BY Keili Bartlett
After spending the weekend off-grid in a ghost town, my friends and I were driving back to Banff. We’d spent a big chunk of our two-day trip to Retallack and back on the road, so a good stretch was well overdue by the time we reached the Whiteswan Forest Service Road. After 17.5 km of driving (very slowly) along the winding logging road, we reached the path to the Lussier Hot Springs.
The first time I visited the natural hot springs was in the summer, and I was looking forward to seeing them now that it was getting colder and closer to winter. Changing into our bathing suits in the outhouses at the top of the trail was certainly chillier than it had been in June, so we wore sweaters and towels over them to walk down the trail to the hot springs. (Tip: don’t wear jewelry in the sulphuric water – I still haven’t gotten around to polishing my rings from when they were tarnished in June!) As I had hoped, there were fewer people lounging in the mineral pools. There were also more pools to choose from since Lussier River appeared lower, each pool getting cooler the closer it sat to the rushing waters.
Despite the cool air, the first pool was too hot to stay in longer than a few minutes, so I crawled down some of the large rocks to test the waters. The second pool felt like a large hot tub, where we could rest against the rocks and watch the river flow past. After a while, the warmer (and braver) of us jumped in the river to cool off.
As the sky started to get darker, we started thinking about the two-hour drive we still had ahead of us, when we were joined by a traveling couple camping nearby. They brought glow sticks, which they cracked and threw into the pools, giving them an otherworldly light and making it easier to stay later in the winter evening.
When it came time to leave, the natural hot springs had kept us so warm that stepping out into the crisp air wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. The mineral waters left us so relaxed with lingering coziness that they were definitely worth the extra time it added to the home stretch of our roadtrip.
If you’re in Radium during the summer, drop by Leo Burrito for a filling feast and round of mini golf. Across the road is the Home of a Thousand Faces. Covered with colourful signs and woodcarvings by a local artist, you can’t miss it! You can also visit the Fairmont Hot Springs in Radium for a soak with mountain views.
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