Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Jump into Spring at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

My family has spent a lot of time at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort over the years and it's always been one of our favourite places to spend a weekend while exploring in the East Kootenay Rockies of British Columbia.

Spring is especially glorious when there's already green grass and dry trails in April. Add hot pools to soak in, and it's a pretty sweet place for a family getaway.

Spring at Fairmont Hot Springs is pretty glorious!

Move over Mexico, Hello Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

On our last visit to the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort, I actually felt like we were on an all inclusive getaway in Mexico. We didn't bring any groceries with us but allowed ourselves to eat out the entire time. We made use of the restaurants at the resort and enjoyed a decadent weekend with no cooking! No sandwiches for lunch, no packed lunches in backpacks, but simply walking into one of the restaurants every time we were hungry.

Add hot pools where you can spend hours lounging in the sun, and it definitely felt like we'd left Canada.

Hands up if you'd like to spend a day here soaking in hot water and basking in spring sunshine!

Relaxing at its finest at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort in the Columbia Valley 

Fairmont Hot Springs is located in the Columbia Valley between the communities of Radium Hot Springs and Invermere to the north, and the City of Kimberley to the south. From Calgary, the drive is just over 3 hours depending on where you live. It's easy enough to reach Fairmont on a Friday after work, and the drive is doable for a short weekend, returning to the city Sunday afternoon.

For a more relaxed visit, plan a trip out to Fairmont over a long weekend or reserve one of the deluxe cabins for a week this coming summer. (It's a great vacation spot!)

This is April at Fairmont Hot Springs!

Everything you need to know about the Fairmont Hot Springs Pools 

It's no secret in our family that I love the Fairmont Hot Springs pools and that we will be visiting the resort (no matter where we stay in the Columbia Valley) for at least an afternoon.

The hot soaking pool and the warm swimming pool are side by side so I can spend my time happily soaking in the hotter pool while my son is playing with his dad in the other pool - and I can keep an eye on the fun, so I don't feel like I've abandoned my boys.

In previous years there has been a dive tank for the summer months with two diving boards. New regulations for pools have closed the diving boards and ongoing post-pandemic challenges have kept the dive tank closed due to staffing shortages.

Visit the Fairmont Hot Springs website for current updates on the hot pools and public access. The pools have been restricted to resort guests only off and on over the past few years.

Working on my summer tan (in April!)

You can spend the whole day here at the hot pools. You'll find a large grassy area with lawn chairs, poolside cabana rentals in the summer season, a cabana restaurant (where you can purchase drinks or snacks to enjoy beside the pool) and with your day pass you're allowed to come and go through the day (which is great if you're staying at the RV resort next door.) Resort guests already get unlimited access to the pools.

There's also a snack bar next door where you can purchase items to go (to enjoy beside the pool.)

Side by side hot soaking and warm swimming pools at Fairmont Hot Springs

The resort guest-exclusive hot springs pool is a magical place to relax

Accommodations for all Comfort Levels, Family Needs, and Budgets

On our most recent trip to Fairmont Hot Springs we had a loft room with kitchenette in the main lodge. It worked well for us, and our son could go to sleep upstairs while my husband and I stayed downstairs to quietly read or play a game of crib.

Our room had two queen sized beds on the main floor with two single beds upstairs in the loft (perfect for a moms' weekend getaway with a few girlfriends once restrictions are lifted!)

Our cozy loft room with kitchenette at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

And while we didn't do any cooking in our room, we did have a basic kitchenette that would have worked well for breakfast and lunch (honestly for dinner you want to eat out at one of the resort restaurants.)

Staying in the lodge is convenient if you want to run downstairs to grab a coffee in the morning or you want to go out for a meal at one of the restaurants without having to put on a jacket. (Heck, you could wear slippers to breakfast. - which I actually saw.) 

Our cozy upstairs loft room (pretty palatial for one child!)

On a previous trip we got to try one of the new deluxe cabins (open year round,) located beside the resort in the campground. 

