I avert my eyes from my friend’s disbelief. “You’ve never been to Radium? How is that possible? It’s just a few hours away!” In defense I mumble that I’ve driven by the Radium Hot Springs a couple of decades ago. “No the village of Radium Hot Springs!” She speaks as though I am having difficulty hearing her. Less than three hours from Calgary, where we have lived for over thirty years, I admit I know nothing about the things to do in Radium Hot Springs, well other than the fact Radium has hot springs.

Things to do in Radium

“You do know about the Bighorn mountain sheep though. Right?”

I ashamedly shake my head. “They have mountain sheep in the Village of Radium Hot Springs?”

“No, in the Radium Hot Springs pools.” She is teasing now.

“Well not in the summer, but in the spring, the mountain sheep are all over the place until they move to higher ground for when the lambs are born. In the fall they come back down to the village of Radium for their famous head banging routines to impress the females.”

Sounds more like a headache routine. Yet who can resist the idea of herds of sheep wandering around a mountain village?

Where is Radium Hot Springs?

Map Radium Hot Springs

Located at the edge of Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, Canada, the Village of Radium Hot Springs is 250 km. (155 mi.) west of Calgary, and 135 km. (84 mi.) west of Banff. The Radium Hot Springs Mineral Pools are within the national park, just prior to entering the village of Radium.

Nestled in the Columbia Valley, the village sits between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Purcell Mountains to the west. The Columbia River runs just west of the village.

15 Things To Do In Radium Hot Springs and Area

No time to read this now? Click on our 3 minute video below to see the beauty of Radium Hot Springs.

Is there a bear out there?

What is the difference between a mountain goat and a mountain sheep? Are there bears on the hiking trails? What does a tick look like? How is an antler different from a horn?

Open 362 days a year, the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Information Centre is no ordinary tourist booth. Filled with wildlife and educational displays, the destination education centre staff are available with up to date knowledge on safely enjoying the great outdoors in the Columbia Valley. Learning to co-exist with the wildlife for which Radium is famous for, makes a stop at the Radium Hot Springs Visitor Information Centre an important one.

Radium Hot Springs Visitor Information Centre

Radium Hot Springs Visitor Information Centre

The Visitor Centre counsellors can also assist with questions about Radium Hot Springs hotels and places to visit in Radium Hot Springs and the surrounding area.

Golfing with mountain sheep

When I tell the golf pro at The Springs Course in Radium I would be more comfortable jumping off a cliff than trying golf, I am only half joking. Having never golfed in my life, and apparently missing the gene for eye-hand coordination, I now find myself with club in hand in Radium Hot Springs.

Just the thought of crowds of experienced golfers impatiently glancing at their watches while I mercilessly swing at a ball, that refuses to move, makes my hands sweat.

With the pro’s soothing voice, simple instructions and a gallery of mountain sheep looking on, I manage to hit the ball and not send the golf club into the side of anyone’s head. There is not another golfer in sight on this spring day. Just the scenery of majestic mountains and mountain sheep wandering in the distance. Dave and I end up playing nine holes and even I will admit to having fun.

Don’t judge a restaurant by its horse

It’s not every day you see a towering metal stallion, rearing on hind legs, outside a restaurant, let alone in a quaint village setting. Albeit an impressive art installation, I suspect the vegetarian choices inside Horsethief Creek Pub may taste like the boards the horse is balancing on.

Horsethief Creek Pub horse statue Radium Hot Springs

“Oh come on I’m sure it will be fine. “Hubby’s nose is pulling him toward the savory smells of BBQ wafting from the restaurant.

The evening becomes a classic you-were-right-and-I-was-wrong couples moment. Finding the Horsethief filled with locals, I am surprised by all of the vegetarian choices along with more traditional meat fare. While inhaling a scrumptious spinach burger, I manage to steal a few sweet and salty yam fries from Dave’s plate. He’s too busy with his smoky chicken burger to notice anyway.

