A Weekend Getaway to Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort
There are several hot springs worth visiting in the Kootenays (a mountainous region of southeastern British Columbia, Canada), but Ainsworth Hot Springs stands out as one of the best for a few reasons.
A visit guarantees an easy and relaxing time in a region of B.C. that is characterized by abundant nature. The naturally-heated water flowing down from the mountain into the hot springs is said to have restorative properties and has been used by First Nations peoples for centuries. The Ktunaxa people, local to the area, would soak in the water after battles to ease their wounds and find relief from ailments such as arthritis. Undoubtedly, after an hour in the warm water it’s hard not to feel soothed and relaxed.
Ainsworth Hot Springs also features an onsite hotel for guests wishing to check-in for a longer stay, as well as the gourmet Ktunaxa Grill, the attached restaurant which features an Indigenous-inspired menu comprised of fresh ingredients. Portions are huge (perfect if you’ve been soaking in the water all day) and the quality is apparent in every dish.
But perhaps one of my favorite reasons why these hot springs stand out among others in the area is because of the natural U-shaped cave which visitors can wade through. There are small nooks where you can stay awhile and breathe in the steam, relaxing in the mineral-rich waters.
It’s the perfect mix of spa plus wellness in a rustic setting that make Ainsworth Hot Springs an irresistible choice for a weekend getaway.
The Hot Springs & Cave
The water in Ainsworth Hot Springs is naturally heated by flowing down through fractures in the rock of the mountainside, increasing in temperature at a rate of 40° C (104° F) per kilometer until it hits a rock layer which forces the water up along a fault until it emerges into the hot springs.
While the mineral-rich water in the cave has an average temperature of 42° C (108° F), the pool has an average temperature of a comfortable 35° C (95° F).
The hot springs and cave are open to the public daily from 10 am - 9 pm, while guests of the hotel can enjoy access daily as of 8 am. A single entry ticket for adults costs $13, while seniors and students cost $12, children aged 3-10 are $10, and children aged 3 and under are free. A family pass (2 adults and 2 children) costs $40. Access to the hot springs and cave is complimentary for guests staying at the hotel.
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort
The hot springs and resort are located along the banks of picturesque Kootenay Lake, just a 20-minute drive south of the nearest village, Kaslo.
People have been coming to the hot springs and cave for centuries, and while the property has passed through the hands of several different owners over the last decades, it was repurchased in 2015 by the Ktunaxa people, now known as the Lower Kootenay Band.
Originally built in 1987, the hotel was renovated in 1999 and more recently in 2012. While the age of the building and facilities (pool and change rooms) is apparent, recent updates have ensured that the hotel rooms remain modern, completely comfortable, and practically spotless.
The beds are especially cozy - staying here definitely entails a good night’s sleep.
One of the highlights of visiting Ainsworth Hot Springs is dining in the Ktunaxa Grill. The decor is simple, but the food is hearty and flavors are outstanding. The menu is inspired by Indigenous food and ingredients are local, fresh, non-gmo, as well as hormone and antibiotic free. Entree portions are quite large and can be shared (although you’d be surprised at the appetite you build after spending all day lounging in the warm water), but be sure to save a bit of room for some dessert at the end!
Other things to do near Ainsworth Hot Springs
Exploding with natural attractions and far less visited than the neighboring Rocky Mountains, the Kootenays offer travelers a getaway that can be both relaxing and adventurous. Here are some other places near Ainsworth Hot Springs that can be explored during a weekend getaway:
Fletcher Falls - Located halfway between Ainsworth Hot Springs and Kaslo, Fletcher Falls can be reached after a short but steep 10-minute downhill walk. After viewing the waterfall, be sure to continue on down to the shoreline of Kootenay Lake (only a minute or two further) for spectacular views of the water and mountains. It’s a great place for photographers and those looking for a wonderful picnic spot.
Cody Caves - Located in a provincial park approximately 11 km away from Ainsworth, the glacier-fed water-sculpted Cody Caves can be explored from May to October with a guided tour. Reservations are required and can be made here.
Ainsworth Cemetery - After a brief 30-minute uphill walk from Ainsworth Hot Springs you’ll find Ainsworth Cemetery, a peaceful location where many of the old graves have been preserved.
Explore Kaslo - Drive in to the nearest village of Kaslo where you’ll find friendly locals, small-town vibes, a couple decent coffee shops, the opportunity to book hiking and skiing excursions depending on the season, and they even have a great Mexican restaurant (among a few others).
Kokanee Mountain Zipline - Located between two provincial parks you can fly high above Kokanee Creek along six ziplines that offer views of the surrounding mountain ranges and Kootenay Lake down below. Fully guided tours last 2-2.5 hours and can be booked here.
As my weekend wound to an end at Ainsworth Hot Springs, I was already envisioning myself returning for another visit for more mountain air, mineral-rich water, and delicious meals.