Read about our previous cabin stay below

Lest you think you'll be "camping," these cabins are pretty comfortable. Each cabin has a kitchen with a full sized fridge, a dishwasher, microwave, Keurig coffee maker, stove and oven, and everything you'll need for your family's needs. There's also a barbecue located on the deck of each cabin. Going one step further, the TV also has Netflix on it so you can hang out on the balcony with your glass of wine while the kids are happily entertained.

The cabins sleep four people and have two bedrooms, one with a queen sized bed for the parents, and the other with bunk beds for the kids. I loved the separate bedrooms because it meant I didn't have to go to bed at 8pm with my son. (The kids went to bed, and us adults could stay up and hang out in the living room.) It also worked out well when my son was awake at 6am the next morning - and needed a place to read books and eat his cheerios (without disturbing this mom's beauty sleep.)

Deluxe cabins at Fairmont Hot Springs

Spend a few nights in one of these comfortable cabins and wake up to deer grazing outside your door. Start your day with a short walk over to the main lodge for a cup of coffee from Steamers Cafe or enjoy weekend brunch at the Antler's Restaurant. After that, you'll enjoy your proximity to the hot pools which you can easily reach in your bathrobe (adult robes provided in each room.) - bring your own bathrobes for the children.

And when you get tired of cooking, there's a great family-friendly lounge, the Bear's Paw Bar and Grill, in the main lodge. The pizza is incredible so I highly recommend at least one meal here.

Cabin to hot springs!

Other accommodations at Fairmont Hot Springs include:

Lodge rooms (some with lofts and kitchenettes) - they sleep 4-6 people

Summer duplex-style cabins - they sleep up to 4 people and are dog friendly

Summer cottages - they sleep up to 6 people

Juniper Lodge rooms (with kitchenettes) - they sleep up to 4 people and some are dog friendly. 

* All stays include access to the hot pools during your visit including a private hot pool for resort guests only.

** Many of the cabins and cottages work very well for groups or family reunions. Book a bunch of rooms or cabins side by side, bring your lawn chairs, and you can hang out on the lawn visiting while the kids run around and play.

For more information, please visit the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort website.

Not a bad place to spend a spring weekend!

Camping at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

The Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort is next door to the regular resort and we've stayed here several times for long weekends. While the hot springs are not included with RV stays, you do get discounted admission and you'll be able to purchase day passes allowing you unlimited access to the pools per day.

We love camping here because there are many hiking and biking paths that start right from the campground. We can go out for a walk, warm up in the hot pools, hang out at camp for a while, go for a bike ride, and then go back to the pools. And to splurge, the resort is a short walk away for a decadent restaurant meal or even afternoon appies and drinks at the family friendly pub.

We also love that every site has full hook ups so we don't have to fill our water tank before setting up camp. (And we don't have to empty the tanks when leaving!) I can use my coffee maker, the toaster, and the microwave (we don't camp simply,) and cable TV hook ups are available on some sites.

And should you fancy some early season camping, the RV Resort is already open.

Read more: Plan a Spring Camping Trip at Fairmont Hot Springs

Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort

For more information on the campground follow this link to the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort

Note that the RV resort does not allow tents. You must have a trailer, RV, or van set up for camping.

However, tents are allowed just down the road at the Spruce Grove Campground. This campground opens for the May long weekend each year and is a lovely campground for tenters with many non serviced sites. It also has several RV sites with hookups and its own swimming pool. 

Note at Spruce Grove you do not get discounts for the hot springs. You can still use them however as a member of the public.

Beachside camping at Spruce Grove

Follow this link to make an online booking for the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort. 

You can also make an online booking for the Spruce Grove Campground here. 

Mountain biking on one of the trails from the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort

Bike, Hike, and Soak from April through October!

Spring comes very early to the Columbia Valley and you can be mountain biking on dry trails by mid to late April! There's even green grass by that time. We also come out for Thanksgiving in October because it's definitely still warm and we can even camp.