Hanging with the sheep at Bighorn Meadows Resort

“You’ve got to see this!” At the moment Dave bellows from our deck at Bighorn Meadows, I happen to be putting refreshments in the fridge to cool. Startling at his exuberance, my head and the fridge have an unfriendly meeting.

I soon forget any discomfort at the sight before me.  A herd of Bighorn mountain sheep are strolling by on the 9th hole of the golf course outside our window.

View Big Horn Meadows Resort Radium

Gazing at the mountain sheep visitors from our deck

Thinking it might be a most unusual occurrence, we incessantly snap photos. As it turns out, in spring, these four-legged visitors stroll by frequently. I suggest to my husband we could invite them to use the hot tub. Or perhaps in for coffee, since likely we could fit the whole lot of them in our suite.

Big Horn Meadows Resort Radium

Dave showing how it’s done on the 9th hole with Bighorn Meadows Resort in the background

He suggests we stick to taking photos.

Radium Hot Springs Pool

Truthfully, I have not been a fan of hot springs. Something about the smell of rotten eggs that takes the fun out of it for me. I click my heels with glee, or attempt to, when I learn the Radium Hot Springs are odourless.

We spend the spring evening gazing at mountain sheep on the rocky cliffs surrounding the pool while soaking in the warmth of clear mineral water. Perhaps a dozen other people are taking advantage of the early season before Canada’s largest spring fed pool becomes frenzied with high season tourists.

A visit to the hot springs is one of the top things to do in Radium Hot Springs. More information such as Radium Hot Springs hours can be found here.

Radium Hot Springs hiking trails

Sinclair Creek Radium Hot Springs

An easy walk along Sinclair Creek

Gurgling its way through the the village of Radium Hot Springs, the Sinclair Creek is ours to walk alone this spring morning. As tree buds begin to bulge, awakening from winter slumber, the soothing sounds of the water provide background music for nature’s unfolding.

Looking for more challenging hiking trails, we head to the Valleyview Trail which starts near the Radium Visitor Centre. Alternatively, one can drive to the Valleyview Lookout picnic area. Gazing over the Columbia Valley, the village or Radium quietly lays below.

Big horn sheep Radium BC

Meeting the locals on the Valleyview trail above the village of Radium Hot Springs

Not far from the lookout, four Bighorn sheep rest, as if placed in a photo shoot above the village of Radium Hot Springs. We keep a respectful distance.

Can I have coffee and pie for breakfast?

Big Horn Cafe Radium Hot Springs

Freshly baked pies in Radium Hot Springs BC

Having once baked pies in a home business venture, I can spot quality homemade pastries at a glance. At Radium’s Big Horn Cafe, I manage to pull myself away from the callings of Sour Cherry and Strawberry-Rhubarb and settle in with a latte and a melt-in-my-mouth mixed berry scone.

As locals swap stories, visitors come by ordering sandwiches to go, for hikes and adventures around the Radium area. I sip my latte and keep an eye on the pies.

Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross Radium Hot Springs

Wheelchair accessable path along the Radium Hot Springs Staions of the Cross

Ask frequent visitors about what to do in Radium Hot Springs and very few will have found this unique activity. Directly behind the Radium Visitor Centre, is an outdoor walking path of the Stations of the Cross. With admission on a donation basis, the life sized sculptures are a public prayer path. Especially significant to those who celebrate Easter, the outdoor stations see an influx of visitors in the spring.

Olive Lake

Olive Lake Radium Hot Springs

Clouds admiring themselves in pristine Olive Lake near Radium Hot Springs

Shimmering in the sunlight, the pristine lake, 13 km. (8 mi.) east of the village or Radium Hot Springs, peacefully absorbs its spring water source. Archaeological finds confirm that Indigenous hunting parties camped at the idyllic oasis centuries ago. Now, an easy walk from the parking lot and picnic area, we check our camera settings. Could the water truly be that emerald green? On this spring day, the gem of Radium Hot Springs attractions is ours alone to enjoy.

Kootenay Valley View Point

Heading toward Radium BC from Calgary, parking for the stunning Kootenay Valley View Point is on the right hand side of Highway 93. Clutching Dave’s hand as we sprint across the curving highway, I am grateful for the lack of traffic on this spring day.

