Every year we explore a new winter destination. We chose to explore Alberta & British Columbia Canada for three reasons.
Because it's absolutely beautiful!
Natural Hot Springs! We are on a mission to visit as many hot springs as we can and this area has multiple within driving distance.
The winters (October - May) are considered off season and flights into Calgary were only $384 per person round trip from Atlanta on Air Canada. Hotel rates usually drop during this time as well. We flew into Calgary International airport, but our final destination was 3.5 hours south in Radium Hot Springs. This trip goes to show that even when you plan it all out, some things really are out of your control.
Our flight was supposed to land at 12:50pm, which I figured we could grab our bags, rental car and some goodies then get on the road by 2:00pm. That would put us at our final destination just before sunset. Well...of course our flight was delayed and didn't land until 3pm, which means we didn't get on the road until after 4:30, only leaving us 1 hour and 15 minutes of daylight. The car GPS told us 4.5 hours, but we googled and saw another route for 3.5 hours. We weren't familiar with either and decided on the shortest distance. We were headed into the dark, winding, snowy roads of Kootenay National Park via Highway 93. As we elevated into the mountains, the winds got higher and roads more narrow. It was full on snowing for almost 2 hours and visibility was low. The other cars and trucks were speeding around us, I was terrified and had many thoughts of us sliding off the side of an icy mountain. Buuuuut...we slowly but surely made it to Radium Hot Springs - informally and commonly called Radium.
If visiting this area, you need a rental car to get around. If they offer windshield insurance, TAKE IT!!! If they don't offer, ask for it! You don't want to be financially responsible for things you cannot control, like flying rocks and ice. In 7 days we had 4 nicks and a large crack in the windshield. If we didn't get insurance we would've had to pay to replace the entire windshield at a whopping $500. Don't be cheap, you will regret it in the end.
Radium Hot Springs is a small village of 776 residents situated in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. Because of the close proximity to the hot springs, located in the middle of 3 national parks and just 1.5 hours from Banff. The location gave the opportunity to see a lot.
This trip was mainly a work winter-cation, so we weren't looking for a full on itinerary. Most days, we took advantage of the cold early mornings inside to outline some goals and tasks during our entrepreneurship workshop. As temperatures rose, we headed out to explore and partake in planned team building exercises nearby. Most evenings were spent relaxing and reflecting at the hot springs.
Why work on vacation? Because we get inspired by new surroundings and activities. Plus, if you are a business owner and do some work, you may use a portion of your vacation as a tax write- off. Winning!!!
Accommodations: Bighorn Meadows Resort
Off season (October-May) prices start at $115/night for double occupancy.
All resort residences come with a fully stocked kitchen and we took advantage of it. We found it much cheaper to get groceries at Walmart in Calgary before heading to Radium. Since this is a small mountain village, groceries are really expensive at the nearby market. We cooked breakfast/lunch/dinner just about every day if we weren't out and about. However, there are quite a few restaurants and bars within walking distance of the residences. When we travel for 7 days, we like to feel a bit more at home and cook meals. We tend to eat healthier and save money when we cook verses going out for meals.
Things to do & Places to see:
Radium Hot Springs Pools & Spa: One of British Columbia's top natural hot springs is found in Kootenay National Park. ... The mineral water of Radium Hot Springs is uniquely odorless and clear, making this hot springs perfect for a relaxing soak. Radium Hot Springs is featured on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. Only $7.30 CA to enter.
We spent the day with 4hr massages at the spa. Then headed outside to watch the sunset over the mountains. The perfect way to enjoy cold winter days inside and out! Our goal was to visit the hot pools as many times as we could to enjoy the winter beauty and remain warm at the same time, mission accomplished! Note: If you want spa services, call in advance to be sure they can provide wanted services during your visit.
Snowmobiling with Toby Creek Adventures
Wasn't quite sure if we were into the winter activities but after this experience... yea, totally hooked and can't wait to snowmobile again! We had our own snow gear, but they do rent everything you need except gloves. We snowmobiled up the mountain to hike a short ways to Smith Falls near Paradise Basin British Columbia. We also stopped by Paradise Silver Mine located on top of the Purcell Mountains for a quick warmup and bathroom break. It was to these same mountains that a few hardy prospectors came seeking their fortune in the late 1880’s and the rest, as they say, is history. These days Paradise Basin and the Paradise Mine serves as home base for @Tobycreekadv but this peaceful and highly scenic alpine area was once the site of a very busy mining operation that employed hundreds of the early residents in the local area. The best way to sum up this day is with a video-Check it out!
Banff Day Trip with Calgary Tours
Banff Upper Hot Springs
The Continental Divide:
A ridge of high ground that runs irregularly north and south through the Rocky Mountains and separates eastward-flowing from westward-flowing streams. This ridge clearly determines which way the water flows.
You should winter-cation in Canada's off seasons because it's an inexpensive way to enjoy some fun in the snow, yet stay warm in the natural hot springs at low costs.