• Ainsworth Hot Springs is the most popular hot springs in British Columbia
• Features a unique underground pool in the horseshoe-shaped tunnel
Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort is located on the bank of Kootenay Lake right off of Highway 31 between the towns of Balfour and Kaslo. Ainsworth is a well-known and popular destination among local residents and tourists offering an opportunity to soak in the open-air pool overlooking the lake and explore unique caverns featuring colorful mineral deposits.
The main feature of the resort is the 150-foot horseshoe-shaped underground tunnel where you can wade through the waist-deep pool while exploring multicolored stalactites and stalagmites. The hot water flows out from the Cody Caves at a temperature of about 117°F (47°C) through numerous fractures in the walls and ceilings.
The water, dripping off the ceiling or cascading from the walls, creates icicle-shaped formations or colorful mounds. Inside the tunnel, a few yards from the cave entrance, you will find a hot mineral shower. Hot water and vapor create an effect of the natural steam room. Typically, the water in the cave’s pool is about 108°F (42°C). It is hot and overheating can happen. Maximum stay in the tunnel should not exceed 10-15 minutes.
There are two pools at the caves' entrance. The pool on the left is hot and on the right is cold. Fed directly from the Munn Creek, a cold plunge pool is for a short refreshing and invigorating dip to cool the body after soaking in the hot water and steam.
The main pool is 40 by 50 feet and 3 feet deep. The water temperature is 96°F (35°C).
Hot mineral water at Ainsworth contains a wide range of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, lithium, and silica. With a great spring water flow rate, water in the main hot pool changes 4 times a day, while water at the cave pool changes 6 times a day. It is lightly chlorinated before flowing in the pools.
The property has a wide range of rooms including standard, Lakeview, deluxe, and suite. The Ktunaxa Grill offers resort visitors delicious cuisine from locally sourced ingredients and a mountain view in the background. Spirit Water Spa has a massage as well as other spa services such as various types of wraps.
Besides soaking in the hot mineral water, there are many other attractions in the area. Cody Caves Provincial Park is a network of limestone caverns located just 2 miles (3.2km) away from the resort. Guided tours are offered at the caves with professional guides for all levels of cave explorers from novices to advanced, from solo explorers to families. In the caves, you can see multiple types of calcite formations including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and soda straws.
Other activities in the area include, but are not limited to skiing, golfing, zipline, rafting, kayaking, and fishing. Such a variety of choices makes Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort a premium destination for the entire family.
Places to Stay at Ainsworth Hot Springs
Ainsworth Resort provides accommodations that you can book through the resort's website.
However, probably, the best and affordable option is booking one of the waterfront houses or cabins on the bank of Kootenay Lake.
The nearest hotels are situated in the towns of Kaslo, 21 miles north and Nelson, 48 miles south southwest via highway BC-31.
The first of those who used healing waters as a welcoming rest spot were Native people of the Ktunaxa tribe. They called hot mineral waters "Nupika Wu’u" and enjoyed the healing powers of springs long before the first European travelers and settlers arrived.
In 1882, steamboat captain George Ainsworth from Portland, Oregon as well as other prospectors founded a community named "Hot Springs Camp" in order to extract silver, lead, and zinc located nearby. Later, G.Ainsworth bought the camp and renamed it after himself.
In the 1920s, the mining operations of the town declined and John Burns decided to build a pool and start developing a hot springs resort.
In the 1930s, the pool and caves were finally built and the resort opened its doors to visitors, right at the time of the Great Depression.
A series of renovations took place between 1983 and 2012. In 2015, Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort was sold to original inhabitants of the Lower Kootenay, the Lower Kootenay Band.
Ainsworth Hot Springs | Facts
Location: 22 miles south of Kaslo • British Columbia • Canada
Development: Resort, caves, pools
Amenities: Grill, gift shop, restaurant, spa
Hiking distance: Short
Road Access: Any vehicle
Day-use: Yes with fees
Elevation: 1,600 ft (488 m)
Directions to Ainsworth Hot Springs
- Travel 22 km south on Highway BC-31 to the destination on the left.