The Historical Nakusp Hot Springs awaits
Located on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake in the West Kootenay of British Columbia, the Village of Nakusp has many amenities, especially its very own hot springs
The Village of Nakusp is a place of endless exploration and relaxation. Located on the shores of Upper Arrow Lake in the West Kootenay of British Columbia, this town is home to one of the purest and cleanest sources of thermal healing waters in North America, the Nakusp Hot Springs.
According to Terry Welsh, director of recreation and parks at the Village of Nakusp, explorers originally accessed the hot springs by foot or horseback, taking the 12-kilometre journey from the town of Nakusp by winding their way up the mountain trail through old growth forests. The hiking/mountain biking/horseback trail still exists and is used by outdoor recreation enthusiasts. The hot springs has since evolved into the perfect blend of seclusion, comfort and accessibility for all types of travellers.
“It is one of the only places I know of where you can see rare wildlife, meander through the forest and enjoy the comforts of modern day life,” said Welsh. ”Our award-winning Kuskanax Bridge spans the Kuskanax Creek and is a five-minute walk from the springs. Hiking opportunities abound in the spring, summer and fall seasons, while snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular in the winter.”
The long journey to local government ownership
The Nakusp Hot Springs was not claim-staked until 1894, but the government cancelled this application after the public objected. In 1897, Ellen McDougald, who owned the Leland Hotel, staked the lot like a prospector would under the name of the Virginia Mineral Claim. No development was undertaken, and the public continued to use the springs at will.
In 1912, a proper trail was built from town, which still remains today as the Hot Springs Trail and is used and enjoyed by local residents and visitors. Ms. McDougald, then named Mrs. Gayford, fought to administer the springs and charge admission. In 1925, the Nakusp Board of Trade took action against her, and a government survey turned the area into a Class C park. The McDougald claim was relinquished in 1928 and, through a tax sale, was purchased by the Leary family.
In 1955, the Leary family gave four hectares (10 acres), which included the springs, for a park. This park was made into a Class A park in 1964 and was supervised by a board of town members.
The original pools were mere rock pits but gradually lumber and cement were packed in until proper accommodations, a community kitchen and some cabins were created and made available under the supervision of a caretaker. Many young people provided horse-packing service. Rules set out by the Provincial Park Act were enforced. Permits were required for campfires, and safety and cleanliness regulations were maintained.
Eventually, a good logging road was pushed through to the springs, and grant money from various governments completed the complex they have now. The Nakusp Hot Springs began construction in 1973 and was officially opened by Premier Dave Barrett in October 1974.
In 2003, the Class A park was purchased by the Village of Nakusp. The Nakusp Hot Springs is currently the only facility of its kind that is owned and operated by a local government.
Today, you can enjoy the hot springs and stay the night. Nakus Hot Springs has comfortable, clean, yet rustic “Back Country Plus” Cedar Chalets. In the summer, you can also stay in a beautiful campground beside Kuskanax Creek. See www.nakusphotsprings.com for more info.