Tuesday, September 05, 2023

Summer Vacation Camping at Fairmont Hot Springs, BC

Whether you're looking for a fully serviced RV site or a peaceful riverside tenting site, there is something for all styles of camping at Fairmont Hot Springs in the sunny Columbia Valley. Two campgrounds provide services for both RV camping + tent camping, with convenient access to the hot spring pools at the main resort.

Summer is glorious at Fairmont Hot Springs in British Columbia

Introduction to the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

The Fairmont Hot Springs Resort 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.

Options for accommodations at the resort include:

  • Lodge rooms in the main resort (some with lofts and kitchenettes) - they sleep 4-6 people

  • Cabins and cottages - they sleep 4 -6 people and some are dog friendly 
  • Family Villas - they sleep 4-6 people 

  • RV sites at the adjoining campground next door to the main resort

  • RV or tent campsites at the Spruce Grove campground  a short drive down the highway (open from the May long weekend through the September long weekend)

    All stays at the hotel resort include access to the hot pools.

    Guests staying at the RV resort get a discounted admission to the pools which gets you a day pass and unlimited access to the pools for the day.

    Guests staying at the Spruce Grove Campground do not get discounted admission, but the campground is less expensive to stay at, so it evens out in the end.

    There's lots of room to splash around in the warm swimming pool at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort

    Camping at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort

    The Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort is located next door to the regular hotel resort and we've camped here many times. The resort has 190 full service sites and guests get to enjoy all of the amenities of the main resort next door.

    There are endless options for activities without leaving camp when you stay at the RV Resort.

    We love camping here because there are many hiking 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, play a round of mini golf, and then go back to the pools. And to splurge, we can just walk over to the main resort for a decadent restaurant meal, Sunday brunch, or even afternoon appies and drinks at the family friendly pub.

    You'll pay a $10 "resort experience" fee when you stay at the Fairmont Resort (including the RV Resort) but it includes many activities and amenities including:
    • Discounted access to the hot springs for RV users (complimentary access for hotel guests)

    • Complimentary mini golf on site (with both an 18 hole and 9 hole course)

    • Daily family activities such as movie nights, scavenger hunts, crafts, and indoor / outdoor games

    • Access to the gym inside the resort's main building

    • Sports including tennis, bocce, and basketball (with equipment available to borrow)

    • One bucket of balls per day (per person) for the driving range at the Riverside Golf Course across the highway - with clubs available to borrow

    • Unlimited Wi-Fi at the resort and in the campground 

    Read more about the RV Resort amenities here on the Fairmont Hot Springs website.

    Camping at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort (deluxe river view site)

    View the Fairmont website to see the different kind of campsites available to book at the RV Resort. 

    We usually book a standard site but the bar has been set higher now that we've tried a deluxe river view site (where it felt like we were camping on top of a mountain as we watched the sun set over the Columbia River each night.)

    Many of the middle sites don't have "great" privacy when the campground is full, but if you have a smaller trailer/van, try to book one of the standard sites in the eastern part of the campground (sites 71-83,) or if you're camping early season we really like sites 108-115 in the upper part of the campground where it's very quiet.

    See the resort map online when you go to book a site.

    Superior mountain view sites at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort

    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 / buses that are not certified will not be allowed. 

    If you don't meet the requirements to camp at the RV resort, the Spruce Grove Campground is located just down the road. 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 full or partial hookups and its own swimming pool. (And you can still drive to access the hot springs.)

    We usually camp at Spruce Grove later in the season (June through the September long weekend) because we like camping beside the Columbia River.

    Also note There are no campfires permitted at the RV Resort. If you want a campfire at night you can either use a propane fire bowl, or you can camp at the Spruce Grove Campground which has fire pits at each site.

    The hot spring pools are just a short walk from the RV Resort

    Make a Reservation! 

    Reservations can also be made online a year in advance and are super easy to make! Just select the type of campsite you want, and an availability map will show up with available sites.

    And don't worry if you aren't a "book sites a year in advance" kind of person! There are always available campsites at Fairmont (and usually plenty of last minute sites throughout the summer.)

