Thursday, September 26, 2019

Autumn Family Fun at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

We love Fairmont Hot Springs year round, but autumn is definitely one of our favourite times to visit once the crowds start to thin out and the temperatures drop, creating ideal conditions for enjoying a soak in the hot mineral pools.

Plan a trip to Fairmont Hot Springs Resort this fall (photo: Soaking in the Indigenous Baths)

We recently spent a long weekend camping at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort, exploring both the public and natural hot springs around the resort, trying out some of the resort activities including mini golf and ziplining, biking on fabulous trails nearby, and exploring the Columbia valley.

5 Activities to Try at Fairmont Hot Springs this Fall

1. RV Camping or Glamping at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

The Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort is open for reservations through the Thanksgiving weekend with power and water at all sites. After Thanksgiving you can still make a reservation for late season or winter camping but services may be limited.

 This is a very convenient place to camp if you want to spend a weekend soaking in the hot spring pools several times a day. You can purchase day pass for the hot pools and you'll receive a discount when you stay at the RV Resort. 

From the RV Resort we enjoyed running over to the hot pools in our bathrobes, so make sure you bring those with you. We also enjoyed the comfortable amenities at the RV Resort including full hook ups with power, water, and sewer. 

Autumn camping at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Alternately, try one of the new mountain view cabins where you'll get more of a glamping experience! You can read more about our stay in one of these deluxe cabins in my previous story: Five Reasons you need to Visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with your family.

- and if you stay in one of the cabins, you'll get unlimited access to the hot springs pools with your stay.

Note: you must have a certified RV or motorhome to reserve a site in the RV Resort. Trucks with truck caps, roof top tents or converted vans or buses that are not certified are not allowed.

Warm up in the hot pools each morning before heading out for a hike or bike ride

2. Flying through the air on a Mineral Mountain Zipline Tour

We've tried a lot of zipline tours and my son would admit that he's a bit of a zipline junkie. The challenge of trying so many different zipline adventures though is that it becomes harder and harder to get a real thrill as each tour blends with previous ones.
Flying high on the Mineral Mountain Ziplines

Previous experience aside though, the Mineral Mountain Zipline Tour absolutely impressed my family. It was hands down one of the best zipline tours we've enjoyed in Canada and was not at all what I expected going in.

With 6 zipline crossings, I was expecting a "cute little family tour" that would be perfect for beginners or maybe those afraid of heights wanting to challenge themselves. The Mineral Mountain Ziplines are the REAL DEAL though! Young and old will find this zipline adventure to be thrilling and exhilarating as you fly high above a canyon up in the hills above the hot spring resort.

Our tour started with a van ride up to the zipline course which is located near the ski resort above the hot springs. We warmed up on two short practice crossings, and then the real fun began as we progressed from a 30-metre high crossing all the way up to a 60+ metre high crossing. The shortest practice line was 41 metres long and by the end, we were able to enjoy a crossing that took nearly a full minute to complete at 470 metres in length!

The Mineral Mountain Zipline Tours run from May through October so make sure you book a tour for the family if you're going to be out this way over Thanksgiving. It's recommended you pre-book your tour time to ensure they have space for your family. 

Our whole family enjoyed this adventure!

Other things to note:

  • The tour takes 1.5 to 2 hours to complete

  • This is a "no hands" tour meaning you don't have to do anything! The guides do everything for you and you don't even have to hold on while you cross. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • All guests need to wear closed-toe footwear (so leave the flip flops or sandals in the car.) I also recommend athletic shoes rather than ballet flats! One woman in our group nearly lost one of her slipper type shoes.

  • You'll have a very short hike between two of the crossings at the end, but it only took us maybe 10 minutes, and you certainly don't need to be in peak physical condition or anything. At the end, participants walk back down to the resort, but it's all downhill. You'll be transported to the top at the beginning of the tour.

  • Anybody can join a zipline tour here as long as you weigh between 50 and 265 pounds.

  • You are welcome to bring a cell phone with you for photos or another camera that you can secure when in the air. And if you don't have a pocket for your phone, you can borrow a special holder for it to wear during your tour.

