We arrived in the “Bighorn Capital of BC” otherwise known as Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada.
We walked the main street of the community. It was the weekend in Radium Hot Springs complete with traffic snarls. Many arriving from Alberta, Canada via the Highway #93 route in Kootenay National Park. How did we know? The steady stream of Alberta license plates might of been a big clue. But we are not telling.
The small resort village of Radium Hot Springs rests in the beautiful Columbia Valley region of British Columbia. The Columbia River runs its course along the western boundaries of the community which is part of the largest continuous wetlands in North America – the Columbia Valley Wetlands. In the distance the skyline is decorated with peaks and bluffs of the Rocky Mountains and the Purcell Mountains.
It is from these high cliffs that herds of Bighorn Sheep converge on the community on a regular basis. It is very likely during the summer months to bump into a group of Bighorn Sheep while exploring the community streets. Many sheep wander in small packs just like a family of tourists wander a new tourism village – always curious and casual. On hot sunshine days the sheep are often seen huddled together under the shade of trees and buildings.
On our visit the Bighorn walked the streets along side of us. Often leading the way making room for no one. they were not threatened by our presence. We walked along side with them like a hoard of paparazzi trying to capture the million dollar photo of an estranged celebrity. In Radium Hot Springs the Bighorn Sheep are the celebrities for tourists and, to some locals, they are the estranged celebrities.
Radium Hot Springs collects the warm hot spring waters from Sinclair Creek into two giant wading pools. The larger pool is heated to 39 degrees Celsius (103 F) and the smaller pool is around 27 degrees Celsius (84 F). The ground water of Sinclair Creek penetrates into the earth where it is then exposed to intense heat before it is quickly returned back to the surface. During the journey the water picks up minerals like sulphate, calcium, silica and magnesium.
Fairmont Hot Spring mineral pools rest at the headwaters of the Columbia River. Long ago, the hot springs were first used by the First Nation people as healing waters. The pools were once referred to as the ‘Land of Smoking Waters’. The First Nation people believed the waters could cure illness and body pains. Other activities enjoyed at the resort include golfing, downhill skiing, snowboarding and xc skiing.
Others arrive in the Radium Hot Springs area to explore the trails and the endless boundaries of the wilderness backcountry of the Kootenay National Park. Some of the highlights of the Kootenay National Park include the white cliffs of Marble Canyon, the mineral springs and red earth of the Paint Pots, wildlife sightings and the adventures enjoyed in the backcountry hiking trails and fire roads.
We, on the other hand, have enjoyed the privilege of exploring the Kootenay National Park, Columbia River and the Columbia Valley Wetlands. On this trip, we are visiting with a long time high school friend who is taking us to a mountain top viewpoint which oversees the Columbia Valley Wetlands. Can’t wait!!