Box Lake & Chasing Hot Springs in BC Road Trip

I think it was a Friday night in early March when we took off. Finished work at 5, or maybe an hour early, or maybe it was the next morning? Either way, hit the bottleshop for some whiskey and caffeine from Timmys then headed for the hills.

Its a long road ahead through the mountains. Up to Lake Louise, down the mountain pass round through the Yoho Valley and out through to Golden BC and the Columbia Valley. Id passed through here once years before on a Greyhound I recall.

We grab some more coffee and treats then head on; another mountain pass this time through Glacier National Park awaits. The weathers fine, with a fair bit of moisture in the air though enough sun to burn through it and shine some warmth amongst the snowy mountains. Odd bits of snow and slush on the road as we move through the highest parts, but we make good time and arrive at Revelstoke a little later on. Been here before a few years back too oddly enough.

We are have knocked off just shy of 290 kms at this this point, but now we must curve back around into the valley and down the Arrow lake to Nakusp. First though we are looking for some hot springs hidden up a logging road by St Leon. We drive 10km up a muddy icy logging road and here from some lovely canadian rednecks that its still another 5km in. We can’t make that in our Vehicle and don’t care to walk. We leave, not a big loss, try the next ones around the next mountain. Always have a back up hot springs!

These we at least find a parking lot for – 2 cars pulled over on the side of the logging road where there is little space. We march off and…end up getting lost in hectic thick woodland on a steep hill for the next 45min. I have lead us the wrong way. We climb and clamber over thick fallen timber. Its covered in moss and is hard work.

Eventually we make it to them from the opposite direction. The reward is worth it: we are semi naked in our own private 40c bath. Made of 3 clean rocks and steaming water that was dripping out under the moss covered tree. Whoa…nice.

Theres actually 3 pool, but this gem sits just above the others.


We drive a ways further, looking for a campsite. Many are closed and we move on, scope out the shore beyond Nakusp. We settle on Box Lake as our last option. Its perfect. One of the best campsites you could imagine. No one around, Enormous leafy trees amongst snow  covered mountains by a lake. A small jetty with a lone chair floats nearby.

Set up, fire going, drying wood and setting things to order. Order has been created. Get the whiskey.

We wake covered in a world of snow. Theres a good 3cm covering the tent but we are cosy in our warm den within. Cold slushy snow now covers our world as we face the spawning day.

Its amazingly beautiful but we quickly escape in the car and head on. Still a long way to go.

We pass down through the valley to New Denver, then to Nelson where we dry in the sun by the harbour and sports field. Nelson is a dream of a place. A confluence of mountain lakes that are big enough to hold a small marina of boats.

The day takes us further south, past the turnoff onto the US into Montana, as we finally turn back west, and for another mountain pass.

Its a stunning drive through the Kootenays. Smooth and with plenty of snow and sun. Epic views at every turn…they way the world should be. Down the valley and out to Castelgar.

Another 300km back up through the Columbia Valley and to the familiar 93 past Radium and into the 4th mountain pass of the trip. From the bright sun and warmth of the low flat Columbia, we are now back in a mountain snowstorm. 50km an hour now with a procession of traffic, full headlights with maybe 100m visibility. Rough. The car swerves on a berm of snow. Plows belt past in the opposite direction. Parks Canada doing some good.

It breaks, and we drop back into the mid Bow valley at Castle Mountain Junction before Banff & home.

Hector Lake

Hector Lake Canoeing

Its a little known place along a tourist thorough fare, and the locals try to keep it to themselves. Sitting only a short 2km hike down off the Icefields Parkway – a meagre 19km past the southern entry. Hector lake is as good as it gets. I’ll stake this claim now – second best place I have ever camped and most likely will ever camp.

Why? The lake is the pristine blue green that only those of the Canadian rockies can be, and is set against the steep cliffs of Pulpit Peak and the Waputik range. The lake is a large for the area and curves around to its source – the Waputik icefields at the back end and becomes a part of the Bow river at the front.

Its Friday afternoon when we park the car and wander down to the camp site. A slightly muddy track that the water flows down the meanders slightly downhill to the Bow River where you have to fjord. It can be very dangerous here at times and thats why this place can only be easily accessed in late season when the melt waters are lower and you don’t get swept away in a torrent of icy water. Its still bitingly cold and we cross quick before putting our boots back on the other side. A few hundred metres more and we arrive at the camp site. Only ones there. Fuck yes!

We scout the area and set up camp at the middle high spot, just off the lake. Time for some snacks and wine and we explore the area. The real gem of this spot is found – the old canoes hidden a little ways up the shore. We knew about these – the insiders tip I guess. Its what changes this from just a lazy camping trip, to so back country canoeing. We find a better spot – perched out on the flat with 180′ views of the lake. I put the tent on my head and carefully manoeuvre the thing to the new site. Its well set up with some tools – a saw, a shovel and a bread toaster. Luxuries!

We watch the sun kiss the peaks goodnight and settle in to fight the cold around the campfire.

We wake at the crack of dawn. A bit chilly the night was and we put all we have on to face the morning. We get a fire going and smoke floats across the peaceful still waters. Stiring it delicately as it floats gently across. The sky lightens and the sun strikes the furthest peak across the lake. Sole illuminating it and leaving all else bathed in shadow. We are utterly content and at peace with the world as we wander the foreshore – spying Mt temple down range, before returning to take the canoe out and simply sit in the middle of the lake as the natural world around us wakes from its slumber to face the day.

A beauty breakfast of eggs and bread and we pack the canoe to head across the lake. We hear theres a trail somewhere out yonder. Somewhere to discover. We paddle across hard to get the blood moving and soon reach the far shore were we make our way along up toward the source of the lake. We spot a landing area…at least it looks like one and its a creek outlet. Seems like a good spot. There’s faint signs of life – a old fire spot, a few boot prints. We land and strip off. No one hear…why need clothes? For once its nice to be au natural and get some sun on our skin. Its a rare treat in a land where we are almost always rugged up.

Clothes back on and we follow the path that winds up the creek. 30 minutes later we come across a high alpine lake. Shallow but clear as glass. Its full of old trees. Knocked down in landslides and push out into the water. 200m across and you can still see the bottom. We eat a snack while sitting on a big log and staring up into the high cliffs and the water fall that cascades down.

We leave the paradise of Hector lake, later that day and unfortunately head home. So happy to have been here.