No hands required and you can fly upside down!

3. Playing endless rounds of mini golf at the resort

My son said our recent trip to Fairmont Hot Springs was one of his summer highlights and I know it was largely because of the amazing mini golf course that we discovered at the resort. I think it's safe to say we'll never be able to pop in for a day to soak in the hot springs without pleas to also stop for a round of mini golf.

Mini golf at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

There is an upper 9 hole mini golf course that you'll see while driving up to the hot pools, but what you don't see is the amazing 18 hole course down in the trees. It was both fun and challenging, and each hole was unique. We also appreciated that we got to play both courses for the same price.

Mini Golf is free with all stays at the resort. Just pick up your clubs and balls inside the main lodge beside the check-in desk.

Lower 18 hole mini golf course at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

4. Soaking in the resort hot springs

We spent hours in the hot pools at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort when we were here for the weekend. The pools are especially nice first thing in the morning while you wait for the air to warm up before heading out on a hike or a bike ride. They also feel good at the end of the day after you've been out exploring.

And if you haven't been here recently, you're in for a treat when you see the upgrades that have been made to the pools. There's now a large waterfall sculpture in the hottest pool and I loved the cold water trickling down the side of it.

Read more about the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort Pools here with rates and schedule.

Now THIS is the way to spend a weekend!

Highlights of visiting the pools at Fairmont Hot Springs (while staying overnight or visiting for the day) include side by side pools, one hot and one warm, so the kids can play in the larger "swimming pool" while you soak in the hotter pool. 

My husband typically likes to hang out with my son in the warm pool while I stick to the hotter one, still able to watch the action and feel like I haven't totally abandoned them.

Spend a weekend camping and soaking at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

I also recommend running up to the historical "Indigenous Baths" before or after visiting the main public pools.
"The Indigenous Baths, a treasured legacy of our history, were very popular among the Indigenous people and early settlers, including explorer David Thompson.  The stone bathhouse contains three of the original baths and there are several shallow tubs carved out of the tufa rock above the building."
You'll see the small stone house up above the overflow parking lot at the resort (near the zipline building.) And while you can't go inside the bathhouse anymore, you can still soak in the small warm mineral pool that you'll find up on the knoll by the bathhouse. The water isn't "hot" but it's warm enough for a comfortable soak when it's not too cold outside. There's also a shallow bathtub if you walk further uphill.

I personally recommend coming up here for sunset where you can enjoy views over the valley while you soak.

Thanksgiving soaking in the Indigenous Baths

I could spend hours soaking in the Indigenous Bath pools

5. Mountain biking or hiking on the Spirit Trail near the resort

You've got to do something between soaks in the hot springs, so I recommend heading out for a hike or a bike ride on the nearby Spirit Trail. The trailhead is a short 10 minute drive from the resort and the trail is relatively flat and easy enough for pushing a Chariot or a good outdoor stroller. 

The Spirit Trail is also great for a family bike ride and it's an easy double track trail. The kids will need to be off training wheels though and you will find a few short hills that you wouldn't notice on foot, but would definitely notice on a bike - especially without gears.

Bike or hike the Spirit Trail as far as you have energy for and then return the same way. If you go far enough you'll reach a narrow canyon section that will turn most families on bikes back. 

Family biking on the Spirit Trail near Fairmont

If you enjoy more "intermediate" mountain biking as a family, I recommend trying the singletrack trails which loop off the main double track road. My favourite loop can be seen here on the All Trails website

And while  All Trails says the loop is 23km long, I assure you it is 6-8 km at most for the shortest version we enjoy. First, start at the actual parking lot. That will help immensely. Second, start by biking out on the double track Spirit Trail. Do not climb to the upper singletrack trail shown on the map. 

Ride the Spirit Trail until you come to a four-way junction. Turn right as shown on the map and start heading back here on a great trail that's locally known as "Teen Spirit." You don't need to do the second (further) loop shown on All Trails. You'll end up back in the parking lot after approximately 2 hours of biking.