For hiking around the campground, we like the Owl Loop and the Geary Lookout Trail. For biking, my boys like the Montezuma's Revenge loop and we also liked biking to the Geary Lookout.

Visit the All Trails website or app to view all area trails.

Some of our favourite family-friendly mountain bike trails are located near Fairmont so we always come out here in the spring and fall when it's not quite as hot.

Spring mountain biking near Fairmont Hot Springs

There's also a brand new paved bike trail that starts near Invermere and ends at Fairmont. The Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail is 25 km long (one way) and has easy, intermediate, and advanced sections. Check out the map at the link above to choose a section that would be right for your family.

Strong riders could do the entire thing one way if you set up a vehicle shuttle for your family or if an adult rode back to the beginning. (If you were to do this, I'd ride one way from Invermere to Fairmont so you can bike back to the resort while one adult bikes back for the car.) - Although know that you'll have to climb to get back up to the resort from the highway.

My family usually does short segments out and back.

Biking towards Fairmont on the new Westside Legacy Trail

Read more about mountain biking in the Columbia Valley here: 

Read: The Best Family Bike Trails in the Columbia Valley 

Read more about hiking in the Columbia Valley here: 

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

Spring hiking near Fairmont Hot Springs

Soak in Natural Hot Springs at Fairmont

One of our favourite things to do when we're at Fairmont Hot Springs is to soak in natural mineral pools that don't have chlorine or chemicals added to them. The water isn't always as "hot" or as comfortable for soaking in as the main commercial pools at the resort, but it's a fun experience (especially on a warm day.)

Soaking in the Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs

There are two options for natural soaking near the resort:

1. The Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

From the overflow parking lot hike up to the top of the little knoll where you'll see an old stone house. This is the historic Indigenous Bath House. It is closed to entry but there are pools outside the bath house that have warm water in them. 

These pools are very small so I recommend visiting them early morning or in the evening when they might be quieter. Be prepared to wait if others are using them or to return later. We've had good luck going early morning.

There is nowhere to change at the site so wear your swim suit under your clothes and bring a towel for the return to your hotel room or campsite.

The Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs

These are the best known natural hot springs near Fairmont.

Know that this area is very busy. Don't expect to have the pools to yourself at any time of the day. Also be prepared for a rough drive on a gravel road that may scare some people afraid of heights.

From the parking area, it is a short walk down a steep but well maintained trail to the pools by the river. There is an outhouse on site but it's easier if you wear your swimsuit and then you only have to change before driving home.

Lussier Hot Springs near Fairmont

Disclaimer: Use the natural hot springs and mineral pools at Fairmont Hot Springs at your own risk.

Please obey all closures and respect the areas you are visiting. Pack out all garbage, do not bring glass bottles to the pools, and swim suits must be worn in all public areas.

Soaking in the Indigenous Baths at Fairmont Hot Springs

Explore Fairmont Hot Springs from the River

Lake Windermere is just a short drive away if you want a beach day in May or June, and the Columbia River flows through the valley for great paddling.

We spent a great day paddling down the Columbia River through Fairmont Hot Springs on our stand up paddleboards last spring. We timed our visit for a warm day in May and the river was high enough for our boards. (Later in the summer the water gets too shallow and is better enjoyed in tubes.)

Recommended activities:

Sign up for a family tubing adventure on the Columbia River (in summer) - transportation not included.

May on the Columbia River near Fairmont Hot Springs 

Alternately, you can bring your own stand up paddleboards or boats and head out for a lazy float down the Columbia River through Fairmont. You'll need your own equipment and will have to set up your own shuttle. We used bikes for this.

If you want to float the river on your own, this is where you'll put in. (And I know it looks like you're walking to the put in, but I assure you Columbia River Road continues past where it ends on Google Maps. The put in is right on Columbia River Road so just follow this road until you see the obvious boat launch beside the river.)

And this is where you'll take out. There's a lovely little boat launch on the other side of the highway from the resort beside the river.