    Free mini golf awaits you when you camp at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort 

    Camping at the Spruce Grove Campground

    Riverside camping doesn't get much better than at the Spruce Grove Campground, affiliated with the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. When the river is low, there's also a beautiful sandy beach to play at.

    From the website: "With 137 camping and tenting sites (some of which are fully serviced) and a free heated swimming pool, this scenic BC camping spot is particularly popular with group gatherings and families.

    Situated on the banks of the sparkling Columbia River that wraps around the campground, Spruce Grove is just a short drive from the main Fairmont Hot Springs resort area. " 

    Riverside Camping at the Spruce Grove Campground

    Riverside camping 

    If you're looking for riverside camping, check out the campground map when you go to book a site. There are four riverside sites with power + water (248-251,) and the rest (252-275) are non-serviced. Site 248 is directly beside the beach. Each site upwards gets further away from the sand (though you're still beside the river or the inner lagoon.)

    You must have an RV or trailer to camp in one of the "pink" sites with services. You can't claim a prime serviced site and put up a tent on it. 

    If you want a site with full hookups (water + electric + sewer) you can't camp beside the river, but there are a few nice sites across from it (240-243.)

    And while not exactly "beside" the river, these unserviced sites, (277-280,) are worth mentioning for their quiet private location.  Camp here in the spring and you might be all alone in the back.

    We love camping beside the river at the Spruce Grove Campground

    Beach camping 

    I've had people express shock when they see my photos of the campground with an actual beach, because it disappears when the water is high. When the campground opens May long weekend, there is definitely a big sandy area beside the river.  After that, it varies year to year. 

    In late June through mid July you likely won't see much sand, but then it slowly comes back by August.

    Beach access: Note, accessing the beach is a bit tricky unless you've secured one of the sites that backs on to the beach There is no pathway to the beach, and easy access is blocked by the riverside campsites (as seen in the photo above.)

    Please do not walk through occupied campsites to access the beach or the river. (We've camped in front of the beach and had people walk through the middle of our campsite without asking permission, while dragging kids, chairs, dogs, wagons etc.)

    If you really want to make sure you get a site in front of the beach, you can book a riverside site up to a year in advance and then you'll get a beautiful campsite with your own private beach. Otherwise, be prepared to crawl through the fence beside the beach or ask very politely to pass through somebody's site.

    Also note: the beach is not an off leash dog park. Dogs are supposed to be on leash in the campground at all times.

    Beach side sites can be booked a year in advance!

    Other perks of camping at the Spruce Grove Campground:

    • You can camp in a mixed group with tents and RVs (great for family get togethers)

    • You still get access to the Fairmont Hot Springs pools as a public day user (there are no restrictions at the moment preventing the public to access the pools.)

    • There is a free swimming pool at Spruce Grove

    • You can fish in the river right from the campground (don't forget to buy a BC fishing license)

    • Riverside access for those who like kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding. (more information below)

    • No resort experience fees (Campers at Spruce Grove do not pay the nightly $10 resort fee that you pay when staying at the RV Resort)

    • A natural camping experience. (Expect grass, gravel roads, and lots of trees.)

    This campground is only open between the May long and September long weekends. For early or late season camping, make a reservation at the Fairmont Hot Springs RV Resort. - no tents.

    Fishing in the Columbia River early season (note no beach)

    There are many pretty sites around the lagoon in the Spruce Grove Campground

    Spruce Grove is a hot-weather Camping Paradise!

    When it's hot outside, you'll see everybody at camp hanging out by the river, swimming, paddling around the lagoon, floating down the river in tubes, and cooling off.

    The river "swimming pool" is chilly but refreshing on a hot day!

    Hanging out at the beach is a great way to spend a relaxed day at camp and kids love playing in the sand!

    Kids love the beach at Spruce Grove!

    Paddling and Tubing from the Spruce Grove Campground

    If you like kayaking, canoeing, or stand up paddleboarding, this is a great campground. It's a short paddle from the boat launch on Columbia River Road back to camp, and a quick one-hour trip. (Google maps is a bit weird with this one, but I promise if you follow this road, you'll come to a good put in spot beside the river that's fairly obvious.)