Biking along Columbia Lake on "Teen Spirit"

Autumn Events at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort 

I highly recommend visiting Fairmont Hot Springs for Thanksgiving where you'll get a second chance at "summer living." The trails are typically snow-free here well through the end of October, the air is warm mid-day, and you might even get to go biking or hiking in shorts and a tank top. 

Fall mornings are always chilly, but that's where the hot springs became appreciated and you'll enjoy camping on site. (And if camping isn't your thing, the resort has many hotel type rooms as well along with several kinds of cabins.)

Other fun events are often planned throughout the fall months so check the resort website for updates. One year we went to an incredible wine festival in November.

There are great hiking trails around the resort!

Recommended Reading and Resources

The Best of the Columbia Valley (Radium Hot Springs to Invermere - and beyond!) 

Plan a Spring Camping Trip at Fairmont Hot Springs 

Summer Vacation Camping at Fairmont Hot Springs 


Disclaimer: Our zipline adventure was hosted by Fairmont Hot Springs Resort and we also received complimentary hot springs access during our stay.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Family Adventure Bucket List for Revelstoke, BC

If you're like me, you've probably driven through Revelstoke many times while driving between Calgary and Vancouver or on your way to the Okanagan, but have you actually stopped? Not just to top up with gas or grab some fast food, but actually spent a night or two, checked out the local trails, and actually explored Revelstoke?

48 hours in Revelstoke and enough adventure for a month!

We spent two nights in Revelstoke this summer and we were determined to try a little bit of everything! Seriously, we showed up with a list that friends had helped us create, and we weren't leaving until we'd checked a wide assortment of activities off that list.

Always one to "share," below are my top recommendations for an adventure bucket list in Revelstoke so you can begin planning your next trip here with the family.

Family Adventure Bucket List for Revelstoke, BC 

1. Check out the local mountain bike trails

I had to start with this one because we'd never go on a road trip without our bikes. If that's not you, just keep scrolling down.

There are almost 80 different mountain bike trails in the Revelstoke area for beginner to intermediate riders. (over 100 trails if you are able to ride advanced terrain.)

We decided to check out the Mount Macpherson Trail Network where you'll find approximately 55 kilometres of singletrack trails of all difficulties.

Below are the trails I'd recommend starting with:


This easy 1km loop is wide and perfect for beginners wanting to ease into mountain biking. There are some good hills on the loop too so the kids can practice using their gears and brakes off pavement.

The loop starts from the Lower Griffith Creek parking lot where you'll also find a skills park with four different downhill flow trails to practice on before you move to the real trails. Each flow trail features drops, berms, and rollers, moving up with difficulty as you transition from the green and blue trails to the black one (which also has a gap jump.)

A look at the easy Miller Time Loop

Intermediate riders:

Start at the Upper Griffith Creek parking lot and create a loop of your choosing on any of the green singletrack trails. 

These trails are all doable by strong beginner/intermediate riders and I'd take the kids for a spin around these trails before moving on to any of the blue trails. 

Trail Forks recommends starting with Eager Beaver to connect with Leapfrog, Toad School, the lower part of Dusty Beaver, Beaver Tail and Eager Beaver. 

Intermediate to advanced riders:

If the kids are handling the green trails well, continue on Dusty Beaver until you reach Flowdown, Revelstoke's premier cross-country flow trail. It starts with a climb of 163 metres (after climbing Dusty Beaver) and then descends 330 metres to the Flowdown Trailhead

There are two ways to ride Flowdown if you only have one vehicle. First, you can shuttle it, driving almost to the top of Dusty Beaver on the Griffith Creek FSR and the Beaver Lake Rd dropping the family off, and then meeting them down the highway at the Flowdown parking lot. (which is what we did because I like to send my boys out to test trails before I ride them.) 

Alternately, bike up Dusty Beaver to Flowdown as a family and then send an adult back to the Griffith Creek parking lot, riding along the highway. This is what most people were doing. If you only have one vehicle and one adult with the kids, this ride probably wouldn't be doable because you wouldn't want the kids riding on the highway. 