Kootenay Valley View Point

Kootenay Valley Viewpoint

I announce that I would not attempt that highway crossing is in the summer, pedestrian sign or not. I am no sissy by any means, but the thought of crossing the road in the midst of high season with tourists distracted by the gobmacking view, leaves me shaking.

It is definitely a Radium Hot Springs location not to miss. We suggest driving from Radium 16 km. (10 mi.) east, where parking will then be on the same side of the road as the lookout.

How did the fish cross the road?

Dolly Varden Day Use Area Radium Hot Springs

Covered picnic area next to the educational park at Dolly Varden off Highway 93

The Dolly Varden Day Use Area, 37 km. (23 mi.) east of Radium, British Columbia on Highway 93, serves as an educational park. Like neighbouring Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park has constructed multiple wildlife crossings. Decreasing collisions and promoting natural migration patterns, the crossings serve as a animal protection model for countries around the world.

The Dolly Varden presents a miniature version of the crossings where children and adults alike can burn off road trip energy while learning about how humans are helping animals cross the road.

Numa Falls

Numa Falls Radium Hot Springs

Although Numa Falls is not visible the mountain backdrop is spectacular.

“Do not even think about going through that hole in the fence!”

My husband knows my adventurous ways and the gap someone has torn in the safety barrier is tempting. Due to a bridge wash out, the Numa Falls trail is currently inaccessible, as are views of the falls. Instead we enjoy our snack on a picnic table as the Vermilion River babbles its way through a spectacular mountain backdrop.

One can imagine the crush of summer crowds at this spectacular stop 80 km. (50 mi.) east of the village of Radium Hot Springs. This spring day we share the parking lot with one other vehicle.

Vibrant Shades of the Paint Pots

Paint Pots Kootenay National Park

Kootenay National Park Paint Pot in early spring

Although arguably not as jaw dropping as the Banff National Park’s Ink Pots, the Paint Pots of Kootenay National Park are a colour extravaganza worth seeing. With a wheelchair accessible trail, as well as a dirt trail leading to a bridge crossing the Vermillion River, the yellow, brown and red Paint Pots can be viewed by all ages and abilities.

The acidic mineral spring system deposits ochre, a natural clay pigment once collected by the Ktunaxa people, for use in tipis, clothing, rock drawings and body paint. The Paint Pots are 85 km. (53 mi.) east of the village of Radium Hot Springs on Highway 93.

Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon British Columbia

Marble Canyon is 87 km. (54 mi.) east of Radium Hot Springs

I can not help myself. Running up stairs of the Marble Canyon trail to yet another stunning vista my enthusiastic shouting echoes against the deep canyon walls. The turquoise water rushing downward pays no attention to my excitement.

“Why have we never been here before?” With no answer coming my way I take heart in the endless beauty that no photography will ever do justice to. Thankful to share the treasured find with only a few other spring tourists, we scamper about the protected fenced sides of the water-gouged rock. Although the area was scorched by forest fire in 2003, rock, water and the rebirth of forest create a spectacular setting.

Marble Canyon Kootenay National Park

Visit Invermere, British Columbia

Resting beneath the Rocky Mountains and on the shore of Lake Windermere, the community of Invermere is a 15 minute drive from Radium. Its trendy boutiques and specialty shops are still quiet in the shoulder season, making it an enjoyable addition to a list of things to do while visiting Radium BC. The non profit Village Arts consignment coop for local artists, has been promoting Canadian art for over 30 years.

Walking into Arrowhead Brewing tap room is like stepping into the 1950’s. The vintage decor, fresh baked pretzels and a wide variety of craft beer make this one of our suggested stops in Invermere. If coffee is more your taste across the street you will find the home of Kicking Horse Coffee. Canada’s number one choice of fair trade organic coffee for more than a decade, you will smell the beans roasting the minute you step on the street.

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What would be your pick of things to do in Radium Hot Springs?

 

Thank you to Tourism Radium and partners for hosting our stay. All opinions are our own.