BC Hot Springs Tour: Canmore, Alberta
Our BC hot springs tour was an extensive road test for our new Lexus RX-400H Hybrid SUV, from Calgary to Vancouver Island in early June of 2015.
We bought the Lexus in Calgary (pre-arranged) and left as quickly as possible to avoid the rush hour, and started our hot springs tour home.
The first destination on our route was the very scenic town of Canmore, in the Bow River Valley, just as you enter the Rocky Mountains.
Although there are no hot springs there, it is a very beautiful spot, and the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains that surround it is extraordinary, especially when you think about where you were on a flat plain just a half hour ago. We didn't have to worry about a room with a view, as it doesn't matter which way you look, the view is always spectacular. I make no apologies if I use too many superlatives in this article!
Here's the spectacular view of a small portion of the awesome Mt. Rundle, right from our room. The tallest peak is over 2500 m (8,000 ft), and this amazing natural edifice consists of a series of 8 peaks that stretch for over 8 miles, from Canmore to Banff:
We knew we'd be tired and ready for a rest at this point, and generally we like to come off the road early so that we have some time to enjoy the surroundings. We tend to avoid noisy motels that are right on the highway, and we also like to be closer to the town center to get a feel for what life is like in the area.
For these reasons we had picked the Bow Valley Motel, right in the down-town core on Main Street. This turned out to be a good choice as the rooms were well equipped, very affordable, clean and quiet. The staff was also very friendly and helpful.
We could walk out the door and visit several restaurants and bistros in the same block, and the motel itself was on a waterway with a very pleasant walking path along the edge.
We also had one of the very best meals of the whole trip at the Sage Bistro and Wine Lounge, it was excellent. It's a short drive away, up-town.
Lexus RX400H - A Very Quiet Ride
Later, as we took a drive around, we had our first somewhat eerie experience driving through the town streets with Lexi running on battery power. She is so quiet you really do have to watch for pedestrians; they simply cannot hear you coming.
I had read that in some countries you have to have an artificial sound generator, and now I know why!
We took some time to explore the surrounding area, and decided to go find the high altitude back road into Kananaskis country. It is easy to find, just across the Bow River bridge (with lots of signage downtown), but it turned out to be a dirt road, and we didn't want to take Lexi on that.
We had heard that it is one of the most spectacular drives in Canada, and we were sorry to skip it, but one of these days we'll go back. One of the related websites for the Kananaskis Wildlife Drive (as it is called) had this to say about it:
"One of the most spectacular drives in Alberta takes you through the heart of Kananaskis country on a three-hour loop starting in Canmore, the largest community in the Canadian Rockies, into Kananaskis Village."
Another interesting item was the Canmore Nordic Centre, adjacent to the start of the Kananaskis drive, a major infrastructure legacy left over from the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics. It is actually an Alberta Provincial Park and provides trails for use by cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, and hikers.
The centre was re-developed for the 2005 Cross-country World Cup and future international events, and it hosts national training camps for Canada's biathlon and cross-country ski teams, in addition to providing winter and summer recreational facilities to the general public.
It features 60 km (37 mi) of world-class cross-country and biathlon trail systems designed to meet international Nordic competitive standards.
Map of the BC Hot Springs Circle Tour
1 - Cranbrook
2 - Kimberley
3 - Fairmont Hot Springs and Lussier Hot Springs
4 - Invermere and Windemere Lake
5 - Radium Hot Springs
6 - Golden
7 - Rogers Pass and Canyon Hot Springs
8 - Revelstoke
9 - Halcyon and Nakusp Hot Springs
10 - New Denver
11 - Kaslo
12 - Ainsworth Hot Springs and Kootenay Lake Ferry
13 - Creston
details can be found here: Hello BC Website