Almost all of the world’s hot pools are found in mountains, fed from deep volcanic springs, which means the west coast mountains are a prime location for hot pool hopping. Hundreds of springs are sprinkled up and down the coast — some grand resorts and others local secrets — but here are a few to keep in mind for your next west coast road trip.
Before you go: As travel restrictions and border openings are adjusted due to COVID-19, be sure to check with local governments and resorts before travelling.
While hot-pooling, practice good hot spring etiquette! Leave no trace, be mindful before taking photos, and avoid sunscreen, shampoo and other products if you can help it.
Takhini Hot Pools, Whitehorse, Yukon
There’s nothing quite like a hot soak under falling snow, and with more than five months of winter the Takhini Hot Pools in Whitehorse are a safe bet. Another rare treat at Takhini? The pools are odourless, and free of that sulphur scent. Catch the Yukon spirit by entering the Hair Freezing Contest, held every winter with prizes awarded in April. Tips for getting a wild and wacky winning photo? Visit the hot pools on a day where the outside temperature is below -20 degrees Celsius (4 degrees Fahrenheit), dip your head in the warm waters (between 37 and 42 degrees Celsius), style your up-do and get staff to snap a picture!
(Editor’s note: The pools will be closing this September, and opening under a new name in 2021.)
Hotspring Island, Haida Gwaii, British Colombia
Haida Gwaii is a remote archipelago an eight-hour ferry ride from mainland BC, and Hotspring Island (G̱andll K’in Gwaay.yaay) is a remote island near the southern tip of the archipelago, a long skiff ride from the nearest town. Getting to these hot pools may take a bit of work, but it’s worth it to soak in hand-made stone pools overlooking pristine national park views. If you’re lucky you can watch whales and other wildlife playing in the ocean, or drift into quiet meditation listening to waves lapping on the shore.
Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff, Alberta
Rustic and remote is good for some, but everyone ought to experience hot pools from inside a castle too. The Fairmont Banff Springs has everything – and we mean everything – you’d imagine from a high-end resort. Sprawling pools with waterfall treatments, terraces and fireplace lounges. Massages, facials, mani- and pedicures. Luxury suites, room service, high tea and fine dining. And all of it amongst the rugged peaks of the Rocky Mountains in trendy Banff, just an hour or two from Calgary.
Sol Duc Hotsprings, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Deep in the Olympic Mountains a 3 1/2-hour drive from Seattle sits Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, a luxurious spa in a rustic setting. Stay the night in a cabin surrounded by some of the biggest trees on the planet, and enjoy the soothing mineral pools after a day of hiking. Sol Duc also offers massages too, so you can really relax those sore muscles. Don’t have time for an overnight stay? Sol Duc has you covered with day passes and a locker for your belongings.
Umpqua Hot Springs, Umpqua National Forest, Oregon
Umpqua Hot Springs is au naturel… in more ways than one! The natural pools that dot the forested cliffs above North Umpqua River are pristine and free from development, and many of the bathers are equally – ahem – pristine (the pools are clothing optional!). It’s a brief but steep 500-metre hike to the pools, and the trailhead is open from sunrise to sunset. From the tub there’s an excellent view of Surprise Falls. Don’t forget to check the weather before driving on backroads, and bring along a trash bag to leave the pools cleaner than you found them.
Vichy Springs Resort, Mendocino County, California
Heat is nice, but bubbles are better! The hot pools at Vichy Springs Resort are naturally carbonated, just like their namesake Vichy in France. Soak for a minute or two and you’ll be covered in millions of little bubbles, which some believe have relaxing or healing properties. The spot was used by Pomo Indigenous groups for centuries before William Day started ‘Day’s Soda Springs’ in 1852. Visit today and you can explore 700 acres of walking trails, soak in the pools, and stay the night in a range of accommodations where celebrities like President Teddy Roosevelt, Mark Twain and Dustin Hoffman have gone for a soak.