Paddling down the Columbia River upstream of Fairmont Hot Springs

Note, previous experience is highly recommended!! There are several tight corners on this stretch of river, the water can be cold early season, and there are some fast sections. There is also one bridge that was a bit tricky to get under last time we went (with rocks to dodge.)

Paddling through the golf course in Fairmont Hot Springs

Explore the Resort on a Mystery Scavenger Hunt 

Kids LOVE scavenger hunts but it’s hard to create an exciting set of clues from scratch and you can’t exactly leave pieces of paper scattered all over the place in public with directions or answers on them.

My family was looking for fun activities to do with friends this spring so we tried a  Clue Solvers mystery hunt in downtown Calgary.  We had so much fun, we then moved on to try the "Smugglers Blues" game in Canmore and finally, for our third game, we tried the "Hot Springs Heist" at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort.

If you’re staying at the resort, just go to the activities building where they’ll get you set up with the code to start this fun adventure using your smart phone (no cost involved.) If you’re not staying at the resort you can visit the Clue Solvers website to register (fees apply.)
Best of all for this mystery hunt:
  • You can choose the family-friendly version or the challenging version. (We chose challenging which was perfect with a teenager.)

  • You can choose a short version (roughly 60 minutes to play) or a longer version (which took us about 90 minutes.)

  • There are breaks built into the game and there’s a shortcut option near the end if you’re getting tired and want to cut out two clues involving extra distance to walk. (I confess we took the shortcut path.)
Along the hunt you’ll explore the beautiful Fairmont Hot Springs resort property, walking trails, and the historical Indigenous Baths while solving easy clues to finish the puzzle and find the final key.

We've had fun solving mysteries with the Clue Solvers games

Other Recommended Spring Activities at Fairmont Hot Springs

My family doesn't golf, but golfing would be the big draw for many adults (and families with older youth) for a spring trip to the Columbia Valley.

Golf courses at Fairmont Hot Springs open as early as March 26th for the season! (That's way earlier than Calgary.)

You can get all the details on golf courses at Fairmont Hot Springs here. (And there are options for easy family-friendly par 3 courses.)

There are golf specials as well, and kids 12 and under golf for free.

There is also complimentary mini golf for Fairmont Hot Springs resort guests. (And it's a great mini golf course!)

There are golf courses for all abilities at Fairmont (including mini golf for the non-golfer)

Still not convinced your family will be entertained at Fairmont Hot Springs?

How about a zipline adventure! My family tried the Mineral Mountain Ziplines Course and it was a blast! The course is located right at the resort so you don't have to drive anywhere. (And it's the real deal! - we were thoroughly impressed.)

The ziplines will open mid to late May for the season.

Flying above the Columbia Valley at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

Add to all of that, the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort also has a full activity program run by the "Activity and Experience Centre" which includes kids' day camps.

Other activities to try include:

  • Mini golf (on site with a cost)

  • Tennis and volleyball courts (on site)

  • ATV tours (nearby)

  • Geocaching (on site)

  • Horseback riding at the stables right at Fairmont Hot Springs (along with pony rides for the younger kids)

  • River rafting tours (nearby) 

  • Fishing (nearby) 

Note there are additional charges for most of the activities above and some of them are not guided by the resort. The Activity Centre will connect you with your tour operator though and make reservations for you. 

For more information, follow this link to Things to Do at Fairmont Hot Springs 

Fishing on the Columbia River near Fairmont Hot Springs

Additional Recommended Reading

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

Five Reasons you Need to Visit Fairmont Hot Springs Resort with your Family

Autumn Family Fun at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort (with more information on the zipline tour)

Mountain biking near Fairmont Hot Springs 

Disclaimer: My family has been hosted on recent visits to the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. Also please note that we have not tried all of the activities mentioned in this story (yet.) It's an ongoing mission of ours to explore every corner of the valley but it's going to take us a few years yet to try everything. As always, all words and opinions are my own.

No comments:

Post a Comment