Tour Radium Hot Springs BC Canadian Rockies Destination

Canadian   Mountain Safety   Mountain Climbs   Trail Etiquette   Contact us

Radium BC Accommodations, Tours, Dining and Weather

At the western gates of Kootenay National Park is Radium Hot Springs, a popular tour summer tourist destination for hikers, mountain bikers, fishers, boaters and especially golfers. The Radium area consists of the Village (outside of the park) and the Hot Springs itself just a couple minutes inside Kootenay National Park. Radium Hot Springs caters to simple pleasures, balmy days on championship golf courses, birdwatching in the beauty of the untarnished Columbia wetlands, alpine meadows bristling with wildflowers, soaring mountain scenery, warm soaks in the therapeutic depths of natural hot spring, and riveting sunsets.

First noted for its crystal clear mineral hot pools, Radium Hot Springs has grown in response to the demand for travel spots offering versatility, value and ambience. The communities in the Upper Columbia River Valley are all tied to tourism and timber but no where is that relationship more defined than Radium Hot Springs. With its Slocan Forest Products mill, the village maintains its standing as a productive forestry town but it is doubly blessed with world famous hot springs. Radium accomodations.

Radium is the gateway to Kootenay National Park and to the valley and has been an important junction for travelers for many hundreds of years. The Kootenai people used Sinclair Canyon/Pass as a route between the Kootenay and Columbia valleys and soothed tired muscles and other ailments in the healing hot springs while in the area.

Touring Radium Hot Springs

In 1841 a Hudson's Bay Company man, James Sinclair from the Red River Colony (now Manitoba), led an expedition of immigrants bound for Oregon up the Bow River Valley and into the heart of what is now Kootenay National Park before venturing up into the pass that now bears his name and 'discovered' the hot springs on his descent to the valley. Of course, the hot springs remained the focus of any story told about the 'Sinclair Hot Springs' when early travelers swapped tales.

The springs were purchased by the enterprising Roland Stuart in 1890 - for $160 - but he did little with the springs until 1912 when a log bath house was erected. The next year Stuart had a sample of the spring's water tested at McGill University and tests showed a high dose of radium in the water. The name of the pools was changed to Radium Hot Springs in 1915. The world was slowly catching up to Radium and the valley when springs were incorporated into the new Kootenay National Park in 1922.

In 1923 Robert R. Bruce's endeavour to connect the valley to Alberta by highway came to an end, with the Banff-Windermere Highway finally completed. Radium's future role as a major player in the region's economy was set. Due to its location, near the springs, the lush Columbia River Wetlands and the fact it is a gateway to vast tracts of Crown land (accessible public land) in Purcell Mountain drainages such as the Horsethief and Forster, as well as the fishing lakes on the benches, Radium became the motel village. With more than 1,500 rooms, located in a wide variety of motel and hotel rooms, with most heavily decorated by flowers, the village continues to rely on the 'rubber tire' tourism market.

Radium was incorporated in 1990 and with an 8.3% population increase in 2001 it is home to a population to 583, the fastest growing municipality in B.C. Its 7.14% growth rate over the past three years has the village third overall in terms of growth in the province. It is also highly likely that growth will continue. Recent condominium developments, the arrival of the Prestige Inn chain, the variety of project proposals in the books, combined with an aggressive downtown beautification project and biking/walking trail network, all point to the progressive direction Radium is taking.

The next task for village leaders is to bulk up the village's skimpy retail infrastructure. The downtown business core has been taking on much more of a 'main street' feel the last five years, thanks to the establishment of several condo and development projects occurring over the 573.3 hectare area of the village, which residents willingly and happily share with a 140-odd member Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep band. The village was established on part of the band's traditional winter range.

Radium has a full service post office and some national park offices serving Kootenay National Park. The village also offers most amenities, including vehicle repair, trades services, hardware, grocery and an average array of family dining opportunities. Radium is primarily a family-oriented resort town and is significantly less vibrant than towns like Panorama, Fernie, Banff and Canmore. Travelers looking for an exceptional nightlife will need to look elsewhere as you can hear raindrops in the forest when the lights go out in Radium. Fine dining is also absent in Radium, however a quick drive to Invermere can take care of most dining experiences that are missing in Radium.

