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.

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