bringing soothing waters to hang out and soak in. There is a range of hot spring experiences in the area, from totally natural and rustic to commercially developed hot springs with pools built up for a more polished experience.
Halfway River Hot Springs fits in the rustic category, with several natural pools on crown land that are free for anyone to access. It’s a 10.5km drive up a forest service road in the snow-free season, which can get a little bit bumpy, but once you are there is totally worth the effort! The hot springs are free for day-use, there is also rustic camping available for $14/night between May 15th – Oct 31st. The fee gets you a flat cleared campsite with a table, plus a few outhouses in the campground stocked with TP, and site host to keep things chill. Outside of those dates, you can camp for free but the campsites and facilities are not maintained and there is no host on site.
From the day use parking lot, you head down a super steep trail for about 500m to reach the river where the hot pools are. It is crazy popular so you are probably never going to have the place to yourself, but there are several pools to space people out. The first pool you will see is the biggest one, re-built in 2017 by a hot spring fanatic from Japan using a bit of not too noticeable cement to hold the stones in place and a cascade to get the temperature just right. Next up are a couple user-arranged pools, then carry on the path a little further to reach a pool right at the edge of the river – my fave! Continue further around the corner to reach another pool.
A lot of people love to go in the winter time too, in that case you’d have to figure a way to get up the 10.5km forest service road on snow because it’s not plowed. The road generally increases in elevation to get to the hot springs, but has ups and downs and in both directions and lots of flats as well. Snowmobiling is the most popular and creates a bumpy, slippy, tracked out and packed snow surface on the road. It is also possible to ski tour or split board, backcountry cross-country ski, walk or even snow bike. The surface and road grades are ideal for snow biking, walking is the next fastest when the surface is packed out by the sleds, backcountry cross-country skiing can be difficult to stay on a smooth track, ski touring and split boarding is just slow going. The non-moto options all take about 3 hours one-way, a bit faster for the quicker modes. Snow bikes and backcountry cross-country skis are faster getting back to the car with more downhill sections, touring and walking will be about 3 hours on the way back as well.
When to go: Anytime! Vehicle access when snowfree, Forest Service Road not plowed in the winter.
Distance: about 1km each way from the day use parking lot, 12km one way in the winter from the start of the Forest Service Road all the way down to the hot springs on the river.
Trip rating: A1 in summer, C1 in winter
Access: From Nakusp – head North on Highway 23 for about 20 minutes. Turn right onto Halfway Forest Service Road, it is a gravel road and will be identified with a sign at the entrance. If you cross Halfway River on the highway (also marked with a sign), you’ve gone too far! The turnoff for the Forest Service Road is right before the bridge on the highway. Head up the Forest Service Road for about 10.5km, the hot springs are marked from the Forest Service Road with a recreation site sign – see photo above. Go down to the left for the campground, take the next left for day use parking.
From Revelstoke – Take Highway 23S to the Shelter Bay ferry. Catch the ferry across to Galena Bay, then drive about 20 minutes on the highway towards Nakusp. Watch for a bridge crossing Halfway River, take the next left onto Halfway River Forest Service Road, it is a gravel road and will be identified with a sign at the entrance. Head up the Forest Service Road for about 12km, the hot springs are marked from the Forest Service Road with a recreation site sign – see photo above. Go down to the left for the campground, take the next left for day use parking.
In the winter: a winter trailhead is plowed out about 100m down the Forest Service Road and has room for about a dozen vehicles – see photo above.
- Turnoff from highway onto Forest Service Road: N50° 26′ 38” W117° 53′ 16”
- Day use parking lot: N50° 30′ 12” W117° 47′ 6”