    Alternately, start at camp, paddle down stream through the Riverside golf course, and take out at the boat launch below the golf course on River Drive (near Wilder Memorial Park.) This takes a couple of hours at most.

    And if tubing is more your speed, bring inflatable tubes with you and float either the section above camp or spend an afternoon floating down river through the golf course.

    Evening paddling on the Columbia River

    My husband often drives me up to the put in above camp so that I can SUP my way back to camp in the evening. As a family we like to do the longer paddle down river, but we have to figure out the shuttle part which gets tricky (unless camping with friends.)

    Note the river is only high enough to use paddleboards early season. By mid July it gets to shallow and you're guaranteed to hit rocks.

    Paddling down the Columbia River from the Spruce Grove campground 

    Make a Reservation! 

    Read more about the Spruce Grove Campground on the Fairmont website where you'll see a description for each site category and find a map of the resort. 

    Reservations can also be made online a year in advance and are super easy to make! Just select the type of campsite you want, and an availability map will show up with available sites.

    And even if you decide to make a spontaneous last minute decision to go camping, there are usually sites available.

    Summer tubing on the Columbia River near the Spruce Grove campground

    Other Activities to Enjoy While Camping at Fairmont 

    Soaking in Natural Hot Spring Pools

    I love soaking in the Indigenous pools up by the old bath house at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort. It's a short walk up the hill above the zipline parking lot and you're almost guaranteed to have the pools to yourself. There's even an old stone bathtub carved into the rock that you can soak in!

    Soaking in the Indigenous Bath Pools at Fairmont Hot Springs

    I've been known to spend hours soaking in the larger pool up on this hill overlooking the Columbia Valley, and it's especially beautiful as the sun is setting over the river. 

    Note the pools dry up in spring but are usually full of water by mid summer. There is no fee to use the pools, but make sure you show up prepared for a natural experience without amenities. There are no change facilities or bathrooms and you must pack out all garbage with you.

    Using these pools is a great activity while camping at the RV Resort because you can walk over in your swim suit. Bring a large towel or bath robe for the walk back.

    Peaceful soaking in the Indigenous Baths

    Biking around Fairmont

    Some of our favourite family-friendly mountain bike trails are located near Fairmont. The Spirit Trail is a fav. bike ride of ours and it's a short drive from the resort.

    Mountain biking is one of our fav. family activities at Fairmont

    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.

    Read more about the trails around Fairmont here in my bike guide:

    Paved Biking on The Markin-MacPhail Westside Legacy Trail 

    Hiking around the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort 

    For hiking around the campground, we like the Owl Loop and the Geary Lookout Trail. 

    You can view all area trails on the All Trails app or website. 

    And for a fun walking challenge, check out the Hot Spring Heist Scavenger Hunt. The game is free for resort guests with a special code that staff can give you.

    There are also several geocaches hidden around the resort that we've had fun looking for.

    There are many great walking trails around the resort 

    Adventure with the Mineral Mountain Ziplines

    Located on the resort property, this zipline adventure is one of the best we've tried in BC. Soar across the valley on 6 different lines as you fly high above the resort on this amazing family-friendly adventure.

    Visit the Mineral Mountain Ziplines website for more information and to make a reservation. The zipline adventure opens mid May each year and is open through September.

    Soar high above Fairmont Hot Springs Resort on a zipline adventure

    Other activities to try include:

    • Tennis and volleyball courts (on site at the main resort)

    • ATV tours (nearby)

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

    • River rafting tours (nearby) - Read: Rafting the Kootenay River in Radium Hot Springs

    • Golf (there are 3 golf courses at Fairmont Hot Springs)

    • Complimentary Mini Golf at the main resort (Pick your clubs and balls up inside the main lodge beside the check-in desk.)

    The mini golf course is one of the best in the valley!

    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.

    Join a rafting tour while camping at Fairmont Hot Springs in the summer!

    Recommended Reading

    For more inspiration, check out my large guide to the entire Columbia Valley:

    Disclaimer: We have been hosted at the Fairmont Hot Springs Resort many times. All opinions are my own.

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