The Nakusp Hot Springs, nestled deep inside the natural scenery of the Kuskanax Valley, offers over 200 acres of year-round outdoor entertainment opportunities. The Hot Springs are located 12 kilometers northeast of Nakusp, nestled amid nature’s splendor along the Kuskanax Creek.
Hot Springs can be found in a variety of locations around the world, most of which have a fascinating history. This includes three springs in the Nakusp region. The Halcyon, St. Leon, and Nakusp springs all went through different periods of development and regression, with both Halcyon and Nakusp recently reaching commercial status.
The Nakusp Hot Springs, nine miles up the Kuskanax valley, were to be staked by Darragh and Lester Messrs in 1894, despite the fact that the town of Nakusp was founded in 1892. Even back then, this primitive thermal wonder was recognised as a God-given gift that should be freely and unobstructedly accessible to the public. The government eventually gave up and cancelled the application, reimbursing the guys for their deposit.
In 1897, Mrs. Ellen McDougald, proprietor of the Leland Hotel in Nakusp, took a different approach to acquiring the land. She staked the lot, 8514, in the name of the Virginia mineral claim, as a prospector would. Despite her efforts to demonstrate ownership of the land, no construction was carried out. This, combined with its isolation from Nakusp, allowed the general population to use it as they pleased, despite the fact that no private entity should have control over the water. In 1912, a decent trail from town was built, allowing for easier access. Two years later, a public outcry resulted in the government declaring the place a reserve by council order.
Mrs. Gayford (Mrs. McDougald had remarried) contested the case once more and was successful in obtaining surface rights to her mineral claim. Ellen, buoyed by her win, established a camp and sought to charge for the use of the water. But this necessitated considerable administration, which made the venture unprofitable.
When the Nakusp Board of Trade initiated action against Gayford, the government conducted a survey to create a Class C park and a road through the springs site. We now had a jumbled-up tract of merchantable timber, a surveyed road, and a park. The saving grace was that no major development occurred until 1928, when a West Kootenay fundraising effort raised enough money to build a concrete pool, a community kitchen, and some cabins. All of the materials and equipment had to be transported by horseback or on foot. For $300, a caretaker was hired for the summer, and many young people offered a horse-packing service to the rising number of guests arriving from far locations.
A renowned family by the name of Leary took over the mining claim in 1939, despite the fact that it was dormant due to Mrs. Gayford’s failure to pay taxes.
Mrs. Leary, who took over when her husband died, never interfered with the hot springs, but she did the right thing when she offered the spa to the Parks Branch to be added to the Class C park on the condition that it be designated as a Class A park. In Nakusp, a committee was formed to look into the possibilities of piping hot water to a better camping site and developing a proposal for a real pool complex.
The mayor of Nakusp was urged to have the town accept the governance of such a complex through a board, while all levels of government were sought for funding for the spa’s construction.
When money from various government grants arrived, a decent logging road had been built through to near the springs, so access was made available without too much more expenditure. Dave Barrett, the Premier, finally opened the present complex in 1974. It had only taken eighty years, but Nakusp now had a world-class spa that residents could not only enjoy, but also proudly promote to the rest of the globe.
Reflecting on the springs’ historical history, one could bemoan its slow development, but it was seen as a poor man’s spa during those early years, when money was scarce and leisure time was scarce. Hiking the route on a weekend with their lard pail lunch, willow stick fishing pole, and best of all, independence from supervision was a trip into paradise for eight to twelve year old children. It was growing up alone in a world that is difficult to comprehend. There are a thousand tales to tell about this playground tucked away in one of Selkirk’s most beautiful valleys, yet the beauty of the water and its soothing effect on the body never changes.
After a hike on one of the many trails in the area, come for a pleasant soak in the mineral pools. Stay in one of the comfortable Chalets or in their Campground for the whole experience. Just a short stroll from the Hotsprings is our marvelous Kuskanax Creek Footbridge. Hiking trails lead to the source of our mineral water and the initial location of the Hotsprings. Try a day hike to the breathtaking Kimbol Lake for the more daring.
If you like the conveniences of cottage living, you’ll appreciate our comfortable chalets, which are full of beauty and just a few feet from the hot springs. Perfect as a base camp for all of your outdoor experiences, but book ahead of time as they are popular with our repeat customers, skiers in the winter, and hikers in the summer.
ABOUT THE CHALETS
One of The Chalets has a more extensive front suite and a smaller back suite adjacent to it. They may be leased independently or in conjunction with larger groups. Satellite television is available in all of our Chalet Units for your convenience. Both of our Front Suites are built on double occupancy, Chalets 2, 3, and 4 can accommodate up to four people, and Chalet #1 can accommodate up to six people. Extra people over double occupancy are paid $15.00 per individual. The Bach Suites in each Chalet will sleep a maximum of two people.
Featured photo by @jodimcdonald