Fun flowy riding on the Mount Macpherson Trails

2. Explore Mount Revelstoke National Park 

First of all, you're going to want to drive up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. There are several viewpoints along the way, trailheads, and points of interest.

The Beaver Lodge Kids' Bike Park 

The first parking lot you'll come to is the Nels Nelsen parking lot, notable for two reasons. First, this is where you'll find the Beaver Lodge Kids' Bike Park, which is amazingly awesome for the little ones! Even my 10-year old had fun. 

Beaver Lodge Kids' Bike Park 
teeter totter in the Beaver Lodge Kids' Bike Park 
Spiral climb in the Beaver Lodge Kids' Bike Park 
Tunnel in the Beaver Lodge Kids' Bike Park 

The Nels' Knickers Interpretive Trail (historic ski jumping site)

While you're at the Nels Nelson Parking Lot, put on a good pair of walking shoes, grab your water, and set out on the steep climb up the Nels' Knickers Interpretive Trail. Note this is the steepest interpretive trail I've ever done and I quickly went back to the car to put on hiking shoes after realizing the trail went straight up to the historic ski jump platforms.

Looking down on Revelstoke from the Nels' Knickers Hiking Trail 

You'll gain close to 100 metres of height on this steep trail that doesn't mess around with a bunch of switchbacks for much of it, but you'll be rewarded with fantastic views down over Revelstoke in the 400 metre distance (one way.) The hike took us approximately 40 minutes round trip and we loved reading all the interpretive signs telling us about Revelstoke's history with the sport of ski jumping.

The highlight of the hike is the top viewpoint where you get to step into "Nels Nelson's knickers" feeling what it would have been like to have jumped off the platform on a pair of skis.

I recommend doing this hike at sunset. It was absolutely gorgeous and we were the only ones there.

Nels' Knickers, Revelstoke

Exploring the Mount Revelstoke Summit Area

We didn't make it up here on our recent trip, but we've hiked here before and I highly recommend the short interpretive trails around the summit area including the First Footsteps Trail, the Heather Lake Trail, and the Fire Lookout Trail. 

Note you may have to take a shuttle bus to the summit area at peak times. 

There are many gorgeous viewpoints from the Meadows in the Sky Parkway 

3. Ride the Pipe Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort 

I'd honestly go to Revelstoke just to ride the pipe coaster at the ski resort. It's the most exhilarating experience you'll find in the area, and it's well worth the cost.

Make sure you go early in the morning before lines start to form and check the status of the coaster online at the link above (as well as find out what the current wait time is.)

Ride the Pipe at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

While you're at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, you can also try their brand new aerial adventure park or take a sightseeing chairlift ride up to the top of the mountain.

Read all about our sightseeing and pipe coaster adventure in this story below:

Read: Summer Fun at Revelstoke Mountain Resort 

Views from the top of Revelstoke Mountain Resort

And for strong mountain biking families, there is now a brand new downhill flow trail at the ski hill. This top to bottom trail runs the full 5,620 vertical feet at the resort. (That's a descent of 1700 metres over 15 kilometres!)

And don't worry about the climb because you'll have some chairlift assistance for most of it. Access to "Fifty Six Twenty" is via the Revelation Gondola and a 7 kilometre climb on The Stoke Climb Trai. The website says to expect a 60-90 minute climb for intermediate/advanced riders (and I hear you can rent an e-bike if you need.)

The Pipe Coaster is fun for all ages!

4. Spend an afternoon at the Williamson Lake beach

Go biking in the morning and then spend the afternoon at the Williamson Lake beach. There's a great campground here too.

You can find other beaches at Martha Creek Provincial Park or at Blanket Creek Provincial Park.

A hot summer afternoon at the Williamson Lake beach

5. Go paddling at Martha Creek Provincial Park 

If you have a couple of inflatable stand up paddleboards with you, you'll love this park! Lake Revelstoke is beautiful for paddling, there's a nice beach area, and if you follow the shoreline, you can search for the rope swing!

There's no better place to paddle than on Lake Revelstoke at Martha Creek 

There's also a campground here. You can read more about the park on BC Park's website here.