One of the main attractions of Radium Hot Springs in the warm summer months is Kootenay National Park, one of five national parks that represent the Canadian Rockies Natural Region of Canada. Of these five parks, Kootenay and Yoho lie on the western side of the Continental Divide, while Banff, Jasper and Waterton Lakes lie on the eastern side. For thousands of years the area which is now Kootenay National Park was part of the traditional lands of the Ktunaxa (Kootenay) and Shuswap First Nations people. Archaeological evidence suggests the mountains were used primarily as seasonal hunting grounds. Groups also travelled across the mountains periodically to hunt bison on the plains east of the Canadian Rockies. Some sites have spiritual significance.

Kootenay National Park was established in 1920 as part of an agreement between the provincial and federal governments to build the Banff-Windermere Highway - the first motor road to cross the Canadian Rockies. A strip of land 8 km wide on each side of the 94 km highway was set aside as a national park. This resulted in the long, narrow shape of the park. The completion of the highway in 1922 expanded the new age of motor tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Today, the highway is known as the Kootenay Parkway.

From dry, southwest-facing slopes of the Rocky Mountain Trench in the south to lofty glacier-clad peaks of the Continental Divide in the north, Kootenay National Park represents a diversity of landscapes, elevation, climate and ecology. This diversity is captured in the park's interpretive theme statement: "From Cactus to Glacier".

Kootenay is also the only national park that represents the Rocky Mountain Trench (shown in the picture above). The trench, visible from space as a long linear valley stretching from the U.S. border to the BC/Yukon border, is a major break in the earth's crust. In this region the trench separates the Canadian Rockies from the much older Columbia Mountains to the west.

The soothing waters of Radium Hot Springs, in a spectacular canyon setting, have long been a natural draw - from the first pool scooped out of the gravel by Aboriginal people to today's extensively developed pools facility. The hot springs, and their associated features of Sinclair Canyon and the Redwall Fault, are significant geological features. The Redwall Fault - visible as towering cliffs of iron-rich rock - is the best example of fault breccia (shattered and reconsolidated rock) in the Rocky Mountain parks.

The cold, iron-rich mineral springs of the Paint Pots are a point of unique geological interest and a site of cultural and spiritual significance to First Nations peoples. In earlier centuries, Aboriginal groups would travel here from the plains and foothills in the east, and from the Columbia and Kootenay valleys in the west, to gather the "red earth" for paint. Later, at the beginning of the 20th Century, Europeans mined the ochre commercially.

Marble Canyon is an excellent example of a landscape feature resulting from the powerful erosive forces of moving glaciers and rivers in a dynamic mountain environment. The rock that forms the canyon is limestone and dolomite, some of which is white in colour, resembling Marble.

The biggest non-natural attraction in Radium is the Columbia Valley's exceptional array of golf courses. While steadily rising in price due to soaring popular tourity, golf in the Columbia Valley is very affordable in comparison to the Alberta side of the Canadian Rockies. The Springs at Radium Resort, Grey Wolf in Panorama, Eagle Ranch and Copper Point in Invermere, and the Mountainside and Riverside courses in Fairmont Hot Springs are all excellent championship layouts just a short drive away. Those willing to drive a little over an hour to the Kimberley / Cranbrook area will also enjoy St Eugene Mission, Bootleg Gap, and Trickle Creek all stellar tracks. To the north, Golden offers an older but equally spectacular day on the course.

In winter, Radium is considerably less busy but is still a popular tour base for heli-skiing and snowmobiling adventures. It is also centrally located for visitors that want to rotate skiing between Panorama and Kicking Horse Resort, two of eastern BC's finest ski hills.

Canadian Rockies

  Banff, AB
  Canmore, AB
  Kananaskis Country, AB
  Lake Louise, AB
  Waterton, AB
  Jasper, AB
  Radium, BC
  Invermere, BC
  Fairmont Hot Springs, BC
  Panorama, BC
  Kimberley, BC
  Fernie, BC
  Golden, BC
  Special Collection
  Accom Index

Canadian Rockies

Lake Louise
Rockies Destination Index

          Additional Radium Hot Springs Touring Resources:

            Parks Canada - Kootenay National Park
            Radium Chamber of Commerce
            Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce
            Kootenay Road Report
          Recommended Sights, Attractions, Hikes and Activities while touring Radium Hot Springs Resort:

          • Radium Hot Springs
          • Golf Springs at Radium Resort
          • Kootenay Valley Viewpoint
          • Relax in Radium Hot Springs
          • Marble Canyon (on the way from Banff)
          • Snowmobile tour in Purcells
          • Hike Marble Canyon

Romantic DestinationsSignature VacationsWeekend GetawaysMeetings and ConventionsFamily FunBackcountry Touring

    © 2009 Tour Canadian; All rights reserved.