Rope swing at Lake Revelstoke

6. Go waterfall hunting 

There is no shortage of beautiful waterfall hikes near Revelstoke!

For inspiration, photos, and detailed descriptions, check out this guide I found to the Best Waterfalls near Revelstoke. 

Begbie Falls (photo: Crystal Como)

7. Check out the Revelstoke Skatepark

Revelstoke has a brand new skatepark - and it's awesome!! (and trust me, we've visited a LOT of skateparks in our travels.) This is one of the best skateparks we've found as a family.

You can find the skatepark in Kovach Park on Edward Street.

And note, there was a sign there saying that it was for skateboards, scooters, and BMX bikes only so I hope everybody forgives me for letting my son use his regular bike in the park. (he was pretty excited to see the new park, and there was no walking away once we'd arrived.)

I'd say that if you have a child who wants to use a regular bike, please make sure the bike is clean and perhaps go early in the day when the park is quiet (rather than showing up at peak hours.)

8. Bike, scoot, skate, or walk the paved Greenbelt Trail

While you're at the skatepark above, I recommend checking out the Greenbelt Trail that follows the Illecillewaet River through Revelstoke. It's a beautiful pathway and my son enjoyed using his inline skates on the trail.

The Greenbelt mountain bike trails are also very easy and follow the river. 

9. Take a day trip to the Enchanted Forest and Sky Trek Adventure Park 

You'll find the Enchanted Forest 40 minutes to the west of Revelstoke along the TransCanada Highway, and it's a great stop en route to Vancouver or the Okanagan. 

Younger children will enjoy the life size tree houses with highlights including 350+ fairy tale figurines and structures, BC's tallest tree house (which sits 50 feet above the ground,) a castle, a nature walk and a self guided row boat tour.

BC's tallest treehouse at the Enchanted Forest

Next door, find the Sky Trek Adventure Park which my son enjoyed a lot at age 9 when we were last there. Here you'll find five different aerial courses (one just for younger kids,) a kids' jungle gym, the adventure tower with giant swing and sky drop, and a giant climbing wall called the sky climb.

The Sky Trek Adventure Park does not take reservations during July or August, but you'll need to make an advanced booking if you plan to visit Monday-Friday in May, June, September, or October. (Weekends are always drop in, first come, first served.)

Kids' Tree Adventure at the Sky Trek Adventure Park

You'll find lots of parking for RVs or trailers in the giant parking lot and you can visit both parks at the same time (though you'll have to pay separate admission for each park.)

Fairy tales come to life at the Enchanted Forest 

10. Take a day trip to find hot springs

You'll find several options for hot springs if you're up for a short ferry ride from Shelter Bay to Galena Bay across Upper Arrow Lake south of Revelstoke. You can reach Halcyon Hot Springs in roughly an hour and a half if you time the ferry crossing right (find the schedule here.)

Halcyon Hot Springs is a public facility with admission required, and you'll find a hot pool, warm pool, seasonal swimming pool, and cold plunge pool. A highlight of visiting these hot springs is the view across the lake from the pools.

Halcyon Hot Springs near Revelstoke (photo: Candace Truman)

Further along Highway 23 you'll also come to the Nakusp Hot Springs, approximately 40 minutes to the south. This is another set of public hot springs (with admission rates) and you'll find both a hot and a warm pool.

If natural hot springs are what you prefer, I recommend visiting the Halfway River Hot Springs just a short distance down the highway from Halcyon and a short drive up the Halfway River Forest Service Road. You'll find four pools up top by the change area along with the  river pool below (where you'll find one big pool and two smaller ones.)

Halfway River Hot Springs (Photo: Candace Truman)

Note these hot springs are only accessible by car in the summer. (In winter, you'd have to snowshoe in.)

For a complete list of hot springs near Revelstoke, please visit the Tourism Revelstoke website where you'll find descriptions, photos, and directions.

Halfway River Hot Springs (Photo: Candace Truman)

Pin or save this story because I'll add to it as we explore more of Revelstoke in upcoming summers.